Depending on your company’s policy, you might find expense reimbursement for mobile phone bills to be one of the most contentious topics for expense approval.  Most companies have a cap on what they will reimburse each month, and it’s not unusual for employees to accidentally get hit with a bill that is way beyond what they expected. 

According to an article on, “The FCC has found that one in six mobile phone users have experienced bill shock, or unexpected fees tacked onto their monthly bills, and 23 percent of those users have faced unexpected charges of $100 or more.”

The biggest sticker shocks are usually the result of data usage when you’re traveling outside of the United States.  As Xigo points out, watching one movie on your device can run up a bill of $2,400!

Cell phone carriers give users tools to help avoid these unintended charges.  First, you can simply turn off “Data Roaming” (the second check box on the Android screen shown here).  If you do need to access email and texts, you can call your carrier to subscribe to one of their international roaming plans.  Most carriers will turn on the international plan with one day’s notice.  Depending on the plan, you can ask for an email or text notification if you get close to your data limit.  Remember that simple text emails don’t use up much of your data plan, but pictures and videos will quickly bring you up to or over your limits.

Text messages are often priced separately from other data usage.  If you’re traveling overseas with family, it may be time to warn your teenagers that every text message is at a premium.

If you manage these expenses for your company, be sure to set up compliance rules in your expense report software to watch mobile phone bills and ensure that your policy is enforced.


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