Ahead of the end-of-year holidays, telecommunications spend management company Tariffic has published a list of top suggested travel tips in order to avoid bill shock when travelling abroad.
The company, which helps businesses and individuals manage their mobile bills by applying complex software to find the best packages to suit their needs, has suggested a number of ways that consumers can curb spend while overseas. They range from using WhatsApp over SMS to making sure they connect to the best network:
— Not all roaming networks are created equal: It is important to research which networks will be the cheapest to roam on when you are overseas and manually connect to the cheapest networks when you land. Roaming rates in some cases vary drastically depending on which network your phone automatically connects to upon arrival in a country overseas. For example, if someone with an MTN Sim roams onto AT&T in the US, they’ll pay R1/MB for data roaming, but if they connect to T-Mobile, they’ll pay a massive R225/MB.
— Don’t use data roaming unless you absolutely have to: While some countries have more favourable data roaming rates, others, like Thailand, will cost you anywhere between R120,27/MB on Telkom to R300/MB on MTN. A couple of Instagram sessions could easily cost a few thousand rand. It is best to rather turn off data roaming when it’s not 100% necessary and rather connect to Wi-Fi networks where available.
— Save money by buying a local Sim card when you land: Try buy a local prepaid Sim card when you land, which will be much more affordable when making local calls and using local data while overseas. It may be worth considering a dual-Sim phone if you travel often so that you can still receive calls on your South African number but can make calls and use data with a local Sim.
— Try not to make local calls with your South African Sim card: Some networks have fairly competitive rates for local calls while overseas, such as Cell C’s R1,87/minute rate in the US, but it is often very expensive to make a local call with your South African Sim card, with calls in Thailand, for example, costing R15/minute on MTN. Rather try connect to a local Wi-Fi hotspot and make free calls using Skype or WhatsApp.
— Beware of answering incoming calls: Answering calls from South Africa can become a very costly exercise while you’re travelling, with rates as high as R27,64/minute to receive a call in England if you’re on Cell C. Rather notify your friends, family and colleagues that you’ll be away and ask them to rather SMS or WhatsApp you.
— Turn off voicemail when travelling abroad: Did you know that if you’re overseas and someone calls your phone and leaves a voicemail message, then you’ll pay for that call? This becomes really expensive when you consider that you’ll pay international calling rates for that call.
— Save money with roaming deals: Many of the networks now offer roaming deals, which give you access to cheaper roaming rates in certain countries, for free or for a daily fee. Examples of this include Vodacom’s Travel Saver and MTN’s Roam Like Home.
— Rather receive a call from South Africa than call South Africa from overseas: Want to speak to loved ones in SA while you’re overseas? It often works out much cheaper to receive a call from overseas than it is to call from overseas to South Africa. For example, it could cost you R23,50/minute to call South Africa from the US on Vodacom, but will only cost R6/minute to receive a call from South Africa.
— Rather use WhatsApp on Wi-Fi than SMS: SMS rates vary from country to country, with MTN’s rates ranging from R1/SMS (if you’re in the US), to R7,50 (if you’re in Thailand), so a quick conversation can add up pretty quickly. Just think that a few emoticons could land up easily costing him over R100. Rather use WhatsApp than SMS.
- See also: The best SA network for roaming abroad