Understanding Roaming and How to Avoid High Charges


If you ever travel outside Canada with your phone, you may be familiar with roaming and how easily charges can add up if you’re not careful in monitoring your usage when outside your home network. If you plan to take your cell phone with you on your next trip, keep reading for useful tips on how to wisely use your cell phone, and avoid a bill shock.

Roaming refers to the ability to use your mobile device outside of your home cell phone provider’s network. For example, when travelling to the U.S., your Canadian cell phone will still be able to receive and dial voice calls, send and receive messages and access data while “roaming”. It’s convenient, but it can be expensive.

Roaming Charges

Roaming involves fees that are usually called “roaming charges”. If your wireless plan only includes usage in Canada, these roaming charges apply every time you use your cell phone when travelling outside of the country. For example, you will be subject to “roaming charges” when you answer a call from Canada or send emails, browse the internet or use apps while in the U.S. Each cell phone provider has different rates for pay per use roaming fees for voice, text and data. You can check with your provider about your own pay-per-use roaming rates.

Avoid High Roaming Charges

Here are 4 different ways to avoid high roaming charges:

1. Turn off data roaming
Turning off data roaming on your device prevents it from accessing data through other networks when travelling. While data roaming is off, functions like the use of apps that require a data connection, sending picture messages and receiving emails will not work. You will still be able to make calls, send and receive text messages while data roaming is turned off. It’s important to note with the use of voice calling or texting, roaming charges can still be incurred.

Keep in mind that once you turn your data roaming off, there could be a backlog of emails and other app updates. If you decide to turn data roaming back on while still travelling, your phone will load the backlog that was waiting to be delivered since you turned data roaming off. This can result in unexpected roaming charges.

Tip: If you want to access the internet while travelling, and not get charged for any data roaming fees, you can connect your phone to Wi-Fi networks. Most hotels, restaurants and shopping malls offer a Wi-Fi connection. When your phone is connected to Wi-Fi, you will have access to your email, the internet as well as use different apps with no additional roaming charges.

Apps like Maps consume data roaming when you access outside of your home network. Photo by Linda Söndergaard on Unsplash


2. Get a SIM card from the country you’re visiting
When you have arrived at your destination it is possible to purchase a SIM card from the local cell phone provider. To change SIM cards, you must remove your existing SIM and keep it somewhere safe until you return. You will need an unlocked device and a SIM card that fits your cell phone. Changing SIM cards means that you will use a local number from your destination.

It is important to know that your Canadian cell phone number will not work while your Canadian SIM is removed and you will need to make sure to let your family and friends know your new number attached to the SIM you just purchased. When you switch SIM cards, you will get charged the specific cell phone plan rates of the country you’re visiting instead of the usual roaming charges.

Don’t forget to put your Canadian SIM card back when you return from your trip!

3. Get a travel add-on
Cell phone providers offer add-ons to your wireless plan that are usually called “travel packs”. These travel packs include a limited number of minutes, text messages and data usage allowance, which you can use during your trip. Rather than being charged for roaming every time you use your phone, you will just use the features included in the travel pack you purchased. For example, Zoomer Wireless offers a $40 U.S. Travel Pack that includes 50 minutes of calls, unlimited text messages and 200 MB of data allowance that you can use while travelling. Travel packs are typically applicable for one month from the date of purchase or until the features of the travel packs are used up.

4. Get a plan that includes roaming usage
Some Canadian providers have options for plans that include U.S. roaming usage. This type of plan usually includes minutes, texts and data that can be used either in Canada or in the U.S. For example, Zoomer Wireless’ Canada/U.S. plans include cell phone usage for both Canada and the U.S.

Zoomer Wireless’ Canada/U.S. plans prevent unexpected and expensive roaming charges while travelling in Canada and the U.S. These plans are perfect for Canadian Snowbirds who travel back and forth to both countries – one plan, one phone number and one SIM card for both your Canadian and U.S. wireless needs. Off to the U.S. for 3 months? For 6 months? You will never have to worry about cross-border calling costs, switching plans, temporary numbers or changing SIM cards ever again.

Travel Seamlessly

Choose from our Individual Canada/U.S. plans packed with the right features to keep you connected while away or choose from our Couples Canada/U.S. plans that you can share when travelling with a loved one.

Have a seamless travel experience with our Canada/U.S. plans! Call 1.888.655.1252 or visit zoomerwireless.ca/canada-us-plans to learn more.

Any questions?

Zoomer Wireless provides affordable cell phones with voice, text and Data plans, as well as home phone and tablet solutions to Zoomers across Canada.

Our friendly and Canadian customer service team is just a free phone call away should you have any questions. If you want to inquire about our cell phones or plans, Zoomer Wireless has a large selection of devices and plans for all your wireless needs. Call our dedicated live agents today at 1.888.655.1252 or visit http://www.zoomerwireless.ca/.