We recently came across this article on CNN that talked about high roaming charges and we thought it would be a good idea to bring it up on the blog.
The article talks about P. Morgan Brown and "when his wife decided to take a spur-of-the-moment vacation to Indonesia." When she got back from the trip her "Verizon bill came to a staggering $8,000. Text-messages home cost an astounding $2.50 each and the meter was running at an eye-popping $1.75 a minute for phone calls."
Now Mrs. Brown's case is an exception but it's happening more and more. People aren't realizing the charges and the roaming rates they are being charged.
This problem isn't happening just with overseas travel. Steven Frischling, a New York travel consultant, returned from a recent trip to Detroit to find a $500 international phone bill. The problem wiht his bill was he was in Detroit which meant it wasn't actually roaming. The problem was the Apple iPhone he used kept picking up signal from the Canadian towers. He was able to prove that he was in Detroit and the charges were eventually reveresed.
The article gives 5 things you can do to alleviate those high charges
1. Buy another phone. That's right when you get over to the place you are going by a local service with pre-paid SIM card. Likely this will be a cheaper alternative then the roaming charges. We are sure that a local cell phone place would have been better then an $8000 bill.
2. Get a plan. If you want to keep you phone and still use your carriers service then consider getting a international plan. One where roaming is included.
3. Go VOIP. VOIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol is a feature that lets you make a call over the internet rather then over the cell phone towers. You may have heard of Skype. This is a VOIP service and if you are make Skype to Skype calls then calling is free anywhere in the world. You can be in the US and calling someone in China and you wouldn't pay a dime.
4. Swap Cards. Probably the most convenient way. If you have a GSM cell phone you can get it unlocked or you can buy an unlocked cell phone. By doing this it lets you use the same phone you are use to but simply remove the SIM card in the phone and replace it with one locally. Basically this gives you the option of getting a local plan but not having to buy a phone. This is good since you can generally pick up a SIM card in most convenience stores. You basically are turning your cell phone into a pre-paid service. When you get back state-side simply put your regular SIM card back in and you'll have your old service without the charges.
5. Leave your phone at home. If you really want to be sure then simply don't bring your phone. If it's not out of the country then it can't get high roaming charges.