Dad has an iPhone 5 and uses AT&T as his provider. He’ll use the phone to stay in touch with his family in the U.S. and to make or receive occasional voice calls for his consulting work.
Since this is a quick five-day trip, I know my dad would not want to go to the trouble of swapping out a SIM card for his iPhone. Or switching to T-Mobile which recently made calling from Canada and Mexico a lot cheaper. He also won’t use the phone enough to opt for one of AT&T’s international calling packages (starting at $30).
So here’s the advice I gave him.
When you get to Canada, turn off your data roaming (settings>cellular>roaming>turn off data roaming) and leave voice roaming on. Be sure that all the apps running in the background on your phone are turned off (remember how I showed you to do that? Double click the round button and swipe away all programs to turn them off). That way you can make and receive calls and texts but you won’t overpay for data, which is where AT&T will get you.
Cellular voice calls on your iPhone will likely cost about $1 per minute (rip off) so try and restrict your calls to times that you have an internet connection. Use your iphone Facetime app to make video or audio calls– since those are FREE, which I know you like 🙂
However, remember that those Facetime calls are limited to only your contacts who use iPhones or iPads– and when you have access to wi-fi. (All your kids have iPhones)
Text costs can vary from 50 cents to $1.50 each… AT&T charges vary. (Be careful about sending texts including large photos!)
If you want to make regular calls to non-iPhone users, (for example, work related stuff) you should download at app called Viber. (Go to the app store on your phone and search for Viber.) You sign up and provide your credit card, but calls are only a few cents a minute (vs the $1 or so you’ll pay AT&T), so prepay $10 which should provide you with plenty of prepaid minutes.
With Viber, you make calls just like you would from your phone (an easy to understand app) but remember that it ONLY works when you are connected to Wi-fi. Luckily, finding free, fast wi-fi is increasingly easy in Canada.
So, to sum it up: turn off data roaming, use your phone for cellular calls and texts only in urgent situations, and try to use Facetime and/or Viber when you are in a wi-fi hotspot.
I sent that advice off to Dad, who is also an avid fan of Uber and Lyft, which he plans to use to get around Montreal and Ottawa with my mom. He asked, “What about using Uber… do I need data for that?”
My answer: Yes, you will need to use data for Uber when you are not in a wi-fi hot spot, but it won’t break the bank. So, when summoning Uber from a restaurant, be sure that all other apps are off, then turn on data roaming and launch Uber, request your pick up, and leave it on until your car arrives, then turn data roaming off. NOTE: Be SURE to turn data roaming off when you are finished!
How do you save money on calls in other countries? Provide your tips or advice and I’ll be sure my dad sees them!