You can use your mobile or tablet if your telco has an agreement with an overseas network. This is ‘international roaming’.
The cost of using international roaming for voice calls, texts or data can be high.
Your telco may also charge you if:
- you switch on your mobile phone overseas
- apps on your phone are set to update automatically
- you receive or access a voicemail message
What to ask your telco
Avoid bill shock. International roaming costs are in your plan's Critical Information Summary. If you’re still not sure, contact your telco to ask:
- whether your monthly plan includes international roaming
- how much they charge for international roaming services. Check the rates for calls, data, message services, texts and any other services you want to use overseas
- how to turn off international roaming or turn off data while you are overseas
- how to check your usage while you are overseas to avoid going over a limit
What telcos must do to help you
Telcos have to help you check and manage the data you use overseas. The rules are in the International Mobile Roaming Standard, which includes:
- warning you via text when you arrive overseas that higher charges for roaming may apply
- telling you when you arrive overseas how much roaming services cost
- reminding you of the costs if you turn on roaming overseas
- allowing you to decline roaming services, at any time and from anywhere at no or low cost
- sending you text messages once you have used 50%, 85% and 100% of your post-paid data pack
Your telco may let you choose not to receive messages about your roaming use. They must not force you to opt out as a condition of the contract or travel pack.
Ways to avoid bill shock
- Turn off the auto-update settings for apps on your smart device.
- Where it is available, use free wi-fi in shops, hotels or public places so you don’t have to rely on roaming services.
- The MoneySmart website suggests buying an international data pack before you leave Australia. This can make it cheaper to use data in other countries.
- If you can change the SIM card in your phone, buy a SIM for overseas travellers. This will have a data limit and its own phone number.
- Remember, text messages are usually cheaper than phone calls or data.
If you receive a large bill that you cannot pay, ask your telco about help with financial hardship.