Using your mobile phone abroad has for years been a big no-no due to extortionate prices, but nowadays it is much more commonplace and accessible to use your phone abroad – but how does it work? Is it really cheaper?
Gone are the days when you used to lock your phone in the hotel room safe – most of us can’t live without the internet or being constantly contactable no matter where you are. because of this, the EU has recently set limits to what mobile network providers are allowed to charge for using your mobile abroad, however, although cheaper, this by no means equates to cheap.
What is ‘roaming’?
When you are using your mobile phone abroad, you are ‘roaming’. This essentially means that you connect to an alternative, overseas network rather than your home network, but at a hugely inflated cost to what you ordinarily pay back home.
To put this into context, when travelling around Europe, a 10 minute call could cost you up to £1.60, but step outside of the Europe and your looking at a giant bill of up to £25!
To save yourself £100s in bills once you arrive back home, we’ve collected a few key things you should know or do before you take off for paradise…
1 CHECK YOUR PROVIDER PACKAGES
The first thing to check with your provider is whether the country your visiting is covered by your standard package. For example, Three have launched a ‘Feel At Home‘ feature where, as of September 2016, you’ll be able to access your UK package in 42 countries around Europe.
Most providers also offer add-on bundles that cost anything from £2-5 per day depending on the provider, that will allow you to use minutes, texts and data all within that set cost.
Another way of ensuring you avoid any big charges is getting a Pay As You Go SIM card just to use whilst you’re away. This means that whatever you top-up onto it, is all the money that you will spend – its a great way to make sure that you have no nasty surprises when you return home. Plus, if you get the Three SIM card, you can take advantage of their ‘Feel At Home’ deal if you are travelling to one of the included countries.
2 SWITCH OFF ROAMING AND MAKE THE MOST OF FREE WIFI FOR CALLS AND DATA
If you choose not to pay for an additional overseas bundle, its really important to switch off your data roaming in the settings of your mobile phone to prevent your 3G or 4G signal from being used, and you from being charged a small fortune.
Most hotels, bars, apartments and restaurants offer free WiFi now, so you can connect to that instead of using your data, using it to not only browse the web, but also call and text with the likes of Skype and WhatsApp Messenger.
3 NEED TO USE MAPS TO GET AROUND? DOWNLOAD OVER THE WIFI FIRST!
If you haven’t already got it, downloading Google Maps is a must. The app now allows you to download and store maps for offline use. The GPS on your phone does not require data to work (works in the same way as a Sat Nav), so you can navigate your way around without racking up lots of data roaming charges.