Rent a Cheap Mobile Hotspot for Overseas Travel

Last Updated May 25, 2010 2:27 PM EDT

Regular Business Hacks readers know of our love for the MiFi card, the pocket-friendly 3G modem that doubles as a Wi-Fi router.

Just one problem: Take it overseas and the roaming data charges will likely cost you a fortune. A better bet, particularly for those who don't already own a MiFi, is renting one.

Xcom Global rents Novatel MiFi cards for $17.95 per day, a rate that includes unlimited data connectivity in 21 countries.

That may seem a little steep, but think about it: It's not uncommon to spend $10 per day or more for Wi-Fi connectivity in a U.S. hotel. Here you're getting a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can connect up to five devices simultaneously, one that works internationally.

It's unclear from the company's site just how the billing works, but I'm guessing you're charged for every day you're in possession of the rented MiFi, not just the days you use it.

Even so, I've heard horror stories about overseas travelers racking up massive mobile-phone bills (hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars), usually because they didn't know the roaming rates were so high. Comparatively speaking, this is a drop in the bucket.

Keep in mind, too, that if you use Skype, Truphone, or another voice-over-IP-powered app on your smartphone, you can call home for pennies -- another potentially huge savings. Kinda makes me wish I had an overseas trip planned, just so I could rent a MiFi. [via jkOnTheRun]

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.