Data Roaming
Technology

Data Roaming: How to Avoid Exorbitant Mobile Bills While Traveling Internationally

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Cellular connectivity does wonders and has made our lives convenient. A cellphone with the internet lets you call, text, upload, stream, search maps, call a ride, make financial transactions, and many unlimited things. 

But you must pay for the internet data according to the mobile service provider’s standard charges. Yet, paying for the data does not feel like a burden when you compare it with the convenience of internet connectivity.  

You also want seamless connectivity on your mobile SIM when traveling abroad. But remember, you have to pay data roaming charges because your mobile service provider cannot cover your internationally.  

And that’s where you must be cautious because data roaming is highly expensive. People have faced thousands of dollars in mobile bills due to simple internet consumption while traveling internationally through data roaming. 

Should you turn on data roaming while traveling internationally? Are there ways to avoid data roaming charges? What should you do to turn off data roaming on any device? 

Check out everything in detail below. 

What is Data Roaming?

Data roaming is a technical term that refers to when your cellphone uses a network other than your mobile service provider to connect and use the internet. It can only happen when you are outside the coverage area of your mobile service provider. 

There are two types of data roaming: domestic and international. 

You use domestic data roaming when you use a network other than your mobile service provider while traveling inside your home country. Almost every mobile service provider has made arrangements with other mobile service providers for domestic data roaming. 

That’s why you don’t have to pay extra for using the network and internet when you are outside of your mobile service provider’s coverage while being inside your home country. 

International data roaming, also referred to as just “Data Roaming,” allows you to have cellular connectivity and internet availability while traveling outside your home country by using available networks in the area. But it is not free, and you must pay high costs. 

That’s why always find out the data roaming costs of your destination before traveling. So, you know what you have to pay in case of urgent connectivity needs. 

How Does Data Roaming Work?

Suppose you have to travel to Paris from London for any reason. And you want cellular connectivity and internet service on your cellphone during your stay. So, you turn on your data roaming. 

When you arrive in Paris, your mobile service provider’s coverage will not be there. But your cellphone will have signals, and you can use data and all mobile services. It happened because your mobile service provider has an agreement with mobile networks in France that they’ll provide network and internet service to their customers. 

In short, data roaming is using network services of available mobile service providers outside your geographical location due to a mutual agreement between mobile service providers. 

Should Data Roaming Be Off or ON?

It depends on the case-by-case. Switching off your data roaming will save you from hefty mobile bills. But you will certainly miss important notifications, messages, emails, and more. 

Switching on your data roaming will come with heavy mobile bills. But you can reduce your bill to the minimum by turning off background data and notifications and not using data-intensive applications. Also, you have the freedom to receive calls, messages, and emails. 

In short, turning off data roaming is your choice and depends upon your affordability, situation, and budget. 

How Much Does Data Roaming Cost?

Roaming charges depend upon your host network. But here’s a breakdown of the minimum rates you may have to pay while traveling internationally. 

  • $0.25/min for calls 
  • $0.10 per text 
  • $2 to $5 for 1 MB of data 

Also, remember that roaming rates can add up quickly, and you may end up with thousands of dollars in bills. So, be careful while using data-intensive apps and always turn off background data, as well as auto-updates. 

How to Avoid Roaming Charges Internationally?

Here are some ways. 

  1. Call your mobile service provider and inquire about international data plans. Buy a plan that suits your budget and needs. Remember, you’ll find multiple options. So, choose wisely. 
  1. Track everything while traveling and make use of public Wi-Fi options.  
  1. Turn your data off while you are away from Wi-Fi spots. 
  1. Try to use texts instead of emails 

Data Roaming Between UK and EU After Brexit?

Brexit Trade Deal allowed mobile service operators to charge data roaming fees at transparent and reasonable rates. 

That’s why some operators have introduced a $2 to $5 per day fee for customers using their mobile account balance on EU roaming. Also, mobile operators introduced packages for one week, two weeks, and one month for people going to Europe for longer stays. 

The British government also introduced laws to safeguard customers. 

  • Mobile operators cannot charge more than 45 pounds per month for the bundle of data customers can use abroad. 
  • Operators must inform customers when they have used 80% and 100% of their data allowance. 
  • Mobile operators must introduce mechanisms to safeguard customers from accidental roaming in Northern Ireland. 

UK Networks Offering Free EU Roaming

Here are the UK networks that have introduced roaming charges for the EU after Brexit. 

  • EE 
  • Sky Mobile 
  • Three 
  • Vodafone 
  • VOXI 

Here are the UK networks that offer free EU roaming. 

Giff Gaff

Giff Gaff is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, and it is low on prices with a specialty in SIM-Only deals. Its coverage reaches most parts of the UK and offers free EU roaming. 

Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile is a Virtual Network Operator, offering cheap rates with many freebies and incentives. It covers 99% of the UK and offers free EU roaming. 

Asda Mobile

It is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator specializing in pay-as-you-go deals. Also, it offers 30-day plans. Just order Asda Mobile SIM and enjoy free EU roaming during your travel. 

ID Mobile

ID Mobile is a wonderful option because it offers SIM-Only deals and contracts as short as one month at the cheapest rates. You can buy a contract as low as 6 pounds per month with standard free EU roaming. 

