I got my first smartphone in 2008. It was a Blackberry Pearl 8120, it was the most beautiful phone I'd ever seen, and it changed my life. The ability to send and receive email, utilize the Internet and even post things on Facebook – all on the go – was so cutting edge and digitally chic.
Later that same year, I went on a 4-day vacation to Hawaii. When I turned on my Blackberry in Honolulu, I was both astonished and delighted to discover it had automatically connected to a carrier there. Everything I could do on my phone back home was available to me while I was on vacation, so I kept up to date with email and posted updates and pictures to Facebook. It was wonderful.
...Until a month later, when I received an $800 phone bill for data roaming charges.
Back when smartphones were relatively new, many of us found out the hard way that data roaming charges were on a vastly different rate scale as voice and texting charges. Carriers charged between $15 and $20 (maybe more)per megabyte of data, which meant every time I posted a picture from my Blackberry, I was charged a whopping $40. If I had known that at the time, I would have posted better pictures instead of the ones I took of my lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.
These days, we're all conditioned to turn off data roaming when we travel, opting instead to utilize free WiFi (when we can find it) or purchase prepaid data and SIM cards. But what if I told you that as a GTA customer, you don't have to do that? That you might even save some money by using GTA's data roaming instead of buying a prepaid card or SIM?
Last year, GTA introduced their Roam Like Home service and it's something that many people don't seem to know about (I myself only learnt of it a few weeks ago). Just look at these awesome rates:
With GTA's Roam Like Home, if you travel to the U.S., it's 10/10/10:
10¢ per text message *incoming text messages are FREE
10¢ per Mb of data
10¢ per minute for voice calls
If you travel to Japan, Philippines, or South Korea, it's:
15¢ per text message *incoming text messages are FREE
15¢ per Mb of data
50¢ per minute for voice calls
Let me try and put that in terms of usage. If you're an average smartphone customer, your average data usage is somewhere around 3 gigabytes per month – and that's a generous estimate. 3Gb of data per month averages out to about 100 megabytes per day. With Roam Like Home USA, 100Mb would cost around $10 per day –assuming you even reach 100Mb. If you're on vacation, you're likely to use less data because you probably won't be spending hours watching YouTube videos or streaming Netflix reruns of Friends.
Whenever I travel to Japan, I rent one of those pocket WiFi devices that gives me access to the internet anywhere in the country. It costs around $12 per day, and it doesn't cover voice calls or text messages. In Japan, I'd actually save some money by using GTA's Roam Like Home instead of paying for WiFi.
Another great thing about Roam Like Home is no sign up is required and you don't have to go to GTA to have your phone set up for the service. When you're in the U.S., all you have to do is turn on your phone and you're good to go. In South Korea, Philippines and Japan, you must select the GTA preferred carrier in order to receive Roam Like Home rates. It's an easy process that GTA explains here: http://www.gta.net/wireless/extras/roaming#roam-like-home.
If you're nervous about how much data you're using with Roam Like Home, GTA can send you text messages to let you know if you start racking up suspiciously high data charges.
Of course, nothing saves as much money as using free WiFi, but hunting for free WiFi can be a pain. Roam Like Home is a service that makes travel simpler, which is something I can appreciate because travel, especially around the holidays, can be a hassle. We count on our phones when things go awry. Roam Like Home is a convenient and affordable service that's designed to keep us connected when we're far and away. So, if you're traveling this holiday season, Roam Like Home and post that photo of your Starbucks peppermint mocha without fear. ‘Tis the season to #CaptureYourHoliday.