10 ways to beat rip-off data roaming charges abroad

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When travelling abroad, the last thing you want is to be hit with hefty data roaming costs. Wondering how to avoid charges from data roaming abroad? With a bit of pre-planning and smart strategies, it’s easier than you think. In this article, we’ll explore how to limit data roaming costs overseas. From tips on how to reduce your data usage to the benefits of a prepaid eSIM, read on to find out more.

1. Embrace eSIM technology

One of the most effective ways to avoid data roaming costs abroad is by switching to an eSIM. An eSIM lets you connect to a local network without changing your physical SIM card.  This ensures you enjoy local rates and save big on roaming fees. Buy your eSIM here.  Firstly make sure you have a compatible phone, a full up to date list of all eSIM compatible phones here.

2. Disable data roaming

To be completely sure, you can disable data roaming on your mobile phone entirely. This setting prevents your smartphone from browsing the internet on a foreign network. It ensures you only use data on Wi-Fi and avoid high data roaming charges.

  • iPhones. Go to Settings > Mobile Service > [select SIM] > Data Roaming
  • Android. Go to Settings > Network & Internet > SIMs > tap your active SIM > toggle Roaming off
  • Samsung. Go to Settings > Connections > Mobile networks > Data Roaming off

3. Download maps and content offline

Before your trip, download maps, translation apps, and entertainment content for offline use. This way, you don’t need to rely on mobile data to access vital information or entertainment on your travels.

Google Maps, available on iOS and Android, allows you to store maps for offline use. Since data isn’t required for the GPS function on a smartphone, you can navigate around the place you’re visiting without paying roaming charges, as long as you have downloaded the offline maps.

ANDROID TIP consider downloading content such as music and movies to a removable SD card to save space on your device.

4. Disable App updates, OS updates and background data

Prevent your operating system and apps from consuming data in the background by disabling automatic updates. Set your smartphone to update only when connected to Wi-Fi to reduce data usage.

Turn-off background usage
Some mobile applications use mobile data in the background while closed. For example, your social media platform could be running in the background to detect new notifications. Background activity is important but can consume significant data. You can turn it off while abroad to cut down roaming charges.

  • iPhone. Go to Settings > Mobile Service. You’ll see the list of all your apps and can toggle the button on and off. Any app you switch off can’t access mobile data until you purposely switch it back on.
  • Android. Go to Settings > Network and Internet > SIMs > tap an active SIM > App data usage. You’ll see your application list and can toggle background data off or on for each one.
  • Samsung. Go to Settings > Apps > SIMs > tap an app > Mobile data > Allow background data off.

Turn-off operating system updates
You can also switch off automatic system updates for the duration of your trip. It may seem trivial, but the data your smartphone uses for automatic updates can be high while roaming. Turning off automatic downloads cuts down your bill.

Turn off automatic downloads. Make sure videos, calendar, email, software updates, and backups don’t sneakily download in the background by turning off any automatic download settings you have. Just remember to go back and download updates when you’re on WiFi to ensure all your apps are working properly and that your photos are backed up!

  • iPhone. Settings > App Store > App Data > Disable Automatic downloads for Mobile Data
  • Android. Play Store > tap your account (top right) > Settings > Network preferences > Auto-update apps > Over Wi-Fi only

5. Use Wi-Fi hotspots

Make the most of Wi-Fi hotspots available at hotels, cafes, and public areas. Connecting to Wi-Fi networks reduces your reliance on mobile data. This, in turn, helps you avoid data roaming charges abroad.

But be careful of the security risks of using public WiFi or a hotspot.

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If using public WiFi or a hotspot, always select a WiFi network that is secure (lock symbol).  As an extra precaution, using a VPN such as Nord VPN will make sure your data is encrypted and avoid anyone snooping at your data.

6. Activate ‘low data mode’ on iPhone or ‘data saver mode’ on Android

On both Apple and Android devices, you have the option to enable data-saving modes. This effectively reduces your data consumption. Enabling these modes will alter your app experience when Wi-Fi is unavailable. For instance, certain features like backups and automatic downloads will be temporarily halted.

  • iPhone. Go to Settings > Mobile Service > [select SIM] > Data Mode > select ‘Low Data Mode’.
  • Android. Go to Settings > Network and Internet > Data Saver > select ‘Use Data Saver’
  • Samsung. Go to Settings > Connections > Data usage > Data saver > Turn on now

7. Use messaging apps to make and receive calls

Apps like WhatsApp and Facetime allow you to make calls without receiving voice roaming charges. This is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family if you are connected to WiFi or have switched your data roaming to an eSIM.

8. Restrict your internet time

You can monitor and cut down the time you spend on the internet while abroad. Only surf the web for essential things and avoid endless scrolling and leisure. This is a simple way to avoid roaming charges that can dent your budget.

You can use a data monitoring app to help manage your online activity. These apps can monitor your online activities and alert you when you reach a specific data usage limit. They ensure you don’t exceed your preferred limits and avoid substantial data roaming charges. Examples of trusted data monitoring apps for iOS and Android include ‘Data Usage’ and ‘My Data Manager’.

9. Check data roaming costs

Before you activate a roaming service, always confirm the rates you expect to pay from your mobile network provider. Also, confirm the coverage because your network provider won’t support roaming in every country.

You can visit your mobile network provider’s website to confirm their roaming charges. If you don’t find the information, call the customer service line and ask about the roaming charges. A customer service representative should be able to explain all you need to know about roaming.

Checking the rates beforehand is the first step to reducing your roaming charges. After all, you’ll only figure out how to reduce the bill if you get a good hint beforehand. Heading to another country without checking ahead could result in Bill Shock!

Open quotes in orange

Many mobile operators charge a staggering £6 per Megabyte, that’s an eyewatering £6,000 per GB.  So many people around the world continue to be ripped off by their network. Don’t let it be you.

Close quotes in orange

10. Exercise caution when using your phone on a cruise or boat trip

At sea, your device may unknowingly link to a ‘maritime’ network or a neighbouring country’s network. This can result in higher charges. To avoid this, consider using onboard free Wi-Fi or limiting your phone usage if you’re unsure about the network your device connects to.

Stay connected abroad without the hefty bills

Travelling, whether for leisure or business, should be all about ease and convenience. But if you’re using your regular SIM card overseas, expect exorbitant data charges. And who wants to deal with a massive phone bill after a fantastic trip?

For a practical way to not get roaming charges when overseas, an eSIM is the solution you’ve been looking for. Say goodbye to post-travel phone bill woes and hello to affordable connectivity. Make your travel experience smoother, smarter, and stress-free with our prepaid eSIMs.

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