How To Avoid Prepaid International Roaming

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By David

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.

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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.

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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.

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Things You Should Know About Overseas Roaming Charges

By David

As a cell phone user, you have likely heard of and probably even experienced roaming charges at some point in your life. However, if you have never been overseas with your phone, you may not be aware of overseas roaming charges which tend to be significantly higher (sometimes up to $5 a minute) than domestic roaming charges. Thankfully, there are a few ways to avoid these charges and potentially save a good deal of money.

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Do not make calls

While it may seem on the extreme end of the reaction scale, simply not using or not even taking you phone with you on a trip is the simplest way to avoid incurring overseas roaming charges. With these charges standing at $5 a minute or $1 per kilobyte of data (1 1,000 of a MB) or worse it is easy to see why this is a good option. If you are just not able to implement the other solutions or just do not want to take the chance of them not working, being out of touch for a couple weeks could be preferable to the often thousand dollar or more phone bills that could otherwise result. To make certain your phone is not using background data without your knowledge, be sure to keep it in airplane mode or remove the SIM card.

Use a local SIM card

One thing you could do, assuming your phone is unlocked, is to simply remove your SIM card and get a new local SIM card to use while you are overseas. Since you do not have to buy a new phone, there is no need to sign up for a contract of any sort, and you can even get a SIM for a prepaid plan so you will not have to cancel the plan when you leave the country. This will allow you to use all your phone’s features as usual without paying the exorbitantly high overseas roaming charges. Best of all, when you head home, just switch the SIMs and you are all set. You can even keep the foreign SIM as a memento or for a return trip or just toss it as a prepaid plan will typically eventually cancel itself.

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Take advantage of Wi-Fi calling

Most modern smartphones will allow you to do what is called Wi-Fi calling which will typically allow you to make calls and use data over a Wi-Fi signal instead of the network often free of charge.  Even if it still uses plan minutes, all Wi-Fi hot spots that are connected to the internet are considered “in network” for the purposes of determining roaming charges, allowing you to use your phone as you normally would without incurring overseas roaming charges. If you are calling home, international rates may still apply, and sometimes the internet access will not be free to use, but these additional costs are going to be far less than the fees otherwise incurred.

Now that you are more familiar with overseas roaming charges and how to avoid them, you can take your phone abroad without too much impact on your wallet.

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How To Start Saving Money

By David

It can be difficult to get started saving money back for the future, especially when you are already dealing with a tight budget. However, it is important to get started as soon as you can. You never can tell when something will come up, and you are going to need to have some extra money saved in order to deal with it without falling back on credit cards. Below, is a simple three-step guide on how to start saving money.

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Reduce your expenses

Though it seems obvious, reducing your expenses is the first and most vital step in learning how to saving money. It is pretty easy overall. Just look at your budget and find places where you can trim it just a little. Maybe you do not need cable after all, or perhaps slower internet is something you could live with. Better still, why not cancel the landline and just use your cell phone? There are many ways to cut back on expenses that do not even involve sacrificing too much about the way you live. However you choose to trim your budget, take that savings and commit to saving it back for those emergency situations or even for retirement.

Increase your income

As you learn how to start saving money, it is going to become obvious that increasing your income is going to be one of the most beneficial ways to start. This could involve asking for a raise at work, picking up a second job, or finding a way to make some extra money from home. Whatever route you end up taking, you can save a portion or all of that additional income because you already know that you are making ends meet without it. This is a great way to build up an emergency fund very quickly and can even eventually translate into some sort of investment, allowing you to use the money you have made to make you more money without much additional effort on your part.

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Invest what you save

Once you have built up a healthy savings, you may wish to start looking at possible investments to put some of it into. While some investments do carry some level of risk like stocks, others like certificate of deposits are FDIC insured and thus care very little risk of loss or none if you are investing less than the maximum they insure. The thing to watch out for with investments is that often times, it takes a little time to exchange your investment tools for cash and thus you will want to be sure you keep enough back in case of an emergency, so you can avoid the high interest rates associated with relying on a credit card for such situations. At the very least, be sure to keep your savings in a savings account to reap the modest interest earned from merely allowing it to sit there.

