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June 5, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:32am

5 ways to avoid data roaming charges at the Brazil World Cup

Travelling to Brazil for the World Cup? Here’s how to keep your mobile costs down.

By Joe Curtis

Going to the World Cup makes for an expensive holiday. First of all there’s the flights to Brazil, and the ticket itself – not cheap even if you’re watching one of the less exciting fixtures this summer.

But even ignoring food, accommodation and drink, there’s still the question of mobile tariffs. These days, all mobile operators have a cut-off limit once you’ve spent the equivalent of €50 (£40) wherever in the world you travel.

But while they send notifications to warn you when you reach 80%, then 100% of that limit, that’s still an awful lot of money to burn through.

Besides, data is addictive and plenty have been hit with crazy bills because they decided to use it for a bit longer.

Here’s five ways to avoid having your World Cup holiday spoiled by a hefty bill.

Get a data package

Check with your operator how much it will cost to use your phone in Brazil. Often they can offer you a data roaming package that will cut your costs (though be sure to check how much it will cost if you go over the limit).

Turn off data roaming

It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. Apps can download updates without your knowledge and you’d be surprised at the number of applications you leave open on your tablet that are secretly guzzling data.

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You won’t be informed that you’re approaching your data limit until you hit 80% of your allowance, so you can easily burn through £40 you haven’t budgeted for if you get carried away.


Buy a SIM card

You can either buy a local SIM when you land to dial numbers inside the country, or mobile phone credit to make calls on a pay-as-you-go basis locally. Remember: these work for internal calls, and won’t help you make a phone call home. They’re available from any newsagent you see.

Your other option here is to buy a SIM at home before you travel. offers a variety of bundles up to 15GB data, claiming to cut your costs by as much as 90% compared to some tariffs. However, it does tie you in for a 30-day plan (from £70 upwards) so might not be a good option for a short-term stay.

Use Wi-Fi!

Plenty of cafes and hotels provide Wi-Fi that is just waiting to be used. Just make sure you use the free ones.

Don’t check your voicemail

Got a message from your mate wondering why you’re not picking up your phone? Don’t listen to it! If someone really needs you, they can get you over email (which you will pick up on Wi-Fi). Voicemail seems innocent, but it’ll cost you a bomb.


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