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How to avoid data roaming charges on iPhone while abroad

Ashleigh Allsopp | Aug. 7, 2013
We bring you tips on how to stop your iPhone phone bill from rising while on holiday or on a business trip abroad

If you're heading off on holiday, you might be worrying about what your phone bill is going to look like at the end of the month thanks to data roaming charges. Here, we show you how to avoid data roaming charges on your iPhone while you're abroad.

With reports suggesting that the average smartphone owner uses about 500MB of data per month, it's easy to see how phone bills can rack up while abroad, especially with data roaming charges (the charges that come from using your iPhone on another network for a short period) currently at the high price of £7.50/MB outside of Europe. According to price comparison site uSwitch, UK holidaymakers spend an average of £120 extra on their mobile phone each time they go abroad.

So, how can you avoid data roaming charges while you're abroad?
First things first, it's important to remember that your unlimited data allowances only apply to usage in the UK. So, one of the easiest ways to avoid data roaming charges is to connect to WiFi where possible. Unless the particular WiFi hotspot charges for access (you will probably have to sign in or register to access WiFi of this kind, so you'll be notified if any charges apply) you won't be charged for downloading data over that connection.

Change your settings to avoid data roaming charges
Before you head off abroad, check your network settings. To do this, go to Settings > General > Cellular. Here, you'll see three sliders: Cellular Data, Enable 3G and Data Roaming.

If you turn off Cellular Data, you'll be limiting all data to WiFi. If you want to make sure you don't spend any extra cash on data while you're abroad, slide this to off.

If you want to have a little more freedom, you can turn off the Data Roaming slider. This will help you avoid charges by restricting your access to the cellular data when you're abroad. If you try to use an app that requires internet access while data roaming is turned off, it will prompt you to manually switch data roaming back on unless you're connected to WiFi.

Get a data bundle to avoid unexpected charges
Some network operators offer the option to sign up to a flat-rate or capped data package, but you'll need to check that they work in the country you're travelling to before arriving at your destination. Contact your network operator to find out more about these packages.

Get a new SIM card to avoid excessive data charges
Another option is to get a new SIM card for use abroad. If you've got an unlocked iPhone, you'll be able to get hold of a suitable SIM card from UK company Dataroam, which has a range of pay-as-you-go and 30-day plans for use in a variety of different countries. The company claims that you can save over 90% on international roaming charges by using its SIM cards while abroad.


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