Monday, July 28, 2014

Lycamobile US Pay As You Go Prepaid SIM Review

I've had my Lycamobile US Pay As You Go Prepaid SIM for approximately 8 months after purchasing the SIM while I was in Las Vegas on a trip. I used to have a RedPocket Mobile US prepaid SIM but I found that based on my usage, I couldn't continue to maintain the RedPocket Mobile SIM because with an annual renewal of $100 and at $0.10/minute to call the US/Canada (among other countries), I wasn't reducing the balance enough in the span of a year to justify renewing it. If I couldn't use $100 at a rate of $0.10/minute in the span of 1 year whenever I (and my friends/family) visited the US, there was no way that I could use over $100 the following year if I renewed it by adding $100 since the previous balance would carry forward for another year and be added to the $100 that I just added to the balance.

I did some research prior to my trip to Las Vegas for another Pay As You Go Prepaid SIM with a low per minute rate and a low renewal rate or better terms to keep the US SIM active. I came across Lycamobile US which has favourable terms in order to keep the US SIM as well as the phone's balance active and it also had a very low per minute cost using direct dialing. The per minute cost at that time (which I was interested in) was $0.02/minute to make a call to a US number, $0.02/minute to receive a call while in the US, $0.03/minute to make a call to Canada, $0.04 per message to send a text message to a US number, and $0.16 per message to send a text message to a Canadian number. The current Lycamobile Pay As You Go prepaid rates are $0.05/minute to make a call to a US number, $0.05/minute to receive a call while in the US, $0.06/minute to make a call to Canada, $0.04 per message to send a text message to a US number, and $0.16 per message to send a text message to a Canadian number. Since it offered direct dialing at very low rates, there was no need to remember any calling card number or PINs prior to making an outgoing call.

In order to keep the SIM and balance active, Lycamobile only required that there be a billable charge every 90 days. I thought that this might present some problems but Lycamobile also roams in many countries (including where I live in Canada) so I could use it and create a billable charge at the higher rate for roaming in Canada (~$1.84/minute outgoing, $1.50/minute incoming, & $0.64/SMS) if I didn't go to the US in the span of 90 days. The current terms stipulate that any balance remaining on your account after 90 days don't rollover regardless of whether there is a billable charge on your Lycamobile account or whether you top up your account.

I purchased a Lycamobile SIM from a store a few hours after arriving in Las Vegas and inserted it into my unlocked GSM phone when I arrived at the place that I was staying in Las Vegas. When I powered on the phone, I waited a few minutes so that my phone could acquire/register onto Lycamobile's network. I then called 622 and waited to be prompted to enter the ZIP code. I entered the ZIP code for the place that I was staying at in the US. A few seconds later, I received my new phone number on the new Lycamobile SIM that I purchased. I then purchased $10.00 worth of airtime and placed it onto the phone.

The next thing that I did was to register my account on their webpage so that I could manage/view information regarding my account. The webpage for this is *HERE* and the only thing required to register on their website is the phone number and the PUK code for the phone (which was found on the large SIM card where you broke/removed the miniSIM, microSIM, or nanoSIM from this card). One of the things that I like about logging into the My Lycamobile website is that the website shows detailed call logs. These detailed call logs show outgoing phone numbers and dates/times/duration/costs of all calls. The incoming calls are shown as with your phone number in the "Called Number" field/column. The webpage also shows the current available balance on the SIM. The only information that isn't shown on the account webpage is the expiration date so one must manually calculate it based on the last billable charge in the "Call History."

One of the things that I like is the fact that it roams in Canada and allows for the use of free system "star" commands that allow users to check the balance by dialing *611# and also allows for the display of the phone number by dialing *613#. The only negative thing about the *611# command is that it (like the "My Lycamobile" website) doesn't display the expiration date.

The Pay As You Go service with Lycamobile includes call display and voice mail. The voice mail can be deactivated. I deactivated the voice mail on my account since I didn't want people leaving me voice mail messages.

During my usage of the Lycamobile prepaid SIM, I didn't have any issues with it. The only issue that I experienced was that sometimes when going from one country to another country, it will display an "Inactive SIM" message for a few minutes prior to acquiring/registering onto the network of the country. I corrected this by turning off the phone, waiting about 1 minute, and powering it back on again and waiting a few minutes.

Because I only use my Lycamobile US SIM when I (or my friends/family) visit the US and there is no expiration date shown on the phone or on the My Lycamobile website, the way that I keep track of the expiration date is to add 90 days to the date of my last usage and record the date in my agenda with a few reminders prior to that date. I then modify this date as it becomes necessary. According to the Lycamobile's website (section 3.4), a system generated SMS and/or e-mail is supposed to be sent to the user when the phone reaches 40 days and 60 days of inactivity but I have never received an SMS or e-mail to indicate this despite going over 60 days of inactivity with the phone.

The new terms and conditions mention that when topping up, any amount that remains from the top-up after 90 days is lost. You can find this information in section 4.6 on their terms of usage *HERE*. For me, this is a major issue and I can't really recommend Lycamobile to travelers because of this change in policy.

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