Now that you are aware of a few strategies to start saving for emergencies and the future, see if you can make them work for you.

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Free Text Message Methods

By David

With the ever rising price of cell phone usage, many people are looking for ways that they can cut back even if only a little. One way to do this is by figuring out free text message methods, so that you can drop the texting service from your phone bill and save a little bit of money.

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Email

The first free text message method we should look at is email. Email has been used to send messages between computers and phones for years and does so entirely through your data connection, so there is no need to have a texting service attached to your plan. This method of texting is a great way to stay in touch with those whose email addresses you already have in your contacts, and for sending files between phones and computers. The downside to this method is that you will need the person’s email address in order to communicate with them. Still email is a great, widely available option for securing free texting.

Instant Messengers

Another great entry into the arena of free text message methods is the use of an instant messenger application on your phone. These programs were initially developed to allow real-time text communications between two computers. As technology has advanced, so too has the instant messenger. Many messengers are now being able to include multiple people in the conversation at once, send and receive files, place phone calls to other users, and even allow for video chat. When cell phones began using applications to enhance their functionality, instant messengers were among the first on board with the idea, and providers developed mobile versions for their programs. Now, you can use these apps to communicate via text messages to anyone on your contact list. The limitation with this method, like with email, is that you will need to have them as a contact, and they will need to have the app installed themselves in order to communicate.

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VoIP Applications

In recent years, a new free text message technique has emerged as a front runner in allowing cellular customers to send and receive text messages completely free of charge. This method is the VoIP application. Using these applications you can not only make calls through your data plan instead of using your plan minutes, but you can also send text messages through your data plan. Because text messages are so small in terms of their file size, the data required for sending and receiving them will have a negligible effect on your data plan (typically 1 MB a month or less). The great advantage of these applications over the other free text message techniques is the fact they can function using phone numbers, allowing you to send and receive text messages as normal without requiring your friends to download and install a new app on their phone.

Now that you know what free text message methods are available to you, you can choose your favorite and start texting.

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Benefits Of The Consumer Cellular Market

By David

Many times, it is often the case that the latest and greatest technologies are only available to the very rich with the connections to get ahold of early prototypes. While this is the case for cell phones as well, there is still a great deal to be had from the consumer cellular market.

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Wireless Global Communication

What was once only a dream is now a reality. Through the use of consumer cellular electronics, people can talk with one another over vast distances as though they were standing right next to each other and accomplish this task without the use of any wires what so ever. This incredible technology, once available only to the wealthy, is now open for use to the average consumer.

High Quality Micro Camera

Sometimes it seems like you cannot even find a cell phone that does not include some kind of camera by default. In fact, cameras have become so commonplace in consumer cellular electronics that many phones and other cellular devices actually have more than one. As the market has developed, these cameras have gotten smaller and have been more and more capable of taking high quality digital photos. At one time, such technology was only being made available to government agencies for use in covert operations. However, now these awesome devices are available to modern consumers at a price that is not going to break a person’s piggy bank. When combined with a cell phones ability to communicate wirelessly around the world in real-time, these devices can actually allow for video communication across the globe, meaning you can always reach your friends and family for some face to face communication.

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Global Positioning System (GPS)

Nowadays, we are all familiar with the concept of GPS and a little bit about how it works, but it was not that long ago that the technology was available for use only by the military. Once the technology was made available to the public, it was still very pricy for a handheld unit and so typically was only purchased by the wealthy or by those who owned businesses that could benefit from it (like fishermen). It was then introduced as a car navigation system and finally the price became low enough for companies to begin including GPS into their consumer cellular devices like cell phones. Now, using this remarkable technology, we can navigate through the streets of even the most complex unfamiliar cities with a device that fits comfortably in our hands. This reduction in the cost of GPS technology and its wide availability at this point have even developed into new hobbies such as Geocaching which is like a high-tech treasure hunt using your GPS unit to get you close and your senses to zero in on the prize.

