Affordable phone rentals in China with Yoyoor

If you are planning to travel to China, then this new service from mobile company Yoyoor sounds like it is worth checking out.

Yoyoor provides rental phone services, and while they are certainly not alone in that segment, their product is quite different from most others.

For just $3.99 a day, you get a GPS enabled Nokia 6110 smartphone with English language maps of China, live personal assistance, emergency support, real time text messaging help from Yoyoor staff and unlimited email/Internet access.

The per-minute calling rate of the phone makes the package even better; calls from China to the US are just $0.60 per minute, with free incoming calls and $0.20 local calls. This rate is a whopping 5 times cheaper than AT&T or T-mobile. Text messages cost $0.20 to send and $0.02 to receive. The free Internet access service will save you even more as AT&T normally charge $19.50 per MB in China.

The English speaking concierge service is preprogrammed on the phone and can provide restaurant recommendations, help with transportation questions and provide language assistance. Calls to the Yoyoor concierge service cost $1 per call plus the airtime charge ($0.20 per minute).

The phone can be reserved online, at one of the Yoyoor aiport desks or through the Yoyoor call center. Yoyoor have rental desks at Beijing and Shanghai international airports.

When you make a reservation, Yoyoor will authorize your credit card for $500, which is the average amount for mobile phone rentals. Once the phone has been returned, that amount will be released back to you.

Returning the phone is easy and can be done at the airport desks, through a courier service in China or by sending it back to their US offices once you get home.

With thousands of US tourists traveling to China for the Olympics, I’m sure Yoyoor will appeal to many people who have never been there, and who could do with a little extra help from the maps and concierge service.