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Germany Only Cost Us $26 Extra

Posted on March 20, 2009 by under Money, Tips, Travel.    

Only $26 extra!

Brian and I have the best cellphone rate plan ever. We have unlimited messaging (picture and text), free nights and weekends, free mobile-to-mobile, and 500 whenever minutes all for under $70 (for two phone lines). Yes, we are frugal even when it comes to our cellphone bill.

Needless to say, we were a little apprehensive about Brian’s trip to Germany and its impact on our cellphone bill. Well, I just checked our bill online and the damage was only $26 extra. I couldn’t believe it. All of that planning paid off after all.

Here’s how we were able to minimize our cellphone costs:

[a] Don’t use your cellphone. International calls are generally a dollar a minute (contact your mobile carrier to find out the exact rates to whatever part of the world you or someone you know is traveling — it varies — in our case it was .99 cents a minute) so call only when absolutely necessary. Ever heard of email? Good. Use it.

[b] Text sparingly. Sending text messages (SMS) will cost you, so don’t text message like you’re still in town. For T-Mobile it is .35 per message sent. Received text messages don’t cost anything extra if you have an unlimited messaging plan. This means that you can receive a gazillion text messages while outside of your local calling area with no major financial repercussions — as long as you don’t reply to them.

[c] Learn to text online. You can send SMS from your mobile carrier’s web site. Any decent telecommunications provider offers this service. You might have to find it somewhere on their web site. If you have Gmail, you can send SMS through the built-in chat option.

[d] Enable your Twitter alerts. This is an alternative to online texting. If you are too lazy to go to your mobile carrier’s web site (or maybe their web site is not user-friendly enough) and don’t have Gmail but you do have a Twitter account, enable your direct message (and other alerts) and have your friends and family do the same. Usually Brian will DM messages to me on Twitter that I would receive on my phone. This allowed him to avoid the .35 text messaging charge. It worked most of the time except when the lag/delay got really bad.

[e] Get a local prepaid cellphone. If you will be going to that part of the world on a somewhat regular basis, it may be worth the money to invest in a local prepaid cellphone. Brian says it costs less than a dollar a minute so you can still talk to friends and family without having to sound like a telegram.

How about you? Got any tips for saving money on your cellphone bill when going out of town (or out of the country)? Post them in the comments.

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