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How to Avoid Unexpected Charges When Traveling Internationally with iPhone

Updated on January 8, 2016
Max Dalton profile image

Max holds a B.S. in Mass Communications from SIU and an M.A. in Communication from U of I and is pursuing an MBA from Webster University.

Introduction

Failing to disable certain functions on your iPhone before traveling internationally can cost you a fortune. Disabling certain aspects of your device makes it possible for you to continue using the aspects of your iPhone that don't have to send or receive any kind of data to operate, such as the iPod and most games on your device. However, because there is no one magical button you can press that lets you rest easily and not worry about your phone pulling in data you didn't think about throughout the duration of your trip that results in a monstrous bill, you need to take great care to disable any cellular networks your iPhone communicates with and data pushing functionality that is set up on your device.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Your Network screen will likely look very similar to this before you turn anything off.Because disabling Cellular Data also disables Data Roaming, you'll no longer see the Data Roaming option after disabling Cellular Data.This is what your Settings screen will look like after enabling Airplane Mode.Turn off Push functionality and set your e-mail to fetch manually so no new automatically e-mails will be pushed to your iPhone.Reset your cellular data usage to zero right before leaving on your trip so you'll know if your iPhone is accidentally sending or receiving any kind of data.
Your Network screen will likely look very similar to this before you turn anything off.
Your Network screen will likely look very similar to this before you turn anything off. | Source
Because disabling Cellular Data also disables Data Roaming, you'll no longer see the Data Roaming option after disabling Cellular Data.
Because disabling Cellular Data also disables Data Roaming, you'll no longer see the Data Roaming option after disabling Cellular Data. | Source
This is what your Settings screen will look like after enabling Airplane Mode.
This is what your Settings screen will look like after enabling Airplane Mode. | Source
Turn off Push functionality and set your e-mail to fetch manually so no new automatically e-mails will be pushed to your iPhone.
Turn off Push functionality and set your e-mail to fetch manually so no new automatically e-mails will be pushed to your iPhone. | Source
Reset your cellular data usage to zero right before leaving on your trip so you'll know if your iPhone is accidentally sending or receiving any kind of data.
Reset your cellular data usage to zero right before leaving on your trip so you'll know if your iPhone is accidentally sending or receiving any kind of data. | Source

Ways to Avoid Unexpected Charges When Traveling with iPhone

  1. Call your cellular data provider and request that any international roaming features or international long distance features are disabled. Doing this ensures that you won't receive any phone calls while roaming internationally.
  2. Disable your iPhone's ability to receive a 3G signal. Do this by tapping the "Settings" app, "General" and then "Network." The Network screen appears. Tap the ON/OFF toggle to the right of Enable 3G until OFF appears in gray lettering.
  3. Disable your iPhone's ability to receive a signal from the EDGE network. Do this by tapping the ON/OFF toggle to the right of Cellular Data in the Network screen until OFF appears in gray lettering.
  4. Disable your phones ability to receive data for other functions such as e-mail or browsing the Web on your device by disabling Data Roaming. Disable Data Roaming by tapping the ON/OFF toggle to the right of Data Roaming in the Network screen until OFF appears in gray lettering.
  5. Put your device in Airplane Mode to additionally disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and Location Services on your iPhone. Do this by tapping the "Settings" app on your iPhone and then tapping the "ON/OFF" toggle to the right of Airplane Mode until ON appears in orange lettering. Because using Wi-Fi doesn't incur additional charges on your account, even if you are roaming, you can always re-enable Wi-Fi after putting your iPhone in Airplane Mode. Do this by tapping the "Settings" app and then tapping "Wi-Fi." Tap the "ON/OFF" toggle to the right of Wi-Fi until ON appears in white lettering on a blue background. A list of available wireless networks will appear. Tap a network to connect to it and enter the appropriate password if prompted.
  6. Disable having new e-mails pushed to your iPhone. Do this by tapping the "Settings" app and then tapping "Mail, Contacts, Calendars." Scroll down to the second section and then tap "Fetch New Data." Tap the "ON/OFF" toggle to the right of Push until OFF appears on a gray background. Tap "Manually" beneath Fetch so that your e-mail accounts will only search for new e-mails you tell them to.

You can track any data usage while your overseas to make sure that you're not using any data by resetting your iPhone's data tracker. Do this by tapping "Settings," "General," "Usage" and then "Cellular Usage." Tap "Reset Statistics" and then tap "Reset Statistics" again. Your Cellular Network Data on the Cellular Usage screen will be reset to zero for both sent and received data. To ensure that you don't incur any additional data charges from your wireless service provider, these numbers need to stay at zero for the duration of your trip. Also, when you arrive back to a region that your wireless carrier doesn't consider roaming or international roaming, re-enable everything that you disabled to return your iPhone back to normal.

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