International Cell Phone Rental FAQs
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about renting a cell phone, and a bunch of stuff you probably didn’t even know you needed to know. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
We know that the idea of renting an international cell phone can be a little confusing, so we’ve tried to cover all the bases here in terms of things you’ll need to know before you sign on the proverbial dotted line. If you find you still have questions after reading through this FAQ list, feel free to call and speak to one of our dedicated representatives who can answer your remaining questions and help you figure out which phone set up is best for you.
First of all, we need to mention that we’ve arranged with the cell phone rental provider for a special discount just for BootsnAll customers, so whenever you’re ready to make the call and rent a mobile phone, be sure you give the promotional code Boots to the representative you speak with. Okay, now let’s get to the heart of the FAQs. To jump ahead to just the parts you’ve got questions about, click on the following for questions about our cell phone rental policies, some questions about how to use your cell phone, a few things to know about SIM cards, and a bit about prepaid calling time.
And to jump right into your order, call our representatives toll-free at 1-800-287-5072, or +1-310-862-7100 if you’re outside the US, and don’t forget to use the promotional code Boots for a discount on your cell phone rental!
About Our International Cell Phone Rentals
- What phone models do you carry?
At present, we have five different cell phone models available for rent - Siemens A70, Motorola V180, Motorola V220, Nokia 6085 and Motorola RAZR V3. We also have a new and unique partnership with The National Geographic Society which allows us to offer the Talk Abroad Travel Phone that works in more than 100 countries at an incredibly affordable rate.
- When should I order?
You can order as far in advance as you like - even months prior to your departure. We will not ship your cell phone rental until the appropriate date in order for you to receive it in time for your departure.
- What is the latest I can order a rental phone?
You can order up to one business day prior to your departure as long as you call in your order prior to 4:00pm Pacific Time. Even if you are leaving early in the morning, we can usually have your cell phone rental arrive to you in time - but to be safe, it’s always better to order further in advance. Please call 1-800-287-5072 to ensure that we can get you your cell phone rental in time (and don’t forget the promotional code, Boots!).
- Where can I have the cellular rental phone mailed?
We only ship rental phones to the United States. You will need to supply us with a U.S. address for delivery. If you decide to purchase one of our phones, those can be shipped internationally.
- How do I calculate my rental period?
It is important to remember that your phone rental is measured from the date of your departure until the time it is sent back (not when it arrives) or returned in person. Your phone will arrive to your no less than two business days before your departure date. FedEx tracking information is used to document the drop off date on returned phones.
- When do I get charged for my cell phone rental?
We charge your credit card the same day we ship.
- What happens if I cancel my order?
As long as your rental cell phone has not been shipped, you will not incur any charges. In the event that your rental has been sent out, you are only responsible for a one week rental plus the shipping.
- Do you offer insurance against loss or damage?
No, we do not, and this is why. Technically, you are purchasing the phone from us and then we are buying it back from you. The vast majority of credit card companies offer their own insurance against loss or damage for purchases, but usually not for rentals. Therefore, and given this premise, you are already covered for accidental loss or damage - at no extra charge!
- Is it better to buy or rent the phones from you?
There is no simple answer for this. If your rental period approaches two months, you would be better off buying the phone. Also, if you travel often, it makes sense to not keep paying for shipping every time you go somewhere. Renting a phone is a good way to try out our phone and see if you like it. Then, if you decide to keep the rental, you pay no rental fee. You simply forfeit the deposit on the phone. On the other hand, purchasing a phone ensures you will be acquiring an unused handset.
- If I buy a cell phone from you, how can I be sure the technology won’t become obsolete in the future?
This certainly won’t occur in the near future. In fact, this is a relatively new technology in the US that many of the cellular service providers are quickly embracing. Sure, there will always be newer, smaller and “better” cell phones introduced in the future, but the underlying technology powering the service will remain the same. Consider classic cars as an analogy - while they may be less modern, they still get you around because even the oldest vehicles use gasoline for power!
About Using Your Rented Cell Phone
- What will my new cell phone number be?
Your new cell phone number is a local number for the country pertaining to your SIM card. For example, if you have an Italian SIM card, your number will be a local Italian cell phone number.
- Can I retain my US cellular phone number?
Unfortunately you cannot. We recommend that you leave your overseas cellular number on your domestic voice mail. This way, whoever needs to reach you while you are overseas can still do so. You might be able to forward calls, providing someone can program forwarding for you back in the States. The problem with this is that all wrong numbers, telemarketers and everyone else you don’t want to hear from when you’re abroad will be able to reach you and that will end up being a nuisance.
- Will my phone come with a charger?
Yes! All of our cell phones (for rent or for sale) come with a variable-voltage travel charger plus wall-plug adapters for overseas. Our rental phones are shipped pre-charged.
- Does the cell phone come charged?
Yes it does. You only need to insert the SIM card, which is easy to do (please let us know if you would like for us to do this for you).
- Will I have voicemail?
Most GSM phones have voicemail capacity, but it depends on what services are available through the local provider. In almost all cases voicemail is included with your service.
- What about text messaging or emails?
These options depend on the local service provider and the hardware (phone handset) being used. Almost all GSM providers support SMS (Short Message Service or “text messaging”). And in countries where incoming calls are free, incoming SMS messages tend to be free. A general rule of thumb is that SMS rates are usually about half the cost of an outgoing per-minute rate, whether local or international.
- After my trip, could I use the phone I buy from you at home?
