Using your phone on holiday: How to avoid hidden charges
Posted 30/07/2013 by BrightHouse Team
Now that the schools are out, many of us are looking forward to a well-deserved summer holiday. If you’re heading abroad there are many ways in which a smartphone can be useful – from sharing photos and videos with friends back home to getting directions to hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.
However, using your phone in a foreign country can leave you vulnerable to a range of hidden charges – particularly if you’re using the internet. Many of these charges don’t come with any advance warning, so you’ll only know about them when you get home to a sky-high phone bill!
The good news is that if you’re holidaying within the EU, the cost of using a mobile phone is generally much lower – due to new laws that came into effect this month to reduce roaming charges for making a phone call, sending a text or downloading data. You could still end up spending a lot more than you would in England though, so be careful.
To get the best out of your phone on holiday, and to avoid running up a hefty bill, follow these guidelines:
- Whenever you leave the UK, ensure that data roaming is switched off in your phone settings. This will prevent your phone from automatically connecting to the internet to receive emails and download updates. Contact your supplier if you don’t know how to do this.
- Most foreign hotels and resorts will provide a Wi Fi service, so make sure you enquire about this when you check in, and only attempt to use the internet when connected to a Wi-Fi network.
- In many cases you can even be charged for receiving calls and texts, as your UK provider has to pay the foreign mobile network to direct calls to your phone. So save those long catch-up chats until you get back!
- Be aware that international calls and internet use are almost never included in your free minutes or data allowance – check with your network before you go abroad to find out if they offer any holiday packages.
- Using a pay-as-you-go phone is often even more expensive than a contract when you’re abroad. £10 of credit could give you less than 10 minutes of international call time.
- If you’re travelling outside Europe, it may be more convenient and cost-effective to hire a handset from your provider or from a third party. But you should still avoid foreign calls and data roaming as much as possible.
All this doesn't mean you can’t use your phone at all while abroad. As long as you’re not uploading them online (i.e. to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram), you can still take photos and record videos, and any offline games or apps you might have should still function as normal. As long as roaming remains switched off, you shouldn’t be able to accidentally access any online content without logging in to Wi-Fi or changing your settings.
How do you use your mobile phone while you're on holiday, does it remain in the hotel room or never leave your pocket? We want to hear your experiences of using your mobile phone abroad. As a thank you for helping us with our research we're giving you the chance to win 1 of 2 Sony Xperia Z's. Complete the short survey here.
Be sure to let us know in the comments section below. Happy holidays!
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