Bringing Mobile Phone from US to UK

BillDL
BillDL used Ask the Experts™
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I live in the UK and have a friend visiting from the USA soon.  She is tied to AT&T on her smartphone.  What are her best and cheapest options for bringing her phone here to the UK and being able to use data, make calls, and send texts back to America?

Ideally looking for American experts who have travelled to the UK recently and have set up some kind of calling plan through AT&T that worked out well.  Unfortunately international use of mobile phones is not my strong point.
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Most Valuable Expert 2012
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Commented:
Cannot speak to directly to the UK but it looks like AT&T lumps the UK into the same regions I can speak to.

On one trip we were able to just add the country/island to our plan for a monthly fee of around $30 then cancel when we came back.  Just paid one month for the week trip but it was a deal!

I think they caught on to that loophole and out next trip was a $10 a day option.  The "monthly" looks like it is now $60.

The nice thing about the $10 option was it is per 24 hour period.  If you can put it down, you don't pay.  Once you activate a day, you get all you need for the $10 in 24 hours.  I think my wife was able to ration her time to where we ended up under the $60 for the week?

https://www.att.com/offers/international-plans/europe-caribbean-country-more.html
EE Topic Advisor, Independant Technology Professional
Commented:
The other option is get a temporary plan and SIM to use while in the UK and forward their US phone number to it. You would have to consider how long they are staying to figure out if this is practical or not. The downside is of course that texts don't forward, so they would have to get the new temporary number to their friends. However to your friend, all text would still be in the same stream.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
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Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
I just came back from overseas (reverse to you) and just used my ISP's roaming plan. That was the best way forward and nothing had to change. I put the phone settings for Roaming to ON and everything worked. This is probably best for a short trip.
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Thank you for the suggestions so far.  I will consider all options.

@slightwv
The $60 for a month seemed quite steep when I first looked at the AT&T site, but I will have to weigh that up against roaming usage charges and see whether it would be worthwhile.  I wondered about the $10 a day thing but it activates immediately you send even one text.  This is going to be a 3 week visit, so even leaving the phone off for 2 days and using it every 3rd day could work out marginally more than the $60 for a month.

@BrianThere would only be a handful of people back home that she would need to be in contact with, so it would be easy enough to supply the temporary number to them rather than forward all calls.
I am very tempted to just order a SIM card locally through a company like:
https://www.lycamobile.co.uk/en/bundles/
that always offered cheap calls to certain countries, or perhaps just choose a monthly bundle with a fairly healthy data allowance that looks like it would be cheaper than the AT&T monthly one.  The problem is that my guest is probably on par with me when it comes to smartphones (far from expert to put it mildly) and I wouldn't want to cause her a headache by having other apps installing courtesy of the changed carrier or to have to change phone settings back at the end of the stay when she inserts the old SIM again. It's a Samsung S6 and I'm not sure if it has dual SIM capability.

@John
I have been looking at the roaming charges and trying to get an idea what it would be likely to cost for the duration of the stay.  Thanks.
Most Valuable Expert 2012
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Commented:
Check the fine print.  I'm thinking getting the texts/email notifications are inbound data.  The phone acknowledging the receipt might be minimal as long as she never opens the emails of responds to the texts.

What does your contract offer if you add US plans and let her use your phone to contact back?

What about forwarding messages to a GMail/Voice account and responding through it using your hardware?  I'm not an Expert on Google Voice but it does appear you can forward messages to it form the 10 second Google I did?

I get call from Microsoft Support on a regular basis from numbers I don't recognize.  I seriously doubt they are paying for all those calls from <insert foreign country here> to my house.  They have a way of routing them across the Internet.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
Hello Bill, My ISP charges $6 per day for roaming into the US and $12 per day roaming into England / Europe. There is a maximum charge of 10 days in a billing period
I'm still considering the options, in case anybody thinks I ave abandoned the question.
Thank you all.  I decided to go more or less with what Brian B suggested.

I bought two Pay as you Go SIM cards (50 pence and £1) from the supermarket for different carriers.  After registering them you top them up with a credit (online or buying a voucher and entering the serial number into their hotline) and then convert the credit to an International  30 day "bundle" either by sending a text with a code for the particular plan or online via their website.  Bundles are available in differing monetary amounts that offer more call minutes, more data, and sometimes cheaper text messages.

Different carriers are better for phoning internationally and others are better for data allowances, but the one aspect I did notice is that they are all cashing in on text messaging, with none of my short-listed ones "giving" international texts for "free".  They all charge you for text messages even where they might be offering free call time and attractive data allowances.

One of the carriers for the cards I bought offers very cheap phone calls, a fairly good data allowance, and moderately priced texts (mobile phone), and the other isn't as good for phone calls or texts but has a very large data allowance for the money (tablet to use for browsing).

By topping up each card and converting them to suitable bundles my guest will have plenty call time and data allowance for the stay and it will cost a lot less than paying AT&T $10 a day or $60 for 30 days and then STILL having to watch the fairly data allowance like a hawk because they immediately and automatically charge the user with an additional $50 if it goes over the allowance.

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