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5 ways to avoid expensive phone roaming charges when travelling

Learn 5 ways you can beat those roaming charges and not be met by a huge bill when you return from international travel.

5 ways to avoid expensive roaming charges when travelling

An unexpected phone bill is the last thing you need when returning from overseas! Even if you are using your phone sparingly, unless you have turned off all the automatic updates you could still be looking at hundreds of dollars of bills for a phone you never called out on.

To avoid all this simply be prepared, contact your carrier and ask them what their roaming rates are and what options are available or try one of the hacks below and avoid expensive international charges.

Buy a local sim card when you land -

Pros: Easy, no real pre-planning. Access to local calling rates. Can get duel sim phones of frequent travellers.

Cons: New phone number. You need to check your phone is unlocked and will accept a local sim the first time you try it.

International phone bill

Set to Airplane mode, turn off data and rely on apps -

Pros: Easy with no planning. Keep the same number. Can turn off/on as needed.

Cons: You will have to find free Wi-Fi. People you’re communicating with will have to have the same apps installed. (E.g. WhatsApp, Skype etc.)

Change settings; turn off locations, push notifications, auto syncing and use voice mail diversion-

Pros: Can turn on/off as needed. Keep the same number.

Cons: Can be fiddly the first time you do it. If you miss one you may still have charges. Will still be charged for calls and texts received.

dule sim cell phone

Pre-buy a pre-paid roaming plan –

Pros: Same phone number. Have full use of your device, Can use your existing trusted carrier.

Cons: Have to research a cost effective plan. Pre-pay means you may not make the most of what you buy.

Buy an international sim card – here’s an example

Pros: One solution for multiple countries. Full use of your device.

Cons: New number. Can be pricey. Must check your phone is unlocked and that it supports carrier network frequency can check here.

The best option for you will depend on how often, how long and where you travel to. Start by calling your carrier as some now offer roaming as part of existing plans to certain countries. Also, ask if your phone is unlocked If it is locked you may be able to unlock it, use an old phone while you travel, or even rent a phone that will take local sim cards.

Buy a local sim

Remember nowadays other devices such as tablets may be connected to your plan and need similar treatment. A mixed solution such as putting your phone in aeroplane mode and getting a local sim for your tablet may give you the best of both worlds.

Lastly, no matter which option you decide is best, remember to back up your phone and all its data before you travel, even print out key details in hard copy just in case. We rely so heavily on our phones and you don’t want to find yourself be in a foreign country without access to all that much-needed info.

Hopefully this these five options and a little pre-planning can save you a huge phone bill.


Author of Stress Free Adventure Planning

If you enjoyed this post check out this one on 5 photo tips for travellers or sign up here for tips and tricks to save money and make the most of your travel.

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