News 10 ways to cut your smartphone roaming costs abroad

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10 ways to cut your smartphone roaming costs abroad

As of 1 July, using a mobile in Europe will cost less, but roaming costs can still be high - here's 10 tips for keeping your charges in check.

As of 1 July, it will be cheaper to use your mobile in Europe. Thanks to a new ruling, calls, texts and data will cost you less (in EU countries, at least). Happy (holi)days. Or is it?

THANKS TO A NEW RULING by the European Commission, from Monday 1 July the cost of using a mobile phone within EU countries will be lower than ever.

The rule caps the cost of your data roaming, meaning that the cost of making a phone call falls by a minimum of 17% per minute, while receiving a call is 12% cheaper. Sending a text will cost you 11% less, while the charge for downloading data is down a massive 36% (and a whacking 91% cheaper compared with back in 2007).

So does this mean happy holidays downloading useful stuff like maps, guidebooks and the latest films from the comfort of your sun lounger? This is of course only for the countries in the EU, and even if you are taking your phone to Corfu or Croatia, don’t get carried away…

Mike Newman, CEO of my1login, the world’s most secure free online password manager, gives us his 10 expert tips on keeping your roaming costs down, so you don’t get a big bill when you get home.

IN THE AGE OF THE SMARTPHONE, we’ve become used to having internet access on tap and at our fingertips. Even when on holiday abroad, it’s tempting to use your mobile to check emails, update your Facebook status or access local maps or restaurant reviews.

What many travellers don’t realise, however, is that your usual internet allowance package from your mobile operator doesn’t apply when you’re outside your home country. Using your mobile on an overseas network (but still being billed by your existing provider) is known as ‘data roaming’ and, for the unwary holidaymaker, data roaming charges can lead to unexpectedly huge phone bills.

Data still being charged per megabyte and 1MB roughly equivalent to reading just eight web pages or viewing two photographs, it’s still easy for costs to mount up. Here are 10 tips to keep your roaming charges in check.

business woman with mobile phone
1. Download in advance

Before you leave, research your destination online and download maps and travel guides to your phone that can be used offline once you arrive. The same applies to your in-flight entertainment: download your music, films or even the latest Skyscanner travel podcast, before you leave the country.

2. Check your settings

Some smartphone apps will continue to download expensive data abroad whether you’re actively using them or not. The best way to avoid this is to turn off your ‘data roaming’ setting completely – ask your operator for instructions on how to do this if you’re not sure.

3. Use wi-fi

Accessing the internet through 3G or 4G on your phone costs you money, but using a local wi-fi hotspot generally doesn’t. Research how to turn off your 3G/4G and turn on your wi-fi before you leave.

More: Cash withdrawals, tours and WiFi are biggest holiday rip-offs

4. Bundle up

If you have a rough idea how much data your likely to need while you’re away, all mobile operators offer fixed-cost data bundle packages that can be purchased in advance.

5. Switch your SIM

You can buy pre-paid SIM cards that offer good rates on overseas web access – but you will need to have you phone ‘unlocked’ before you can use a different SIM.

6. Only use mobile sites

Many popular websites now have mobile versions designed for smartphones which require less data than the standard web version. If your favourite sites have mobile versions, use them.

7. Don’t open attachments

Downloading attachments to emails can be a big drain on your data usage so, unless it’s something crucial, wait until you get home to open any.

two children and a suitcase
8. Mind the kids

If your children are fans of online gaming or social media, don’t be tempted to keep them quiet by handing over your phone – it could cost you dear!

9. Keep your phone and your reputation safe

Losing your smartphone or having it stolen abroad can lead to others running up huge data roaming bills. Even worse, it could do serious damage to your reputation if passwords to your email and social media accounts are stored on your phone. Keep your phone secure on your travels and use a free password manager to protect your online identity.

More: 7 tips for safer travels

10. Leave your phone at home

If your travelling isn’t business-related, you could always take a break from your online life for a week or two. Or could you?

More: Disconnect with a digital detox: 5 holiday cold spots