Do I need to get a cell phone for my trip to Israel?
So you’re going to Israel and getting conflicting information about using a cell phone in Israel.
Some have told you that your cell phone will work in Israel, others claim that they won’t work. Your cell phone provider may have assured you that you cell phone will most definitely work abroad, even in Israel. Some friends may have used their own phones and returned to outrageous charges or horror stories of being disconnected. Others may have rented phones or SIM cards, and found it confusing (it’s not, I promise).
There are so many options available, what do?! What’s the truth and what’s the best option for you?
Well, let me try and give you some clarity.
First of all, regardless of the option you end up choosing. Please make sure that one way or another you have a phone while you’re overseas. Even if you’re going on vacation and want to enjoy the benefits of being “unplugged” or “disconnected”, it is highly recommended to have a reliable means of communication in case of any unexpected situation or emergency. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a foreign country frantically trying to find someone that can lend you a phone or even worse, if you’re in a place where one is not available and there is no way to call out. Not to mention that folks back home may need to reach you for urgent matters. (If you want the bare minimum, consider our Pay-As-You-Go phones for just $1/day).
That being said, here’s a simple explanation:
Different countries have different cell phone providers (e.g. In the US: ATT, Verizon, etc…, and in Israel: Pelephone, Orange, etc…). The phone you use in the States (e.g. iPhone, Galaxy, etc…) is receiving service from one of the US providers. If you were to do nothing, and just go to Israel and start using your phone, it will most likely work (check with your provider for international coverage to be sure).
BUT… It would be working using your ATT, Verizon, etc. service over the Israeli networks. Which means basically that every minute of air time and every MB of Data you use will be charged as international time. A very expensive proposition (sometimes up to $5/min!).
Now you may have been told by your provider that you can get an “international plan” so that you get better rates. And that is certainly an option. However, be very cautious with this as well as even the international plans can be quite costly compared to just renting a Gil Travel Phone or SIM card. For the cost of a 3-minute call from Israel with one of ATT’s plans for example, you can get unlimited calls AND data with a Gil Travel Phones SIM Card. International plans often require a monthly “set up fee” (about $30-$120) and even then, the per minute rates and data rates are still significantly higher than just having service from an Israeli provider, such as the cell phones and SIM cards offered by Gil Travel Phones.
If your cell phone is locked (see if you can unlock it with your provider), then we still recommend using a regular (non-Smart) Gil Travel Phones, and you can take your own smart phone to Israel to use anywhere that you find WIFI access.
If all this is confusing to you, then just reach one of our specialists who will be glad to help you make sense of it all and make a choice that will be best for you based on your unique preference and needs.
And the most important thing is that you make sure that this trip is memorable and not your last…Enjoy Israel!