At its core, data roaming is about your mobile phone’s ability to access data services, be it web browsing, emailing, or app usage outside your carrier’s standard coverage zone. This occurs when your device connects to another network that we have a partnership with. This partnership ensures you stay connected, whether you’re traveling or in areas where your carrier doesn’t have strong coverage. Nevertheless, it’s important to be aware that the type of plan you have may translate to additional charges for data roaming.

Why is my phone roaming?

Roaming isn’t random. When your phone indicates it’s roaming, it’s because you’ve stepped out of your primary carrier’s standard coverage zone, prompting your phone to link with another network. Here’s a more detailed look at situations that may lead to additional roaming fees:

  1. Traveling Internationally: As you journey across borders, the Ultra network might be unavailable, nudging your phone to synchronize with a network local to your travel destination.
  2. Remote or Rural Areas: In more secluded areas, where you might be outside the Ultra network, your device will seek out and connect to a stronger local network.
  3. Network Congestion: At times, dense network traffic may cause your device to switch to an alternate network to maintain a good connection.
  4. Network Maintenance or Outages: Like all tech infrastructures, we periodically undergo maintenance or face occasional disruptions. During these times, roaming ensures you’re not left offline.
Chart showing the difference between International Roaming versus Domestic Roaming

What is International Roaming?

Venturing overseas with your phone? That’s where international roaming comes into play.  Fear not, your device will connect with a local, partnered network. However, it’s important to remember that charges for international roaming can differ from your standard plan. 

What is Domestic Roaming?

This is all about ensuring connectivity within your home turf. Say you’re trekking in a region that doesn’t have the strongest Ultra service – your phone will connect to an alternate domestic network to keep you online. While typically more wallet-friendly than its international counterpart, it pays to stay informed about any potential domestic roaming charges.

Should data roaming be on or off?

Your decision to toggle data roaming on or off hinges on several considerations:

  1. Location: If you’re traveling internationally and don’t have an international roaming package, it’s wise to turn off data roaming to avoid unexpected charges.
  2. Roaming Charges: At Ultra Mobile, we’ve got plans with built-in international roaming, making it cost-effective to keep roaming on. But you can always check our rates just to be sure.
  3. Necessity: If you need continuous access to data services, especially when traveling, keeping data roaming on would be super helpful.
  4. Wi-Fi Availability: If you’re in an area with reliable Wi-Fi, you can turn off data roaming and use Wi-Fi for your internet needs.

It’s essential to know your needs and understand your mobile plan. When in doubt, keep data roaming off and only turn it on when necessary, ensuring you’re always in control of your data usage and costs.

5 steps detailing how to turn on international roaming with toggle buttons on and off

How to turn on International Roaming on iPhone

Turning on data roaming on your iPhone is simple:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone
  2. Tap on Cellular or Mobile Data (the naming may vary depending on the region)
  3. Toggle on the Cellular Data option
  4. Tap on Cellular Data Options or Mobile Data Options
  5. Toggle on Data Roaming

Your iPhone should now be set to roam whenever you’re outside Ultra’s service area.

How to turn on International Roaming on Android

It’s just as easy to turn on roaming on Android:

  1. Open the Settings app on your Android phone
  2. Tap on Connections or Network & Internet
  3. Select Mobile Network or Cellular Networks
  4. Toggle on or check the box for Data Roaming

Your Android will now use roaming whenever you happen to be outside Ultra’s service area.

Does data roaming cost money?

Roaming, particularly when traveling abroad, can bring about added fees. When you roam, you’re tapping into a network outside Ultra Mobile’s primary coverage, which might have its own set of charges. Here are factors that typically influence these charges:

  1. Ultra Mobile’s specific roaming partnerships
  2. The destination country or region you’re in
  3. The Ultra Mobile plan you’re on

When you’re traveling abroad, rest assured we make it as easy and accessible as possible to check our rates for any country or destination. Plus, enjoy free calling and texting in Mexico and Canada on all Ultra Mobile plans!

It’s also important to consider domestic compatibility. We recommend checking the compatibility of your device within the U.S. to ensure you’re covered and to avoid any unexpected domestic roaming charges.

Chart showing the difference between wifi calling versus data roaming

Wi-Fi Calling vs. Data Roaming

Both Wi-Fi calling and data roaming allow you to stay connected when outside the Ultra network. However, there are some differences:

  • Wi-Fi Calling: Uses a Wi-Fi network to make and receive calls, send and receive texts or use data. It’s often free when connected to a home or public Wi-Fi, making it a super cost-effective choice when traveling abroad.
  • Data Roaming: Allows you to use your mobile data when outside the Ultra coverage area. It relies on the networks of other carriers, which can lead to additional charges.

While data roaming is beneficial when no Wi-Fi is available, using Wi-Fi Calling when possible can help avoid any potential roaming charges.

How to avoid data roaming charges

  1. Pre-Add Roaming Credit: If you know you’ll be traveling soon and want to get more data a few weeks or months before your trip, you can add International Roaming Credit to your Ultra Mobile account via your online account or in the Ultra Mobile App.
  1. Connect to Wi-Fi: Whenever it’s available, connect to Wi-Fi to cut down on mobile data usage.
  1. Use Wi-Fi Calling: When connected to Wi-Fi, utilize Wi-Fi Calling to text and call U.S. numbers without incurring extra charges.
  1. Download Essentials: While on Wi-Fi, download important items like maps, music, or videos so you won’t need to use your data later.
  1. Monitor Data Usage: Regularly check how much data you’re using to avoid unexpected costs.
  1. Disable Background Data: Turn off apps from using data in the background to preserve your data allowance.
  1. Activate Airplane Mode: Use airplane mode to prevent any background data use when you don’t need to be online.
  1. Consider a Local SIM Card: If you’re traveling internationally and reliable Wi-Fi is unlikely, think about buying a local SIM card to avoid roaming charges.
  1. Use UpRoam Credit: For more flexibility, add International Roaming Credit in $5, $10, or $20 increments with Ultra Mobile’s UpRoam Credit.

Dive into Ultra Mobile’s international roaming perks and so much more by checking out our plans below, and see how we’re geared to give you more for less on your global adventures.