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Airtel pre-paid - Roaming internationally and keeping SIM card alive

Airtel pre-paid - Roaming internationally and keeping SIM card alive

Old Apr 27, 19, 6:21 am
  #1  
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Airtel pre-paid - Roaming internationally and keeping SIM card alive

Hello Airtel experts - I have an active Airtel pre-paid SIM card (purchased in India 2016). Currently, I am in Europe for a short term assignment (2-3 years). Is there a way to keep the SIM card alive while I am here in Europe? I understand that regular re-charge will help (and keeping a minimum balance), but is there any definitive answer on what the minimum requirements are to keep the SIM alive? I keep getting messages from Airtel asking me to upgrade to a 'roaming plan', but I don't really use this SIM (I have a local European SIM - much cheaper). Roaming plans costs are high and some are valid for only 28 days. I just want to keep the Airtel SIM alive for the next 18-24 months. I had asked this questions a few years back, but wondering if there is any update on the issue. Thanks!
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Old Apr 27, 19, 8:17 am
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I have two Airtel prepaid SIM cards, one that I use for voice and the other I use as a hotspot in a small Alcatel hotspot device. I've had the voice SIM card for nearly 10 years and the one I use for data for nearly 3 years, each obtained from a different calling circle in India. I installed the mobile Airtel and PayTM apps while in India to activate the apps on the device and use PayTM to top up periodically. I check the balance and expiry date periodically using a normal browser on my laptop and check for the cheapest recharge plan available for the circle in India where the SIM was issued. If your mobile apps were not already registered to your phone number then you may have to turn the phone on with the SIM in Europe to receive the OTP (One Time Password) to activate the accounts on your phone. Once this is done you can access your accounts via a web browser on your desktop/laptop/tablets to make your periodic topup/recharge payments to keep the account active. I do the recharge about a month or two after the expiration date as there is a grace period before the phone number is deactivated. You may want to check via a web search to see what is the current grace period as the grace period seems to keep changing based upon the Indian Government's current policy.

I use one of the two Airtel SIMs as a data SIM in a portable hotspot with a 1GB/day limit and use my Google data SIM only as a backup in India.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 9:43 am
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If you're not using it, why keep it? Getting a new SIM card in India these days is a relatively minor hassle: you may have to go to an Airtel/Vodafone service centre and wait a day for activation, but that's it.
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Old Apr 27, 19, 10:37 am
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
If you're not using it, why keep it? Getting a new SIM card in India these days is a relatively minor hassle: you may have to go to an Airtel/Vodafone service centre and wait a day for activation, but that's it.
Presumably the OP like me wants to use the same number on his/her next visit to India so that the next time the OP is in India he/she has the same number and his/her friends/relatives can use that number to contact him/her. I go often enough to India and when I land there I need to contact my driver or relatives or friends who come to the airport to pick me up. All my travel accounts in India such as Indian Railways, airlines in India, booking engines, taxi services such as OLA, Uber etc., are tied to my Indian mobile number. In addition I have over dozens of contacts In india who I keep in touch with while in India and I don't want to have to update them my new number. A periodic topup using PayTM can cost as little as Rs. 10 which resets the SIM expiration clock for another 3-6 months..
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Old Apr 28, 19, 12:40 am
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Thanks a lot for the reply. I do have access to my Airtel online account and have been recharging using the Airtel web interface. Where do I find the SIM expiry date online please?
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Old Apr 28, 19, 12:47 am
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Originally Posted by ROW2Aisle View Post
Presumably the OP like me wants to use the same number on his/her next visit to India so that the next time the OP is in India he/she has the same number and his/her friends/relatives can use that number to contact him/her. I go often enough to India and when I land there I need to contact my driver or relatives or friends who come to the airport to pick me up. All my travel accounts in India such as Indian Railways, airlines in India, booking engines, taxi services such as OLA, Uber etc., are tied to my Indian mobile number. In addition I have over dozens of contacts In india who I keep in touch with while in India and I don't want to have to update them my new number. A periodic topup using PayTM can cost as little as Rs. 10 which resets the SIM expiration clock for another 3-6 months..
This is exactly why, thanks. Just trying to find out how I can check the expiry date of the SIM and when a top-up is really needed. I am getting a lot of messages from Airtel with the following warnings:
- 'Airtel Pack validity is <date>. Thereafter services can be used only after recharge with validity or unlimited pack
-'Airtel Pack validity ends <date>. Recharge today to avoid service stoppage
-'Outgoing stopped! Restart your Airtel number by recharging with Unlimited pack'

