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How to Outsmart Massive Overcharges by Czech Mobile Operators When Travelling

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“Welcome to Zone 2, where you’ll pay 61 CZK per minute for an outgoing call and 36 CZK per minute for an incoming call. SMS costs 15 CZK, MMS 12 CZK, and 1 Mb of data costs 302 CZK.

As you arrive in Bali, it’s essential to be mindful of the costs, especially when it comes to data usage. Downloading just 1 gigabyte of data, roughly equivalent to about four hours of normal video calls, could lead to a price exceeding 250 thousand CZK. Operators use various precautions to keep your bill from reaching such amounts, but the basic problem of getting mobile internet at reasonable prices persists.

Thankfully, there is a solution: a local SIM or eSIM card. Let’s understand why it can be incredibly beneficial, primarily due to the excessively high data roaming prices outside of Europe.

When traveling outside of Europe, roaming costs can be exorbitant. For instance, the pricing example we provided earlier for a popular Indonesian island is based on Vodafone’s basic World Roaming plan. The other major Czech operator, T-Mobile, offers similar tariffs. O2 tends to have slightly better rates, but even there, regular internet habits will get expensive.

Operators in European countries offer pretty much the same terms and conditions as when you connect domestically, as European law dictates. But as soon as you travel outside Europe, roaming prices become wild.

We remind you that the same rules and conditions apply in EU countries and the UK as in the Czech Republic. Check the mobile operators’ websites to find out which band or zone your destination belongs to.

O2 offers the lowest basic data tariffs outside the EU. This is mainly due to the fact that the operator includes almost all countries outside the European Union in its second zone (Top World outside the EU).

In contrast, operators T-Mobile and Vodafone place most of the world in the third category. In these countries, you will, for example, pay around 160,000 CZK to watch a feature film on Netflix. So be sure to disconnect your data in advance or connect a more favorable data plan.

Packages can help

Of course, operators know that such sums for data are absurdly high, so they offer users data packages.

Depending on the tariff, you may be able to get a slightly better deal. For example, in the aforementioned Indonesia, T-Mobile will offer you a 200 MB package for around 2,399 CZK. That’s very expensive, but cheaper than default roaming. Vodafone in Indonesia offers 500 MB for 199 CZK per day.

Packages usually have to be activated on your own, they have a limited validity period, and if you don’t use them, the rest of the purchased data is gone. In addition, you still have to keep track of how much data you use and when your limit expires. Once you use up your prepaid package, the high prices of the prime rate will kick in.

The solution to expensive data is a local SIM card and eSIM

Fortunately, you can get around the pricing quirks of Czech operators. The best way to avoid high internet prices abroad is to take advantage of special data services offered by local operators.

This used to mean buying a local SIM card when you arrived at your new destination and using it throughout your stay. Good data packages – sometimes even unlimited – can be bought for hundreds of CZK.

Here’s an offer from one of Indonesia’s operators specifically for tourists. For about 220 CZK you get 25 GB of data. The condition for buying a SIM card is to take a photo of your passport and cell phone serial number.

Special tourist cards are suitable for short trips. But if you stay abroad for a long time, it makes sense to buy a classic tariff designed for the local market. Just make sure you don’t sign up for any regular payments.

The downside of this solution is that you’ll have to familiarize yourself with local offers, which may not make sense to foreigners. They may be time-limited or come with additional requirements. With some phones, you will also have to physically change SIM cards every time you want to check if someone has called your Czech number.

eSIM services are becoming increasingly popular because they eliminate many of these disadvantages. An eSIM is not tied to a physical location, so it can be installed and used anywhere. For example, the Airalo website offers a disposable eSIM for almost any country in the world.

With this eSIM, you can sign up for a data connection at prices thousands of times lower than Czech roaming rates. Here’s what the offer for Indonesia looks like: you can choose from 1GB for $5.50 (120 CZK) to 20GB for $40 (870 CZK).

Obviously, the eSIM for data comes out significantly cheaper. And not just in the US, but in almost all countries outside of Europe. Also, you don’t have to physically insert anything into your phone. You can buy an eSIM from an online store, use the Airalo app to download it to your phone, and then follow the instructions to activate it.

What do I need to know about eSIM?

Not every phone supports eSIM technology. Before you buy an eSIM, make sure your phone can work with it.

iPhones released starting in 2018 (XR, XS, 11, and newer) can work with eSIM.

On Android phones, make sure SIM management is available in your internet and connectivity settings and the option to add a loaded SIM is enabled.

A loaded eSIM does not necessarily have to have its own phone number. As a general rule, you cannot make phone calls through data cards.

You can load multiple SIMs and eSIMs at the same time and choose which one to use for calls and which one to use for data.

In addition to Airalo, Nomad also offers similar regional and local eSIM services. A great comparison of the various eSIM card offerings can be found at For avid data users, Holafly is a good fit, as the service charges for unlimited data transfer for a certain period of time.

For a week of unlimited data in Indonesia, you’ll pay just $27 (about 590 CZK) through eSIM Holafly.

It should be added that activating eSIM is not quite intuitive for a beginner. So follow the app’s instructions very carefully, step by step. After installation, check in your phone settings that you have indeed disabled data roaming for your SIM card and will only use the new eSIM to connect to the mobile internet.

Review all settings carefully to make sure your eSIM is set up for data, is the default mobile data option, and has data roaming enabled. You should also disable data roaming on your original SIM card.

You can leave your original SIM card in your phone and use it for calls or SMS. This is especially useful if you have two-factor authentication installed on your phone.

This way, the new eSIM will only be used for data and only while you are abroad. If you are careful, the Czech operator will not earn a penny on your internet usage.”

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