Monday, July 25, 2011

International Charges on iPhone

I've decided to outline some of the things I learned today, about using your iPhone abroad.

If you wish to use your iPhone for voice, text messaging, email, surfing the web or using apps that access the internet, while you are in Edge or 3G mode, then you will be charged.
  • If you receive a VoiceMail, you will be billed per minute and if you listen to that voicemail, you will be billed per minute.  Note: You can have this Voicemail disabled by calling AT&T.  It is nice to have this feature, assuming you don't have a lot of friends calling and leaving you messages all the time.  A good reason to consider leaving this option enabled would be if you need to hear from someone back home. 
  • Any calls you make overseas to overseas or the US will incur a charge per minute for each call based on the roaming fees associated with that country.  To receive discounted per minute roaming rates, you can take out a World Traveler Plan costing $5.99 per month or you can be charged the standard rates for that country which a generally higher rate for the countries without taking out this plan.  Therefore, if you just plan to make a few calls or only for emergency, it might not benefit you to also have the additional $5.99 monthly plan.
  • Text messages are received and billed as well.  Check the ATT site for international costs and plans.  Usually text message options will offer a cheaper alternative to incurring costs for lengthy voice calls.
  • When using email, surfing the web, streaming movies, or using apps that rely on data transmission you can rack up some pretty hefty charges.  If you do not use these services on your iPhone while in the voice mode and only while using wifi, you can avoid these added costs.  You should try to take advantage of free hotspots and inexpensive wifi services in cafes, hotels and restaurants during your trip.  If you plan to access these services while under Edge or 3G, then it is advisable to get a plan offered for international usage which currently includes:  
  • 50 MB for $24.99 Monthly Charge
  • 125 MB for $49.99 Monthly Charge
  • 225 MB for $99.99 Monthly Charge
  • 800 MB for 199.99 Monthly Charge.  
  • Once you exceed the data by 1MB, you will be billed $10 for an additional 10MB 
  • Note:  The only way to keep your iPhone from automatically transmitting data is to keep both the "Data Roaming" and the "Fetch New Data" settings to OFF. Even if you change these settings to the OFF position, you will still be able to use your phone for voice and text. You also have the option of using wifi when available. To turn off data roaming please select Settings-General-Network-Data Roaming. To turn off data fetch Settings, Mail-Contacts-Calenders, Fetch New Data, Change push to off and select to Fetch Manually. 

    Note:  The monthly plans for discounted rates per minute on voice calls and plans for data downloads can be added or removed at any time and do not involve a cancellation fee.  
    You are able to add and remove international features by accessing your online account or calling AT&T International Care at 1-800-335-4685. or if you are out of country you can dial 001-916-843-4685. 

    If you need to speak to an International Care Representative you can always chat with one online at the AT&T site. You can also send us an email by logging onto your online account at>contact us. Or you can reach a representative by dialing +1-916-843-4685 while you are outside of the country.

    To reduce costs while overseas consider using wifi when available, using Skype or FaceTime type apps when wifi is available to make your calls, emailing or texting while using wifi.  If you need navigation, see if your current handheld GPS devices are up-to-date with maps of the regions you plan to visit and use instead of incurring charges for downloading maps while using 3G or edge connection on your iPhone.  Yes, Google Maps can be expensive to use while on data roaming charges are incurring for large data downloads of maps.  I often download maps and use with GoodReader in the form of pdf file.  That way, I can zoom in on city maps much like we did when we used paper maps.  This can also be done by storing your pdf maps in your iBooks and can be accessed without using wifi or expensive data roaming plans.

    Happy traveling.  Remember with a little pre-planning you can enjoy your trip and avoid any unexpected expenses or surprises when you get home.

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