Your smartphone can come in handy while abroad to check your email, update friends and family, share pictures and videos on social media sites, search for the best local restaurants, and pull up local street maps to meander foreign towns.
However, user beware – you may incur outrageous charges if you are not savvy using your cell phone abroad.
Data packages are common in all smart phones but did you know that they are not part of the package while you are traveling internationally? While roaming your phone is accumulating charges for data being delivered – even if you are not checking it.
Bottom line: if your phone is on and collecting data, you will be charged.
This year while in Brazil I absentmindedly said yes when the kids asked to download an app on their phones – this one application cost us $400 in extra fees. In order to dodge that mistake we have provided a few tips to avoid cell phone bill shock.
1) Download all the videos and music you want before traveling and then turn off your data package. If you don’t need to stay in touch with the office and would like a break from social media and the internet – this will save you from unpleasant surprises.
2) Look into an international add-on package before traveling. AT&T offers this add-on for as low as $25 a month for 50MB and Verizon offers the same data for $30. These add-ons will allow you to use your phone’s data freely, without incurring additional charges.
3) Make limited phone calls and lock your keypad to avoid any accidental pocket dials that can quickly rack up your cell phone bill.
3) If you do return to insane additional charges, try to negotiate a credit or a refund – some companies are good at helping.
With our additional $400 charge, our carrier called us to notify us about the charge while we were abroad, and we were able to nicely negotiate and have the amount credited. Now on our way to the international airport, you will find my husband on the phone with our cell phone carrier, signing us all up for a data plan.