Chinese Prepaid SIM Card – How it works
- What is a SIM card?
- How do SIM cards work?
- Why Prepaid?
- How do I re-charge the SIM once it has been depleted?
- Can I keep my SIM card and use it later?
- Can I use different SIM cards in my phone?
- What happens if the phone is turned off and someone tries to call?
- Will my Chinese SIM card work outside of the country of origin?
- Will my Chinese SIM card work when I am on my cruise?
- Can I buy SIM cards in China when I get there?
- How Pre-Paid SIMs Work
- Can I browse the Internet and check email from my phone?
- Are there any concierge, personal assistant or translation services available?
What is a SIM card?
A SIM (Subscriber Identification Module or Subscriber Identity Module) card - holds all of a subscriber's personal information and phone settings. In essence, it is the subscriber's authorization to use the network. It also holds the phone number, personal security key and other data necessary for the handset to function. The card can be switched from phone to phone, letting the new phone receive all calls to the subscriber's number.
How do SIM cards work?
The SIM is inside each handset and functions like a digital brain. The authentication and encryption capabilities of the SIM prevent your phone from being stolen and your calls from being eavesdropped on. The SIM's digital memory, which stores information like your rate plan, phone number and service features, also allows you to easily personalize your service and contains user ID and billing information that can be switched between different phones. With your SIM card installed, you can make or receive calls personally even when you are using a borrowed phone. Upgrading your phone is as simple as slipping your SIM card into your new phone.
When prepay or "pay as you go" cellular services were first introduced in Europe, towards the end of 1995, Western European Cellular penetration was just below 6%. It has since climbed above 94% in China. No one disputes the enormous contribution which "contract free", "commitment free" prepaid cellular services have made to this growth. The fact that over 94% of all cellular users in China are now connected to prepay plans, is a tangible demonstration of prepay cellular impact. Prepaid cellular service lets you to stay connected without any monthly, contractual obligations therefore allowing more flexibility regarding when you will use your phone. It also prevents over usage and therefore is more "worry free" than subscription service. While 94% of all Chinese cell phone users have opted for prepaid cellular service, it is especially convenient for foreigners visiting China - whether they intend to stay for one week or six months.
How do I re-charge the SIM once it has been depleted?
Recharge vouchers are available in different denominations of Yuan Renminbi. You can also find Recharge vouchers locally throughout China, available from any stores with the China Mobile or China Unicom logo, including gas stations, convenience stores and electronic shops.
Can I keep my SIM card and use it later?
Yes, but it will terminate the SIM number and unused time if you do not charge the card within a certain time limit. If you like to keep your SIM card we will take care of that and make sure that the SIM card will not expire.
Can I use different SIM cards in my phone?
All of the cellular phones we rent and sell are unlocked, that is, not "locked in" with any specific provider or SIM card. Therefore, as long as the frequencies are compatible, you can use any SIM with your phone. If you have purchased or rented your handset through another source, particularly one of the major carriers, you will most likely not be able to use a different SIM card in your phone.
What happens if the phone is turned off and someone tries to call?
Some of the Chinese prepaid SIM cards have voicemail. Please check by the configuration of your SIM card the option for voicemail.
Will my Chinese SIM card work outside of the country of origin?
In most cases, your chinese SIM card will only work within China and/or Hong Kong. If needed check this option in the SIM card configuration page.
Will my Chinese SIM card work when I am on my cruise?
When in port, service should be satisfactory. Please confirm whether the electrical service on the ship is Chinese for the charger. If coverage while away from port is critical please call us to help you with a solution. You might consider purchasing a transformer and socket adapters for your cellular phone - we carry these as well. We also recommend that you fully charge your cell phone prior to your departure so that you have immediate access upon arrival. Please make sure that you carefully follow the manufacturer's instructions when first charging your phone.
Can I buy SIM cards in China when I get there?
Due to new anti-terrorist and anti-drug laws in many countries have made buying their SIM cards very difficult, even if you're a citizen or resident and in some cases you can only buy them if you such. Terrorists have been using SIM cards as detonators in cell phones to blow up people and things, such as the Spain train bombing when they used a Swiss SIM card. Therefore countries are now demanding to know exactly and completely all the most personal details of a tourist when trying to buy a SIM card. Usually they need:
- 3 color copies of your passport photo, 2-3 copies of your passport page, your home address and tel. numbers, you family's first and last names and your place of work. In addition come of them require information you likely don't even have on hand.
- Also, you'll have to take a taxi ride to a specialized shop and then a taxi back to your hotel. Often it can take 1-2-3-4 hours to complete the purchase depending on how busy the shop it, how expert the salesman is and how their computers are feeling that day.
- Often once you arrive you have left out some form or piece of information and you'll have to run around and get it and come back.
Buying your SIM CARD from a reliable company such as koenigcorp.com means getting your card without any hassle of registration. We can even give you your overseas phone number when you place the order. We also ship worldwide in case you need it and/or an unlocked cell phone shipped to where you are. To most popular destinations that means 3-4 business day service.
If you're a frequent overseas business traveler, you've likely encountered the frustrations of using a cell phone abroad.
