For people who take their mobiles out of the country, mobile roaming can be a nightmare. Whether you are travelling for a fortnight on holiday, travel regularly on business, or are just a frequent traveller in general, being without a mobile can be more than an inconvenience. However, travelling with a mobile can bring huge mobile phone bills. Today we’re talking about mobile roaming choices, so, if you’re thinking about taking your phone out of the UK, here’s everything that you need to know.
The Cheapest Option
By far the absolute cheapest option, although one that’s not quite as convenient as other options on our list, is to buy a local SIM card. Whichever country it is that you’re travelling in, just pop into a local operator’s store, buy a SIM card and get a cheap pay as you go plan. This will allow you to call, text and connect to mobile data for local prices, which is always going to be far cheaper than using your UK SIM card. There are a couple of down sides to this plan, however. You will get a new phone number with your local SIM card, and that can make things complicated. This will mean continually switching between your local SIM card and your UK SIM card to make sure that you don’t miss any calls or texts from either number. There is a solution to this problem though…
Dual SIM Phones UK Customers Can Use at Home and Abroad
The solution is to get yourself a dual SIM phone. With dual SIM phones UK customers can use both their home SIM card and their foreign SIM card on the same phone at the same time. This means no switching SIM cards around, and never missing an important call or text. This is going to be an investment though. A dual SIM phone is a little more expensive in general than a regular smart phone. But if you travel a lot, especially if you’re constantly back and forth between the UK and one country in particular, then a dual SIM phone is going to be a worthy investment.
Basic Mobile Roaming Fees
However, if you’re just a casual traveller or holiday maker, then all this local SIM card and dual SIM phone business is probably going to be too much hassle for you. You just want to use your regular phone and your regular phone plan, right? But the problem with using your normal phone and plan is that basic mobile roaming fees are incredibly high. You’ll have to pay premium prices for making calls and sending texts, and you’ll also have to pay to receive both calls and texts. These rates add up incredibly quickly, and it’s very easy to get yourself a huge monthly bill when you get back from holiday. But, once again, there is a solution that will help you cut costs a little…
Mobile Roaming Packages
Most phone operators offer special mobile roaming packages. These are usually add on services that you get in addition to your normal mobile contract, which give you better rates on calling and texting whilst you’re abroad. Either your operator give you discounts using these packages, or more likely your operator has an agreement with a foreign operator to give you local service, especially if you’re travelling within the EU. These packages can save you a lot of money. For example, the mobile operator Orange offers a mobile roaming package for just five pounds a month. Once you have this package you can use your phone anywhere inside the EU for the exact same prices as you have for calling and texting inside the UK. This is obviously going to save you a lot of money. You’ll want to check with your operator to find out what kinds of mobile roaming packages they have. EU roaming tends to be pretty cheap, but packages for more far flung destinations can get pricey.
Phone Concerns with Roaming
There are a few concerns to do with your phone itself that you’ll need to think about before you travel. Firstly, not all countries work on the same mobile frequency. Your phone gets service because it picks up a signal from your operator, but different countries broadcast their mobile signals on different frequencies, and if your phone isn’t equipped to pick up that frequency it’s just not going to work at all. UK phone owners should be fine anywhere inside the EU, but this may be a problem in other countries, especially in Asia and North and South America. You’ll want to check the mobile frequency of the country that you’re going to and then check the owner’s manual for your phone to see whether or not your device is going to work. Secondly, you will want to check with your mobile operator to make sure that mobile roaming is enabled. Many operators don’t have roaming enabled as a default setting, in order to stop customers accidentally getting big bills. Enabling roaming will be free, but you might have to request that your operator switches on roaming for your phone account. Finally, if you’re thinking about buying a local SIM card, then you do need to make sure that your phone isn’t locked. If you bought your phone from a mobile operator, or got it as part of a contract deal from an operator, there’s a chance that your phone is locked. This means that your mobile won’t accept a SIM card from any other operator. You can check this by simply borrowing a SIM card from a friend who has a different operator, putting it in your phone and seeing if it works. If your phone doesn’t work, it’s locked. Fortunately, many mobile service centres will unlock phones, and even your operator might unlock it for you for a small fee. But you should absolutely check this before you leave the country, since unlocking your phone outside of the UK might be a problem, and if you don’t get it unlocked you won’t be able to use any other SIM card to get service.
Sam Jones knows that when it comes to dual sim phones, UK providers have plenty to choose from. The providers are all listed on comparison sites like uSwitch for easy decision-making.