International Roaming: Is it really Worth it?

clip_image001I am sure everyone of us, whether they use a postpaid or a prepaid connection, have thought about taking their number on International Roaming.

All of us have seen numerous advertisements regarding IR and how various services are promoting their services by telling us how many roaming partners they have and how cheap the services are.

Well, surprise surprise, IR services are rarely, if ever cheap. You are charged for outgoing, incoming, outgoing SMS as well as Incoming SMS (check with your service provider for promotions in which some destinations enjoy free incoming SMS).

Furthermore, most of the frequent destinations are usually on postpaid and not on prepaid.

First, let’s talk about IR on postpaid.

High Security Deposits:

The 1st thing any operator will require before they activate your IR services is that the security deposit must be enhanced since these services are being activated with a minimum credit limit of Rs. 15,000/- to Rs. 20,000/-.

But if you are lucky and you have a corporate account with your service provider, i.e. your company has an arrangement with the service provider, the limit will be enhanced and services activated without any delay.

IR Activation Time:

For mere mortals such as us, activation time for IR is between 24-72 hours depending upon various operators as well as due verification. This may or may not include a physical visit on the address you have provided as well as a phone call from the service provider.

Paying Bill Back Home Becomes Hefty

You also have to remember that once you reach or exceed your credit limit, depending upon your service provider, your connection will get blocked and you will have to ask someone to pay your bill so that your services may be resumed.

International Roaming on Prepaid

For prepaid, the process is much simpler since all you require is a certain balance amount and you can call the helpline or visit your service provider to have IR activated.

Is International Roaming Inexpensive?

Now what most people fail to realize and mostly they do not pay attention to the fact that IR is not cheap, in fact it is really expensive and all transactions are conducted in US dollars.

So if you browse through an IR tariff, make sure the tariff printed says Pakistani Rupees, because if it says cents, they are talking about US dollars.

Since foreign currency rates fluctuate, that means you will be charged at the rate which was applicable on that day. Further, in case you ever require your bill for IR, you will realize that it is not easy to calculate your bill, for example, the simple calculation would be the number of units (minutes) multiplied by the tariff, but it is not that simple. What telecom service providers fail to mention is that a roaming charge is also added into the bill.

At the end of the day, IR services are great for someone who always needs to be connected and really relies on his cellphone to get business done. For people on leisure trips or on holidays, if you want to save yourself the hassle as well as some money, just go buy a prepaid at your destination which will always be comparatively cheaper and less troublesome, and don’t forget to enjoy your holiday!

  • hmmmm..but any one have any idea or know the application to receive a call without int. roaming charges while the number is on int. roaming…?? any possible way if any one know please let me know.

  • I had to pay a hefty IR bill of around 21000 when i moved to Canada for a few weeks,but then i turned it off and now I am on Ufone’s IR sms roaming,basically incoming sms is still free so comes in handy if someone needs to contact me and for outgoing sms I have a nice unlimited package on my fone.And use while on my pc(very nice service i must say)


      • Dear, you can’t activate Free sms package while you are on roaming but you can receive free incoming sms from Pakistan or all over the world, i suggest you for sending free sms use free sms website there are many website offering free sms t pakistan propakistani as well ask your family/friend to reply you at your own number (ufone) moreover just inter your ufone sim and use it because it’s pre actives

  • International Roaming has been activated on all Ufone prepaid SIMs for FREE and all incoming SMS are absolutely free of cost

  • my company is paying almost about 200000 PKR for one month roaming of one number
    but it is up to your usage

  • obviously IR is a luxury for most of us. only free incoming sms appeals me :-) I was charged Rs 72/Minute for receiving call on telenor in UAE (on Etisalat network). Faizan is right. just activate your IR for sms (in other words use sim card for receiving sms only) and use your new sim cards for calls or sms (better to use websites for sending sms as it will save alot of cash). One more thing, sometimes companies come with better IR promotions (like Ufone is running a promotion of Rs 15/minute for UAE,UK and Saudi Arabia on Etisalat, Vodafone and Mobily respectively. Even though Rs 50 will be charged as activation (one time only), I personally think this package is worth try (if we call from UAE to Pakistan from mobile it will cost 2.5 to 3 Dirhams per minutes)

    • Bro I’m i Dubai. Here I have my telenor sim.. Can u please tell me that how can I active my sim here in Dubai?

  • I Am Also using ufone’s International prepaid roaming for only receiving sms. I am in saudi arabia about two years and ufone is best for prepaid IR. I am using ufone’s ir special package and i have received calls approximately 18 rupees per mint.

  • Something which is not in this post, can someone guide me about this.

    Which provider gives maximum validity period of SMS roaming on prepaid.

    In case of Warid there is no free incoming sms after 2 weeks, infact your roaming doesn’t work after 2 weeks on prepaid.

    In case of Telenor (which I haven’t experienced myself) I have heard that it is for 2 months. After that KHamoooooooooshi.

  • Seriously, what is the purpose of this post? :). Everyone knows that IR is expensive…those who “need” to use it, will use it. Those who don’t need it…won’t. So?

    I think this post could’ve been better if you had mentioned how to reduce your bill while roaming. For example, while going to UAE you could either roam on Du or on Etisalat. A certain operator, say Mobilink, would have different roaming tarriffs for both. The idea for a roamer should be to see what he/she anticipates (a higher voice usage, sms usage, incoming or outgoing etc.). Accordingly, he/she should check the tariff on all alternatives in the country you’re traveling to. This can help in reducing your bill, and keep your account up and running without disconnection.

    But this is just one advice…I think you would be better off doing R&D on this subject to make your articles more useful.

  • @Ahmed: I’m Ufone IR user and getting free SMS from pakistan for last many many months now and its never get ‘Khamosh’ :P never got charged penny for this :)

  • کیا آپ میں سے کو جانتا ہے .کسی ایسے پروگرام کے بار میں جو نوکیا موبائل میں انسٹال کرکے پاکستان مفت ایس ایم ایس ارسال کرسکے. مددکے لیے شکریہ آپ مجھےای میل کرسکتے ہیں [email protected]

  • @Ahmed try ufone or telenor (IR depends upon expiry of the sim card, if your balance expires than I think IR get blocked itself. so when there is khamoshi ask someone in Pakistan to load Rs 20 for you :-) )

    • @ Junaid, Kashif Bashir

      Thanks alot for this info, grateful I am. Kashif are you working in Dammam and engineer?


      Bhai ge, make a free account on , sms sending is free, but if u want incoming facility then that is also available with them for a small monthly fee. From mobile u can do this by going to

  • I
    am in USA, I have Ufone roaming and tried to select the network both manually & automatically but the message is “Your SIM does not allow connection to this network”. I have also restarted my phone. The local SIM (USA) is working perfectly on my phone and Ufone SIM is also not working on any other phone (Unlocked Phones). It is neither registering with T-Mobile nor AT&T Cingular. I am really getting frustrated some body please advise me.

    • Yup it works. Incoming SMS are free but incoming calls, outgoing calls and outgoing SMS are hell expensive. I made a call from my Telenor number while roaming on Etisalat and it cost me PKR 120!!! Its better to get a local SIM instead.

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