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American cellphones in France

Canadian and US cellphones : do they work?

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Canadian and US cellphones : do they work? 

Do American cellphones work in France and Europe? The question is often asked.
    Currently, most US and Canadian cell phones will work in France and other parts of Europe; but using your US phone and service in France comes at a steep price. Fortunately, there are solutions that will allow you to have very affordable service in France and Europe. In fact, you can even use your current US or Canadian cell phone and get unlimited free incoming calls.

How to check if your phone works in France, and find the best solution.

 First, you need to find out if your current phone works internationally. If your phone has the 900 and the 1800 MHz networks, it will work in France with your current carrier. Many of AT&T’s and T-mobile phones do have these extra networks for international use. Handsets provided by other carriers such as Verizon and Sprint on the other hand, with a few exceptions, do not have the correct networks.
  To find out if your phone works internationally, either consult the handbook or ask your provider’s customer service representative. It is recommended that you confirm for yourself that indeed your phone does have international capabilities as many customer service reps  are not as informed as they should be on international roaming.
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► My cell phone will work in France........

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If you confirm that your phone will work in France, you have two options – you can either use your phone with your current provider and pay their rates or you can use your phone with another provider, a French provider, and pay significantly lower rates.
   Generally speaking, European cell phone rates are considerably lower than the rates charged by US providers.
    If you opt for using your US or Canadian provider’s service, you can expect to pay about $1.00-$1.25 per minute (plus tax) for all calls in and out. This makes sense if you truly will not do not intend to use your phone during your trip or if those rates are acceptable to you. If you plan to use your phone to book restaurants, call friends, call back home or receive calls and you want to save as much as possible, it makes sense to purchase a SIM card for France (the SIM card is the chip that goes in the phone, giving you service).
      There are several telecom providers in France offering cellular service on a prepaid system. SIM cards can be bought either beforehand from a provider selling them in the US, or obtained once in France. Purchasing one before your trip  makes sense because you will have the number before you go and the service in hand when you land.

Compared to the rates of using a US or Canadian provider,  rates are considerably less expensive – especially if you can take advantage of  free incoming calls.     Where’s the catch? There really is no catch but, there is a caveat. Obviously, if you are not using AT&T or Verizon, et al for the service, they do not see a penny. They would much rather you use their service while you are in France rather than have you use a French SIM card. Therefore, their phones come “locked” into their network. That means that if you swap out their SIM card with another SIM card, in this case a France SIM card, the phone will not automatically accept the SIM card.
     The good news is that your provider can and will unlock the phone if you ask them to do so.  When you purchase a France SIM card, you essentially become a customer of the French telecom company on a pay as you go basis. Therefore, you do not need to sign a contract or fulfill month obligations. You simply put the SIM card in your phone and add talk time when you need it. When you’re done with the SIM card you can either discard it or use it again if and when you return to France. Adding talk time is simple. You can go to any cafïé or supermarket and ask for a “carte recharge” or recharge voucher. They come in denominations from 5 Euros up. Simply enter the pin number from the voucher onto your handset and, voià, you have added additional call credit.

► My Cell Phone will not work in France

 If your cell phone does not work in France you can still use the same service but you will need to rent or buy a phone
  If your trip is only a week or two and you do not travel overseas at least once a year, it makes sense to rent the phone and get a France SIM card. If you are a frequent traveler overseas, whether it be to France or other destinations, it makes more sense to buy the phone as a quad band GSM phone works in 200 countries with the appropriate SIM card. In fact, you can even use it in the US or Canada. Some people use it as a back up or emergency phone or if you have visitors from overseas, you can let them borrow that handset and have them buy a local pay as you go solution.

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