Travelling abroad? Here is a simple guide to avoiding roaming charges. To avoid roaming charges here are a few tips:
1) Turn of data roaming on your phone. Most iphones and other hi tech phones have a setting where you can turn off data when roaming. This is one of the most important step you can take. Remember, do not turn off all data on your phone, just the option that says “data when roaming”. This will save you hundreds of dollars in fees.
2) You can leave on regular roaming. This means you can still receive calls and regular text messages in case of emergency.
3) Look for wifi hot spots. If you are staying in a hotel or at a friends place you can probably find free wifi somewhere. Log on, make sure your wifi is activated. Now you can use whatsapp or skype to message your friends and family. My favourite is to just use skype to call and use video chat. It is even better than using the phone. You will not get charged anything.
4) Unlock your phone before leaving to travel. When you arrive at your foreign destination, purchase a local SIM card. Insert in your phone, buy some minutes and you are ready to go. This might cost you a couple bucks but it is far far cheaper than romaing charges. You have to make sure you have an unlocked phone though. A good guide to this is located here unlocktutorials.com. It is a simple and usually really cheap to unlock your phone.
If you don’t have a cell phone by now its time to get one. In the USA there are many providers you can choose. Some of these include AT&T, sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile to name a few. The first thing you should look for when choosing a cell phone is the length of contract. The rule of thumb is, the longer the contract the larger the discount you can get on your desired phone. There are advantages and disadvantages to this.
1) You can get a really cool phone for really cheap
1) You are locked into a plan for at least one to two years. This means that you cannot switch providers and you are stuck with the phone you selected until your contract is up. A really cool phone may not be a really cool phone in one or two years time. If you want to break your contract you will have to pay a large cancellation fee usually in the hundreds of dollars.
2) It is difficult to unlock your phone if you purchase your phone from a company that ‘locks’ their phones. I will explain what this means shortly.
Unlocking your cell phone
Some phone companies lock your cell phone so that you can only use it on their network. You will be unable to use it on any other network if it is locked. A locked at&t phone will only work on at&t networks. For detailed information on phone unlocking and a guide to unlocking a cell phone please see this guide factory unlock iphone 4
Anyway back to choosing a good cell phone.
It is my opinion that you should avoid buying a cell phone at places such as best buy and other large retailers. Prices are usually inflated. Your best course of action is to purchase online, possibly amazon.com may be your best bet. The advantages of this is that you can get a really good price and your phone will usually be already unlocked. You can use it on any network you choose. However, make sure you know the difference between the types of networks.
CDMA vs GSM
CDMA uses a different technology to GSM. CDMA uses a built in chip that cannot be removed while GSM uses a removable chip called a SIM. In my opinion, it is far better to use a GSM enabled phone. This will usually rule out CDMA networks like Sprint and Verizon. Most cell phone networks worldwide use GSM technology. You cannot use a cdma phone on a gsm network or vice versa. (edit: In rare cases using a lot of risky techno jumbo and hacking you can sometimes get it to work but it is not worth the effort and u have to know what u are doing. It is VERY difficult to do this.)
Buy a GSM phone from amazon, take it to a network provider such as at&t or t mobile or anyone of your choosing and select a no contract plan. This way you are not tied in and u can cancel anytime should u find a better deal somewhere else which happens all the time. Also you do not have to deal with the problem of phone unlocking should you travel abroad and wish to use your phone on another network.