How to avoid a shocking global roaming phone bill

How much?! Avoid expensive roaming charges.
How much?! Avoid expensive roaming charges. Photo credit: Getty

Although we often complain about the cost of roaming, we've actually come a long way in lowering the cost of using a New Zealand mobile phone overseas.

It wasn't that long ago mobile companies charged data roaming fees per kilobyte.

Given the high usage of social media these days, it's great news for our wallets that roaming charges have come down.

If you were to have checked Facebook when roaming was first starting and scrolled through your timeline for just 15 minutes, that would've cost you $150. If your browsing included video streams, it would've cost around $1800 for just 15 minutes of viewing.

So what do New Zealand phone companies offer when it comes to roaming? Here's our guide on how to avoid those large roaming bills.

Vodafone offers a plan that gives you the same allowances as what you have on your phone in New Zealand for an extra $5 a day.

As long as you're visiting one of the 70 countries where the deal is offered, you'll be charged a maximum of $5 a day and get the same allowance as what you have on your plan back home. If you get 5GB a month, then you can use that 5GB a month overseas too.

Spark charges for roaming in quite a different way.

They have two on account roaming packs; the first costs $20 and gives you 500MB of data, 200 incoming and 200 outgoing minutes, and 200 texts for seven days.

With the second option, you can pay $15 for 500MB of data to be used across seven days.

2Degrees offers roaming to over 170 countries, but doesn't have any specific plans that groups certain destinations, like other companies do. If you're with 2Degrees, you should check with them about the rates of the country you are visiting.

For prepaid customers there are packs and add-ons available from all of the major mobile companies. They range from $5 to $20, depending on what you want and how long you need it for.

If you're a prepaid customer, then it's worth having a look at what is available through your service provider.

There are other ways to save on your mobile spend that don't involve limiting your roaming charges.

2Degrees offers a spend control service that alerts you when you're reaching you credit or data limit. This is a good way to control your usage if you don't know how much you're using.

It's also worth checking if there's a local company in the country you are visiting that offers cheap prepaid deals. It will mean a temporary number change when you swap out the sim card, but it can save you plenty.

For example, I've used Lebara in the UK.  They offered 1000 minutes to any UK number, 1000 minutes to 40 countries around the world, including New Zealand, and 3GB of data, for ₤20. That's around $38.

Countries covered by Vodafone roaming plans*

  • Anguilla
  • Argentina  
  • Aruba
  • Australia 
  • Austria
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Bermuda
  • Brazil 
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada 
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Dominica
  • Ecuador
  • Estonia
  • Fiji 
  • France 
  • Germany 
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Hong Kong 
  • Haiti
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Indonesia 
  • Ireland 
  • Italy 
  • Jamaica
  • Japan 
  • Korea South 
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macau 
  • Malaysia 
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro
  • Montserrat
  • Nauru 
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea 
  • Peru
  • Philippines 
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Romania
  • St Kitts & Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
  • Samoa 
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore 
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain 
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan 
  • Thailand 
  • Tonga 
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom 
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu 
  • Venezuela 
  •  

Countries covered by Spark roaming plans*

  • Argentina  
  • Australia 
  • Brazil 
  • Canada 
  • China 
  • Colombia
  • Fiji 
  • France 
  • Germany 
  • Hong Kong 
  • Indonesia 
  • Ireland {Republic} 
  • Italy 
  • Japan 
  • Korea South 
  • Macau 
  • Malaysia 
  • Nauru 
  • Papua New Guinea 
  • Philippines 
  • Samoa 
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore 
  • Spain 
  • Taiwan 
  • Thailand 
  • Tonga 
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom 
  • United States
  • Vanuatu 
  • Venezuela 

*Roaming is available at other destinations but cost can vary and be much higher so make sure you check with your phone company before you depart.

Newshub.

 

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz