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Top tips when using your mobile phone overseas

Train by killerturnip sm copy

It’s great to travel overseas. There’s nothing like a change of scenery, new experiences and exotic locales to awaken the senses. And nothing beats rubbing it in to friends back home by posting a few pics on social media and a phone call telling them that you really do “wish they were here”.

Of course, international data roaming is also a really useful tool. From checking your flights and the weather to translating menus and finding out what’s happening around town.

But how do you enjoy all that information at your fingertips without worrying about bill shock once you land back home?

Get a great rate, oh wait, you already have

From January 1 this year, we reduced data roaming rates from $20 per MB all the way down to a mere $2 per MB. You’re welcome!

(The exception to this rate is when your phone connects to a maritime carrier, like when you’re sailing on the high seas. That’s called the “other zone” and is charged at $15.50 per MB.)

What do you have to do to get the new rate? If you’re an existing customer – nothing. We automatically applied the rate from January 1 so you’ll enjoy the new rate whenever you activate roaming. New customers will need to accept a pre-recorded waiver before our Support team will switch international roaming on.

Wi-Fi is your best friend 

Whether you’re at your cousin’s apartment or the local café, ask if there’s free Wi-Fi. But remember your manners and don’t try to download the internet or clog their streaming by watching cat videos. If your cousin lives in the middle of nowhere and only has dial-up internet, best to put the phone down and pick up a book.

Don’t call me, I’ll call you

While you’re convincing friends and family to feed the cat and pick up your mail – ask them to text or message rather than call you. That’s because you’ll be charged for phone calls from Australia that are made to your phone while overseas. (This also reduces the chances that someone calls you at 2am in the morning because they couldn’t work out the time difference.)

Heavy-duty usage

If you’re planning to do a LOT of downloading, uploading or calling while travelling, you might want to consider these options:

  • International Call/Phone cards: buy a phone card once you arrive in your destination from a local telecommunications provider.
  • Travel SIM Card: Available for sale from other mobile providers in Australia, these SIM cards allow you to use your own mobile handset while roaming, providing it’s not locked to a specific provider. (Cool fact: handsets bought from iiNet aren’t locked.) The SIM cards work in 140 different countries and you won’t get charged for incoming calls.

Bonus tips

Do you have any other useful tips for travelling overseas with a phone? Share them in the comments below.

Photo credit: Onny Carr

19 comments

  1. Going to Austria in 6 month time.Question,When there, using my mobile to call a local number there,what will the cost of this phone call be?Approx.Thank you BERT

    Amy Pearce Reply:

    Hi Bert,

    We have a nifty call calculator on our website that will let you know the cost of calls and texts will overseas.
    Please be aware, using your mobile overseas is not included in your monthly quota and will be billing ontop of you monthly plan charge.

    Have a great trip!!
    - Amy

  2. Lesley says:

    Can you tell me how much it costs to send and also to receive SMS messages when overseas please?

    Amy Pearce Reply:

    Hi Lesley,

    It depends on the country you visit.
    You can read all about the charges for each country here.

    Cheers,
    Amy.

  3. Lou Rollinson says:

    We always take a four point power board for the travel adapter so we can charge both phones and cameras at the same time. Lou

  4. Row says:

    I recently spent 5 weeks in Europe with no international roaming and no phone access but I still used the free wifi everywhere I went. Even cheaper option as I didn’t have to pay any fees at all.
    Can’t really see the value of risking hefty phone bill simply to be able to make phone calls.
    Especially with services like Skype and Viber. Was able to ring and text for free when wifi was available.

  5. Judith says:

    Another advantage of taking your mobile with you – and letting your bank know when you’re going and where – the bank can let you know instantly if your credit card is supporting some crim’s lifestyle. It’s a bit embarrassing when you try to use your card, not knowing it’s been stopped.

  6. Mike Hurn says:

    I have used TravelSIM the last three times I have been overseas. I have found their rates to be very good and have had no hassles whatsoever in connecting back to Oz. I always preload my card before I go and hardly have to top it up whilst away. I highly recommend TravelSIM.

  7. Susan Putland says:

    I divert ALL incoming calls when travelling and only use SMS. I do turn off divert when I need/expect a call. This may not be convenient but it saves heaps and still gives me connection and flexibility. SP

  8. Les Moore says:

    Always consider the other option. On arrival in whatever country, particularly the “less travelled” countries, buy a prepaid local provider’s SIM. It can save you heaps and heaps!

  9. John Hickey says:

    I have my phone with telsyra,but my internet with iinet.
    How can I avoid TElstra costs

    Amy Pearce Reply:

    Hey John,

    You can bring your home phone to us as well.
    You’ll have the convenience of all cost on one bill and through one company.

    Give our sales team a call on 13 19 17 to discuss today!

    - Amy

  10. Jennifer says:

    My small office landline and 2 smartphones are through another provider. My internet is through iiner / iimetro, I have resisted changing to Other Provider because iinet’s service has always been so good. When at home I usually connect phones or tablet to internet via wifi (ie through iinet) because it works better than Other Provider’s mobile network. How can I take advantage of iinet’s mobile data roaming while overseas?

    Amy Pearce Reply:

    Hey Jennifer,

    The Mobile Roaming data is used through our Mobile Plans.
    If you’d like to bring your smart phones to iiNet, please give our sales team a call on 13 19 17 to discuss and see if we can save you money while giving you the convenience of one bill per month.

    Cheers,
    - Amy

  11. Terry says:

    I always get my Telco to turn off 3G data when overseas. Then there is no chance of a big bill. If you cant get wifi chances are you are in a remote place and probably cant make a call on your mobile.

  12. Steven says:

    So in a place like Thailand where you can purchase 1 GB of data, valid for a month, for $12 from the local carrier AIS, you would charge $2,048 for that same 1 GB and previously you would have charged $20,480. Oh dear.

  13. Angela Swan says:

    When I travel overseas I checkout if I can buy a local sim card . If you can ring Australia using these you can save a lot of money and you know how much you are spending because they update you on credit left. I have done this in Bali, Nepal, and Borneo.

  14. Brendan says:

    Hi

    just about to travel overseas (Switzerland). Where I can get free wifi (hotels etc),is there anything I need to do to my settings in phone to allow my Mail app on my phone to send outgoing messages using IINET servers?

    thanks!
    brendan

    Jen McKenzie Reply:

    Hi Brendan,

    You should be able to use your iiNet email by ensuring that SMTP authentication is turned on, the server is set to mail.iinet.net.au, and your full email address set as the username with your usual password entered in the password field.

    This should be able to be changed easily in your devices advanced email settings.

    Overseas connections can occasionally block certain ports that we use for emails, and in this case you can usually always access your emails via our webmail link: https://webmail.iinet.net.au/

    If you run into any issues, you can reach us 24/7 from overseas on +61 8 9214 2222. Happy traveling!

    - Jen

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