The Inexpensive way to use your iPhone Overseas

There is no debating it. iPhones (and smart phones generally) are fantastic. Gigantic phone bills because of data roaming charges overseas however, are definitely not. How are the best ways to avoid the nasty charges? Read on to discover the inexpensive way to use your iPhone overseas.

What sort of trip have you planned?

Firstly, it is important to recognise that there are differences in how you will use your iPhone overseas, depending on the type of trip you have planned.


Tourists on holiday and any other people on short trips are most likely to avoid all the hassle of getting a local SIM card and continue to use their SIM card from home. It is still possible to keep costs down by following the general rules outlined below.

Long-term Travellers

If you are going to stay overseas for a while you are probably best off getting a local SIM card for wherever you are. If you are visiting several countries you may find an international SIM card useful.


Frequently on the move by nature, backpackers face a real dilemma when it comes to overseas phone usage. Fortunately this no longer means a need to decide between swallowing enormous roaming charges and starting a fascinating collection of foreign SIM cards. International SIM cards are now available and at reasonable prices. Check out OneSim for some good offers here.

General Rules to apply Overseas

1. Unlock your iPhone

Firstly, if you are going to replace your normal SIM whilst abroad, make sure your iPhone is unlocked before you go. If you have been with your provider for longer than the initial contract this normally only takes a phonecall to your provider. If you haven’t there are various online programs available to unlock iPhones too.

2. Turn off your data-roaming.

Go to ‘Settings’ > ‘General’ > ‘Network’ > ‘Data Roaming’ and make sure it is turned OFF.  This is where the really painful costs come from. Whilst abroad, seek out wi-fi hotspots and surf the internet for free using the wi-fi. There is a handy app called ‘Free Wi-Fi’ which I mentioned in my article Top 10 Free Apps to download before you go. Once you know you are in a wi-fi area, go into ‘Settings’ then ‘Wi-Fi’ and select a network. Many cafes and bars now have wi-fi. You may sometimes need to ask staff for a password to use their wi-fi. Here’s a handy hint: McDonalds restaurants have free wi-fi.

How to turn OFF Data roaming on an iPhone

3. Install a VOIP

There may be times overseas when calling from your phone is essential, but if you can, try to save your calls for moments during your trip when you have free Wi-Fi. You can use VOIP (voice over internet protocol) to call landline phones and people who do not use VOIP if you have put credit on your account. You can also use it to call other VOIP users for free. There are several VOIP providers.

4. Deactivate auto-refresh on data-hungry apps

If you must use data-roaming whilst overseas, try to be aware of how data-hungry the apps you use are and stick to the less greedy ones. Hint: Apps incorporating images always use more data. Facebook is a popular but greedy one.

So there you have it, some simple tips to keep in mind whilst using your iPhone overseas, which should help protect you from an enormous phone bill greeting you when you get home. Do you have further tips on the inexpensive use of iPhones overseas? Please share them in the comments below.

This post contains affiliate links.If you wish to purchase an Apple iPhone or a OneSIM international SIM card you can do so by clicking on the links anywhere in this post, and I earn a small commission (and am very, very grateful), at no extra cost to you.


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