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How to Rack Up Cell Phone Roaming Charges

Updated on April 19, 2012
Installing a SIM card in iPhone
Installing a SIM card in iPhone
A T-Mobile SIM
A T-Mobile SIM

Using Your Cell Phone Internationally

I use to think roaming charges were long gone, you know, the early days of cell phone usage back in the late 90's or early 2000's. Well, they are until you go international with your US based cell phone plan. You could be in for a shock if you constantly use the phone while in Italy to download data and do the things you do daily while in the USA. Maybe you need to call your son or others back in the States several times about ongoing issues. Then, find a $500 dollar cell phone bill waiting. Others have fared far worse by downloading data (you know, video, surfing the web, GPS, email) often. They find a bill of thousands of dollars waiting while the vacationed in Europe or elsewhere.

Why the expense? Carriers charge much more for downloads outside the USA, where your plan is based, some as much as $5 a minute. Verizon charges $20 per megabyte downloaded, huh, dude, that is a photo sent to you while you were on vacation or something else. Maybe it was the photo you sent to your boss. Regardless, upload or downloading will cost you! Hey, why download that stupid video from YouTube lasting three minutes. At home, it costs little, but in Berlin, where you are staying and quite bored, it costs $100! Want more? Well, how about watching a film using your Apple iPhone or any cell phone because, again, language barriers and down time, that will cost you- $18,000!!!! At home, the cost is a few bucks, if that.

Cell phone users suffer a "bill shock" when getting back from their vacation abroad.To avoid the shock, you must get your cell phone "unlocked", then, buy a SIM card for the country you are staying in with pre-paid minutes. Take out the SIM card out from the back of the phone, insert the new SIM when in the country. Now, you can call without roaming charges. Or, you can rent or buy a phone in country you are stating in. Using Skype to call is another way unless it is with your cell phone or tablet, which may add cell phone roaming charges. Use wi-fi for the safest mode. Turn off anything on your phone that automatically updates like facebook, stock markets and such.

What are the roaming rates (check with your carrier)?

  • From Russia- $5-6 per minute
  • China, India - $2-4 per minute
  • Japan - $2-3 per minute
  • Australia - $1.50-2 a minute
  • Europe - $1-2 a minute
  • Vietnam - $2-5 a minute


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks, I thought of photos but then thought, of what? a cell phone?

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      6 years ago from Taos, NM

      This is a very helpful and informative article. It can be made better by having some photos or illustrations. I have traveled overseas with a cell phone and your advice is very sound.


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