Although consumer cellular technology has come a long way in recent years and made many remarkable strides, it still has plenty of room to grow and change as new technologies and better versions of old ones are made available to the average consumer.

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How To Go About Comparing Wireless Carriers

By David

If you have been attempting to find the right cell phone service for yourself or your family, then you have likely found that comparing wireless carriers is far more challenging than it might seem. While it does take a bit of upfront knowledge to make a fair comparison, once you have that knowledge, the task becomes much simpler. As this is the case, we have created a simple three-step guide to take you through the process.

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Coverage Area

Your first task in comparing wireless carriers is to take a look at each company’s coverage area being sure to look at only their native coverage area (towers they own themselves) and not their native plus their roaming coverage area (towers they own and towers they rent). This is important because if you are covered by roaming towers, you will end up incurring extra fees that you should not have to be paying. It is better to go with a company that covers your home, job, and the places you frequent for leisure and entertainment with their own towers, than to use one renting those towers, as you will receive the same level of service, but without the unfortunate roaming fees. Eliminate any companies that do not cover the vital areas of your life from your list of potential carriers and head to the next step.

Plans & Services

To continue comparing wireless carriers, you will want to next take a look at the remaining companies and see what plans they offer. Decide what features and services are important for you to have and choose a plan from each company that meets those needs for the lowest possible cost. Keep in mind that some companies will offer basic plans that you can add services to in order to create a plan that is specific to your needs. These types of plans can be cheaper than the premade bundles in cases where you use a great deal of one or two services, but almost none of the others, allowing you to only pay for the things you need and nothing that you do not. If however you use a fair amount of everything, you may find that a bundle is the best option for you. Once you have determined the best plan for each company, head on to the last step.

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Compare Cost

In order to finish comparing wireless carriers, you will need to take a look at the plans you created in the second step and determine which has the lowest price. At this point, having determined that you are indeed covered by native towers and having built or selected a plan that has everything you need, you do not worry about those things. Simply choose the one with the best price. If two or more plans have the same cost, it is typically best to go with the one that has some sort of advantage in features or even just better reviews.

Now that you know how to go about comparing wireless carriers, you can determine which carrier will give you what you need for less.

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Saving Money: Tips You May Have Missed

By John

We are all trying to save money these days and there is plenty of good advice around on how to do it. Among all the conventional methods, however, there are some excellent tips that are often overlooked. Here is a list of some of our favorites.

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Drop Designer Clothes

It’s usually an ego thing, of course, but are designer clothes really worth the huge difference in price? If you hunt around you can easily find items of exactly the same quality and at a fraction of the price – but without the magical label. If you combine this tip with buying at clearance sales and off-season, you can easily shave 50% off your annual clothing expenditure.

Lower Your Gas Costs

While you should follow the manufacturer’s guidelines about keeping the tires correctly inflated and changing the air filter, and drive conservatively, for the sake of fuel economy,  it’s worth asking a reputable garage or mechanic what octane rating your car engine can get away with. Dropping a grade or two could save you 20 cents or more a gallon. Cleaning out stuff you from the trunk that you don’t need to cart around everywhere will give you better mpg too. Every extra pound of weight the car needs to haul is costing you.

Charity

Giving to a charity things in good condition that you no longer need or want is a good thing to do anyway – but a good many people don’t realize that it can be tax-deductible too.

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Piggy Bank

The traditional jar or tin is for loose change is still a sure and painless way of saving. Did you know that there are bank and credit unions and at least one credit card company that do the same thing for you electronically? Your purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the balance is credited to your savings account. Sure, the interest is not that high, but at least it is still a saving and your virtual loose change is working for you.

