Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to use a cell phone abroad

Preparing to Use Your Cell Phone While Traveling.

Your cell phone may be able to be used when you travel abroad. Since cell phones have become a part of our daily lives, leaving the cell phone at home when traveling may not be an option.

With roaming agreements between cell phone service providers, quad-band phones and cell phone network access nearly everywhere, your cell phone can be used nearly everywhere you travel.

An important thing to consider when using a cell phone abroad is cost. Although costs per minute are generally higher when using your cell phone outside your home country, there are ways to ensure that your cell phone bill stays relatively reasonable when traveling.

Ensure that your cell phone is a quad-band cell phone. There are four primary cell phone service signals used in the world, and a quad-band phone will work on each of them. Many cell phone makers produce quad-band phones and any cell phone service provider that offers international cell phone service access will sell at least one quad-band phone.

If are preparing to purchase a cell phone, ask the service provider which phone models are quad-band or if buying online, look at the cell phone specifications to see if the phone is dual-band, tri-band, or quad-band.

Place your SIM card into a quad-band phone. If your current phone is not able to function in the country you will be in, ask friends and family who use the same cell phone provider if you can swap cell phones for the travel period by placing your SIM card in their cell phone to take with you. They would take your cell phone and place their SIM card in it to use it while you are gone.

This ensures that when someone attempts to call you on your number, they will reach you and not the other person. The SIM card holds the user account information and the cell phone number connected to your account.

You may also be able to purchase or rent an inexpensive quad-band phone to use with your SIM card. Most phones are locked to one service provider, so you may need to locate a quad-band phone from your service provider.

Countries such as Japan and South Korea, according to an article on, use 3G networks (that differ from GSM and other 3G networks) and many cell phones from other countries will not function there.

Check to see whether your cell phone service provider has roaming agreements in the countries to which you will be traveling. Companies such as AT&T and T-Mobile haveextensive roaming agreements. According to CNN, T-Mobile has more than 190 countries where roaming agreements are established.

Roaming agreements mean that customers of the cell phone service provider from another country have the ability to access the networks and cell towers in other areas that are owned by other cell phone service providers there.

Check the rates. It isn't surprising to learn that using your cell phone abroad will cost a bit more than using your cell phone at home. After all, there are roaming fees (your cell phone company pays for access to other networks), connection fees and taxes to cover.

Plans with "anytime minutes" or free nights and weekends will often exclude those free minutes when using your phone abroad. Instead, you will be charged a per-minute fee based on the country you are in or the network you are accessing.

These fees generally apply to both incoming and outgoing phone calls made while your phone is in another country.

Use text messaging when possible. Overall, text messaging rates internationally cost less than the cost of a per-minute phone call. Text messaging can be an effective way to communicate with others in your travel group if you get separated and check in with those back home.

Check to see who is calling before you answer. You don't have to shut your phone off when traveling, but don't answer every single call unless it is crucial. Keep calls brief, and keep in mind that most cell phone plans will round up to the next minute. A one-minute and 3-second call will be billed as a 2 minute call.

Also keep in mind that checking your voicemail may count as a per-minute charge when using the phone abroad.

If you find that your cell phone or service provider plan won't function in the country where you are going, you can usually purchase an inexpensive prepaid phone upon arrival. These can be good for emergencies or quick phone calls back home, and depending on use, may be more cost effective than calling cards.

Check before traveling to see whether your cell phone service provider offers service where you are traveling and also whether your cell phone will function there. Ask about rates and fees before leaving.

Do not use your data or Internet browsing plans on your cell phone while traveling. Data plan fees when traveling can be extremely expensive.

If you are using your cell phone or SIM card abroad and your cell phone service provider has roaming agreements set up where you are traveling, you usually do not have to dial the international country code. Simply selecting the person you want to call in your phonebook and selecting 'Call' generally works.

However if you are using a rental phone, pay phone, or phone other than your SIM card with cell phone you may need to dial the international country code before the rest of the number.


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