Cutting your mobile phone costs when travelling abroad

Have you ever been horrified at the cost of using your mobile phone abroad and the fact that you have to pay to receive calls as well as make them! With a bit of planning you may be able to cut down your mobile phone costs. This blog tells you how*.

Plan ahead
It is like a lot of things in life, ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’, so if you are planning to use your mobile phone on holiday make sure you are fully equipped with the facts to ensure you don’t face a hefty bill!

Call charges
Before departing on your holiday, make sure you know what your mobile phone provider charges for roaming in the country you are visiting. Some mobile phone operators charge flat rates for text messages and calls to the UK no matter what time of day it is or what foreign network you use. So when you arrive at your destination you can simply turn on your mobile phone on and use the network it automatically defaults to. Simple!

Certain networks however (Vodafone, Virgin and Three) charge different call rates depending on which foreign network you use. It is therefore worthwhile finding out which foreign network is cheapest before you leave the UK so that you can select it manually when you arrive at your destination.

Price comparison
Getting an overview of what prices each mobile phone company charge is a good place to start and save money. The Internet is ideal for this and websites such as are a great source of information. has an International Callchecker which compares daily the different prices of calling abroad from each provider.

Another good way of keeping costs to a minimum is by using payphones for local calls and then buying an international card for calls back to the UK.

Text messaging
It is best to try and limit the amount of text messages you send as the costs can mount up very quickly. The European Commission is proposing to reduce the cost of text messaging which may come into force next summer after it has been approved by Governments and the European Parliament.

SIM cards
If you are going away for an extended period in one country, e.g. a Gap year, it might be worth considering buying a SIM card. You can buy an International one in the UK before you go or one at your destination.

Check your mobile phone works abroad
The last thing you need is your phone not to work when you arrive at your destination. So well in advance of your departure date there are a few things you need to do. Firstly, check whether your mobile phone will work at your destination – if you are visiting the USA and Canada, for example, you will need a tri-band phone. Secondly, check with your mobile phone provider to make sure you can use your phone in the country you are visiting – not all networks allow you to roam anywhere. Thirdly, ask your mobile phone provider whether or not they have to activate your phone for use abroad. Finally, check the network coverage in the country you are visiting.

Travel adaptor and phone chargerThese are vital items to pack in your rucksack or suitcase before you go, so you are not left in the middle of nowhere with a mobile phone with a flat battery!

Don’t forget your holiday insurance!
You can also cut down your holiday insurance costs by buying cover online. For great value holiday insurance why not check out 247 travel insurance which offers cover from as little as £4.38*.

* Source:

** Premium £4.38 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an individual traveller aged under 55 taking out a ‘standard’ single trip policy for 3 days to Europe, travelling within 14 days of departure date, excluding personal possessions cover. Cover details and prices are correct at the time of going to press (October 2008) and are subject to change.