ON THE ROAD AGAIN – I’m rattling down the Garden State Parkway out of busy Newark Airport for a trip to New Jersey and New York City. It’s a confusing roadway with tolls and overlapping lanes and changes in direction, so I open the Google Maps app on my iPhone and head on down the road, feeling a bit of Bruce Springsteen in me.
A couple days later I need to find the address for the Circle Line boat tour group that takes you out on the Hudson and East Rivers for great views of New York City. No problem.
The next day I need directions to a great pizza place I’d heard about on Stone Street in lower Manhattan. Boom, I call up the map and follow the directions, again without having to worry about expensive roaming charges.
We Canadians love to travel. A recent survey found that one-third of us plan to visit the U.S. this summer and almost 10 per cent of us will head to Europe. Ninety per cent of us will take our smartphones with us.
Roaming with a smartphone outside Canada can be expensive. But I’ve used Rogers’ Roam Like Home for several years, and it’s wonderful. For $5 Cdn. for 24 hours (an important distinction I’ll get to in a minute) I can use the phone and a great deal of data (Roam Like Home gives you full access to your regular data bucket while roaming, not a specified amount of data) and don’t need to worry abut big charges on my bill when I get home.
The Roam Like Home package also provides unlimited calling and messaging within the U.S. and to all Canadian numbers. Not only that, Rogers caps your maximum payment at 10 days, so even if you’re in the U.S. for three weeks you will only pay for 10 days of coverage at $5 per day, not 21 days. That’s a big savings.
Roam Like Home is available in more than 100 other destinations, including most countries in Europe, Asia and New Zealand/Australia, for $10 per day. But for this story I’m concentrating on the U.S. and my visit to the New York City area.
One thing I didn’t realize until recently is that not all companies use a 24-hour clock to calculate roaming charges. According to the folks at Rogers, only they and Telus offer coverage on a 24-hour basis. But the one from Telus is $7 for 24 hours, not $5 like Rogers. Bell, they said, charges customers $5 per day, even if they’re only in a destination for part of a day. Which can mean money out of your pocket.
Here’s an example of what sounds like a typical visit to New York City, like the one I just finished.
You travel from Toronto (or Montreal or Calgary) to New York for a weekend trip and use your roaming package. You use 358 MB of data over 48 hours and three calendar days.
You land in the U.S. at 6 p.m. on a Friday and start roaming, using 100 MB of data by 11:59 p.m. At midnight on Saturday morning, the Bell customer is charged another $5 as it’s a new day on the calendar.
You hang out in Brooklyn on Saturday and use another 158 MB of data searching for that perfect cocktail bar or sushi restaurant and checking directions so you don’t end up in Queens or Hoboken. With Bell, Roam Better gives a customer 100 MB per day. To use more data, you have to buy another 100 MB for another $5, valid only for the remainder of that day.
At 6 p.m. on Saturday you’ll start a new 24-hour period with Telus for another $7, or with Rogers for $5.
At midnight on Sunday morning, Bell will charge you another $5 because it’s a new day on the calendar. You use another 100 MB of data that day and head for home at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Total it up and you’ve spent $10 for your Rogers coverage, $14 for Telus and $20 for Bell (twice what Rogers customers would pay). That’s a substantial difference.
Which is why I’m happy to be a Rogers Roam Like Home guy. It’s not perfect – no system is – but it provides tremendous value and flexibility when I go to New York for a weekend. Or to New Zealand for a week.
NOTE: I’ve been a Rogers customer for many years and use Roam Like Home when I travel. I collaborated with Rogers on this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.