How to Save Money on Your Cell Phone Plan While Traveling Internationally
Traveling abroad typically requires a decent amount of planning, from packing for the weather to ensuring your credit card companies are notified that you will be abroad so you can continue to make purchases. Don’t let your cell phone fall low on your travel checklist: Get the most of your cell usage with your carrier while possibly saving a little money.
Some carriers will charge you additional international data and minute usage fees while you travel abroad. It’s best practice to call your cell phone carrier prior to your trip to see what plans they have available that would save you the most money based on your anticipated usage while abroad.
Don’t come back home from your amazing trip with a huge cell phone bill. Plan ahead to save money.
To help you plan for your next trip, we put together a list of major U.S. cell phone carriers and their international usage plans.
For Verizon plan holders, a helpful tool is the International Trip Planner, which allows you to input your account information and verify your location’s international options. You can check if your phone may already have capabilities for your travel destination, but if not, you can customize a plan by minutes, data, and texts you intend to use. Moreover, the Trip Planner actually allows you to put in your destination and length of stay, see if your cell will work abroad based on data used, and gives options for upgrading. There is even a feature that lets you see how much data you would need to send a certain number of emails, view web pages, and stream audio and video.
- For trips to Mexico and Canada, you can add TravelPass for $5 a day per device to take your domestic data allowance with you while only being charged charged for each 24-hour period you use it. It’s as simple as texting TRAVEL to 4004. For other countries, it is $10 per day.
- They also offer rates for usage on cruise trips.
Similar to Verizon, AT&T is another popular phone carrier that has various packages for international phone usage. You can view a comprehensive list of AT&T “Passport” Countries that categorize which countries are included in which international phone packages. In terms of pricing, AT&T breaks it down into three packages:
- AT&T International Day Pass: For $10 per day, you can enjoy unlimited talk and text, as well as the capability to use the data in your domestic plan. You are only charged for each 24-hour period you activate it, but verify that your travel destination is included on this plan.
- AT&T Passport: For a one-time charge of $40, your talk, text and data can be used in over 200 countries and it will last for a 30-day period. If you are planning to use your phone abroad for more than four days, this plan is definitely the better bang for your buck.
- Pay-Per-Use: This plan will require some serious tracking, as you are charged $2.05 per MB, but it does not lock you into any package and it can be used in locations that either aforementioned plan doesn’t cover.
T-Mobile is another carrier that not only allows you to search what is included in a plan by location, but gives an extensive list of Calling Rates over dozens of locations. It is a tad more confusing to navigate the available options, but you’re able to input your account information and destination to see what your current plan covers and add from there. There are a number of international options to mix and match.
For example, if you are traveling to Italy, T-Mobile ONE and Simple Choice plans include unlimited data and text, but $0.20 per minute for calls. You can even add on-demand passes for both plans to have the same high-speed internet you do in the states.
- T-Mobile ONE Prepaid Plan: This applies to the U.S., Canada and Mexico: You have unlimited calling and texting capability and use of whatever data is available through your current plan.
- Simple Choice Plan: For $5 extra a month, you can add this to your ONE plan for international roaming.
- Pay in Advance/No Credit Check Plans are excluded from global phone options. T-Mobile requires a credit check to access this coverage.
Lastly, if you want to communicate with other people who are in the same country you’re traveling in, consider purchasing a SIM card in your destination country, adding as much phone data and minutes as you want to connect with others in your travel location. If you are heading out of town for an extended period of time, you can also purchase a separate, unlocked phone and a SIM card meant for international usage. It will likely be very basic; no smartphones unless you want to shell out the big bucks, but it will keep you from using your personal cell phone and changing your cell plan.
There are many options for using your phone abroad, or you can completely disconnect and immerse yourself in the location.
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