Thursday, October 01, 2015

How your local prepaid SIM can help you abroad

I have a prepaid SIM and a postpaid SIM from same carrier in India. Ideally you would expect more support from your post-paid SIM when abroad, because you are paying more there. For making calls you can use a local SIM or use internet based calls (whatsapp/FB etc)   but having India number active is very critical- not because of calls, but for any credit card transaction OTP is sent to this number or for any account login (like gmail or various public WiFi) you will need a mobile to verify your identity.  When I checked with a representative of my mobile operator in India before leaving for Europe, I was told that I need to specifically ‘Activate’ international pack on both SIMs to be able to use it abroad. But then international roaming and packages are prohibitively expensive. I had noticed that prepaid SIM seem to be working fine when I was in Singapore. So based on my gut feeling, I proceeded to Europe without bothering to activate any international packs on both my SIM Cards.

From experience and analysis I knew that Matrix like cards are not worth. So didn't buy them. I bought a local SIM in Denmark- Lebara, but in other countries I went to for weekend trips, I could manage without having to buy a local SIM Card. Finding a spot to buy a SIM card early morning/late evening was a tough task and just for 2 days I didn’t want to spend a lot on SIM, top-up and data packs.  I wasn’t planning to call anyone in those 2 days and there were many free public WiFis so I do not really need data pack. Little inconvenient as you will not have net when and where you need it, but still it is manageable as it helps save a few euros.

Once in Europe, the postpaid SIM didn’t work. But the prepaid SIM worked brilliantly. During my various weekend trips, without costing me a single penny, the prepaid SIM helped in following way.
1.    In each country it would offer free incoming SMS- that meant I can make credit card transactions/receive OTPs or receive msg from India
2.    SIM sets the phone to local time, so I don’t have to worry about time conversions
3.    On Google maps, SIM works to know where I am at present, without any data pack. Of course I can’t navigate, but by checking the direction of my movement, I can figure out if I am moving towards my destination or away from it. I can change my direction and reach where I wanted to (at each city airport, connect to Wifi and load maps, this will download required high res city level maps into Google maps app. No Data card or Data pack is necessary.

Note that above suited my needs well, but if you need to constantly use data or call someone, you will need a local sim.