When in 'roam': Holiday bill shock | ACMA


16 December, 2014 10:18 AM


When in 'roam': Holiday bill shock

By Editor


Are you one of the lucky ones travelling overseas during the holiday season?

Then don’t let high mobile phone bills ruin your holiday—find out your mobile costs before you leave home.

When travelling overseas, it’s not just the mobile calls you make that could see you paying a small fortune on your return, it’s also what you do with your phone or tablet, including which applications you run. Even just turning on your smartphone while overseas may activate data roaming or enable automatic updates that you’ll be charged for.

Avoiding holiday bill shock starts before you get on the plane. Contacting your mobile provider before you leave and adjusting some of your mobile settings will help you save money and avoid unnecessary stress.

Before you bid au revoir, make sure you:

  • Ask about international mobile roaming (IMR) on your service. Clearly explain how you intend to use your phone to help you get accurate information. Some mobile providers have an online data usage calculator, to assist you to estimate how much data you will need.
  • Research the rates for calls, data, message services, SMS and any other services you may use as plans are changing regularly.
  • Find out whether calls you receive while roaming will be charged to you, as some countries charge the receiver as well as the caller.
  • Ask about deactivating international roaming or changing your settings.
  • Find out if you can monitor your usage online while overseas.
  • Consider disabling data access while you are overseas.
  • Read your manual or get advice to understand your phone’s settings.
  • Decide whether it’s more cost-effective to unlock your phone before you leave and purchase a pre-paid SIM card at your destination.

If you are using roaming services, you should receive a warning notification via SMS on arrival in an overseas destination, warning that higher charges for using IMR services may apply. You can also decline the use of IMR services, at no or low cost, at any time, while you’re overseas.

If you’re a Telstra, Optus or Vodafone customer, you should receive data usage alerts and information including:

  • a notification via SMS that provides price information for using a range of IMR services each time you enter another country
  • spend management tools (via a website or an app) including push notifications in A$100 increments for post-paid data usage, and notifications at 50, 85 and 100 per cent of the included value, if you have purchased a travel pack from your provider.

If you’re with another mobile provider, make sure you ask for information before you leave about charges and how to monitor your use.

And if you plan to use Wi-Fi on a plane, check whether the Wi-Fi is free or whether it’s volume- or time-based.

Travel safe and by all means, pack your device—just be prepared before you roam.

Further information is available from the ACMA’s fact sheet on international roaming.

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