Cellphone charges while abroad can be scary. Here are some ways to ways to save money on cellphone charges abroad…
We suggest you carry a phone that will operate on the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network. If you already have a GSM phone, call your wireless company and have it unlocked. Phones can be unlocked anywhere, even in the country you travel to, but for convenience try to have it unlocked and ready to go before you travel.
Once it’s unlocked you can access local mobile carriers when you arrive at your destination. Many travelers have had trouble getting their phones unlocked when trying in the past. We advise trying again, though, as the new 2014 code for wireless service gives more flexibility and freedom to the user.
Your best option is a quad-band phone. This will operate on any of the four GSM bands and works almost everywhere in the world. Tri-band cellphones will also work in many countries but does not have the same geographical reach.
When you arrive overseas buy a local SIM card and install it (usually the man who sells it to you will also install it for you). Your phone will then work on the local mobile carrier’s network. This is easily purchased and set up in any mobile store in the country you’re visiting.
Another possibility is to buy or rent a cell phone for your overseas travels. This will save you the hassle of unlocking your phone and installing a local SIM. We suggest Cellular Abroad which sells and rents unlocked GSM phones and SIM cards. These are already set up to work in many countries. This is a good choice for travelers who are visiting more than one country on the same trip. AT&T and Verizon also have rental programs.
A third alternative is to opt for an international plan in your home country before traveling. Your phone company does offer such plans, but these are usually the most expensive packages. They have high international roaming fees and data charges.
To give you an idea of cost, AT&T’s roaming plan for travelling through Europe starts at US$30 per month. These roaming plans include a fixed number of minutes depending on the package you select. This is a common and easy option, but expensive. Any call made beyond the number of minutes in the package will cost US$1 a minute. Your US$30 package can easily double or triple without you being aware.
For more on how to save money on overseas phone use, read this article on How To Avoid Roaming Charges.
Whichever option you choose when traveling, be sure to have a universal phone charger and plug adapters that are compatible with the outlets wherever you go.
Interested in more tips and tricks for traveling abroad? Find out more from Overseas Retirement Letter.