Warm, To A Degree

We all know about switching off the heating in rooms we don’t use, and sealing the house against leakage, in order to cut back on utility costs. But let’s look at the actual temperature. It is estimated that every drop of 1 degree F below the usually recommended 68 degrees decreases costs by 1 – 3%. Try dropping the temperature degree by degree until you find a comfortable level (maybe 5 degrees or more lower?) for when you are out and about at home – the rest of the time you are either in bed or away from home and the temperature can be reduced even further. Do the math and just see how much money you can save. A thermostat will handle all the temperature permutations for you.

The same logic applies to your air conditioning, of course. And it is estimated that planting a tree to shade your outside unit can improve its efficiency by up to 20% – more savings.

And Finally A Don’t

You’re saving all this money and you want to make it work for you. Should you open a savings account or invest it? A savings account is for the more risk-adverse but if you decide to invest, don’t be swayed by advisers and friends who tell you how well this particular fund or that stock has done for them. Past performance is no guide to future performance.

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Want To Save $100 Each Month?

By John

You may be one of those people who don’t have any specific target that you need to save money for – like buying a new house, or sending a child to an expensive college, or a costly vacation – but still need to save to make ends meet or simply like the idea of having some extra cash available each month. If so, here is an idea.

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How Much?

How much extra cash would you think would amount to a windfall every month? To take the kids for a treat, say, or put into an interest-bearing savings account? $50, or $100? You might think that impossible, but it’s a fair bet that you can save that quite easily if you try.

Loyalty Can Be An Expensive Virtue

Gone are the days when sticking with the same providers of almost any kind of service or products would get you preferential treatment or a better deal or better value. Competition is so fierce among them that they are all willing to embrace you as a customer by offering better deals. Stores may issue loyalty cards, but it’s not because you have been shopping there for years – it’s your future loyalty that they are interested in. So shop around for a store with a more rewarding loyalty card, and drop that one too when a better one springs up! Using all the available coupons and rebates and discounts, and other smart shopping tricks, you should be able to save at least $5 per shopping trip, and if you shop weekly, that’s a sure $20 each month.

Have you really got the best data plan for your cell phone, given your usage patterns? Making maximum use of apps for free texting and calling, and with the wide availability of free wi-fi hotspots, you can almost certainly drop to a lower plan. Let’s say, a saving of a minimum of $5 each month?  A family plan can save at least as much again. Not satisfied? Then switch to a provider with better rates.

Dropping some cable TV channels you don’t really watch can raise another $5 or more.

And brand loyalty? Buy generic at up to 50% savings on many products.

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Your Habits Are Expensive Too

If you are one of those people who grab a latte at the coffee shop – and probably a bite of breakfast as well – on your way to work, how much is that costing you? Got to come to $7 or $8 each time. If it costs you $3 to make your own breakfast and coffee-to-go, that would be $5 saved. Say you buy out twice a week instead of every day, that will give you a saving of $15 a week or $45 a month.

Are you a smoker? Cigarettes cost between about $5 and $10 depending on the state. If you can’t quit altogether (potential saving $150 – 300 every month if you get through a packet per day) cutting back by a third will save you $50 – 100 each month.

Entertainment

Eating out probably costs you upwards of $40 a time. An easy target. A family trip to the theatre with tickets at $8 each, and the $7 popcorn? Watching a rental movie at home with your own snacks will cost a fraction of that. Save maybe $25.

By my reckoning, successfully using just some of these tips will save you at least $50 – and that’s a conservative figure. So saving $100 a month doesn’t seem so impossible after all, does it?

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Data Roaming Charges

By David

If you are an avid cell phone user, you have likely heard the term “roaming” before. You might have even experienced the charges associated with it. While most people are familiar with typical roaming charges from making phone calls, there are also data roaming charges for using your data plan outside of your native coverage area which most are not that familiar with. Below, we will take a look at what exactly data roaming is, why it costs extra, and how to avoid it.

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What is Data Roaming?

