Mobile phones

Data usage and using your mobile overseas

Read below to get advice about managing your data allowance and using your phone overseas.

Managing your data usage 

Your mobile phone plan will have a fixed data allowance for using your phone to connect to the internet, use email, download music and movies, play online games and use video for face-to-face chat.

You only need a small data allowance if you just send email and occasionally use the internet.

If you are going to be downloading video and music or playing games, you will need a larger data allowance.

If you stay within your allowance you won't need to pay extra. 

Once you go over your fixed allowance you will have to pay extra. You will usually be charged per megabyte if you go over.

It's a good idea to track your usage through your provider's webpage or by downloading an independent application.

You can minimise your data usage by doing any of the following:

  • use free wi-fi hotspots or connect to the internet at home
  • turn off apps or other phone features that automatically use up data - for eg: push notifications
  • shut applications when you finish with them to make sure they're not working in the background.

Using your mobile overseas

Most service providers allow you to use your mobile overseas.

This is called international roaming. It is not usually included in any mobile phone plan and will cost you extra to use.

It can be very expensive to use your phone overseas. You will be charged for calls received as well as making calls.

Your phone will not automatically work in every country. You will need to contact your provider to check if it will work in the country you are going to. You will also need to turn international roaming on.

You can minimise the costs of using your mobile overseas by doing all of the following:

  • turn off data roaming and buy a prepaid SIM card designed for overseas travellers that can be topped up as you travel
  • get a mobile phone usage app so you can track how much you're spending
  • use text messages instead of calls to keep in touch with people back home
  • tell friends and family to email rather than call 
  • save calls for emergencies
  • turn off your voicemail services.

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Last updated: 01 August 2015

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