By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You’ve probably heard the horror stories — $1,000 here, $3,000 there — all because smartphone users didn’t deal with their data plan before taking the device out of the country. There are a number of ways to prevent bill shock.

On most standard wireless plans, international roaming is insanely expensive.

“Make sure to turn off roaming and background data on your phone. We’re talking at least a dollar a minute for phone calls and up to $20/mb for data.”

Sascha Segan, the lead analyst for mobile at, says even leaving mail or maps open in the background or using GPS across the border can rack up freak out-worthy fees.

“If you make sure your phone doesn’t connect to the cellular network, for instance, keep in it airplane mode, you can still use the WiFi on your phone in hotspots, but it won’t connect to those expensive cellular networks and you won’t see those $1,000 bills.”

And, he says, some providers here allow international SIM cards to be slipped in when you’re traveling “from a third party company like Telestial or OneSIMCard that can really bring down those rates.”

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