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December 12

Avoid 500MB Costing You $1,200 – Comprehensive Breakdown of Telco International Roaming Charges

Posted by on December 12, 2014 at 12:34 AM

Whether you travel overseas for business or pleasure it’s always nice to know that you won’t be coming back to a financial shock on your mobile bill. Telecoms companies have been responsible for causing these for a number of years. Returning to a huge phone bill always leaves a nasty aftertaste. Yet, as the human race becomes more and more integrated with their smartphones, imagining time without them is becoming increasingly impractical.

Avoid 500MB Costing You $1,200   Comprehensive Breakdown of Telco International Roaming Charges

 

My aim in this post is to find out which telco’s are charging the best rates for roaming. The aspects I’ve looked at include call charges, SMSs and mobile data charges. This will allow you to see how they compare against each other as well as determine whether you’re better off switching plans or telco’s during your next trip abroad.

 

If you are planning a trip overseas for a weekend-break or short getaway, the need for having your phone on all the time might not be so important. But, if you are expecting to have to make and receive business calls while you’re away, then the need to remain contactable at all times will be more important and therefore roaming costs may be inevitable.

Whilst roaming, your provider will charge you same rate as if you were at home, but on top of that you will also be charged a “piggy-back” fee. This means that your mobile will use a network carrier that your Australian provider has an agreement with. Under this circumstance, expect to be charged for making as well as receiving calls at an inflated rate. However, data usage is what tends to be the main culprit for high phone bills where opening a single website can cost as much as $3. The only thing you are not charged for is receiving SMS and MMS messages.

Some of the big players in the market are known for having higher charges compared to independent providers. Telstra, is one such example, where traditionally they’ve been seen as offering overpriced mobile plans to consumers. But in an effort to perhaps soften this stereotype, they recently introduced lower international rates for roaming in the form of something referred to as an  ”International Travel Pass“.

 

New Roaming Rates for Telstra

Telstra have made available 3, 7, 14 or 30 day passes available to buy if you have one of their post-paid contract plans. The passes are split into two zones. Zone 1 encompasses: Indonesia, New Zealand and Thailand. Zone 2: Canada, China, Europe, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Korea, Taiwan, UK, U.A.E. and U.S.A.

These new plans allow you to make unlimited voice calls and SMS to Australian numbers and to the locations included within your zone. Data is also included in the plan, but the price differs depending on how much data you require and for what duration (see table below). If you exceed your allowance before your Travel Pass expires, you’re only charged $0.03 per MB which is pretty competitive. What you need to watch out for though, is any data used in excess of your data allowance, after your Travel Pass has expired, or in a country outside of your Zone, after which the charges sky-rocket to $3 per MB.

 

Avoid 500MB Costing You $1,200   Comprehensive Breakdown of Telco International Roaming Charges

 

Telstra new Travel Pass data costs:

Zone    Travel Pass Duration     Price          Data allowance
Zone 1 3 day $15 150MB
Zone 1 7 day $35 350MB
Zone 1 14 day $70 700MB
Zone 1 30 day $150 1500MB
Zone 2 3 day $30 150MB
Zone 2 7 day $70 350MB
Zone 2 14 day $140 700MB
Zone 2 30 day $300 1500MB

 

Compare this to Telstra’s rates in the past where plans would range from $29 for 100MB for a 30-day period, up to an astonishing $350 for 1.5GB and it’s not hard to see what an improvement this is.

 

Comparison of Telco Roaming Rates

Over at Optus, customers will need to make use of their Data Travel Packs where travelling to selected countries will incur a flat daily rate of $10 for 70MB. A seven day holiday, for example, this would cost you $70 for just under 0.5GB. However, the destinations are far more limited than Telstra’s consisting only of: China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, U.S.A. and the UK.

With Vodafone on the other hand, for $5 per day customers can make use of their plan’s minutes, SMS and data while travelling within 47 different countries. To use this service, you need to be on one of Vodafone’s Red postpaid plans and also ensure that you opt-in prior to travelling.