Data roaming charges come about as a result of using data outside your coverage areas, which is similar to typical roaming in most respects. If you are unfamiliar with what roaming is, it is essentially a state your phone enters anytime you use its services outside of your network’s native coverage area or the area that the company provides service for using its own towers. To extend their coverage or cover gaps, many companies will rent towers from other companies. When you are using these rented towers, you are roaming regardless of whether you are making phone calls or using data.

Why does Roaming Cost Extra?

The reason you end up being charged additional data roaming charges when using data from one of these rented towers is because the company is attempting to minimize the costs of renting the use of that tower. If a company was to add a new tower of its own, that would extend the native coverage area, benefiting all its customers, thus the maintenance costs for the new tower would be split evenly amongst the entire customer base resulting in a negligible price increase. With a rented tower however, only those making use of the tower are deriving any benefit from it and so the costs are applied only to those who use it and to be as fair as possible are based upon usage.

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How to Avoid Roaming Charges

Whether you are talking about regular roaming or data roaming charges, we would all like to learn how we can avoid them. The first and simplest method is to be sure your carrier covers the areas where you live, work, and have fun with their native coverage network. If they do not, you may wish to consider switching to a company that does. For some however, switching carriers may not be an option — and thankfully — there are other ways to avoid roaming. While just not making or accepting calls works for regular roaming, your phone may still use data automatically. Airplane mode or a tweak to your phone’s settings can easily fix this. Additionally, using free Wi-Fi hot spots for your data use and phone calls is a great way to avoid roaming charges as these areas are considered “in network” so long as you have your phone set up to use the Wi-Fi signal instead of the carrier’s network.

Now you are more familiar with data roaming charges and why they are necessary, but more importantly, a few different ways you can go about avoiding them to reduce you monthly cell phone bill.

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How To Avoid Roaming Charges

By David

If you are a cell phone user, you have probably heard of or possibly even encountered roaming charges from using your phone outside your carrier’s native network. These fees can add up quickly and become both expensive and annoying. To help you avoid roaming charges in the future, here are a few simple tips to help you get started:

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Make Sure You are Covered

If you find that you are incurring a lot of roaming charges on a regular basis, you will want to take a look at your carrier’s native coverage area and find out where you are covered by it and where you are not. Identifying areas where you are not covered can help you avoid roaming charges by avoiding those areas, or if you find that your coverage isn’t wide enough, you may wish to consider switching to a carrier that will cover all the areas you frequent.

Avoid Roaming Areas

Once you have identified the places where you are not covered by your network’s native coverage area, you can avoid roaming charges by avoiding those places. Alternatively, you could simply commit to not using your cellular devices while you are in these areas if you find that avoiding them is just too big a sacrifice to make. This can take a great deal of personal discipline and may even require a little more knowledge about how your phone works (for instance how to place your phone in airplane mode so background applications do not use the network without your knowledge). Still, if the roaming charges are really hitting you hard, these extra little steps could prove to be worth it in the long run.

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Take advantage of Wi-Fi

Nowadays, it seems like Wi-Fi is available in more and more places completely open and free of charge. This presents some exciting opportunities to those who would like to avoid roaming charges. The way most phone companies set up their plans will allow a user to avoid using their plans data while in a Wi-Fi area because you are streaming through the Wi-Fi instead of the cellular network. More recently, many companies have begun doing the same thing for phone calls made while connected to a Wi-Fi area. The great thing about using the wireless connection instead of the network aside from the savings is that any wireless signal with internet access anywhere in the world is considered part of the native coverage area and thus will not cause you to incur roaming fees. To get this set up on your phone, first make sure your company offers Wi-Fi calling for free (which will sometimes require adding a free service to your plan) and then enable the Wi-Fi adapter on your phone. When you enter new Wi-Fi areas a little message will pop up indicating that networks are available and you simply select them and save the connection settings. The phone then remembers the networks and uses them automatically the next time you are in range.

Using these tips, you can start avoiding roaming charges.

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