Smarty

Smarty is powered by Three and offers low price SIM-Only deals with standard EU roaming. 

Plus Net

Plus Net only provides SIM-Only deals with wallet-friendly data bundles, and it has free EU roaming. 

Lebara

Lebara offers a unique combination of SIM-Only and pay-as-you-go deals. Its plans are automatically renewed after 30 days, and it offers free EU roaming. 

O2

O2 offers everything that a mobile operator can offer. You can choose SIM-Only deals, pay-as-you-go, and monthly contracts with handsets. Also, it provides free EU roaming. 

BT Mobile 

BT Mobile offers many good SIM-Only deals that come with free BT Sports. And it offers free EU roaming. 

Virgin Mobile

It is Mobile Virtual Network Operator powered by T-Mobile and has over 4 million users. Virgin Mobile has only pay-as-you-go deals with standard free EU roaming. 

Use Talk Home Mobile for Free EU Roaming 

Talk Home Mobile is the best option if you want to travel throughout Europe. You get budget-friendly SIM-Only deals without contracts at the cheapest rates for international calls. Also, you get 50% off for the first three months when you order your SIM. Moreover, you can choose plans with unlimited local call minutes, texts, and data. 

Here you’ll find Talk Home Mobile SIM-Only deals. 

How to Avoid Roaming Charges on Android?

You can avoid heavy roaming charges using the following methods. 

  1. Make use of public Wi-Fi spots 
  1. Turn off background data 
  1. Buy an international data plan 
  1. Check emails without downloading attachments 
  1. Use only mobile-friendly websites 
  1. Use maps offline 
  1. Turn off data roaming 

Know If Your Android Device is Roaming

Your device will alert you when you are roaming. There will be an icon on the status bar resembling “R.” The shape of the roaming icon may vary phone by phone. But it’ll appear whenever you are outside the coverage area of your mobile service provider. 

How to Turn It Off on Android?

Here’s how you can do it. 

  • Open Settings > Mobile Networks > Turn Off Data Roaming 

How to Avoid Roaming Charges on iPhone?

You can avoid heavy data roaming charges using the following methods. 

  1. Make use of public Wi-Fi spots 
  1. Turn off background data 
  1. Buy an international data plan 
  1. Check emails without downloading attachments 
  1. Use only mobile-friendly websites 
  1. Use maps offline 
  1. Turn off data roaming 

Know If Your iPhone is Roaming

If you are roaming on your iPhone, the network name on your device will change to the local network. When you see another mobile service provider’s name on your iPhone, it means that your device is roaming. 

How to Turn  It Off on iPhone?

Here’s how you can do it. 

  • Open Settings > Mobile Data > Data Roaming > Turn Off Switch 

How to Find and Utilize Free Wi-Fi Spots to Avoid Data Roaming? 

Here’s how you can find free Wi-Fi spots. 

  • Go to popular coffee chains 
  • Find high-end restaurants 
  • Go to tourists’ hotspots 
  • Visit a transportation hub 
  • Use a Wi-Fi finding app 
  • Take a mobile hotspot with you 

Tips for Avoiding Data Roaming Charges 

Here’s what you can do: 

  1. Find out roaming rates and if they suit you, then turn on data roaming. Otherwise, use other options. 
  1. Inquire your provider about international data plans and choose an affordable package. 
  1. Use Wi-Fi as much as you can during your travel 
  1. Try to spend time without the internet. Use the internet for necessary things. 
  1. Use text messages for communication instead of voice calls 
  1. Try to use Wi-Fi calling apps whenever you find a free Wi-Fi spot. 
  1. Use a data monitor to know your data consumption. So, you can remain within limits. 

Here are two options if your mobile provider has expensive data roaming. 

Change Provider

Find a mobile service provider that offers the cheapest data roaming rates. Next, switch to that provider before going outside your country. 

Internet is your friend, and you’ll find out everything if you search extensively about the cheapest data roaming provider. 

Get a UK (Prepaid) SIM Card

Another good option is to buy a UK international prepaid SIM card. It’ll save you almost 85% on roaming, and you don’t have to pay anything when you receive texts or calls. 

You’ll have to use an unlocked phone with this SIM card, and you can also purchase international data bundles. 

Some UK prepaid SIM cards work in more than 134 countries and have agreements with over 340 networks worldwide. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Data Roaming as a Service?

Mobile carriers provide network coverage to customers of other mobile providers when they are outside of their primary coverage area. It’s called data roaming. 

How Do I Know My Device is Roaming?

If you are using an Android device, an icon resembling “R” will show up in your status bar. And if you are using iPhone, your device will show the name of the local mobile carrier on the top left of your screen. 

Are There Any Data Restrictions/Limitations?

Your host network does not put limits on your data usage when you are roaming. Yet, you can limit your data usage by using “Settings” on your device. 

How Do I Turn Off Data Roaming on My Smartphone?

On Android: 

  • Open Settings > Mobile Networks > Turn Off Data Roaming 

On iPhone: 

  • Open Settings > Mobile Data > Data Roaming > Turn Off Switch 

How to Turn Off Auto Updates on My Device?

On Android: 

  • Google Play > Hamburger Icon > Settings > Choose “Do Not Auto-Update Apps” 

On iPhone: 

  • Settings > iTunes & App Store > Turn Off Auto updates 

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