Spontaneity is good when traveling- the ability to easily rearrange your schedule when faced with snarling traffic, closed restaurants, and delayed flights prevents your trip from becoming the disaster of a lifetime. Using a smartphone, however is not something you want to “go with the flow.” Signing up for a cell phone package before your trip is no less important than checking the expiration date of your passport.
Fortunately for us, our choices have greatly improved over the past few years. Most companies require you to use a callback service to make a call to Israel- otherwise the fee for the call will be quite high. Another extra fee to remember is the cost of local calls that are within the country you are located. These calls can cost anywhere from 19.99 shekels a minute on Cellcom to 0.99 on YOU Phone in Spain and England. Here is a summary of the local phone call costs in shekels per minute:
- Cellcom- 19.99
- YOU Phone- 0.99 in Spain and England, 1.99 in the US and 5.99 in Thailand
- Golan Telcom- 7.5
- HOT Mobile- 7.9-9.9
- Rami Levy- 0.5 in the US, England and Spain, 1.0 in Thailand
- Orange Passport- included in the package
Here is a price comparison for 5 days in England:
And here is a price comparison for 14 days in the US:
Of course, phone calls are not all we are concerned with- where would we be without our internet? From Waze to Whatsapp, we are intrinsically attached to various applications that smooth out the wrinkles of daily life. Here are some of the surfing packages offered by different cellphone companies:
- Orange and 012 Mobile- 1GB package for 139 shekels with no daily limit. The package is good for 30 days and can be used for more than one trip within 30 days.
- Cellcom and Pelephone- “Don’t surf- don’t pay” service. Cellcom charges 29 shekels per day for up to 50MB. If you didn’t surf that day you don’t pay anything. The package renews each day that the customer requests. Pelephone works the same way but costs 30 shekels.
- YOU Phone- 50MB package for 69 shekels or 1/2GB for 129-199 shekels.
- Golan Telcom- does not offer a package. The customer pays for what he/she uses. At this time, surfing is blocked as a default setting and it is recommended to use WiFi.
In order not to waste your package, don’t forget to shut off automatic notifications and Whatsapp photo/video downloads.
How big a surfing package do you need? Take a look at this usage chart to decide.
Being outside of the country you tend to use more internet than usual between checking the news and checking on friends, in addition to looking at maps, finding the closest ATM, or the hours of the exhibit you are going to see.
One of the other choices you have is whether or not to purchase a local SIM card. One of the large companies, SIM zol, offers SIM cards for a myriad of different countries. You get the card sent to your house or you can pick it up at the post office in Terminal 3. The card is good for 1 year for many uses. The biggest drawback to the local SIM card is that it doesn’t include your cell phone number so you don’t have access to your contacts. According the the company president, their biggest business is for travel in the US. The packages include unlimited calls within the US to cell phones and landlines but 250 minutes of calls from the US to cell phones in Israel. A warning will sound before each call, however, to let you know how may minutes have been used so far. The surfing package includes 4th generation 4G and the ability to open a hot spot. Hot spots are very useful when travelling as a family when you don’t want to buy a SIM card for each child- this way everyone can work/play on WiFi.
Your final option is the Bphone application from Bezeq. You download the app for your iPhone or Android smartphone. You connect automatically to your home phone and get to use all of your stored contacts on your smartphone. You make a call with WiFi or 3G to anyone in Israel or chul and you pay the price of the cost of a local phone call on your house phone. There is no charge to download the app or use the service. You can connect up to four phones on the same house phone. Try it out- what have you got to lose?
Source: Israel HaYom