Working out how you will want to get in touch with your family and friends ones back home is an important step of moving into a new country. Before making any decisions you should do some quick research to see what offers are up for grabs from different mobile phone companies – these range from phone and SIM card deals, pay as you go, monthly charges and so on. We have given you the rundown below on the basics.
WILL MY PHONE WORK IN THE UK?
The good news is that your current, international, phone is likely to work perfectly in the UK; the less good news is that, if you keep using your international SIM card, you will end up paying a lot of fees and charges when contacting people abroad or even in Europe (which means you’ll have less money for snacks!)
The best thing you can do is to have a look at different mobile phone companies and the deals they offer – some even let you buy a brand new phone and SIM card for a low monthly price. Click here to have a look at some of the current deals available, but remember this website doesn’t show you every deal so you might want to shop around a bit and get some quotes.
HOW CAN I CALL UK/EU PHONE NUMBERS?
If you don’t get in touch with many people from the UK or Europe (or use social media to do this instead), then PAYG (pay as you go) SIM cards might be your best option.
To make phone calls, send text messages or use mobile data, the only thing you have to do is top up with credit on demand.
Now you might be wondering “where do I even start looking for these options?!?!” – a quick Google search is a good place to start. Some of the best companies include EE, GiffGaff and Vodafone.
Even though it might feel like you don’t need a UK phone number during your first months or year at University, keep in mind that you will really need one when:
- Applying for jobs, placement years or internships (both on and off campus) most employers will ask you for your phone number to get in touch regarding your application. International numbers might be accepted, but if there is a problem and the calls don’t go through, employers are unlikely to chase you up!
- Keeping in touch with friends. Having a working phone number means fewer problems when trying to schedule your group’s next trip abroad or a night out in town (a.k.a. we agree that free Wi-Fi is highly appreciated, but it might not exist everywhere you go).
HOW CAN I CALL INTERNATIONAL PHONE NUMBERS?
To get in touch with your family and friends back home, you want to consider your options carefully and do some research first. There are a few international phone calls providers, such as Lebara and Lycamobile, which have great, money-saving, deals.
When calling international numbers from the UK, don’t forget to:
- Dial 00
- Dial the country code. For example, Portugal’s is 351
- Dial the area code. For example, to call Lisbon (Portugal’s capital), dial 21
- Dial the individual phone number
In the end, it will look like this (depending on the country you are calling):
00 351 21 XXXXXXX
Follow the link for a complete list of country codes.
If you have access to Wi-Fi, there are also free online services that you can take advantage of. The most well-known are WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime (iOS users only), Viber and Facebook Messenger.