Most cell phone owners have heard of roaming charges at one point or another. Even when using a prepaid or no contract plan, you still incur these additional charges anytime you use your phone outside of your carrier’s native coverage area. This also applies to using your phone while overseas, potentially resulting in significant prepaid international roaming charges that rapidly deplete your account.
Do not use your phone
If you find that you just can’t stand leaving your phone at home, one of the easiest ways to avoid prepaid international roaming charges is to just not use your phone while you are abroad. This may seem a little extreme, but consider if you will that your $100 account balance could be eaten up with a 20 minute phone conversation or by trying to access more than 1 10th of a MB of data, and you can see why this could be necessary. To make extra certain your phone is not using data in the background without your knowledge, make sure you keep it on airplane mode anytime you are not using it or just remove the SIM card altogether.
Use a local SIM
One option that will allow you to keep using your phone as usual, but will help you avoid those prepaid international roaming charges, is the local SIM option. To try this one, you will need to have an unlocked phone that can communicate via a number of signals. Once you are at your destination, take your phone to a local cellular store and purchase a SIM card for a prepaid plan that is based locally. The new SIM will be set up to use the local towers as though they are domestic towers, allowing you to use you phone as normal, though international rates will still apply when calling home. The best part is: Once you are done with the new SIM and heading back home, you can keep it as a reminder or your world travels, for a future trip, or just toss it as prepaid plans generally cancel automatically after a certain time period of inactivity.
Use Wi-Fi hot spots
The final option that will allow you to use your phone while abroad without incurring prepaid international roaming charges is to use the Wi-Fi data and calling options available on most phones. These options allow you to stream data and make calls using the signal from a Wi-Fi area and its internet connection instead of the wireless network. The reason you would want to do this is that most of the time using these options is free which is great if you have a tight budget, and any calls or data use done in a Wi-Fi area through an internet connection are considered “in network” for purposes of determining roaming fees. While this may still use plan minutes, result in international calling rates, or cost something for the internet usage, it is going to be cheaper than the roaming fees would be.
Now you know about prepaid international roaming and how to avoid the associated fees.