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Old 04-02-2013, 07:20 PM   #1
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Live in the US and travel to Canada?

What do you do about cell phone roaming charges. I've heard horror stories about US registered cell phones that incur extremely high roaming charges.

What do you do when you are planning an extended trip to CA and don't want to have your cell bill to be larger than your fuel bill?

We have Verizon cell service and also have one of their hotspots that allows us to have wifi available wherever we are (within their coverage areas).

What do you frequent CA travelers do to avoid the extreme charges?

Mike and Tina
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:37 PM   #2
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Everything you've heard about huge mobile charges when roaming in Canada is correct. The bills can be surprisingly staggering.

My wife's phone is with Verizon and when we go to Canada-- a fairly frequent occurance for us either by boat, plane, or vehicle-- she has some plan she can get on that reduces the cost somewhat. Unfortunately I can't tell you what it is because I've never paid any attention when she's set it up.

My mobile is AT&T and it's an international phone owned by my employer. While we are allowed to use our mobiles for personal use this is to be kept to a minimum. So I generally don't use my company mobile at all for personal calls when I'm in Canada.

If you have wifi connectivity in Canada you can use Skype I believe. We have it on our iPads but have never set up an account so have no experience using it. But we have friends who do and I guess it works as advertised.

You can get a satellite phone but from what I've been told by people we know who have them their cost makes the high mobile bills from roaming in Canada look like peanuts.

You can outfit your boat with somehting like TracVision, which is what we'll probably do when the day comes we can take extended trips into BC and Alaska. But again the cost, particulary for the hardware, is not cheap.

But the reality is we rarely have a need to use our mobiles when we're in Canada. And when we do, we use my wife's phone as she has this augmented Verizon plan, however that works.

The few people we have any reason to keep in touch with we contact mostly by e-mail when we're in Canada.

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Old 04-02-2013, 07:52 PM   #3
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You can by a roaming package or an international SIM card. We have the same problem when travelling to the states. I bought a US pay as you go so I use that when travelling over there. Very affordable.
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:02 PM   #4
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I use Facetime on my Ipad with Wifi, it is free to call anyone with an Ipad, Iphone or Ipod and is like Skype in that you have a visual as well. My brother uses MagicJack out of the US, as he travels between Florida and Canada for extended periods. It is about $100 for the hardware and only $39 a year to call anywhere in the world provided that you have Wifi. Many of our snowbirds in Florida also use the pay as you go phones while down there since roaming is crazy.
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:11 PM   #5
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Before you leave, buy an unlocked quad cell phone for ~$25-75.00 USD on Ebay. When you get to a new country, buy a sim card; $1-25.00 USD based on the country plus free minutes. We have paid less than $0.02/min to about $0.10/minute. You can also use the same sim card for data. Skype, as Marin suggested is there, but bandwidth can be a problem. Outside the US, everyone has a cell phone since there are few landlines.
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:34 PM   #6
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I discovered that you also have to pay attention to your phone connection while you are just near the Canadian border. We were just off Orcas Island and I got a text message from AT&T that I was incurring roaming charges. When I called Customer Service, I was told that the phone had clearer signals from a Canadian tower than from a US tower in that area so that was the signal it used. They changed my phone settings in their system so it could not be used outside the US and they did away with the charges. Had I not called, the charges would have continued. The downside was I had to remember to call and have them reset my phone when we next traveled out of the country.
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Old 04-03-2013, 09:08 PM   #7
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Thanks to all who responded for the excellent advice. That is exactly what I was looking for.

Mike and Tina
Beachcomber 1995 Sea Ray 550 Sedan Bridge
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