Travel tip: call forwarding

Posted by Doc
Apr 06 2011

I’m in Sweden. It’s chilly and damp, much of the time.  I’m separated from my wife and children by thousands of miles and seven timezones.

I brought my iPhone 4 with me, just because I can’t bear to be away from it.  And I brought the unlocked LG phone I bought last year, which has a SIM card from O2 in the UK.

There was a balance on my SIM card, so rather than buy another one here in Sweden (mistake), I decided to use the one I have and use up the minutes.

First challenge: topping up my prepaid SIM. Can’t use an American credit card by web or phone. After a couple of hours of screwing around, I finally reached a real person.  She was lovely, after confirming that I can’t use my cards by web or phone and suggesting I go to an ATM.  “But I’m in Sweden,” I opined.

As I had also wanted to add their “International Favourites” plan, she was kind enough to say “I’ll add 15 pounds to your card, to cover the plan and give you some money so you can make important calls.” I was impressed with that. It’s not a lot of money, but that’s good customer service (after the abysmal experience with the website and automated phone stuff).

Once she gave me the credit, I was able to set up the International Favourites, which includes three US numbers to which I can make up to 3000 minutes of calls per month, and a direct-dial US number for them to call me so there are no international call charges from the US.

Here are the tips I learned from this:

  • If you have a SIM from another country, find out about topping it up. I’m going to set up auto-top-up when I get to London tomorrow. Then I’ll never have to deal with that again.
  • If the carrier has a plan like O2 does, with a number in another country, get it, because…
  • I have AT&T. Call forwarding is done at their switch in the US, not on my phone. So I forwarded my mobile number to the O2 number in Houston. This means that anyone can call me using my mobile US number, and they’ll be forwarded to my UK-based mobile without even knowing it!
    • I was at dinner last night, after setting this up fifteen minutes earlier, when my UK mobile rang. It was someone calling me from the US. It worked!
Now to figure out how to unlock my iPhone 3G and iPhone 4, and just put the SIM cards directly into them. 🙂

P.S. I got a prepaid SIM for my iPad here in Sweden. Fixed price, unlimited data. It’s worth the investment, since I’ll be coming back here again this year.  One for each country, maybe.

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