The cost of using your mobile abroad is high, both for calling and receiving, but it’s still the most convenient way of communicating with those at home. There are two solutions:
- Get an international SIM card
An international SIM card will cost you around £30 to buy, but once you’ve got it, the credit simply never expires. Ultimately, these SIM cards are worth having just so that you can receive calls for free, but they also can often beat the rates of your domestic provider on making calls to the UK and sending text messages. Check how much your network will charge you and then work out if you can save money by getting an international SIM.
The main providers are:
A Noodle SIM card also allows you to receive and make calls cheaply when you are abroad. Noodle is an independent mobile operator that picks the best network available for your location and therefore is technically always roaming. This means that you can make calls abroad from 0.3 pence per minute and receive them for free. You also make money every time you use your Noodle number.
- Get an international phone card
Abandon your mobile and get a prepaid international phone card. Phone card companies buy ‘bulk minutes’ from line carriers at huge discounts and are therefore able to pass on savings to their customers. You’ll get a lot more minutes for your money using a phone card than you would if you used your mobile. However, the one major drawback is that to use your minutes you have to dial a local or free access number. This means you’ll have to find a public payphone and you often get fewer minutes than advertised when you use the freephone access number because you are essentially paying for the access with the credit you’ve already got.
Despite the pitfalls, it’s still worth looking to see if these cards would work for you when you are travelling. In cities and developed countries public telephones are not hard to come by and you’ll still get more minutes for your money when using the freephone number, compared to mobile charges.
How to find free Wi-Fi
Other options include Fon where you buy a special ‘Fonera’ Wi-Fi router which splits your connection in two with one secure part for you and the other part shared with other Fon community members. In return you can use one of the four million Fon Spots wherever they happen to be in the world. The router costs from 39 Euros but if you are a BT internet customer, you can already do this for free.