International cell phone roaming charges can quickly get out of control when touring abroad. Even for the most conservative and savvy users, the costs can be astronomical. The constant search for WiFi ,specifically good WiFi, to keep costs down abroad can be very time consuming and down right frustrating to say the least! After being fed up with large phone bills I accrued every time I went on tour abroad, which is typically about half the year, I did some research and found, at least for me, the best all around cell phone solution. I made a switch to T-Mobile and immediately got the chance to test out their included international “global coverage” features.
T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan starts at $50/month which INCLUDES the use of unlimited data and texting internationally in “120+ countries and destinations”. With a plan that starts at such a low price, no longer do you need to add/remove any separate features or service to your account before/after you travel!
I recently went to Mexico for a one-off and the second we landed I took my phone out, turned OFF “airplane mode” and received a message reconfirming my access to unlimited text, unlimited data and only 20 cents a minute to talk.
The network was operating on 3G, so it was not the fastest… but T-Mobile does however offer the option to purchase higher speed (4g) international data, as far as access to web browsing, e-mails and maps 3g worked just fine. Streaming music or videos was a bit more difficult (slow) but the international 3g data is all at no additional cost to my bill- its around $100 for my plan, which includes unlimited talk (in the U.S), unlimited messaging and unlimited data.
Another money saving feature included with T-Mobile is Wi-Fi calling- devices that allow Wi-Fi calling like the iPhone 5s/c and up can use Wi-Fi like a cell tower to make free phone calls with no extra app needed, ie Skype. Just enable Wi-Fi calling on a capable device and it will connect automatically when in range. It will also switch back to cellular keeping your calls uninterrupted. This comes in handy in so many ways, even beyond saving money while abroad- like when your in Pecos TX with no cell reception but working Wi-Fi.
Enable Wi-Fi calling:
Settings>Phone>Wi-Fi Calls>Allow Wi-Fi calls “ON”
Long flight? T-Mobile has partnered with gogo who provides in-flight Wi-Fi for some airlines. You are able to text, picture message and check visual voicemail for free on flights that offer gogo Wi-Fi. I used this a few days ago and it works just fine- just remember, your “send as sms” option needs to be turned ON if using an iPhone- it won’t send iMessages as this uses data in a different way than sms. I leave this Feature set to ON all of the time, if you find yourself without data coverage but you still have cell coverage you can continue to send text messages.
I’ve heard all the statements claiming one cell phone company is better than another and how people have hated or loved the service they have with a particular carrier but I find all major carriers to be relatively the same- good and bad for varying individual reasons. But for someone who travels internationally as much as we do when touring or for anyone who travels abroad frequently, this is one of the best deals going.