With millions of Brits set to jet off to the sun in the next few weeks, it’s worth remembering that using your mobile phone abroad can be a costly business.
Phoning, texting and surfing the web during a holiday might get you through those minutes when the sky gets cloudy, but you could end up returning home from your summer holiday to find a big bill waiting on the doorstep.
According to price comparison website uSwitch.com, 22 million British holidaymakers could face a sting worse than sunburn thanks to unexpectedly pricey bills with 83% believing mobile networks charge far too much for using your phone abroad.
Its research found nearly half of Brits (49%) have returned to an average bill of £149 after their break in the sun.
To help save you some cash, we’ve come up with a few useful tips when travelling abroad with your handset. You can find them at the end of this article.
Roaming Charge Confusion
Other findings by uSwitch show only a fifth (22%) bother to even check how much they will be charged for abroad usage, known as roaming, and 42% have no idea at all of the costs before they go.
Many don’t realise you can be charged to receive calls as well as for making them and for listening to voicemails. It comes as seven in 10 leave their phone switched on at all time when out of the country even though half say they don’t intend to use it.
And while checking in on social networks and telling the world what you’re up to might save stamps and sending them a postcard, accessing roaming internet data can really increase the costs you face.
Surfing in the Sun
This hasn’t stopped a quarter of people admitting they’ll be checking Facebook and Twitter while away with a third expecting to read personal emails and 14% looking at dreaded work messages.
Browsing the internet to keep in touch with the news, sport and showbiz gossip will be done by 27% of sun-seekers while a quarter will use apps on smartphones like an iPhone or Android handsets.
Ernest Doku, technology expert at uSwitch.com, said: “Contacting your mobile phone network should be high on every mobile user’s holiday checklist, alongside packing your passport and sun cream.
“If you really can’t do without your mobile while you are away, at the very least you should make sure you understand the charges and try to limit the scope for a huge bill.
“You could opt for a special roaming tariff like one in ten savvy Brits do, fix a cap or even use a cut-price local SIM card.”
Roaming Abroad? Tips To Remember…
If you’re off on holiday soon, then bon voyage and we hope the sun shines for you. But before you jet away, check out these tips for keeping your mobile bill from rising faster than the plane carrying you to foreign climes.
You can opt to turn off your voicemail before you go if you don’t want people leaving you messages that will cost you to listen to. Some voicemail services will require you to enter a pin number to access messages though, so make sure you know what yours is before you leave as often, with some networks, you can’t find it out once abroad
Many mobile networks now cap your data and phone call usage while abroad by default. That way you can’t run up a huge bill. They will send you texts to let you know you’re reaching a set limit and if you want to increase this, you can ring up your network while away. Or, if you are happy to spend more, phone before you leave and extend the capped amount.
Data and Downloads
One easy way to save a fortune, especially with smartphones, is to turn off your data. This will prevent emails downloading automatically and apps updating themselves in the background without you realising. That can really rack up huge costs without you knowing. Your handset instructions will show how to do this.
If you’re staying in a hotel, the chances are it will have wireless internet. It might even be free to log on to it, or it should certainly be cheaper than your network’s roaming charge. Set your phone to log on to Wi-FI and surf the internet that way, with unlimited access for the hotel’s set fee or no fee at all.
Pictures and Attachments
This is where you can get caught out for a seriously big bill. Data abroad is charged per megabyte and can costs a few pounds for 1MB especially when visiting America where it’s more costly than Europe to roam. So downloading an email attachment or uploading pictures you’ve taken to Facebook and Twitter can really eat into your spending money.
Call Your Operator
uSwitch say only one in 10 bother to get a special roaming package from their network that can make things cheaper on you. It’s easy to do, just pick up the phone and they will talk you through it. Also spend a few minutes logging on to your network’s website and looking at the costs of roaming for the country you are flying to. These will be clearly displayed.