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iphone and roaming

This is new info for me and thought others may find it helpful. I had an international plan when we last traveled to Europe but as fellow Verizon users know, the monthly plan is now $100 a month (and I think the month referenced by Verizon corresponds to your billing month period rather than a calendar month; someone may want to chime in about that). With an upcoming 7.5 week trip, I'm not likely to use that plan.

I read an Apple-user post on some other forum about the user getting unexpected roaming charges when traveling AND they had turned off roaming. I checked the settings referenced in the post and see the "fine print"!

In the iphone, go to Settings and then Cellular. Scroll to the end.

Under Wi-Fi Assist, you should see "Automatically use cellular data when Wi-Fi connectivity is poor." Mine was on but is now off.

Under iCloud drive, you should see "When not connected to Wi-Fi use cellular network to transfer documents and data." Mine was on but is now off.

I would think that if you leave your phone in airplane mode, there would not be an issue. But it seems best to check these other settings as well.

Please correct me if I'm wrong on this!

Also - it's probably best to turn Cellular Data off as well.

Posted by
540 posts

I typically put my phone in airplane mode when I am traveling internationally and only turn it back on when I land back in the US. I just use Wifi throughout and connect with people through other means such as WhatsApp or FaceTime

Posted by
1025 posts

I have no quarrel with your remedy to Verizon international charges, but it seems to me that you have effectively negated any utility your phone might afford you by taking those steps to prevent roaming.

The easiest way to have a functional international phone is to buy a SIM card to install and using that to access the Cellular network abroad.

This SIM card works like a champ and can be installed by you before you land. With it, you have cellular data, maps, and all the bells and whistles that you are used to.

Posted by
356 posts

I do have a SIM card that I will use in a currently unused phone (keeping my pricier phone safely tucked away) for local calls and data (when wi-fi isn't available) while in Europe.

I was simply trying to educate others on what I learned about surprise roaming charges. I doubt anyone wants those!

Posted by
1259 posts

There are so may different ways to mess up one's cell phone coverage when traveling and to incur substantial and unanticipated charges. Fine print, carrier flexibility, and the devices many settings and nested controls.
The kids on the staff at my local T-Mobile store are skilled and knowledgeable. They've offered to review all of my international settings and options when I'm ready to travel next year. Trust them? Not a lot of choice but I'll be studying the setup and comparing their advice with what I find on forums and iPhone user sites.

Posted by
229 posts

We're starting to do research for an upcoming trip to England and then onto France and back to US. The Orange card on Amazon has horrible recent ratings, so I'm uncomfortable with buying it. And the current internet info about trying to pick up a UK sim card that has free or inexpensive EU roaming is giving me a headache. To top things off, b/c of the possibility that family members back home may suffer a medical emergency while we are in Europe, we need one phone with an ultra reliable connection. So I will (despite the cost) add a Verizon international plan to my Verizon iPhone (it served us very well in the past), but what do people recommend my wife get for her unlocked Android phone. She wouldn't need much data, mostly the ability to make a few phone calls, usually to me, from England and France? We obviously would prefer not to be standing in a long line waiting for assistance with a sim card, especially since on our last couple of trips she made only one or two phone calls per trip.

Posted by
356 posts

I bought a vodafone sim card (from Amazon) that I will use in an old but still functional phone that uses android system. It will mainly be used for calls within Europe (we'll be in Spain, France and Switzerland) and in case of any emergencies while driving in some rural areas. Since we'll be in Europe for almost 2 months, the vodafone sim seems to be best for us as we can start with a 30 day bundle. It will have a UK phone number; the number comes with the card. The vodafone site has good information. You can't buy the card directly from them unless you are in the UK.

If you don't anticipate much use of the iphone, you may just want to use Verizon's pay as you go plan.

read, read, read - lots of good info on the forum and web

Posted by
13207 posts

I did the Verizon pay as you go plan last fall and it worked well for what I needed it for. I did not need to use it every day and wound up with charges 5 or 6 days for phone usage out of 34 days in France. Someone on the forum had posted last Fall they had issues with Verizon charging them on days they did not use but I didn't have any problem with that at all.

My only difficulty was user error, lol. I'd get a text from Verizon in the middle of the night saying my 24 hours would end at "xx:xx" EDT. I was having trouble computing that to Paris time as I normally think in PDT, lol. I've added a city in the Eastern Time Zone to my World Clock app on my phone so I can convert that easier and know when another 24 hour period will start.

Posted by
121 posts

We have had Verizon for years, in fact we are retirees. But yesterday we changed to T Mobile, who has a free international plan except for calls. Today I find that the iphone we got (first ever) has a WiFi calling feature, which I assume can be used for free calls if I'm connected to Wifi. I assume this all works without additional charge as long as I keep the phone in airplane mode when calling. Am I correct to assume this?

Posted by
1149 posts

Yes, if you are calling from your U.S. number to another U.S. number, you shouldn't incur any charge for a call made only over wifi. Watch out for a call to a foreign number, though. Those incur some big fees. Better to use Skype, Google Voice, or some other low cost calling option.

Posted by
121 posts you mean to use those apps for calls to a non-USA number? Calling from my USA phone # in Austria, to my daughter in the USA is free if I use the Wifi calling on my iphone and I'm in airplane mode...right? Sorry I'm technically challenged so I want to be clear.

Posted by
37 posts

When my daughter studied abroad for five months (and seven countries and 27 flights; literally around the world) she put her phone on airplane mode the entire time. She then used only wifi, and communicated with apps: Facebook to call us, and what's app to chat with friends. It seemed to work really well for all of us.

Posted by
5105 posts

I'm getting an eSIM data plan - that way I don't have to worry about a physical SIM card, and I can use that for accessing data instead of the horrible Verizon Int'l Plan. I'll be gone a month so I'm getting an Airalo plan, which is $37 for 30 days and 10Gb of data.

It's easy to switch back and forth (I can use my "real" phone in the hotel with wifi to check messages, etc.) and much cheaper than Verizon is.

Posted by
1149 posts

Ricki, sorry I just saw that you asked me a question. I recommended using the apps for making a wifi call from your phone to a foreign number, calling to Italy, for example. Because you are calling over wifi, you are essentially calling from the U.S., even if you are not in the U.S.

To connect to a foreign number, some entry has to take care of the steps to connect to a foreign phone line, which could be a landline or a mobile line. That connection costs something. Skype, etc. charge a whole lot less to do that than your phone carrier. Even if you did not use wifi, by using an app, your phone carrier only sees you using data so it does not charge you for a call. You may, of course, be hit with the foreign usage fee your company charges. If make a wifi call not using an app, however, your phone company would see that you were calling a number outside the U.S. and pass on the cost of connecting to that foreign number plus a big fee.

The cost of connecting a call from one U.S. number to another, whether over wifi or the phone network, is simply included as part of the cost of the general phone plan. If the call is over wifi, this fact is true regardless of where you are when you make the call. Except, if you are calling from overseas and are not using wifi, your call travels over another phone system first before getting to your home carrier and this connection costs your carrier something. Hence the charge.

Did this response help or I have made it more confusing?