Friday, December 11, 2009

Using Your iPhone Overseas Can Be Costly

Using Your iPhone Overseas

iPhones and apps are great for travel. People are using them for everything from booking flights to locating wi-fi hotspots in new destinations. But what happens when you go outside of the United States? Will it cost more to use travel apps in say, Paris, than it does in Atlanta? The short answer, according to National Geographic, is yes. If you're planning to travel outside of the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands, it will cost you more to use your iPhone.

One thing you can to avoid expensive international rates is to turn off your data roaming. You can do this by going to "Settings," then "general," then "network," then "data roaming OFF." By doing this, you disable features like email, apps and internet browsing. But if you simply can't go without Googling that restaurant you wanted to try or taking advantage of your favorite apps, there are a few other ways to avoid paying too much for iPhone usage.

If you have Wi-Fi access, turn off your 3G. Wi-fi is faster and free under AT&T. 3G will rack up enormous fees and make you regret checking your emails 500 times while you were on your Mexican vacation. To turn your 3G off, simply go to "Settings," then "general," then "network," then "enable 3G off."

If you do have to use your 3G, rates can get complicated. AT&T charges by the kilobyte and megabyte of internet usage and there's no way to judge how many of either you've used by timing your 3G usage. According to the article in National Geographic, an AT&T customer service rep said that most websites will charge between 10 and 25 kilobytes. If you're inside one of the 90 countries that are within AT&T's roam zone, you'll pay half a cent per kilobyte and $5.00 per megabyte. Outside of those 90 countries, you'll pay two cents per kilobyte and $20.00 per megabyte. Confused? We were, too.

If you plan to use your iPhone overseas frequently, you may want to purchase an AT&T Global add-on. This will help reduce overage costs by paying a flat fee for using your 3G in the 90 countries within the roam zone. The plans range from a $24.99 a month plan that allows you 20 megabytes of internet to the $199.99 a month plan that allows 200 megabytes of internet. Fortunately, there is no contract with this feature. If you know you'll be traveling during one month and not the next, simply remove it from your monthly bill. Just make sure the country you're visiting is on the list.

Just remember, even if you purchase the add-on, you may still find yourself racking up the overage fees. You can keep track of your data by press *3282# and then "send." This lets you keep track of your usage and may prevent a few surprises when you receive your monthly bill.

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