Okay, so Roam Mobility did compensate me to test out their service, and I LOVE it! Here's why...
Its that time of year again where I have to figure out exactly how am I going to keep in contact with my family in Canada, while I play in the US! You may or may not remember a similar post I wrote last year on how costly roaming charges can be if you don't prep your phone and service before stepping over that border line. Simply having your phone on and doing nothing but passively receive Twitter and Facebook notifications can become a $100 charge or more if you don't configure your phone and/or account beforehand. If your data plan is used while roaming, even for the simplest task, you'll get charged a lot.
The first thing I did this time around was check out Rogers again to see if they've improved their packages at all for travel (they have this funny quirk of changing their plans frequently without any notice,) but I found its still the same expensive menu as it was last year. It even still states that if you purchase one of those plans, they will graciously not charge you for incoming texts your phone receives while you're away (YES, you DO get charged a high rate if you don't purchase a plan and someone texts YOU a message while you're over the border.) They say their heavy prices are based on costs that they have to pay US companies for access, but I think they're exaggerating those costs just a tiny bit.
So, with my awesome Google search skillz, I've just recently been introduced to an alternative that I can't wait to use while in the US for the BlogHer 2013 conference in Chicago, and if you're planning on crossing the border for any reason, I highly recommend you check it out.
Roam Mobility is all about covering your communication needs while in the US, with amazingly cost-effective plans and simple convenience. They make it easy to stay in touch with the people you want to connect with while away.
You can have access to affordable UNLIMITED North American talk and text service during your trip with the choice of either purchasing a SIM Card for $19.95 (that will also give you access to their data plan); or purchase a quad-band world-enabled Breeze phone for $49.95 (no data for these phones, but you could use your current phone/laptop/tablet in WiFi hotspots for data connections if needed!)
And their plans are so simple to use. If you're going on a 5 day trip, you can simply purchase one "3 day" and two "1 day" plans to count for all 5 days! (This is where that math you're teacher said you're gonna need when you get older comes in handy...)
I'll be going with a SIM card so that I can have full use of my current smartphone, which means I had to unlock it. Unlocking isn't a bad word, its actually a legal thing to do in Canada. You can even check with your provider to see if they have a service to unlock the phone for you (Telus will agree to unlock your Telus phone for $35 if you've held an account with them for at least 90 days.) Luckily there are instructions on YouTube on how to unlock a Samsung Galaxy III phone, so I didn't have to call Rogers to see if they'd like to charge me to unlock it. And if you can't find instructions on how to unlock your phone online, there are numerous online stores that will give you a code to do this simply. I've used CellUnlocker.net for two of the phones I needed unlocking (charged between $15 and $30,) and have been truly happy with their fast service. I haven't been able to research much over iPhone costs, but it may be a bit pricier over their Android counterparts.
I would be remiss if I didn't add this warning though... Smartphones are tiny computers and computers always have issues, so you could potentially break your phone while trying to unlock it, and you will definitely void any phone warranty you may have left at the moment, so there are always possibilities of problems from unlocking. I've personally have unlocked three different android phones over the past six months though and haven't had an issue with any of them. Essentially, use these unlocking services at your own risk!
So once I had the SIM purchased, I could create an account with Roam Mobility online to add a plan to my phone, and also schedule for when I want to use it. And if I happen to go use up my data plan before my trip is over, I can easily "Top Up" my service for the remaining days (though if I go over 700 MBs in 5 days, I must be having a *wild* time!)
The SIM of course comes with its own phone number that I can share with family and friends should they need to reach me while I'm in the US! And now I won't have to check my watch every few minutes to time how long the phone call lasts, 'cause I'll have unlimited talk and texting, WOOT!
These cards and phones can be purchased online or at one of their many local locations if you just want to pick one up on the way home from work. Check out how easy it is to pick one up if you're in the GTA.
There are a few simple things to check and remember, to make using Roam Mobile a breeze:
- Check their coverage map to make sure you'll get the access you need while in the US.
- If you're going to use their SIM card, first check to see how to unlock your phone (if its not unlocked already.) If you have a phone handy that you don't really use anymore, you might want to consider using it as your travel phone if this is the first foray into changing phone settings.
- If you're not using a 4G phone, don't expect 4G data speed.
- Pick up or order your SIM card or Breeze phone well ahead of time, you won't be charged for a plan at that point. You can order and schedule a plan at a later time. I do have one scheduled now, like you can see in the image above, but it won't be active until my first day in the US.
- Your SIM card will remain active for 1 year after your last usage (so if you only head to the US once a year, you can keep your SIM card to use year after year!)
- No monthly/hidden subscription fees!
- If you have any questions, just contact their customer support! These guys are awesome and will take care of you right away.