Before traveling abroad, travelers always tell family and friends that they will be hard to reach because their phones will be spending the trip on airplane mode. While some do this to maximize their vacation experience, most do it to avoid exorbitant data roaming charges. For those looking for a peaceful, communication free, trip that is totally fine. But it is entirely unnecessary for those who are trying to save money. Every major US cell phone carrier has international phone plans that are either included in the basic phone plan, or can be added for an additional fee. Despite the additional fee, they are 100% worth it. Not only do they save money when communication is necessary, but they also make traveling internationally safer. Here are the international phone plans for T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. Every traveler should consider contacting their cell provider to make sure their phones will work while abroad.
Summary of international cell phone plans offered by major US carriers
T-Mobile International Phone Plans
T-Mobile customers that have qualifying Simple Choice plans have international texting and data built into their plans. When traveling within the United States, Mexico, and Canada texting, talking, and data are all free. Outside of those three countries, there are an additional 140 countries that T-Mobile customers can access T-Mobile service. Customers not on the Simple Choice plan will have to pay per text, minute, and megabyte.
AT&T International Phone Plans
AT&T has 3 plan levels: Passport ($30), Silver ($60), Gold ($120). Unless travelers are planning on using a lot of data on the go, Passport should be sufficient for nearly everyone. The Passport international phone plan through AT&T gives travelers unlimited texting, 120 MB of data, and calls for $1/minute. Upgrading to Silver gets travelers an additional 180 MB of data for a total of 300MB and costs of phone calls drops to $.50/min. Lastly, the Gold plan gives travelers a total of 800MB of data and calls are down to $.35/min.
Verizon International Phone Plans
Verizon has 2 plan levels: basic and plus (again, these plan names were made up for the purpose of this article). The basic international phone plan costs $25/month. This plan only has 100MB of data included. Travelers are charged $.50 for every text sent, and $.05 for every text received and calls cost $1.79/minute. The plus international phone plan costs $40/month and is comparable to AT&T’s Passport plan. With the Verizon Plus international plan, travelers can send 100 text messages and receive an unlimited number of texts. This plan includes 100MB of data. While this falls short of AT&T’s unlimited texting and 120MB of data, Verizon Plus does have 100 minutes included in their monthly cost. Overages cost $.25/text, $.25/min, and $25/100 MB.
Sprint International Phone Plans
Sprint’s international phone plan is very similar to T-Mobile’s international plan. Travelers using Sprint as their cell carrier have international texting and 2G data included in their plan. Calls cost $.20/minute. For travelers who need faster data, day passes are available: 100MB for one day costs $15, 200MB for a week costs $25, and 500MB for two weeks costs $50. There are no overage charges for these day passes. Once the MB allowance has been used up, travelers are automatically switched back to unlimited 2G data.