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How To Avoid A Massive Phone Bill When Traveling Abroad

By Bianca Lambert

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Earlier this month, I received my phone bill after my trip to Cuba and realized it was triple the usual amount. To be honest, I’d expected a higher bill because I turned on my data quite a few times in Cuba since the wifi was impossible most of my trip. Generally, when you head of the country, your cell phone provider has options for most countries, but Cuba isn’t a part of AT&T’s International Day Pass. But even with that information, there are ways to ensure you don’t end up with a massive phone bill when you return from your travels.

Check In With Your Service Provider

Start with a call to your cell phone carrier. The call center representatives offer great advice so that you don’t find yourself in a financial pickle when you get back to states. With AT&Ts International Day Pass, you’ll get unlimited calls within and back to the U.S. and unlimited texts to the world at no additional charge for just $10 a day — and you are only charged a fee on the days you use this option abroad.

Turn Off Messaging

Text messaging was one of the ways I racked up so many charges, even on messages I wasn’t sending, thanks to a group chat. So the moment I turned on my cell data, I had a flood of text messages that added lots of extra money to my phone bill. If you’re traveling to a destination that isn’t covered in the International Day Pass (or your carriers International plan), be sure to go into your settings and turn off all text messaging (iMessage included).

Keep Your Phone On Airplane Mode

This was one thing biggest mistakes I made in Cuba. When I wasn’t using my data, I would turn off my cellular data in my iPhone settings, but my phone was still roaming (and accumulating charges). Airplane mode will take the guesswork out of whether you’re accruing extra fees or not.

Turn Off Apps You Don’t Need

Apps were another downfall. The moment I turned on my data, I was receiving notifications from apps I wasn’t using at the time. If you have hundreds of apps on your phone as I do, go to your settings and turn off any apps you won’t be using on your trip.

Download Your Emails Manually 

We all love to get our emails notifications, and most of us probably have our email app settings to download incoming emails automatically. Well, this was another money pit during my international travel. Just like the apps, head over to your settings and toggle the “Push” and “Fetch” setting options into off mode.


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Bianca Lambert

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