When we go abroad, we all want to be contactable in case of an emergency and it’s handy to be able to access maps, directions and ideas about things to do on our smart phones when we’re in a foreign country.

But most people get stung by high charges by their mobile provider and it isn’t really the phone calls that are driving your bills up.

The first thing to keep in mind at all times is that the tariff you have with your network provider only applies in the UK. This includes your free minutes, texts, as well as unlimited data and Wi-Fi allowances. Charges do increase significantly when you use your phone from other countries.

As of May 2012, O2 charges £3 per MB within the EU and £6 per MB outside the EU.

Orange charges £3 per MB (with PAYG customers paying £4 per MB) inside the EU, and £8 per MB in the rest of the world.

Vodafone charges £1 per MB for the first 5MB, then £15 for every 5MB after that in the EU. Outside the EU they charge £3 for each MB up to 5MB, then £15 for every 5MB after that; however, Vodafone will notify you by SMS when you are approaching each £5 so you can keep track of your spending.

As you can see, it’s not cheap to use your phone abroad. Within the EU, costs will be lower than the rest of the world so if you’re visiting Spain then you will not be paying as much as if you are visiting the USA. Even having a quick conversation or checking email can have very high costs. There are, however, some very easy ways to reduce your bills when you go abroad.

Switch your data roaming off so that you aren’t automatically connected to the internet at all times. Having your smart phone is handy for checking maps and directions, but try to print out everything you need in advance of your trip so you have a hard copy with you. That way you don’t need to keep re-checking and connecting to the internet on the move.

The thing to bear in mind at all times is the amount of data you are using, as this will have a direct result on your bill.

Most importantly, don’t watch videos! Even short videos will use up huge amounts of data and you will find yourself with a ridiculously high bill.

If you need to check your email, don’t download lots of attachments. The download and the size of the file will use up a lot of data, so be selective about the information you need.

Save your extended internet use for when you’re in an area with a Wi-Fi connection. Most hotels offer free Wi-Fi and plenty of public areas such as cafes and bars also offer free connectivity. That means you can check e-mails and maps on the cheap.

This is also true for staying in touch with people, as you can use software such as Skype, Viber or Apple Face Time for free conversations. You can also make phone calls through Skype for a small charge which is significantly smaller than going through your network operator while abroad.

However it is always easier and cheaper to avoid phone conversations altogether, and texts are usually much less costly (make sure you know how much texts from abroad will cost before you travel). BBM and WhatsApp allow you instant message other smart phones for free so will take the high costs out of inter-country contact.

If you’re in doubt, check with your network provider before you travel and make sure you’re aware of exactly how much each type of usage will cost.

Don’t forget that Jade Stanley offers insurance on all types of phones for a wide range of destinations around the world. This includes pay as you go and contract rentals, and you have a choice of paying monthly or saving money by paying a one-off, stress free annual payment.

Happy holidays!


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