I am not able to differentiate if these are just solicitations sent out by Airtel or actual account warnings where the SIM gets turned off.
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Old Apr 28, 19, 5:39 am
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Originally Posted by toi_classified View Post
Roaming plans costs are high and some are valid for only 28 days.
airtel recently launched some pretty decent pre-paid roaming plans....there is one that costs inr 424 for 3 months....you get 75 minutes of incoming/outgoing calls....pretty cost effective to keep a sim alive for the time period you are looking for....
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Old Apr 28, 19, 6:49 am
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Originally Posted by toi_classified View Post
<<<snipped>>> Where do I find the SIM expiry date online please?
When you log into your account using a web browser it shows you how many days are left for the recharge packs you chose. This also shows up in your mobile app even when the SIM is not in the mobile phone but the phone is connected via Wi-FI to the Internet.


Mine shows:
Balance & Recharges

Pack Expiring in 3 days

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Old Apr 28, 19, 9:28 am
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Originally Posted by ROW2Aisle View Post
When you log into your account using a web browser it shows you how many days are left for the recharge packs you chose. This also shows up in your mobile app even when the SIM is not in the mobile phone but the phone is connected via Wi-FI to the Internet.


Mine shows:
Balance & Recharges

Pack Expiring in 3 days

Thanks again. I see two validity dates on the Airtel portal (one says 21 days from today - which is May 19th and and the other says June 4th). I have a screenshot, but will post as soon as this forum rules allow me to post them (after I have 5x text posts)

Which is the correct one please?
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Old Apr 28, 19, 9:31 am
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Originally Posted by Keyser View Post
airtel recently launched some pretty decent pre-paid roaming plans....there is one that costs inr 424 for 3 months....you get 75 minutes of incoming/outgoing calls....pretty cost effective to keep a sim alive for the time period you are looking for....
This actually sounds really good. I see this at Rs. 446 (90 day validity). So 4x recharges put me at Rs. 1784 (~23 Euros per year to keep the SIM alive).
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Old Jun 1, 19, 1:51 am
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I use BSNL prepaid sim cards. I have them from past 10 years. These sims doesn't work outside India, but it's validity balance can be checked online from anywhere in the world. The cost is also very cheap i.e. about ₹40 for 6 months.

Last edited by mcgiw; Jun 7, 19 at 7:16 am Reason: Clarity
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Old Jun 1, 19, 8:29 am
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Originally Posted by toi_classified View Post
This actually sounds really good. I see this at Rs. 446 (90 day validity). So 4x recharges put me at Rs. 1784 (~23 Euros per year to keep the SIM alive).
I have the Paytm app to make the Rs.35 payment each month (28 day validity) to each of the two phones numbers, so total is Rs. 70 for 28 days or Rs.840+70 for a year for two phone numbers. Making payments from Paytm is very easy and convenient as prior payments are in the history it is a one click operation to recharge each number..I have sufficient balance maintained in Paytm for a whole year and once a year I add to the Paytm balance using my US AMEX card.
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Old Jun 7, 19, 5:08 am
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i would recommend just have a visit to the nearest Airtel Gallery they would help out in term of number and some good plan is been also avail in airtel they may really help you!
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Old Jun 7, 19, 7:24 am
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"I have sufficient balance maintained in Paytm for a whole year and once a year I add to the Paytm balance using my US AMEX card."

Aren't foreign travellers now restricted from operating Paytm accounts?
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Old Jun 7, 19, 9:43 pm
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
"I have sufficient balance maintained in Paytm for a whole year and once a year I add to the Paytm balance using my US AMEX card."

Aren't foreign travellers now restricted from operating Paytm accounts?
I believe there may be some new restrictions enforced now but when I set up Paytm a few years ago it was registered to one of my Indian Airtel numbers and so the account is still valid and I access the account with the phone app on the phone which Paytm was registered to and access the account via the Internet. No authentication is required such as an OTP when I access the account using the original phone. I've made three top ups to Paytm this year, once in January 2019 while in India and two in February 2019 while in the US and the amounts were charged to my US AMEX card. There is sufficient balance in my Paytm account to get me through for another year.If I ty to access the account through a different phone then an OTP is required and so I use the original registered phone to do my top ups. My guess is that Paytm uses the phone's IMEI to verify the login.
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