How to score cheaper roaming rates when you travel
It’s no secret that I’ve been really blessed the last few months with the opportunity to travel. Tech Girl has afforded me the opportunity to get to see some amazing places and partake in incredible experiences. The thing is, I’m well aware that many don’t get the same opportunities. Travelling abroad regularly is not something we all get to do.
On my recent trip to New York I tested out a new gadget called KnowRoaming. My first question, when writing anything on Tech Girl, is do you care? Chances are you don’t because you don’t travel abroad regularly. But, maybe your little sister is planning to backpack through Europe or you possibly have a business trip into Africa coming up. That’s why I’m sharing KnowRoaming with you – it is the ideal way to ensure you have cheaper roaming rates when you travel.
KnowRoaming is a tiny sim sticker that you need to place on your sim card. You then download the KnowRoaming app, register your sim and add credit to your account.
1. Apply the sticker
The KnowRoaming kit costs R399 from any iStore. You receive an application kit and the sticker. The sticker needs to be applied properly to work so if you’re a bit nervous the folks at the iStore will apply it for you. In true pampered princess style I did what any self respecting 27 year old woman would and asked my dad to help (he’s an engineer, that’s my defense). He used the applicator, put the sticker on without a problem and it worked immediately.
2. Download the app
The KnowRoaming app is available for iOS and Android devices. You can also register your sim on the web app.
3. Register your Sim
The app is really easy to use and once you download it it will prompt you to register your sim. Once that is done you enter a management portal where you can load credit onto your Sim. The management portal also lets you sign up to a service called “Reach Me” that charges you a monthly subscription so you can receive your home mobile calls when you travel and save your friends and family the long distance call fees because you will have access to a local number which they can reach you on.
When I travel I usually switch SMS Roaming on so I get text messages but no calls. I then purchase a sim card at the airport when I land and load it with data. With the likes of What’s App and Social media, I find if I have data I’m connected and that works well. I didn’t sign up for Reach Me.
4. Load credit
Once you’re registered you need to load some credit onto the phone. This will allow KnowRoaming to automatically switch you to local providers when you arrive in another country. When you come home it immediately switches back to your usual network. The pricing on calls is far cheaper than what the local providers hit you with. As is the data.
5. Brace yourself
Don’t get me wrong. The rates aren’t cheap. But then, neither are our usual data charges. Local providers like Vodacom and MTN hit you with heavy fees when roaming so KnowRoaming is a much better option and works in more than 200 countries.
Here’s a quick comparison. While in London for the Huawei P8 launch I went the prepaid sim card route. I landed at the airport and paid 30 pounds for a local Sim that included unlimited data. That translates to R546.90. I used it for 4 days.
While in the States I went the KnowRoaming route. I pre-loaded $25 on the Sim. That amount is valid for 15 months and can be used in any country I travel to. KnowRoaming also offers unlimited data packages in certain countries. The other option is to use the pre-loaded amount but the packages work out cheaper. I loaded unlimited data for 2 days at $7.99. So my total data bill was $15.98. That is now a converted cost of R494.63 over three days.
On landing I had a little hiccup setting KnowRoaming up. If you aren’t on an iPhone or Samsung you need to do some manual changes which I found a bit of a headache. Luckily the KnowRoaming support is exceptional and they sorted out my issues in record time. However, it meant it took me a considerable amount of time to get the unlimited data running and I chowed into the pre-loaded balance considerably. I also didn’t load unlimited data on my last day, so I used up a lot of the pre-loaded balance. However, on arriving home I still had $6.98 on the account. I think there would have been far more in that pre-loaded amount left over if I hadn’t used it on the last day and needed to sort out my tech issues when I landed.
So in total I spent R410.38 in the States. That’s R136.79 a day in comparison to the UK cost of R136.73 per day. Not much of a difference right?
Keep this in mind:
The balance remaining on KnowRoaming is still valid for the next 15 months. The UK Sim Card expires at the end of the month if I don’t load more data on to it.
I did not use the hotel WiFi in the States at all. I did everything off my phone and used it as a WiFi Hotspot for my laptop. In London I jumped onto local WiFi whenever it was available. So if I compare the amount of data used KnowRoaming was far better for my budget.
If you’re travelling through multiple countries say, backpacking, KnowRoaming is going to save you the hassle of having to hunt down sim cards and possibly handle a language barrier to get what you want.
If you’re travelling to one country for a few days and going overseas is not a regular thing for you then the initial cost of KnowRoaming would be wasted. But if you do travel often or plan to visit multiple countries this is the better option to stay connected.
Compared to our South African providers, KnowRoaming does provide cheaper roaming rates when you travel.
The KnowRoaming support is also out of this world which is really where I feel they sell their product. Being a work trip I was extremely nervous about using a new gadget and possibly being left in the lurch. I mentioned my concerns to the iStore who got a KnowRoaming representative to ring me and make sure I was all set. He was also available when I struggled to set it up on landing. Now granted, you might not get that phonecall, but their twitter response time is exemplary so you’re guaranteed not to be left pulling your hair out. It makes all the difference.
Disclaimer: I received the KnowRoaming sticker and application kit in a press pack at the iPhoneography event in 2014. All other costs listed above were paid for me by me.
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