Many of you have been wondering whether to switch on roaming or buy a pre-pay cell phone during Ireland vacations. We have decided to investigate and here is what we have found:
Using our telephone and cell phone, internet or other telecommunications services is very easy. The Irish network is 100% digital, quite high tech and provides services similar to those found in any other part of Western Europe or North America.
We have many network providers here in Ireland but our largest are Vodafone, O2, Meteor and 3 Ireland and all apply to European standard GSM (2G) and UMTS (3G) standards. However whilst service is excellent when using cell phones or mobile devices be aware that roaming charges and the cost of making and receiving phones back home to the US on your Irish vacation can be costly.
If you intend to use your mobile phone in Ireland, check with your cell company that international roaming is active on your account, find out what roaming agreements they have in Ireland and what the rates are for data and voice services. In Europe new EU Roaming rules which came into force on 1st July 2012 have created new reduced roaming rates for anyone else travelling in Europe from the EU states. However for customers roaming from outside the EU such as from the US, we have noted that charges can be extremely high, so it may be worthwhile purchasing a local SIM card or cheap cell phone (or simply using your own phone with a new SIM card) when you get here and using pre-pay credit instead for the duration of your vacation.
Buying a Local SIM card:
Buying a cheap cell phone or simply bringing an unlocked phone or mobile device with you, it is very simple to carry out. All you need is to purchase an Irish SIM card upon arrival. If you have an unlocked phone, iPad, Android Phone or other GSM/UMTS device, an Irish SIM card can be purchased from a variety of mobile phone stores and supermarkets. Small-format Mini-SIM, Micro-SIM and Nano-SIM cards required for some newer handsets like latest generation iPhones, iPads and Nokia Lumia etc are also available from larger mobile phone outlets.
Locating a relevant card should be easy as the stores of the main cell phone operators (Vodafone, O2, Meteor and 3 Ireland) as well as many other stores selling mobile phones can be found in most of the major towns in Ireland. You will find these shops on the main streets or in the main shopping centres (malls).
We have found that Tesco offers the cheapest solution through their ‘International Calling Card’ option. Calls can be made to the USA from the Irish Sim from as little as 3 cent per minute.
Don’t forget to bring the numbers of those you wish to contact while you are on vacation with you. You can give them the details of your new number should they wish to contact you.
We recommend that once you arrive in Ireland that you buy an Irish Sim-card with one of our top phone providers (Tesco has a good deal on calls to the USA from Ireland for example) in ensure complete coverage on your travels all over Ireland. Remember to ensure the Sim is compatible with your cell phone or you could buy a cheap pre-pay cell phone with a sim.*
*This recommendation is our opinion. We have taken a number of factors into account including cost, ease of use and simplicity before coming to our conclusion.