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How to Avoid Roaming Charges When Traveling Abroad

Avoid roaming charges when you travel abroad with our tips: 1. Deactivate Mobile Data. 2. Turn on Airplane mode. 3. Get an eSIM!

Manuel M.

January 22, 2024

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Using roaming is a convenient way to connect when you travel, but are you ready to see your bill once you’re back? You might be shocked at how much your provider will charge you for using your data plan in another country. Today, we’re going to dive into how to avoid roaming charges while traveling and other much better options that are available to you. Keep reading and save big!

What is Data Roaming?

Young with iPhone in Europe
Traveler with data in Europe. Source: Holafy

Before we dive into the tips and tricks, let’s understand exactly what we’re dealing with. Data roaming is the use of mobile data services outside your home country. It’s like your phone taking a trip on its own, connecting to local networks in foreign lands.

So, to connect abroad, the foreign network lets you connect to your domestic network for a fee, and at the end of the day, that’s the fee that you’re charged.

When Do Roaming Charges Apply?

  1. Making Calls: Calling someone can accrue charges on your bill.
  2. Sending Texts: Sending a simple five-letter word like “hello” can come with a hefty price tag.
  3. Using Data: Checking emails, social media, or looking at Instagram Reels can quickly rack up costs. This includes apps that run in the background that you’re unaware of.
  4. Receiving Calls: Yes, even if someone calls you, you may end up getting a huge bill.

How Much Does International Roaming Cost?

Let’s take a look at how many local carriers in the US charge their customers to use their data plans in other countries:

ServiceCanada & MexicoEuropeRest of the World, Cruise Ships, Airlines
Talk$1/minute$2/minute$3/minute
Text$0.50/message$0.50/message$0.50/message
Pictures/Videos$1.30/message$1.30/message$1.30/message
Data (Land, Cruise Ships, AeroMobile®)$2.05/MB$2.05/MB$2.05/MB
Data (Airlines)$10.24/MB$10.24/MB$10.24/MB

T-Mobile

T-Mobile offers global plans and other packages like the Go5G Next & Plus and Magenta MAX & Plus plans, which include global roaming at no extra cost. However, for those plans that do not include roaming and do not offer day pass, the standard rates are the following:

ServiceCost/Unit
Dataup to $15.00/MB
Text (Sending)up to $0.50/txt
Text (Receiving)Deducted from domestic texting plan’s allotment
Talkup to $5.99/min

Verizon

Verizon’s charges can catch you off guard, especially if you’re not mindful of your consumption abroad.

ServiceCost/Unit
Travel Pass$10 (One-time charge)
Monthly Plan$100 (Monthly charge)
Voiceup to $2.99/Min
Dataup to $2.05/MB

How high can my roaming bill go?

When you use your data plan abroad, you’ll be charged high consumption fees by your domestic operator, unless you have a plan that includes unlimited roaming, like the AT&T service that offers service in Mexico and Canada eSIM included! These fees can get pretty high if you’re not careful. Let’s take a look at average consumption and pricing.

Let’s say you consume 30 minutes of calls, 2 GB of data, and 20 text messages daily for a 10-day travel period. Here’s the average total expense chart based on these assumptions:

ServiceAT&TT-MobileVerizon
Voice (30 minutes)$30.00$179.70$89.70 (rounded up from $89.70)
Text (Sending 20/day)$10.00$10.00$0.00
Text (Receiving 20/day)$0.00$0.00$0.00
Data (2 GB)$41.00$30.00$41.00
Total (10 days)$81.00$219.70$130.70

As you can see, these are excessive charges that throw you off budget. Continue reading on how to avoid roaming charges when traveling internationally.

How to Avoid International Roaming Charges

avoid excessive fees for roaming abroad
Don’t pay excessive fees for roaming abroad. Source: Unsplash

Now, the golden nuggets – how to get around those and avoid hefty roaming fees. We’re going to share a few tips so you don’t have to come home and cry about your bill:

Turn Off Mobile Data

Pros: Prevents accidental data usage. Cons: No real-time updates.

Turning off mobile data is one of the best ways to avoid getting charged a fortune. But be careful! Stay alert whenever your phone informs you that you’re not connected and offers to activate roaming, select “No”.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Select Cellular Data
  3. Turn off Mobile Data

Turn On Airplane Mode

Pros: Complete isolation from networks. Cons: No calls, texts, or data.

Airplane mode helps to control your roaming consumption thanks to the fact that you can simply turn it on and stay on. You won’t worry about apps running in the background consuming data without your knowledge. Swipe down and enable Airplane Mode in your phone easy access pane. You can also go into Settings and turn it on manually.

>>Find out how to connect to international roaming in Mexico<<

Use WiFi

Pros: Free data. Cons: Security risks on public networks.

You’ll be able to connect at cafés, malls and your hotel. Wherever there’s a free WiFi network, or you can ask management for the password. Be cautious when connecting to free WiFi, they’re generally insecure, and you risk getting your information stolen or hacked. Connect to secure WiFi networks for browsing without incurring charges.

Get an international eSIM

Pros: Convenient and cost-effective. Cons: Requires eSIM-compatible device.

This is one of the most reliable and cheapest ways to connect abroad without breaking the wallet. International providers, like Holafly, offer these digital SIM cards that you can get basically anywhere, no matter where you are. Consider services like Holafly for hassle-free international connectivity.

A few perks are unlimited data, 24/7 customer service, connect as soon as you land, user-friendly app, a comprehensive refund policy and much more!

What do we recommend to avoid roaming charges when traveling internationally?

We highly recommend getting an international eSIM for a seamless and cost-effective travel experience. Holafly is our top pick, providing reliable connectivity without the hefty fees. Make sure your cellphone is compatible with the virtual SIM card.

travel sim card unlimited data

Ready to embark on a roaming-free journey? Discover how Holafly’s international eSIM can keep you connected without burning a hole in your pocket. Whether you are visiting Europe or need the best Asia eSIM, Holafly is your go-to option!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make sure I don’t get charged roaming fees?

Ensure mobile data is turned off, and use WiFi whenever possible. Consider an international eSIM for a worry-free experience.

Can I receive text messages without roaming?

Yes, you can receive texts without roaming, but check with your carrier for any potential charges.

Do I need to turn roaming on when abroad?

No, you can leave roaming off to avoid charges. Only turn it on when necessary, and be mindful of your usage.

Is airplane mode the same as turning off data roaming?

Yes, enabling airplane mode turns off all wireless communication, including data roaming. It’s an effective way to avoid charges when not needed.