iPad users need to be careful of roaming charges while abroad

iPads are incredibly useful to take away on holiday since they allow you to stay in touch, listen to music, watch films and keep up to date with any potential travel issues while you are away. However, even simple tasks like checking your email can become expensive if you are using your domestic iPad tariff to surf while on holiday abroad.

“New rules were introduced in July 2010 placing the onus on broadband providers to cap the cost of using the internet whilst abroad within in the EU at €50 (around £44) – but this is still rather expensive, and is only applicable within the EU,” said Michael Phillips, product director, Broadbandchoices.co.uk.

“If consumers are going online in countries just outside of the EU or elsewhere in the world they are exposing themselves to prices and policies that vary massively from one supplier to the next.

“iPad roaming costs aren’t necessarily the same as those applied to regular mobile broadband packages, so we strongly urge consumers planning to take their iPad abroad to follow our quick tips below to avoid a nasty bill shock when they get home from their holidays,” said Phillips.

Top tips for avoiding roaming charges:

1. Check the small print: Although EU roaming costs are capped, some providers such as 3 apply a cap no matter where you are in the world, whilst others offer no cap at all for countries outside the EU. Find out from your supplier what the rules are for your destination.

2. Set your own usage cap: If you are concerned that you won’t be able to keep track of your surfing whilst abroad, contact your provider to set a cut-off point.

3. Use wi-fi when you can: Making use of wi-fi in a hotel, coffee shop or even McDonalds allows you to surf for free on a faster, more reliable signal. Even if you have to pay to use a local wi-fi connection this can still work out cheaper than paying premium roaming rates.

4. Avoid hidden costs: Turn off apps that use the internet to update your information automatically – for example, tools that keep track of your location and post it to Facebook. Allowing these to continue running throughout your holiday can lead to huge charges being racked up.

5. Turn off data roaming: The easiest way to avoid mobile broadband charges whilst abroad is to turn off data roaming on your iPad.

6. When in Rome: When you arrive overseas consider buying a local SIM card that you can adapt to fit your iPad. It will almost certainly be cheaper than paying roaming rates to your UK provider.

Anyone planning a stay-cation this year as an alternative to going abroad should still ensure they are on the best SIM only plan for mobile broadband on the move.

Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.