December 14, 2015


With Christmas and New Years only a few days away, South Africans are beginning to hit the beach and go on holiday. Are you however concerned that you will arrive back from your overseas holiday to a massive Cell Phone Bill Shock?

For this reason, Tariffic has devoted its latest edition of the Tariffic “Perfect Package Tracker” for 2015 to the various rates you pay, on your South African SIM card, as you travel abroad.

Tariffic’s “Perfect Package Tracker” continues to use Tshepo, Susanne, Chris, and Howard, as they head off to the United States, England, Mauritius, and Thailand for their respective holidays.

Tariffic constantly analyses the South African cellular market, so that it can help businesses and consumers save on their cell phone bills. Tariffic performs this analysis by using its sophisticated software to match cell phone users with the cheapest tariff plans and bundles, according to their behaviour.

Findings from Tariffic’s Perfect Package Tracker – The Overseas Edition

  • Best network for travels to the United States: MTN
  • Best network for travels to England: MTN
  • Best network for travels to Mauritius: MTN
  • Best network for travels to Thailand: Vodacom
  • Overall best network for overseas travels: MTN
  • Cheapest international calling from South Africa: Cell C
  • Best roaming rates (calling, sending SMSs, using data): Vodacom and MTN
  • Best network for receiving calls from SA while traveling: MTN

10 Top Travel Tips

Tariffic has also suggested 10 Top Travel Tips to keep in mind to avoid Overseas Bill Shock this holiday:

1) Not all roaming networks are created equal

It is important for you to research which networks will be the cheapest to roam on when you are overseas and manually connect to the cheapest networks when you land. Roaming rates in some cases vary drastically depending on which network your phone automatically connects to upon arrival in a country overseas. For example, if Tshepo, with an MTN SIM while roaming in the United States, connects to AT&T, she’ll pay a cool R1/MB for data roaming, but if she happens to connect to the T-Mobile network, she’ll pay a massive R225/MB for data roaming!

2) Don’t use data roaming unless you absolutely have to

While some countries have more favourable data roaming rates, others, like Thailand will cost you anywhere between R120.27/MB on Telkom to R300.00/MB on MTN. So a couple of Instagram sessions for Howard could easily cost a few thousand rand! It is best to rather turn off data roaming when its not 100% necessary and rather connect to WiFi networks where available.

3) Save money by buying a local SIM card when you land

Try buy a local prepaid SIM card when you land which will be much more affordable when making local calls and using local data while overseas. It may be worth considering a dual SIM phone if you travel often so that you can still receive calls on your South African number but can make calls and use data with a local SIM.

4) Try not to make local calls with your South African SIM card

Some networks have fairly competitive rates for local calls while overseas, such as Cell C’s R1.87/min rate in the United States, but it is often very expensive to make a local call with your South African SIM card with calls in Thailand for example costing R15/min on MTN. Rather try connect to a local WiFi hotspot and make free calls using Skype, Whatsapp, or Facebook calling.

5) Beware of answering incoming calls

Answering calls from South Africa can become a very costly exercise while you’re traveling with rates as high as R27.64/min to receive a call in England if you’re on Cell C. Rather notify your friends, family, and colleagues that you’ll be away and ask them to rather SMS or Whatsapp you.

6) Turn off voicemail when travelling abroad

Did you know that if you’re overseas and someone calls your phone and leaves a voicemail message, then you’ll pay for that call? This becomes really expensive when you consider that you’ll pay international calling rates for that call, so if Chris is on Telkom and receives a one minute long voicemail message while he’s in Mauritius, it could cost him R14.23.

7) Save money with roaming deals

Many of the networks now offer roaming deals, which give you access to cheaper roaming rates in certain countries, for free or for a daily fee. Examples of this include Vodacom’s Travel Saver and MTN’s Roam Like Home.

8) Rather receive a call from South Africa than call South Africa from overseas

Want to speak to loved ones in SA while you’re overseas? It often works out much cheaper to receive a call from overseas than it is to call from overseas to South Africa. For example, it could cost you R23.50/min to call South Africa from America on Vodacom, but will only cost R6/min to receive a call from South Africa.

9) Rather use WhatsApp on WiFi than SMS

SMS rates vary from country to country with MTN’s rates ranging from R1/SMS (if you’re in the US), to R7.50 (if you’re in Thailand), so a quick convo between Howard and his bae can add up pretty quickly. Just think that a few emoticons could land up easily costing him over R100! Rather use Whatsapp than SMS.

10) Find the perfect cell phone contract based on your travels

If you consider yourself a global jetsetter, then get in touch with Tariffic where we can analyse how you use your phone to scientifically find the perfect cell phone package for you based on your lifestyle. This will include the best package to make international calls based on your previous usage. We’re saving companies and consumers up to 50% on their cell phone bills, so let us do the same for you.




Susanne works in public relations and will be travelling to the UK in December for a business-trip after which she’ll be staying with some friends in London for Christmas. Susanne is expected to be on her phone 24/7 and will be emailing, SMSing, and calling (both locally and to South Africa) on a regular basis. She’ll also be receiving quite a few work calls on her South African number.


Chris is a banker working in financial services, and will be taking his wife, Suzelle, and 3 kids to the beaches of Mauritius for 2 weeks this December. He’ll be checking emails daily and will probably need to make a few international calls back to the office.


Tshepo is a student at a prestigious Johannesburg high school and will be travelling to the US with her family. Her parents will be taking Tshepo and her sister, Zanele, sightseeing in New York and visiting Disney World in Florida. Tshepo’s parents are encouraging her to do all her Facebook-ing over WiFi (where available) but she will be calling her friends to check in on their holidays.


