How To Avoid Mobile Phone Bill Shock

Have you ever used your smart phone to make a few calls or check your messages on your overseas holiday, only to come home to a massive bill that is almost as much as your return airfares? It’s a trap that almost everyone has fallen into at least once, checking your emails with reckless abandon, with no idea what using international roaming is really costing you.

And while the Australian Communications and Media Authority is currently developing a new industry standard to help inform travelling Aussies on the cost of international roaming, in the mean time, here’s some hints on not to let a heart-stopping phone bill marr your holiday memories.


1. Prepare


- Check your current carrier’s international roaming costs including Flagfall & standard rates, Data (per 10 KB, per 1 MB),Charges for incoming calls
- Make sure your handset is compatible in the country you are travelling to
- Call up your carrier to turn on/off roaming
- Turn roaming on/off on your handset
- Disable voicemail (carrier), location services, push notification, cloud sharing and automatic updates to save on data usage
- Buy a third party app to monitor your call/data usage
- Buy a GPS app that won’t use your data overseas


2. Buy a Cheap Handset


-This will ensure your handset is compatible
-This option means you won’t lose your expensive phone or have it stolen


3. Get a Local Pre-Paid Sim


- Are you travelling to one country or many? If only one (or a few), it may work out cheaper to buy local pre-paid sims
- Make sure your handset isn’t locked to a carrier
- Make sure the sim is compatible with your phone (nano, micro, standard)
- Will you need to use data overseas? Many pre-paid sims don’t have data included
- If travelling to more than one country, consider getting a ‘Traveller’s Sim’.


4. Use Wi-fi and Skype


- If you’re going to be using a lot of data, you can purchase a local pre-paid internet wifi/dongle package for your phone and/or laptop
- Free wifi hotspots - McDonalds, Starbucks, some hotels, etc.
- You can then use skype or leave messages through your social media
- Alternatively, you can set up a system whereby you rent a skype number (which acts as an Australian landline), redirect your mobile calls through that number and all you’ll pay are Skype’s call charges, the price of the local sim, and the cost of forwarding your number to a landline (if your carrier charges for this)


5. International Phone Cards


- Purchase prepaid cards (top-up-able or onetime purchase only, for landlines and/or mobiles) that will allow you a set amount of money to make a call. You run the risk of cutting out mid-call, but you definitely won’t go over budget.
- You can get phone cards that link to your home phone account where you’re landline account will be billed.

Written by Todd Foot, Publisher of top mobile phone comparison site,, a free website which aims to help consumers make informed choices when selecting a mobile phone and plan.

Want more? We thought you might like this video.

Like this artice? Subscribe to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered striaght to your inbox.

By registering you agree to our Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Privacy Notice


Sign Out

Join the Conversation

Please note, LifeStyle cannot respond to all comments posted in our comments feed. If you have a comment or query you would like LifeStyle to respond to, please use our feedback form.