Information about buying or renting a phone for use in Spain. (2009 update)
This information is applicable for other countries such as Ireland and the UK as well as the system and service is comparable.
Many travelers ask if their current phones will work in Spain. The answer is, perhaps, and if it does – at a price. The below information is a quick guide that will give you valuable money saving information regarding cellular service in Spain as well as other European countries.
If you currently have a carrier that uses the GSM system, such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Rogers in Canada, you have a good chance that your phone works overseas. Your cell phone must have the 900/1800 networks to work in Spain. Ask your service provider, or better yet, check the manual as many customer service representatives are not well informed about international cellular service. There is also a very limited selection of handsets from other providers that work overseas. If your phone does work overseas and you choose to “roam” with their service in Spain, be prepared to pay approximately $1.00-$1.25 for US carriers and $2.00 for Canadian carriers – plus tax – for all calls including those you receive, per minute. A much better solution is to unlock your phone and use a Spanish SIM card and pay the local rates. In the US, getting your phone unlocked is a matter of asking your provider for the unlock code. They will give you the code for free. In Canada, you will have to find a physical store that can unlock it for you. This may cost around $25.00.
Once you have an unlocked cell phone, we recommend the Lebara Spain SIM card offered by Cellular Abroad, a Los Angeles based company. There are several Spain SIM cards on the market, but this particular one caters specifically to tourists traveling in Spain or foreigners living in Spain. Rates are excellent. Besides the unlimited free incoming calls from anywhere, you will also get free cell phone to cell phone calls (hint: get the other party traveling with you to use this service), and rates to the US and Canada are a low $0.07 per minute. The service is prepaid so you do not need a contract.
Renting a Cell Phone
What if your cell phone will not work in Spain? In that case, you will need to either rent or purchase a handset. Cellular Abroad offers the same Lebara service with cell phone rentals as well as Spain SIM card and phone packages. We recommend renting a cell phone for Spain only if you are not a frequent traveler and if your trip is only a week or two. The price of purchasing a phone and Spanish SIM card package is not much more expensive than renting one, plus, you can use the phone in 200 other countries as well – including the US or Canada.
Please note that a Spain specific solution will only work in Spain. If you are traveling to other countries, consider the National Geographic Travel Phone – which is also available for rent and if you already have the phone, once again, you can pick up just the SIM card. This service works in nearly 200 countries and offers free incoming in 80 so it is ideal for those who travel to multiple countries. Go to Cellular Abroad for more information on this service.
Cellular Abroad - International Cell Phone Solutions Click Here , use this link to locate a phone for use in one country or multiple countries.