More cell phone carriers take aim at international roaming charges

One of the biggest concerns for cell phone users while traveling is the potential to incur steep international roaming charges, as even turning on your phone to check your messages could leave you with a hefty bill.

Travellers will now be able to use Google Maps even when there is no internet connection.

More cell phone plans are cutting costs to use phones internationally. Image by Lonely Planet

But companies are now trying to accommodate customers who cross borders on a regular basis and don’t feel like wandering around looking for WiFi.

Verizon in the US is the latest company to do so. Last week, the carrier introduced its new TravelPass, which is intended to allow travellers to make phone calls, send texts and use high-speed data internationally for a fixed cost – a daily price that could still add up quickly.

There is a $10 per day charge for Americans to use their same phone plan outside of the US in the 65 countries included in the pass, or $2 a day when visiting Canada or Mexico. The cost will only be charged when you actually use the phone, and the activation period then lasts for 24 hours, according to Verizon.

Muslim groups are using mobile communications to target young girls for conversion. Image by Matt Kieffer / CC BY-SA 2.0

New travel plans for US customers reduce charges with fixed fees for data. Image by Matt Kieffer / CC BY-SA 2.0

But as these costs may still prove to be too much for budget backpackers, the company also offers a $40 per month package that has 100 MB of data, 100 texts and 100 minutes of talk time.

As more people struggle to disconnect from their smart phones even while out of the country, trying to find reasonable costs for mobile and data usage becomes an issue.

Other American companies already have similar strategies. T-Mobile offers free international roaming in up to 140 countries for people on specific plans, called Simple Global, however, the web-speeds may only be 2G outside of North America.

But as North American companies try to win customers with great travel plans, Europe is already ahead of the game when it comes to simplifying things for travellers. The European Union made a huge leap forward last month, passing rules that will scrap roaming charges for European mobile users within its 28 member states, starting on 15 June 2017.

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