Once upon a time, I went to Brunei for 10 days and came home to a P10,000 phone bill for IDD calls! hahaha!

Now my ganda friend, GF 😉 , is assigned in Indonesia for 4 weeks. During her stay there, we tried many different ways to keep in touch, keeping in mind how to limit costs of communication.

In this article, I’ll start with a few general observations about roaming rates, going into specifics for Indonesia where GF is. Then I will summarize with 6 tips on how to lower your IDD and International SMS costs while roaming.

SMS

  • GF bought a local Indonesia SIM. She uses this when she needs to send urgent texts. It costs her around P10 to send International SMS from an Indonesian SIM. It would cost around P25 if GF used a roaming Sun/Smart/Globe SIM.
  • Receiving of SMS is FREE on roaming Sun/Smart/Globe SIMs. I use Sun, so it’s FREE for me to send SMS to GF’s Sun SIM.
  • GF could have used Chikka to send SMS to the Philippines for free. But she found this inconvenient especially with her busy schedule. Visit Technobiography for some Chikka tips, especially how to send unlimited Text 😉 .

IDD Calls

  • Anytime GF uses her roaming phone to make calls, she incurs huge charges. That’s because she’s using the services of at least two telcos — the Indonesian telco and the Philippine telco. IDD calls while roaming can reach up to P80/minute. The IDD rate depends on country you’re roaming at and the telcos involved in connecting the call.
  • I never called GF on her roaming Sun SIM either. She gets charged HUGE in that setup too.
  • When GF uses the Indonesian pre-paid SIM to make calls to the Philippines, she spends around US$0.20 / minute. This is the best rate she found for mobile phone calls.
  • I can call GF on her Indonesian SIM as well.
    Smart SIM to GF’s Indonesia SIM: $0.40/minute (See Smart’s IDD rates)
    Sun SIM to GF’s Indonesia SIM: $0.30/minute (See Sun IDD rates). Sun also has a $0.10/minute promo (Sun Top 10) but is not applicable to Indonesia.
    Lastly, Globe’s IDD rates and other promos.
  • Other Philippine landlines (PLDT, Globe, BayanTel, Digitel) and call cards (Philippines / abroad) probably have even cheaper IDD rates. It’s a matter of finding the service that’s most convenient for you to use.

VoIP

  • What we used most for voice communications was Skype, each of us using our respective laptops (See “Calling the Philippines through your PC“). PC-to-PC VOIP calls via Skype are free. There were times when our call got disconnected due to poor Internet (WiFi) connection. We just had to re-dial to continue talking. It could get tiresome sometimes. But as long as the Internet connection was good, there were generally no problems talking via Skype.

In summary, here is how to lower your IDD and International SMS costs while roaming.

  1. Keep your Philippine roaming SIM on. Use this to receiving SMS from relatives in the Philippines. FREE for you, regular SMS charges for your relatives.
  2. Do NOT use a roaming Philippine SIM to send SMS or make outgoing calls. Outgoing charges are HUGE. Receiving calls are charged HUGE as well.
    Bonus tip: While roaming, phones usually do not display an incoming caller’s number. Use Missed Call Alert to find out who called. Ask your telco how to activate this service for you.
  3. Use a local pre-paid SIM (SIM from the country you’re at) to send SMS or make important calls.
  4. Use Chikka to send free text.
  5. Use VoIP services like Skype to make free PC-to-PC calls
  6. Experiment, ask around, try out various options of making calls or receiving calls the most cost effective and convenient way. Find the method that works best for you.

Oh by the way, make sure to call your telco’s customer service to have the roaming service activated BEFORE you leave the country. Find out the limitations, rates, policies so that you know the rules of the roaming game.

Do you have tips on lowering IDD and International SMS while roaming? Do share!

ka edong
I did it!

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