Wow, another nightmare cell phone bill story has hit the news, this time a woman with a $200K+ bill that resulted from a trip to Canada from the US. For those people who don’t cross borders very much you really would have no idea that you could be paying $1, $2 or even more for sending and receiving text messages but that’s the reality. Truth be told, even if your carrier does sell you on a “special” International texting, messaging, or data package it really isn’t that special. Customers need to know that their carrier has absolutely NO control at all over what the other carriers will be charging you while you roam on their network. These nightmare stories seem to pop up all the time, mainly due to the fault of the customer for now knowing all the charging scenarios and for the customer who neglects to set their mobile device with ROAMING OFF while traveling abroad.
I’ve had a couple of surprise bills over the years, I suppose the first surprise woke me up, that was when I returned to Canada from a trip to Vegas only to find a $250+ cell phone bill waiting for me – and that was about 7 years ago. It was after that time that I made sure I was taking all the precautions. So, what to do? Some tips for those who leave their country for travel:
- Check your device settings and ensure that you have set Roaming to OFF
- Even better, REMOVE your SIM card from the device – this is what I always suggest
- If you have a smartphone chances are that you can run your device in an offline mode without a SIM, then you can still use your data apps when connected to WIFI – these days it’s pretty simple to locate open WiFi in most places
- Forget the International plan from your carrier – these are useless oh and they don’t roll over. Don’t even bother making those short calls, you’ll be charged by the minute by your home carrier and by the International carrier your call is roaming on
- Get yourself a FREE messaging (texting) app, like Text for Free or TextNow (see iOS app here) – these messaging apps function just like texting, some apps will assign you a phone number, and run entirely over data or WiFi.
- If you need to use your device, simply buy yourself a pre-paid SIM card – these are invaluable! Visit a carrier store (not a third party kiosk) and ask for options. As ab example, when I travel from Canada to the USA I purchase a SIM card from T-Mobile. these are available for $30 or $50. The $50 option is awesome and basically unlimited for up to a month! You’ll get a local number and you can renew or top up your service when it expires. Note, if you don’t use your card for 90 days the number will expire and the card will no longer be able to be used.
For solutions and help on the web simply Google Search “Free Texting App” or see also “prepaid SIM card”