The answer to this question depends on what network you currently use and if you’re planning on replacing an old phone or looking to establish a new phone plan. All of our package phones will work only on GSM networks. (Which means the phones cannot work on Sprint, Verizon or Nextel networks.) Here in the US, our tri-band phones work on the 1900 MHz GSM band, which is the predominant GSM band in use in the U.S. (At this time, T-Mobile operates only on this frequency.)
While GSM technology is the world standard for mobile phone communications, you may find that your local GSM provider has poor coverage in your area. We are not able to determine this information for you. Your best bet is to ask people you know who use a local GSM carrier what what their experience has been.
Another possibililty is that part of your local provider’s network may be setup on the 850 MHz band. (Cingular uses the 850 MHz band in some areas.) If this is the case in your area and you want to buy a phone for use in the US as well as abroad, you may want to invest in a quad-band phone. You will also want to check directly with the desired GSM carrier to find out their rate plans. Ask a service rep about the phone model you intend on purchasing and what’s involved in integrating that phone with their service. If you are told that the phone is not supported, this will mean either that they do not have service reps trained on that model phone or that you will need a quad-band phone to give you coverage in areas serviced by the 850 MHz network.
About SIM Cards
- What is a SIM card?
Check out this good overview of what the heck the whole SIM card thing is all about.
- How many minutes come with the SIM card?
The SIM cards usually come with call credits measured in monetary units such as euros rather than increments of time. This is because rate charges for calls vary depending on time of day, destination of the calls and other discounts or charges the carrier may apply. Also, with most GSM carriers providing free incoming calls to the user, the number of minutes on the SIM card could be substantial without the need to add more call credits.
- If the SIM card costs $80, do I get $80 worth of talk time?
When you purchase the prepaid SIM card, you are buying the brain that inserts into your GSM cell phone and makes it work. There is always some credit included with new SIM cards, but the amounts vary from country to country. Additional airtime is purchased locally and usually available at or near face value. For example, a 25 Euro voucher will credit your SIM card 25 Euros. The remaining cost for the SIM card is a set-up fee which pays for service on this particular pre-paid account.
- Can somebody else use my SIM card?
Anyone can use your card. If you lose your phone with the SIM card inside, you can usually call customer service to deactivate the card so that nobody can use the remaining credit, though they won’t be able to issue you a new card. You can also safely lend your phone and SIM card to friends without worrying about incurring any out-of-pocket costs. If they need more talk time, they can simply add some by purchasing a recharge card and using it with your SIM card.
- Can I use multiple SIM cards with my phone?
Since we offer only unlocked phones, you can swap SIM cards as often as you like. However, if you are traveling to multiple countries, you might consider that each SIM card has its own unique phone number. In the case of traveling to many countries during one trip, an International SIM card is the optimal choice for many travelers as you keep the same phone number regardless of your position on the globe. Note that you will be roaming when outside the country of origin for the card.
- If I run out of call credit, do I buy another SIM card?
NO! Remember, the SIM card is the “brains” of your phone and is rechargeable. Once you have a SIM card all you need to do is add credit for more talk time. Make sure that you do not wait beyond the service life of your SIM card to add more call credit.
- Will my country-specific SIM card work outside the country of origin?
When you use a country-specific SIM card outside of its home country, this is known as “roaming”. While this is often possible to do, there are some problems that make this undesirable for longer side-trips. First of all, the rates are much more expensive for making local and international calls and you don’t get free incoming calls. Also, if you run out of credit, you rarely can purchase recharge vouchers outside of the country of origin.
- How do I roam with my country-specific SIM card?
First of all, Telestial does not support roaming out-of-country with country-specific SIM cards. (There are too many possibilities and variables for us to do this adequately.) That said, here are some rules-of-thumb for you to use if you plan to roam:
- Call customer service for your SIM card carrier to request or confirm that your SIM has roaming capabilities enabled. Roaming with some SIM cards may NOT be possible at all.
- Make sure to ask customer service if there are any variations in dialing to or from your number when roaming. (Perhaps the use of a different country code or dialing prefix, etc.)
- Ask customer service to provide dialing rates for making and receiving calls when roaming for all scenarios of interest. (Customer service may not be available from the U.S.)
- Make sure you have a good guesstimate of how much time you’ll use the phone when roaming.
- Buy and apply adequate call credits (via recharge vouchers) for use when roaming. You may want to purchase a “backup” recharge voucher to use in case your SIM card runs out of call credits when you are roaming.
About Prepaid Calling Time
- What are the calling rates?
Rates vary from country to country whether you are utilizing a country-specific or international SIM card. Please check the exact rates by calling our representatives toll-free at 1-800-287-5072 (or +1-310-862-7100) for the appropriate country-specific provider. With the exception of just a few countries, incoming calls (received within-country) for the country-specific SIM cards are always FREE - regardless of origin.
- How do I add more “talk time” to my SIM card?
In prepaid phone lingo, adding more talk time is known as “recharging” or “topping-up” a SIM card. Recharging a SIM card is as easy as entering a code number into the handset. Recharge voucher cards with recharge codes on them can be purchased at many convenience stores, magazine kiosks and cell phone stores. They are also often found at post offices, train stations and airports. Please note that you can only purchase recharge cards within the country of origin. (If you have a country-specific SIM for Germany, for instance, you can only purchase recharge cards for that SIM card within Germany.)
- How do I know how much call credit I have remaining?
You can always check your remaining call credit. The instructions vary from country to country and are always provided with the SIM cards you purchase through us. They can also be found at the bottom of the Customer Service page. Typically you either call a special number or send an SMS message and the carrier answers back with your remaining credit.
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