Whether you’re traveling abroad for work or play, having a phone is essential. It’s your navigator, your translator, your camera and your way of letting mom know you made it safely. But this huge convenience can also be a huge expense. Voice and data charges can be high when you’re away from home. And that money could be better spent on food, lodging or souvenirs.
If you spend a lot of time traveling, it’s a good idea to invest in a used smartphone. A used device will save you money on voice and data rates and give you peace of mind if it’s lost or damaged. Plus, it’s always nice to have a backup phone in case something happens to your main device.
We understand that buying a used phone can be confusing and a hassle. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide. Below are a few reasons why you should consider a used smartphone for your next trip, and what to look for.
Can’t I just put a foreign SIM card in my own phone?
Yes, you could buy an international SIM Card or local SIM card that will enable your device to work in another country on another network - If your device will work that way (see the differences between GSM and CDMA phones ). But what if it doesn’t?
Or what if your main device gets lost or damaged? It’s one thing to lose your phone. It’s another to lose it in another country. Not only do you have to deal with losing your access to communication and helpful apps, but you’ll also have to deal with the loss of an expensive item you’ll have to replace when you get home.
It’s safer and cheaper in the long run to use a backup device while traveling.
Why not just get a prepaid phone?
Sure, you can probably purchase a prepaid or “burner” phone for around $50 when you get to the country you’re visiting. But it may not have all the bells and whistles you’re used to. Calling home might be great, but it may not have the technology to take memorable photos or the processing power needed for all your cool apps. You’ll save a few euros, pounds or yen but at the expense of a lot of conveniences.
Of course, there are some more expensive prepaid phones with much better features. But these devices, while good, still don’t compare to a gently used iPhone® 7 or something from the Samsung® Galaxy line. For a comparable price, you can get a device of much better quality.
So what kind of device should I get?
Well, there’s not really a “perfect” used phone for traveling abroad. It really depends on where you’re going, what you’re doing and your budget. Here are a few helpful hints to make sure you’re on the right track.
- Unlocked – A device that’s “unlocked” isn’t tethered to one mobile network. An unlocked smartphone will work with whatever local SIM card you use. Unlocked smartphones give you more freedom and flexibility in terms of price and carriers you use outside of the country.
- GSM Compatibility – Smartphones operate on either the GSM or CDMA networks . However, GSM is more common outside of the U.S. Look for a device that features quad band or specific bands 850/900/1800/1900 MHz in the specs. You can checkout GSM requirements for every country here.
- Suggested Devices – While there isn’t one device we recommend, here are a few that we think are overall good choices:
- oUsed iPhone 7
- oUsed iPhone 6
- oUsed Samsung Galaxy S8
How do I make sure I’m not getting scammed?
When it comes to buying a used phone, quality, reliability and trust are big concerns. You can find a great deal on a great used device from anyone or anywhere. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of scammers looking to make a quick buck. Here are a few guidelines to help you pick out a high-quality used device.
- Make sure the phone isn’t blacklisted or stolen – Check the phone’s IMEI number to see if it’s been blacklisted or stolen. If so, it won’t work and you’ll be out of your money.
- Pay with a card instead of cash – Using a credit or debit card gives you a little bit of buyer protection.
- Check for an inspection process – Find out if the device has been inspected for quality and reliability and/or has been repaired.
- Look for a return policy or warranty – Nine times out of 10, if the reseller offers a solid return policy on the device, you can trust they’re a reputable dealer.
For more information, check out our article on buying a used smartphone here.
How do I get service?
For a short trip, you may be able to get affordable service by contacting your carrier. AT&T® and Verizon® offer a variety of plans to meet short- and long-term needs while overseas. T-Mobile® and Sprint® offer some free coverage to certain areas, but potentially with slower data speeds. Check out your carrier to see your options.
- AT&T International Plans here.
- Verizon International Plans here.
- T-Mobile International Plans here.
- Sprint International Plans here.
Local SIM Cards
A local SIM card is usually the best overall value for affordable calls, text and data. You can have one shipped from the country you’re visiting or pick one up at a store in the airport. Just buy minutes and data as you need them on demand. Research local options to see what’s available.
International SIM Cards
If you travel pretty frequently or plan on visiting more than one country, an international SIM card might be a good bet. You’ll save on carrier rates and won’t have to worry about getting a new local SIM card every time you land in a new country. Here are a few options:
Where to buy?
The last thing you want to do while traveling is worry. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for business or pleasure — getting a used smartphone for travel can help alleviate some of the stress by saving you time, money and worry.
MyWiT® has a variety of gently used phones perfect for your needs and budget. Our inspection process is certified by OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) and carriers alike. So, if you’re looking to buy a used iPhone 6 or 7, a Samsung Galaxy S8, or just an affordable used iPad® for your child to enjoy while traveling, we’ve got you covered.
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