January 23, 2017
Before traveling to Spain, I originally intended get a local sim card. I never thought I would leave AT&T again, but T-Mobile offered such a great international plan I had to give it a try. Update: After 87 days in Europe, it worked perfectly for international travel with my U.S. number, but I didn’t keep it when I returned.
Basically, I can keep my U.S. number and use my phone almost anywhere in the world. Voice, text and data are unlimited for $70/mo. When out of the U.S., the data is reduced to 2G speed. CORRECTION: I was told incorrectly – only text and data are unlimited for the international plan. Use something like Skype on wi-fi if you need to make a voice call.
I added the Plus option for an extra $25/mo for high speed data out of U.S./GoGo in-flight perks/video streaming and hot spot usage. I was willing to wait for the slower speeds, but the websites actually kept timing out. Note: The Plus option can only be added/removed on the same billing cycle as the T-Mobile One plan and is not pro-rated.
This plan required a credit check. They used Transunion for my application.
On my layover through London Heathrow, I had service through EE, and in Spain I’ve had service through Movistar, Vodafone and Orange. There were no connectivity issues at all and as much as I hate this word – it really has been seamless.
Keeping my U.S. number has also been handy for websites that want to text a dual authentication code. And of course, easy for friends and business associates to keep in touch. Just don’t forget to set your privacy hours if on a different time zone!
I already owned an unlocked iPhone, so all I had to do was change the sim card. Also, I saved $160 the first week with T-Mobile through a $150 special for changing carriers, and a Tuesday special for a $2 movie ticket through Fandango.
I had some trepidation about how this would work, but T-Mobile is a great solution for the international traveler.
Update: Although T-Mobile is untouchable for their international plan, their domestic U.S. plans are significantly higher than AT&T. So depending on your travel habits, this will probably be the deciding factor for your carrier choice.
Additional info for Alaska residents:
- There are no T-Mobile stores or re-sellers in Alaska
- T-Mobile cannot issue new phone numbers with the Alaska 907 area code.
- T-Mobile cannot issue new numbers with any other area code to Alaska residents.
- The ONLY way an Alaska resident can get T-Mobile service is to transfer their current number from another carrier.
- If you grab a sim card from a store in the lower 48 while you research the T-Mobile plans, know that they recycle the sim numbers after 30 days if not activated. (Mine was a bit over 30 days but thankfully was still available.)
- T-Mobile will mail a sim card to Alaska residents for an additional charge.
- T-Mobile’s cellular partner in Alaska is GCI.
Graphic: courtesy of T-Mobile.