In May, I'm spending two weeks Italy, and for the first week - when I'll be on my own and renting an apartment in Rome - I'd like to have a cell phone. My Canadian cell phone won't work in Europe, and if I order a European cell phone or SIM card from a North American phone rental company I'll have to rent it for two weeks when I only need it for one. (For the second week, I'll be on a guided gardens tour with a group of people and staying in hotels). I've tried Googling to find out if cell phones can be rented at Rome Fiumicino airport, and come up with nothing. Does anyone have any advice for me?
Cell phone rental in Rome, Italy
Here's how my "cell phone in Rome" worked out. I turned up at Rome airport on a Monday morning after a long and sleepless night flight, looking for a phone. Couldn't find any rentals, but there was a store selling phones. I picked out a basic SmartPhone that cost 24 euros, but the SIM card could not be activated right away, so it was no good to me. Instead, at the convenience store I bought a 5 euro phone card to use in a pay phone. Then I went all round the airport looking for a pay phone that was not out of order. The seventh one I tried was working, and even gave me a menu in English! After contacting the key-holder of my rental apartment, taking a shuttle-bus into Rome, I gained access to my apartment. The key-holder's final words to me were, "If you need anything, phone me." Guess what? The apartment had no phone! Tuesday morning, I braved the dreaded Termini Train Station (dire warnings had been given to me about crime in this area, but I didn't encounter any pick-pockets, purse-snatchers, or muggers) to find another phone shop. This time, I bought the 24 euro SmartPhone, and was told that it would be activated either that night or some time on Wednesday, and that I would have enough credit on the chip to make a lot of local calls and a couple of overseas calls. On Thursday, having repeatedly tried to use the phone and not had a single call go through, I returned to the store. I was told that the SIM activation computer was down, but not to worry, it would surely be fixed tomorrow. On Saturday, the phone was finally connected to the WIND network, but still wouldn't let me make a call. I go back to the shop, very steamed, to be told that I had used up all my credit on the chip in trying to make calls that went nowhere. I have to go to the currency exchange office on the lower level of the station mall to buy an extra 10 euros credit for my phone chip, so that I can make a call. Aaargh! I think the lesson of this story is that I should have rented a phone from a North American company to take with me for the two week trip.
Gosh, Thanks for the info, I had no idea that it could be that hard. I am coming to the States in April. Should I just go to Wal Mart and buy a TraFone?
Hi JuneyBug! I'm not sure what would be best for you, as you are coming to rather than going from North America. Does your Korean cell phone have a SIM card that is compatible with the American cell phone networks? I know the North American cards are incompatible with the European system, but I have no clue about the cards and system used in the Asia-Pacific region. Do you have a local travel agency handling tours to America, if so the staff might be able to give you some pointers?
I will have to ask at the travel agency and/or the phone co. It would be so much better to use my same phone and just buy an international time package or rent a phone for the trip. I had no idea that it could be as hard as it was for you and now I want to set it up before I leave.
Thanks again for the information and lesson in just how hard it can be.
Thank you for the link. I took a quick look at the website, and I see the company charges a 500 euro deposit. That would be a bit expensive, compared to just buying a cheap phone, but perhaps the 500 euros is for a laptop computer and they would ask for a smaller deposit on a phone. If the cell phone I purchased in Rome in 2010 stops working, I will contact the rental company for a price quote. I hope to visit Rome again this spring. Have you lived there long?
I might be an year too late on this thread but here's my two bits nonetheless. Now that the Smartphones have come of age, think about using a mobile VoIP app as the data usage is moderate and call rates are cheap. The best thing is that this app has this contest (https://www.facebook.com/uglobalcall/app_193371724140087) running at present in which one can win a credit of $100. Great incentive if you ask me..