Traveling abroad while using a U.S.-based phone plan can easily eat into your travel expenses. If you want to make the most out of your experience without breaking the bank, streamlining your mobile budget will ease your financial burden and give you peace of mind.
Use Free Wi-Fi HotSpots
Hotspots allow people to use the internet from their laptops or mobile devices when they’re away from home. Keep your eyes open for available Wi-Fi hotspots at tourist attractions or restaurants. Using a Wi-Fi hotspot is a way that you can keep your data costs down while getting a Wi-Fi connection.
Keep in mind that access to these hotspots are sometimes limited and coverage intermittent. The process of connecting to one is not as simple as connecting to the internet at your home, so you may need to take a few extra steps to get a connection.
Security is also an issue, especially if you’re dealing with banking details or sensitive information. Cybercriminals see Wi-Fi hotspots as an opportunity to use personal information under the cover of a public network. It’s best to keep your important business matters off of open public Wi-Fi networks.
Use Data-Based Apps for Messaging and Calling
The market is filled with apps that allow users to text or call without using their monthly allowance. The two most recognizable applications, Skype and WhatsApp, are services that allow users to place phone calls or send messages using a data connection.
If you’re an iPhone user, FaceTime or iMessage are apps that offer similar services. Make sure to tell anyone who wants to keep in touch with you while you’re traveling to use the same app you’re using.
Subscribe to a Provider With a Cost-Effective International Plan
Most U.S.-based phone companies charge subscribers $30 a month for international coverage on top of their monthly charge. Pair this with the 35 cents to $1 you’ll be spending per minute on each phone call, and you’re looking at a significant phone bill. If you neglect to sign up for an international plan before using your phone in another country, that cost could climb up to $2.50 per minute and almost $20 per megabyte.
Look for Network Providers With Wi-Fi Calling Features
If you use your phone on the T-Mobile network, for example, a Wi-Fi calling feature will prove useful if you’re traveling abroad. Similar to data-based applications, Wi-Fi calling through T-Mobile allows you to make and receive calls or text messages while using a wireless internet connection. Simply connect to a wireless network and enable Wi-Fi Calling on your phone. T-Mobile subscribers can also use their phones internationally at no extra cost, with free data and texting outside the United States and voice calls for 20 cents per minute. The data speeds are only 2G, however, you can plan your phone usage around this speed.
If you subscribe to one of T-Mobile’s unlimited plans, all incoming and outgoing calls or messages to and from U.S. numbers over Wi-Fi Calling are free. If you don’t have a plan that offers unlimited calling, all calls made over Wi-Fi Calling will count against your monthly allowance.
Buy A Local SIM Card
One of the easiest and least expensive ways you can use your phone internationally is to buy a local SIM card. A SIM card is a small chip that goes inside your phone and allows you to connect to a local network.
You can find SIM cards in airports, local phone carrier shops, and convenience stores. This card could save you hundreds of dollars and offer better data coverage when you’re traveling internationally with your phone. Be sure to have your provider unlock your phone before you leave the country. You can find your carrier’s unlocking process online using a simple web search.
Travelers can take several steps when using their phones internationally without spending significant amounts of money. A phone plan tailored for international travel paired with the right wireless communications features will make traveling abroad easier than you think.