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Using Your Cell Phone Overseas

Published on 05 July 13
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As an IT specialist, you need to have your phone ready no matter when and where you are. Back in the day, when I was an IT guy making house calls to our companyâs divisions, I often found myself on a plane to another country, with very little time to prepare.
When I arrived at the other country, I was often stranded with a cell phone that no longer worked, and was forced to use expensive airport pay phones to communicate. Here are a couple of overseas calling options that I picked up along the way. Use them and you can avoid having the same fate as I did.
#1 International calling
Most major cell phone providers provide you with the option to make international calls from your cell phone when you are in a foreign country. However, due to royalty charges from foreign cell phone providers, this option usually isnât the cheapest one.
If you opt to use international calling on your cell phone, essentially, what happens is that your cell phone provider âborrowsâ a cell phone tower from a foreign cell phone provider, and uses that cell phone provider to relay your calls. However, since your cell phone provider doesnât own the cell phone tower that itâs using, this means that youâll end up paying a lot more for your phone calls.
If youâre only staying for a short time, this option might be the most convenient for youâmany times you donât even need to let your cell phone provider know that youâre going overseas. However, if youâre staying for any extended period of time, making international calls from your cell phone on a consistent basis might result in a pretty big cell phone service bill.
You can find out what your international calling rates are by contacting your cell phone provider. Make sure to find out if you have to pay any additional one-time fees if you decide to use this option.
#2 Replacing your SIM card
If you want to keep the same cell phone that you currently have, a second option for using your cell phone overseas, is to replace the SIM card in your cell phone. Usually, you can buy a foreign SIM card for around five to ten dollars, and pop it into your cell phoneâs SIM card slot. Then, you can purchase either a pre-paid or monthly plan at fifteen to thirty dollars a month, and immediately start using your cell phone just like you would in your home country.
If youâre going to be staying overseas for many months, replacing your SIM card is probably the easiest and least expensive option to choose. For most devices, you can find out how to replace your SIM card on Youtube or Google.
Using Your Cell Phone Overseas - Image 1
#3 Getting a pre-paid cell phone
If your cell phone doesnât have a removable SIM card, then another option you have, is to buy a pre-paid cell phone, such as Ting. You can get pre-paid cell phones for as low as twenty dollars, and then pay for a monthly plan or pay for a certain number of minutes (usually at the same monthly cost as the aforementioned SIM card plans).
The downside to this option is that pre-paid cell phones are usually locked to a specific carrier. After you come home from your overseas stay, you wonât be able to use your pre-paid phone with your current cell phone provider.
When you head overseasâespecially if youâre going somewhere youâve never been beforeâitâs critically important that you have a reliable way of contacting people. Finding out how youâre going to use your cell phone when you go abroad is something that should be at the top of your to-do list.
Have any other tips for using your cell phone overseas? Leave a comment below!














As an IT specialist, you need to have your phone ready no matter when and where you are. Back in the day, when I was an IT guy making house calls to our companyâs divisions, I often found myself on a plane to another country, with very little time to prepare.

When I arrived at the other country, I was often stranded with a cell phone that no longer worked, and was forced to use expensive airport pay phones to communicate. Here are a couple of overseas calling options that I picked up along the way. Use them and you can avoid having the same fate as I did.

#1 International calling

Most major cell phone providers provide you with the option to make international calls from your cell phone when you are in a foreign country. However, due to royalty charges from foreign cell phone providers, this option usually isnât the cheapest one.

If you opt to use international calling on your cell phone, essentially, what happens is that your cell phone provider âborrowsâ a cell phone tower from a foreign cell phone provider, and uses that cell phone provider to relay your calls. However, since your cell phone provider doesnât own the cell phone tower that itâs using, this means that youâll end up paying a lot more for your phone calls.

If youâre only staying for a short time, this option might be the most convenient for youâmany times you donât even need to let your cell phone provider know that youâre going overseas. However, if youâre staying for any extended period of time, making international calls from your cell phone on a consistent basis might result in a pretty big cell phone service bill.

You can find out what your international calling rates are by contacting your cell phone provider. Make sure to find out if you have to pay any additional one-time fees if you decide to use this option.

#2 Replacing your SIM card

If you want to keep the same cell phone that you currently have, a second option for using your cell phone overseas, is to replace the SIM card in your cell phone. Usually, you can buy a foreign SIM card for around five to ten dollars, and pop it into your cell phoneâs SIM card slot. Then, you can purchase either a pre-paid or monthly plan at fifteen to thirty dollars a month, and immediately start using your cell phone just like you would in your home country.

If youâre going to be staying overseas for many months, replacing your SIM card is probably the easiest and least expensive option to choose. For most devices, you can find out how to replace your SIM card on Youtube or Google.

Using Your Cell Phone Overseas - Image 1

#3 Getting a pre-paid cell phone

If your cell phone doesnât have a removable SIM card, then another option you have, is to buy a pre-paid cell phone, such as Ting. You can get pre-paid cell phones for as low as twenty dollars, and then pay for a monthly plan or pay for a certain number of minutes (usually at the same monthly cost as the aforementioned SIM card plans).

The downside to this option is that pre-paid cell phones are usually locked to a specific carrier. After you come home from your overseas stay, you wonât be able to use your pre-paid phone with your current cell phone provider.

When you head overseasâespecially if youâre going somewhere youâve never been beforeâitâs critically important that you have a reliable way of contacting people. Finding out how youâre going to use your cell phone when you go abroad is something that should be at the top of your to-do list.

Have any other tips for using your cell phone overseas? Leave a comment below!

This blog is listed under Gadgets and Mobility Community

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  1. 03 January 14
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    Thanks for your tips...I will be soon travelling across my country...and your tips gave me a clear picture of what I have to do inoder to reduce my roaming cost.I have opted for replacing my simcard which I find is the simple way.Inorder for this, I have unlcoked my phone using the unlcok service from unBBlock.com and now my phone is ready to swap networks.

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