IMPORTANT UPDATE: This offer has now ended, and this guide has been left for archive purposes only.
Head abroad with your mobile phone in tow and it's likely you'll face a large bill on your arrival home. That's because making AND receiving calls outside the UK can cost up to a staggering £1/minute.
Yet if you're heading to Europe, Australia or New Zealand between now and 31 August 2009, there's a trick for everyone to slash the cost of calls and texts back home, or even get them free.
From now until 31 August this summer, a Vodafone promotion effectively allows ANYONE to make calls or send texts home (or receive calls) from most European or Australasian countries at UK calling rates.
The Vodafone Passport scheme is free to join and usually allows its customers to make and receive calls when abroad at UK calls rates plus 75p connection per call (or up to 29p per text) - but this Summer it's dropping the connection fees. That means you can call at UK call costs, even using your inclusive minutes and texts if you have them.
Although the scheme is free, you MUST proactively sign-up to it.
Contract customers: Should text 'Passport' to 97888.
Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) customers: Should text 'Passport' to 2345.
It's easy to save too. Currently you can get a free Vodafone PAYG Sim and simply put it in your phone while you're away, effectively acting as a Vodafone customer. Though, of course, it will mean you're on a different number than normal (though you can always switch it to and fro with your normal Sim when needed).
Here's a step-by-step guide:
Check if your handset's unlocked. To be able to switch Sim cards you need an unlocked mobile handset (see the Mobile Unlocking guide). If you can't unlock your current phone, try putting the Sim in an old handset (this may even be more convenient as then your usual number will still be active to receive calls in your current mobile).
Order a FREE Vodafone PAYG Sim. These are free, and you can top up at £5 and then pay 20p/call (inc. to mobiles) and 10p/text.
Or for much better value, top up by £10 with a Vodafone 'Freedom Pack' and then you'll get 100 mins of calls and 300 texts, though the allowance will expire after 30 days.
Which option you chose depends on how much you'll use.
Sign up to the free Passport scheme. Put the Sim in the back of your phone here in the UK, then follow the guide for existing customers above.
Use the Vodafone Sim when abroad this summer. Switch the Sim into your handset when abroad, then you're on the Vodafone tariff.
Don't top up again. The beauty of PAYG is you can let it lapse once you don't need it (though in some circumstances, even without this offer, the Passport scheme is a good deal, so you may want to keep the Sim for the future).
Ensure you're on a Vodafone network when you touch foreign soil. To get the special Passport rates you need to make sure you're on a Vodafone or Vodafone partner network. When you arrive in a new country your phone will scan for local networks and might not pick a Vodafone one.
However you can manually pick the network you want to use. You'll usually find the option to switch networks under: settings, connectivity, then select network; though it will differ for each handset. See a list of Vodafone's partner networks in each country.
Don't use this for mobile data.
While it cuts the costs of calls and texts this doesn't reduce the cost of using the web abroad, as with all network's that's very expensive: £5 for 15Mb.
In which countries can the passport scheme be used?
The full press release about this promotion is here: Vodafone Passport.
The countries included are:
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroes, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Isle of Man, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Vatican City, New Zealand and Australia.
If you're visiting any other destination, or travelling after 31 August, read the Mobile Roaming guide for full information on how to slash your costs too.
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