Using your phone abroad initially makes sense because it allows you to stay in contact with family and friends at all times. However, it can be extremely costly due to high roaming fees, which are fees incurred when making calls outside your carrier’s service area.
So what can you do when traveling? Well, there are a few tricks to keep your bill low while still remaining connected to your family in the United States.
First, look into international plans through your mobile provider. It might be more cost-efficient to add international calling access to your service a month before you leave. Adding an international plan can save you on the cost per minute when making international calls. If you are worried about coverage areas, don’t be. If you look online before you leave, I am sure you will be impressed with the extent of coverage areas available around the globe.
For example, AT&T offers a World Traveler plan that offers discounts on most roaming rates in almost 200 countries. The cost is $5.99 per month and you can cancel the service when you return from your trip. Without the service, you fall under the roaming category and could be charged as much as $0.59 cents per minute – huge difference. So it’s worth looking up what your phone provider can offer.
Another option that doesn’t even include your cell phone is the use of a prepaid mobile cards. There are tons of these on the market, and they allow you to load the card with as much money as you want and to then use that balance to make calls. It’s very simple to use: From your international phone, you would dial the number on the back of the calling card. The calling card service will most likely ask you for your unique card number (similar to that of a credit card number when you are placing an order online or over the phone). After you enter that number, an automotive service will tell you how much money and time you have left on the card. Then you can dial the number of the person you want to call and use the money on the card as payment. These cards are nice because you can control how much you are spending, and they are not connected to your mobile bill at all; this helps take care of the uncertainly factor.
Mobile providers have made it easy to stay in touch when using your phone abroad. But if you prefer not to incur the additional expense, it might be worth looking into a prepaid calling card — or consider not using the phone at all, and instead indulging in some good old-fashioned picture postcards.