We’ve all heard of horror stories about travelers running up huge cell phone bills abroad. If you are planning an overseas trip, you will be keen not to follow in their footsteps.
The thing is, international roaming can seem complicated. Charges for using your phone across international borders can vary according to:
- Where you are traveling from and traveling to
- Which operator you are with and what package you have with them
- How you use your phone while you’re away.
The best way to avoid a nasty shock is to get informed and plan ahead. Here, we’ll help you understand how international roaming works, know how to work out potential charges for using your phone overseas, and ensure you don’t end up with a huge bill when you get home.
How International Roaming Works
International roaming lets you stay connected and offers convenience and peace of mind when away from home. You can stay up to speed with business and in touch with friends and family wherever you go with international roaming.
With international roaming, you can make and receive calls with your usual number, receive voicemails, access the internet and your apps, send and receive text messages, stream video or music, and use messaging services like WhatsApp.
Most operators charge their customers for international roaming on top of their usual agreed package. This is because wherever you go, local networks charge your home provider to borrow their services for international customers.
What will I be charged for with international roaming?
International roaming charges can soon add up if you are making calls and using the internet away from wifi. Before you travel, you need to be aware that you will pay for:
- Call roaming, i.e., making and receiving calls from your home country and local numbers
- Text roaming, i.e., sending and receiving texts
- Data roaming, i.e. internet use through browsing, downloading, streaming and apps.
Tips to Help Minimize Roaming Charges
Here are five tips to keep international roaming charges low.
1. Know how your international roaming access works
Check how to access international roaming via your provider’s website as access arrangements can differ between providers and packages.
Orange Jordan provides instant access to international roaming for ‘Pay As You Go’ customers. With a ‘Pay As You Go’ contract, it is impossible to run up unexpected bills as you can always choose whether to top up or not. Of course, if you don’t top up, access to your phone services will be limited.
Pro Tip: Be sure to top up credit before you travel so you are not inconvenienced when you land.
‘Pay Monthly’ customers may need to pay a deposit to access international roaming. This deposit will be returned once you get home, minus any accumulated charges.
Pro Tip: ‘Pay Monthly’ customers should track their phone usage to avoid large bills when they return home. You can usually do this through your phone settings, your provider’s app, or by logging into your account. Keep a tally on mobile data, phone minutes and texts sent.
2. Ascertain your provider’s charges for your destination
All reputable mobile providers publish their roaming charges on their website and within their apps. Take your time to read the information carefully. Be aware that their charges will likely vary between destinations.
Pro Tip: For your destination country, you need to know:
- The cost per minute of a call to and from your home country.
- The cost per minute of calling local numbers and receiving local calls within your destination country.
- The cost per text of both sending and receiving messages.
- The charges for each megabyte (MB) or gigabyte (GB) of internet use.
By having this information clear in your mind, you can make an informed decision about how to use your phone while you’re away.
3. Use Wi-Fi only
Keep your bills to a bare minimum by turning off data roaming and only use your phone with hotel or public Wi-Fi. This will ensure you don’t accidentally use up mobile data through apps and messaging services running in the background. You can also plan ahead and download maps, essential apps and other information you’ll need on your travels on hotel wifi.
Pro Tip: The quickest way to switch off all roaming is to turn on airplane mode. However, airplane mode also means that your phone can’t make or receive standard non-app calls and texts either. If you want to stay reachable on your regular number, you need to turn off data roaming only through your phone settings.
4. Purchase an international roaming bundle
If you want and need to stay connected whether on Wi-Fi or not, the best value option for you is to purchase an international roaming bundle from your provider.
For example, Orange offers on international roaming are ready-made bundles comprising voice minutes and data. Customers can choose the bundle that best suits their holiday or business trip needs.
Pro Tip: Keep a close eye on your bundle usage; after it is used up, you will be charged standard international roaming rates. You can purchase an additional bundle if necessary.
5. Use a buffer
Most phone providers allow you to self-impose a limit on additional charges accrued outside your agreed contract and any roaming bundle you have purchased. This is often referred to as a “buffer” or “anti-bill shock limit.”
Once you begin to use your buffer, you will be notified at intervals. Orange Jordan texts its customers when they have used 50%, 75% and 99% of their buffer, and it allows a buffer of between 10 and 10,000 JDs.
Pro Tip: You can change or switch off your anti-bill shock limit at any time, usually by calling the customer service department of your provider.
Make the Most of International Roaming
Using international roaming doesn’t need to be a daunting task.
By planning ahead, understanding your provider’s charges, and implementing the tips above, you can stay connected while avoiding a shocking bill.
So, embark on your travels with confidence, armed with the knowledge to keep your overseas connection affordable.
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