Can I access my TracFone calling cards?

Telephoning & Internet in the USA

Anyone who is on vacation or on a tour through America for a long time will certainly feel the need to call home every now and then. You want to know how your loved ones are doing at home and in return you want to tell that everything is fine with you. But calling home can be a big challenge, especially if you haven't asked how it can be done in the easiest and cheapest way before you leave. In this context, the roaming charges are particularly important for all those who want to make calls with their mobile phones or surf the Internet while on vacation, as well as the purchase of calling cards or SIM cards here or in the USA.

US roaming charges

When it comes to roaming costs, which only affect the cellular network, a distinction must be made between active and passive charges.

Active: when the person who is abroad calls home.
Passive: if the person who is abroad is called from home.

Background to the passive costs: The caller from home does not have to know that the call partner is abroad with his cell phone, so he only pays the charges that would be due for a "normal" call to the cell phone. The surcharge has to be paid by the person called abroad who can of course choose not to take the call.
The mailbox should be deactivated at home before the start of the holiday, otherwise calls that come in during the stay at a distance will be forwarded to the "home mailbox", for which you pay twice. And that can be quite expensive - especially if a lot of people are talking long and long messages on the virtual answering machine.

Order a SIM card for your vacation in the USA in Germany

If you don't want to spend your first vacation days in America looking for a cheap prepaid SIM card provider, you should buy one in Germany or order one online. The German provider Tourisim, a contractual partner of American mobile network operators, is particularly recommended in this context. Make sure that your own phone is a TRI-band cell phone or a model suitable for the US cellular network.

Overview of roaming charges:

Provider outgoing calls to incoming SMS data

D and outgoing calls within the United States

T-Mobil 1.49 EUR / min. EUR 0.69 / min. EUR 0.39 / SMS EUR 0.49 / 50 kb
E-Plus 1.49 EUR / min. EUR 0.69 / min. EUR 0.39 / SMS EUR 2.99 / mb
O2 1.59 EUR / min. EUR 0.69 / min. 0.49 EUR / SMS 11.99 EUR / 24 hours
Vodafone 1.63 EUR / min. EUR 0.71 / min. 0.46 EUR / SMS 0.49 EUR / 50 kb

Receiving SMS is free from most providers.
Since the information regarding the costs can change constantly, it is advisable to find out about the exact prices on the homepage of the respective provider before starting your holiday.

Cellular carriers in the United States

Another option that does not incur any roaming charges is to purchase a mobile phone without a contract, including a prepaid SIM card (month plans), directly on site. To do this, you should know which mobile network operators and offers are available in the USA.
The following questions must be clarified before buying the mobile phone and the card, which are only worthwhile if you are staying in America for a long time and really want to make calls more often: activation fee, costs for calls to Europe / Germany and the details of the data connections. In addition, you should make sure that the fees are charged without TAX, and ask whether there are roaming charges if you want to call from one to the other US state. Ideally, you pay for the mobile phone contract in cash to prevent further amounts being debited afterwards.
The cellular network is well developed along the highways; apart from these routes, reception may not be available everywhere.
The best known cellular network operators in the USA are: Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Virgin Mobil and T-Mobil. Other prepaid card providers: TracFone, Clearwire, MetroPCS and USCelluar.

Use of telephone cards in landlines and calling cards for cell phones

There are calling cards with which you can call home from a landline phone or a phone booth at a somewhat lower cost than with a mobile phone if you dial the free 0800 or 0888 number. These calling cards are loaded with a certain amount beforehand in a shop or supermarket, which is then telephoned.
The main disadvantage of these calling cards is that landline telephones are becoming increasingly rare, especially not where you might need them urgently, for example if you break down. In addition, you don't have a cell phone to hand with which you can activate the navigation system, call up messages or reserve a hotel.
In addition to calling cards for landline devices, there are also calling cards for cell phones. There are a large number of providers available for this, but they change their prices frequently. If you want to use this type of telephony, it is best to inquire about the current tariffs before traveling to the USA - for example on a comparison site such as Comfi.