Let’s take a look now at a more comprehensive comparison of international roaming charges across a number of different telco’s:

 

Optus Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Cost to send SMS to Australia $0.50 $0.50 $0.50 $0.50 $0.50
Cost of data $0.50 per MB $0.50 per MB $0.50 per MB $0.50 per MB $20.48 per MB
Telstra Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute $2.50 $1.50 $1.50 $2.00 $3.00
Cost to send SMS to Australia $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75
Cost of data $3.00 per MB $3.00 per MB $3.00 per MB $3.00 per MB $3.00 per MB
Vodafone Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Cost to send SMS to Australia $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75
Cost of data $1.00 per MB $1.00 per MB $1.00 per MB $1.00 per MB $1.00 per MB
Virgin Mobile Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute Not available $0.25 $1.79 $3.34 $1.88
Cost to send SMS to Australia Not available $0.38 $0.75 $0.90 $0.46
Cost of data Not available $0.08 per MB $15.65 per MB $30.46 per MB $0.72 per MB
Amaysim Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute

$1.00 + $0.35

flagfall

$3.00 + $0.35flagfall $1.00 + $0.35flagfall $1.00 + $0.35flagfall $1.00 + $0.35flagfall
Cost to send SMS to Australia $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75
Cost of data $24.38 per MB $24.38 per MB $24.38 per MB $24.38 per MB $24.38 per MB
Dodo Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute

$1.50 + $0.50

flagfall

$1.50 + $0.50flagfall $1.50 + $0.50flagfall $1.50 + $0.50flagfall $1.50 + $0.50flagfall
Cost to send SMS to Australia $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75
Cost of data $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB
Live Connected Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Cost to send SMS to Australia $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Cost of data $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB
LycaMobile Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute $2.45 $0.52 $2.45 $0.46 $2.61
Cost to send SMS to Australia $0.25 $0.22 $0.25 $0.22 $0.64
Cost of data NA NA NA NA NA
TPG Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Cost to send SMS to Australia $0.50 $0.50 $0.50 $0.50 $0.50
Cost of data $0.50 per MB $0.50 per MB $0.50 per MB $0.50 per MB $0.50 per MB
Vaya Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00 $2.00
Cost to send SMS to Australia $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00 $1.00
Cost of data $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB $1.24 per MB
Yatango Hong Kong New Zealand Singapore United Kingdom United States
Cost to call Australia per minute $3.00 + $0.35flagfall $3.00 + $0.35flagfall $2.00 + $0.35flagfall $3.00 + $0.35flagfall $5.00 + $0.35flagfall
Cost to send SMS to Australia $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75 $0.75
Cost of data $22.53 per MB + $0.22flagfall $22.53 per MB + $0.22flagfall $22.53 per MB + $0.22flagfall $22.53 per MB + $0.22flagfall $22.53 per MB + $0.22flagfall

 

Summary 

Interestingly, TPG, LycaMobile and Vodafone have the most competitive rates per minute on calls to Australia from the above mentioned countries. Their prices ranged from between $0.46c with LycaMobile, to a flat $1 charge from TPG and Vodafone. This is an average of $2 less (or 66% less) per minute compared to Yatango, the next best rate.

SMS’s to Australia were most affordable with LycaMobile at $0.25c. The next closest competitors were TPG and Optus who offered average costs across all countries of $0.50. Live Connected and Vaya worked out to the most expensive for SMS charges, costing $0.75c more than Lycamobile.

Data costs were their best at TPG and Optus, who both charge $0.50c per MB. The larger picture though would mean 500MB would still cost an extortionate $250. But if you are with Yatango, Amaysim or Virgin Mobile, you need to be even more cautious as 500MB of data with one of these companies in the wrong country could end up costing you a bank busting $1,200.

Avoid 500MB Costing You $1,200   Comprehensive Breakdown of Telco International Roaming Charges

 

 

The Alternatives

There are other ways to get around roaming charges all together, instead allowing others to foot the bill instead. The first option is to purchase a sim locally once you arrive at your destination after which you simply notify all your contacts that you are abroad and will have a new international number during your stay. It’s also a good idea to leave a voicemail on your Australian mobile prior to leaving the country to say that if you are unreachable on your normal number, please try …. .In this scenario, you will only end up paying local rates for receiving calls or message while those making contact will have to carry the cost of any roaming charges.

Another option could be to take a secondary phone with you on holiday. When you arrive at your destination, similar to the previous option, buy an international sim and insert that into your secondary phone. By keeping your primary phone on, you will receive missed calls via free text messages if for example you are in a different time zone, or unable to answer at the time of the call. Then using your local international sim with better rates, you can call back those missed calls.


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