Here is some advice.
Buy Chinese SIMs in the US/Europe or Use an International SIM
The way to save on international cell phone is to buy a pre-paid SIM card from a phone company in China. These SIMs can be purchased in directly in China. Be aware though, that if you buy SIMs overseas there might be residency requirements, you will not get your phone number until you arrive and the instructions will be in the local language. It may actually cost less to buy a SIM card in the USA/Europe because of needing to go to a special shop but considering you get the number in advance (usually) and the instructions in English or German, it's worth it.
Before departure find out whether your phone will work at your destination, and if so, whether you can activate the international roaming access function that would allow you to receive and make calls. However this means very costly roaming fees and your incoming calls can be costly and always your outgoing calls are expensive.
If the phone is not compatible with local technology, you'll have to consider renting, buying or borrowing a local cell phone or getting one in advance from http://www.koenigcorp.com in China. We have Factory Unlocked cell phones both to buy International Cell Phones and to rent Cell Phone and ship. If your phone is compatible, you'll need to decide whether you want to get your phone unlocked so that it can accept a local SIM card - the ID chip that carries your local phone number. There are 4 bands, 850/900/1800/1900Mhz.
What is the advantage behind the CHINESE LOCAL PHONE NUMBER option?
With a local phone number you can receive local calls and avoid the $1-$4 per minute international roaming charges you'd otherwise incur with your home SIM card. However, once you leave the country of the local SIM card, the calls you receive from there will rack up international roaming charges. There are 2 ways to skirt that problem:
- Is to buy country specific SIM cards for every country you visit, provided that your phone is compatible. If you try to buy them overseas it can be either impossible or very frustrating and expensive or impossible. The hassle with that option: You have to inform your contacts of your new cell phone number each time since you won't have your foreign cell phone numbers until you buy them. Getting them from KoenigCorp.com first means you can have your numbers even at the time you place the order.
- Is to buy a single SIM card good for more than one country. That way you give out a single cell phone number but good for between 110 and 160 countries depending on which international SIM card you buy. At least with one of those two your incoming calls while in western Europe will still be free to you, night and day, from every country and phone on earth. Calling the states from all western European countries is a flat rate of US$0.97 per minute, always. Compare that to using the, for example, German country specific SIM card at $2.50 per minute and you'll see that sometimes it’s cheaper to get one of the international SIM cards.
Travelers heading to China may face a whole different ball game
When you go there, your GSM phone may won't work. You have to have a 3G 2100 (third generation) phone, for example a phone like this. 3G refers to the technology that gives cell phone users the "broadband experience" of a laptop with its high speed and data capacity. While such phones are just starting to come out in the United States, they don't operate on the same frequencies as they do in Japan or Europe. A 3G phone purchased in the United States and taken to Europe would roll onto the networks there fine but would operate as a 2G or "second generation" phone there, with limited data capacity. Travelers from China or Europe to the United States will find that their 3G phones will roam on Cingular or T-Mobile 2G networks but without the 3G roaming experience they are used to.
How Pre-Paid SIMs Work
This is the easiest part. Pre-paid SIMs start with a monetary balance on the account. As you make calls, the charges are deducted from the credit available based on the per-minute rates. Rates will vary depending on the carrier's policies, whether local, to a local cell phone, or international. The rates are included with the SIM card packaging. In almost all European and Western countries, incoming calls are free.
When your call credit gets low, you drop by any convenience store or newspaper stand and buy a little scratch off voucher from the same company as the SIM in your phone. Enter the secret code from the voucher into the phone's automated top-up system, and the voucher's credit is added to your account. It's a free call to check your balance and to add more credit. It's like getting gas in your car and something millions of people around the world every day. If you don't want to stop frequently, buy a large denomination card, such as a 500 Yuan.
Can I browse the Internet and check email from my phone?
Yes, you can browse the Internet, check email and use other data services. To find the GPRS or CMDA programming instructions for your phone, log in to your KoenigCorp.com account, click the "ON" button for Mobile Internet and then click on Remote Program. Programming your mobile phone is very simple and can be done remotely by sending the programming instructions from KoenigCorp.com to your phone.
Are there any concierge, personal assistant or translation services available?
Yes! Starting December 1, 2011 the new Koenig Personal Assistant service offers a full suite of services available 24/7/365. Includes concierge services, business services, medical services, Emergency assistance and interpreter services.
A sample of available services:
- Information about countries, visas, vaccinations, safety, weather, hotels, transportation
- Reservations for hotels, flights, trains, car rentals, restaurants
- Information about sporting/cultural events, buying tickets, calling a taxi
- Business services such as helping to organize business meetings, conference calls, document translation, office equipment rental, currency rates, stock market indices, wake up service, fax service
- Receive emergency and routine medical advice, arrange arrival of a doctor or an ambulance, get medical and dental referrals, get help with lost baggage, tickets or passport, problems at check-in, rebooking tickets, etc.
- Roadside assistance
- Emergency messaging to family members or consulates
- Legal aid
Simply dial (+86)-1-826-801-3050 from any KoenigCorp.com enabled phone to access the Personal Assistant service.