Howard is a post-graduate university student who will be travelling with 6 mates to Thailand in December. He’ll be pretty much Instagram-ing his way through Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, and Koh Panyang so will be expecting to use a fortune of data. He may also need to send some SMSs to his friends and family back home in SA.


The South African cellular market is incredibly complex and the fact is that most people are spending far more than they should on costly cell phone contracts that generally don’t suit their needs. Between Vodacom, Cell C, MTN and Telkom, there are over 10 000 different combinations of cell phone contracts and add-on bundles and its almost impossible for ordinary South African cell phone users to choose the contracts and bundles that actually suit their needs… or their pockets.

At Tariffic, we understand that everyone is unique and that everyone uses their cell phones in their own individual way. It is for this reason that we focus our Tracker on four unique users with their own unique usage patterns. Using our proprietary software we scientifically calculate which packages would be best for each user and how much those packages would cost. We call this tariff optimisation. This quarter, we have shown the best options for each user on the best network, with the remaining columns showing the best package & bundle combinations on each MVNO.

We optimise many different users every quarter, utilising the exact same parameters each time. We then select four users whose change in recommendations best encapsulate the changes to the cellular market over the period. Doing this allows our Tracker to function as a gauge of the South African cellular landscape, identifying how the cellular market is improving or deteriorating for consumers over time.

We hope that this tracking index will shine some light on the complex cellular market and inform consumers how they should be saving money and selecting their packages.

This is Tariffic’s third Perfect Package Tracker of 2015 and it’s designed to measure the real effects price and package changes in South Africa’s postpaid cellular market. The Tracker does this by using Tariffic’s proprietary tariff optimisation software to look at the perfect packages for four distinct users each quarter, and then shed some light on the results.


Tariffic’s optimisations are performed using our award-winning software, which analyses cell phone bills. Tariffic is able to look at a person’s current monthly spend along with exactly how that person uses their phone, in order to calculate what their spend would look like on each network, with the optimal contract/package and bundle combination.

Tariffic’s optimisations tests what a person’s bill would look like on all the different packages and bundle combinations out there and in this way is able to calculate exactly what a cell phone bill would come to each month, taking into account the costs of subscriptions and bundles, as well as the cost of usage over and above subscription (out of bundle spend).

Tariffic’s optimisations do not expect a person to change how they use their phone, as it is based on their own actual historical usage patterns.

Tariffic optimises without a cell phone in mind so that we match a person’s usage to the most cost effective contracts, taking all the complex call rates and tariffs into account. In this Tracker we show the total monthly cost of each recommended package and assume that on each package users would be taking a phone that does not require any additional pay in. It must be noted that when a person takes a more expensive phone, not automatically supported by a package, this increases the monthly subscriptions. In order to make the recommendations as comparable as possible, Tariffic has excluded all handset subsidies (also known as a Connection Incentive Bonus, or CIB) from its calculations to ensure that we’re analysing packages on a like-for-like basis.

Tariffic does not recommend any ‘deals’ that some service providers may be offering (including SIM-only deals) and instead recommends base tariffs only. Tariffic does not take “night-surfer” or any discounted data rates into account for data contracts. Tariffic will only recommend packages from South Africa’s four networks. Tariffic includes an amortised connection fee where applicable and estimates CIB values where they are not available. Note that Tariffic’s recommendations do not take network quality into account and are purely based on price alone.

The following notes are applicable to this quarter’s tracker:

  • Tariffic selected the most popular local network in each country, or the local networks that were available for across the South African providers, to analyse roaming rates for. Note that it may be possible for users to receive cheaper rates than those outlined in this Perfect Package Tracker by connecting to other networks in the country. Users should consult with their Service Provider to make sure you’re aware of all rates on all networks.
  • Tariffic did not take into account deals, which are often very beneficial when roaming, such as Vodacom’s Travel Saver and MTN’s Roam Like Home.
  • Tariffic gathered the rates listed in the Tracker through the service providers’ websites and by calling call centres.
  • Telkom’s website did not list certain rates for some countries considered, and so the “Other” option was selected for these countries’ rates.


Tariffic was founded in 2011 to help consumers and businesses save money on their cellphone bills. Tariffic’s mission is to help cellphone users save money by helping them be on the right package, with the right bundles, according to their exact usage.

Tariffic’s award-winning software has been recognised as a unique innovation on an international scale. In 2012 Tariffic was awarded a Support Program for Industrial Innovation (SPII) Grant for global innovation by the Department of Trade & Industry deeming components of its software a world first. In 2013 Tariffic was invited to the Enterprise Technology Show to present and discuss its global innovation, and in 2014 Tariffic was a finalist in Microsoft’s Start Up Tel-Aviv competition and a guest at the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa’s prestigious Innovation Summit, to name a few accolades. Tariffic is also a member of Microsoft’s BizSpark and BizSpark+ programmes. Tariffic has also been showcased in various industry publications and websites.

Tariffic is partly owned by Saicom Holdings. The Saicom group of companies are leaders in business telecommunication, largely focusing on telephony systems for corporate clients, VoIP operators, and international Telco carriers. Through its subsidiaries, including Saicom Voice Services and Saicom Technology, Saicom have rolled out telecommunications solutions to government departments, municipalities, financial institutions, and some of the largest call centres and corporations around South Africa and the African continent.

We can help you save up to 40% off your corporate cellphone spend

Find out more
  • Archives:
  • No articles have been archived yet

Have a topic you'd like us to look into?

Please get in touch.