How to Avoid Bill Shock When Travelling Internationally As a US Mobile Phone Customer
The cost of traveling overseas with your cell phone can become expensive very quickly. Sometimes the rates can be well over $1 a minute. An easy way to experience “bill shock” when you return from your trip.
With smartphones and automatic updates to e-mail and other location based services, roaming and data costs can skyrocket.
Frankly, international calling/roaming rates are a great revenue opportunity for US cell phone service providers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Here are some things to do to manage costs while using your mobile phone when traveling overseas:
– Check with your provider before leaving on your trip, so that you know exactly what charges will apply. Do not just go on your trip and then want to make a call, because you will be stuck paying big bucks and these unexpected costs will be an unwelcome surprise when you open your cell phone bill.- Try to disable certain automatic features like location based services that auto download data to your phone or automatically poll and/or download e-mail accounts.- Consider renting a phone in the destination to which you are traveling.- If you have a GSM phone for example with AT&T or T-Mobile, you can get rent or buy a local SIM card. The rates in Europe for example are very reasonable for pre-paid SIM cards and they are a perfect way to avoid the ridiculously high costs charged by US carriers.- If you have a GSM phone and want to use a local SIM, just make sure that your phone is unlocked before going on your trip. You can call your carrier for details about how to unlock your phone. Or you can go to local, usually smaller cell phone shop or repair facility in your home town and ask them to unlock it. Usually it is just a matter of entering the unlock code that is only known to the carrier, phone manufacturer and phone repair technicians.- Another option is to use a calling card while traveling overseas. However this option may or may not work given the fact that the underlying access to the network is provided by the US carrier and you would probably still be considered an international roamer. In this case the high roaming charges would kick in and the big bills would follow.- The last suggestion is to take advantage of free Internet calling services that happen over WIFI networks. The point is that you want to avoid making calls through your American based phone provider because they will likely fleece you when calling and roaming internationally. Making Internet calls is a great way to bypass your carrier when traveling overseas. Even if you are not traveling internationally, having access to a free international calling program is great. Check out the special download version of Yahoo Messenger that allows free voice and video calling (see for the free download).
While we are providing a lot of information on Skype (because a lot of information is already available online about it and you probably already have Skype installed on your computer or laptop like other savvy Internet users), we are really recommending that you download the special download version of of Yahoo Messenger from Freshbot which is 100% free.
Here is more information about Skype (it is a good option for making free calls on the Internet):
Skype is a downloadable software application that allows subscribers to place and receive calls over the Internet. Voice calls to other subscribers within the Skype network are free of charge. Calls to other phones, be they land-line phones or mobile phones, can be placed for a small fee which is usually just pennies per minute.
Skype also includes a number of additional bonus services such as instant messaging (IM), video conferencing, and a built in file transfer program (FTP).