cell phone users are surfing the web, receiving emails and watching movies all
on their smartphone with just the click of a button from just about anywhere.
However, when traveling abroad, many consumers fail to recognize that their
data plan is constantly in use even when they think their phone isn’t. Better
Business Bureau is advising consumers to either turn off their phone or make
the necessary data arrangements with their cell phone provider to avoid
thousands of dollars worth of data charges while traveling abroad this summer.
Last year alone, BBB received more than 27,000 complaints against the cell phone industry, some of which were from customers who were unaware that their data was still in use as they traveled outside of their coverage area or outside of the United States. One particular customer was charged more than $1,200 when his cell phone auto received his emails daily during a one week stay in Jamaica.
to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “roaming” is the term that
describes a wireless phone’s ability to make and receive calls outside the home
calling area under your service plan. When your phone is roaming, an indicator
light on your phone may display the word “roam.” On occasion, your handset will
not display a roaming indicator, even though it is in a roaming area. Before traveling
abroad or out of your coverage area, it’s important for consumers to be
proactive and contact their provider for specific details regarding their
individual data and roaming plan.
the international roaming charges may vary from provider to provider, many of
the fees can come as a surprise to travelers,” said Nancy B. Cahalen, president
and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central New England. “To prevent the
unexpected roaming charges, contact your cell phone provider to clarify where
you are covered and the data plans that can be purchased when traveling abroad.”
advises consumers to do the following with their cell phone and cell phone
provider in preparation for a trip abroad this summer:
Turn off your
you don’t need your phone and don’t plan on using it while traveling abroad, turn
it off. Some travelers opt for renting or buying international cell phones. Many
rental plans offer services that work in several countries and may provide free
Contact your cell
phone provider. Many
cell phone users know not to make calls or send text messages while out of
their coverage area or abroad, but many fail to realize that their data is in
use even when they don’t think it is. For the occasional traveler, who doesn’t
talk on the phone that frequently, it may be worth looking into an
international add-on plan. Your cell phone carrier can provide specific tips
that cater to the roaming needs of your individual cell phone and data plan.
Invest in a prepaid SIM card. For the frequent, chatty travelers, or long-term travelers, investing in a prepaid SIM card may be the best way to cut costs. With access to a local phone number, you’ll be able to make phone calls at the country’s local rate. Always check with BBB before choosing an international service provider. Many companies offer SIM cards that can be purchased and can include free incoming calls originating from anywhere in the world.