Ever accidentally turned on data roaming while abroad and received a massive bill for your error? You’re not the only one. Roaming can be tricky to navigate, and mistakes can cost you, but we’ve created an easy guide to ensure that you can get international airtime with little to no hassle. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is international roaming?

Let’s start with the basics. When you get a sim card, your mobile phone is automatically located within the cell phone carrier’s network. Think of it as a border that outlines the limits of a carrier’s phone coverage. The minute you go beyond those borders, then you are automatically “roaming.” 

International roaming is a little redundant since anything roaming is typically international, but the phrase essentially refers to any time you try to use text, call, and data services while using your sim card abroad.

How do you activate international roaming?

Gone are the days when you had to call your phone carrier’s hotline to activate roaming. Now you can activate international roaming in under a minute. Before you jet-set to your destination, here’s what you need to do to activate international airtime.

Activate roaming on Android phones

  1. Go to Settings. 
  2. Go to Connections.
  3. Select Mobile Networks. 
  4. Turn on Data roaming.

Activate roaming on iPhones

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Go to Cellular. 
  3. Select Cellular Data Options.
  4. Switch on Data Roaming. 

How does international roaming work?

Roaming works when your service provider has an agreement with another service provider in another country, thereby allowing your sim to roam while you’re in other countries. So say you have a Romanian sim and you’re on a business trip to Mexico. You can connect to roaming if your Romanian service provider has an agreement with a local service provider to allow you to roam while you’re in Mexico.

Because you’re connecting to your network from outside its coverage area, roaming charges are notoriously high. If you don’t have a prepaid plan for airtime, it could cost a lot just to text, call, and surf the web. 

How do you avoid international roaming charges?

The best thing you can do is do a little research. A lot of people activate data roaming on their phones thinking the rates will be the same, only to find out that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. So here are some simple ways you can avoid being blindsided by international roaming charges: 

  1. Check your service provider’s roaming rates on their website. 
  2. Take note of your provider’s roaming activation instructions.
  3. Find your provider’s overseas network partners. 
  4. Activate your data roaming only when you’re informed of the rates, processes, and network partners. 

If you want to avoid international roaming altogether, make sure your data roaming is switched off on your phone before your plane leaves. Otherwise, it might connect automatically to its roaming partners. 

Why is roaming so expensive? 

Roaming rates are notoriously pricey because of how much your phone carrier is charged by the roaming carrier to allow you to use their network. That charge is cascaded to you, the mobile user, through hefty roaming fees.

International roaming can be a convenient way to stay connected while travelling abroad, but it can also be expensive if you’re not careful. It’s important to understand the costs and options available to you before you go, so you can make informed decisions about how you use your phone and avoid any unexpected bills.

Telpug.com offers a simple and convenient way to top up your phone from anywhere in the world, with competitive rates and a variety of payment options to suit your needs. With our service and easy-to-use platform, you can stay connected with family and friends no matter where your travels take you.

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