Tech Tip: How to prevent International roaming charges.

It would appear a lot of people are not aware or choose to ignore the fact that International Roaming rates are exponentially more expensive than Domestic data charges. They think they can roam internationally but when it comes to paying for it they can plead innocence and the carriers would look the other way. Sometimes it works, other times it does not work.

Out of all the Smartphones I have owned and used I have not once seen the option for Data Roaming being enabled by default, and I’ve owned quite a few smartphones; Blackberries, iPhones, Androids and even Windows Phone and all of them have data roaming either set to off or prompt (on blackberries). Carriers do send you a complimentary text message when you land on international soil informing you that you will be roaming and list how much the data charges will be. Averaging 10-30 dollars or more per MegaByte. If you do the math say you download an HD photo at 4MBs, that just cost you 40-120 dollars for that photo. You decide if that photo is worth that that cost.

The ultimate solution if you don’t want to spend more money is don’t use your phone while you’re roaming. If that can’t be helped use an unlocked phone and get a sim from a local provider. It will be significantly cheaper than International Roaming. If getting an unlocked sim card is too much work and you really want to use data overseas, get an travel package from your carrier, make sure you don’t go over the limit, it’ll get expensive quick. The best solution will always be getting a sim from a local provider.

If you don’t want to be caught Roaming, the best option before you even leave your own soil, is to make sure Data Roaming is turned off. It’s as simple as going to your phones setting and making sure the Roaming is either set off or checked off. That way when you do to overseas the phone won’t start pulling data in the background hence saving you a ton of money.

Here are screenshots of different phones showing the data roaming feature.

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) Settings > Wireless and Networks
HTC Legend

Android 4.2.2 Under Wireless & Networks > More > Mobile Networks
Samsung Galaxy S3

Blackberry OS 7 Settings > Mobile Networks
Blackberry 9800

Blackberry OS 10
Blackberry z10

iPhone 5 Settings > General > Cellular
iPhone 5

Windows Phone 8 Settings > Cellular
wp_ss_20130529_0001

As you can see, in it’s default state all smartphones show data roaming to be off. The only way for you to roam data is when you manually set it to on. Some phones have the options to set it to prompt and let you decide if you want to roam data. Do youself a favor and just turn it off whether or not you’re travelling anytime soon. It doesn’t affect your day to day use and in case you forget and went overseas or across the boarder you wont find yourself with a surprise roaming charge that you’d end up trying to dispute and will have to pay a small fortune for later. All that can be prevented by doing that 1 simple step that takes no less than 10 seconds. Unless your phone is slow… LOL

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