For some of us international travel doesn’t come around that often but if anything is certain mobile roaming costs can blow a serious hole in your budget if you don’t tightly control your phone calls (both inbound and outbound) as well as your data usage (which can be frightfully expensive at $20 per megabyte). Whilst the ease and convenience of the mobile phone can be tempting it can create a severe case of bill shock when you get back home.
Whilst there is the solution of obtaining a prepaid SIM in your destination country sometimes it can be difficult to satisfy identification requirements and credit recharge requirements if carriers refuse international documents and foreign credit cards. Skype is another potential option but you would often be tethered to locations offering Wi-Fi which wouldn’t help when you are out and about.
However, there is another option if you travel between the UK, USA and Australia in the form of Truphone (otherwise simply known as Tru).
Tru is essentially a virtual carrier in that it doesn’t operate its own network but instead works on top of other networks (similar to how Virgin and TPG use the Optus mobile network).What makes Tru different is that it has partnered with a handful of carriers around the world to provide competitive local call, SMS and data rates to Tru customers when they roam into any of the three supported countries with a single SIM card. This is made available through a monthly subscription fee of which the first month is free when you obtain a new SIM otherwise the normal ongoing cost is AU$15 at present. The subscription pricing is not an ongoing mandatory charge so you can let it lapse once you come back home while the service will remain active (although Tru reserve the right to debit a small nominal charge if the service is not used for a period of ninety days).
You can also choose not to pay the subscription fee but you will incur standard rates while travelling (but you might find that the rates are cheaper than using your usual domestic SIM).
Another nifty feature is you can have multiple phone numbers activated on the same SIM card. For instance, you could have both an Australian and USA mobile number provisioned allowing people in these countries to call you at their applicable rates without incurring international charges. Also, when you call out to a country in which you obtained a Tru mobile number that number will be displayed (so your USA number will show up to USA callees and your Australian number will show up to Australian callees) – this is known as “Smart CLI”.
Tru is gradually growing its list of partners to grant access to very competitive local rates to its customers with Spain, Netherlands and Hong Kong coming down the pipeline with France, Italy and Germany also in the works. Tru is planning to have partners in twenty countries in the next eighteen months.
So before you fly out on your next trip you might want to check out the Tru SIM rates here – it could easily save you heaps of money whilst still keeping you connected on your travels.