How to turn off data roaming on your iPhone and avoid huge data bills

Most iPhone users operate on a monthly contract, which includes a set amount of minutes and text messages, as well as a set amount of data. However, often when we go abroad all of the rules are thrown out, meaning that data especially can become frighteningly expensive. Regular everyday activities like checking your emails, using Google Maps or browsing the web can suddenly start running up huge data bills. Here is a guide showing how to turn off data roaming on your iPhone and iPad.

Read: This app tracks your iPhone data usage and keeps you on top of your usage

Step One: Access your settings app on your iPhone’s home screen

Step Two: Navigate into ‘General’ settings, within the settings app

Step Three: Navigate to ‘cellular’

The cellular settings give you access over your iPhone’s data usage. Whilst abroad it is important to use this data sparingly if you ant to avoid running up large data bills. Remember that a lot of iPhone and iPad apps run in the background on your phone, meaning that from the data point of view, you are using the apps even if your iPhone is sat in your pocket.

Therefore you need to turn off cellular data and disable 3G (or 4G). These settings can be switched to ‘off’ within the cellular navigation pane, ensuring that you don’t pay the hefty bills.

Use Wi-Fi instead

Your iPhone comes complete with Wi-Fi, which is a faster way to browse the internet and to use you regular apps.

Most holiday resorts as well as large cities have free Wi-Fi available. Coffee shops, hotels, bars and local transport facilities are all price places where you can typically find cheap or free access to Wi-Fi. Most will require a logon, which often includes the need for you to provide an email address.

Top tip: Don’t provide your core email whilst trying to join a free Wi-Fi connection. The Wi-Fi operator is making the Wi-Fi available free for a reason – they are trying to capture people’s details which they can then email advertise around. In most cases you can get away with providing a false email address.

Look into getting an international package

Frequent travellers may find being limited to Wi-Fi only, or select bursts of data usage to be overly burdensome. This is especially the case for business travellers, who are expected to be available on email almost 24/7.

In this example, it is worth investigating an international package.

When you signed up to your home contract, you purchased a set amount of data from your native carrier. When you go abroad, you’re not able to access the native carriers data, and instead you gain access to another carriers data pool. The third-party carrier charges you megabyte by megabyte for each unit of data that you consume.

With an international package, you can buy a second phone contract with a native carrier in the country that you’re visiting. This typically allows you to pay a similar price to what you get back at home. Whilst a second £35 plus contract may sound hefty, it actually represents fantastic value compared to paying hundreds or even thousands of pounds out in data fees.

Contesting big data fees with leading networks is almost impossible unless you have a large contract with them (typically a corporate package with multiple phones on one deal). There are some things that you can do, covered in our article here, but as is so often the way, prevention is the best cure.

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