Best cell phone options for international travel
On this last item of data usage, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll.
While traveling without an international phone plan, you know that making calls while overseas costs extra, so instead you use your WhatsApp number to make calls. How much does that cost? Project Fi charges in a somewhat a la carte fashion: Internationally, the only substantive difference is that voice calls cost 20 cents per minute; otherwise, your international plan is the same as your domestic plan.
Sprint is among the companies that include international connectivity in their standard plans. All Sprint plans that have Sprint Global Roaming enabled include free data and unlimited texting in destinations; calls cost 20 cents per minute.
Note that while there is no extra charge for Sprint Global Roaming, you must take the step of adding it to your plan to qualify for the benefits. The free data comes at up to 2G speeds, which may seem slow compared to what you are used to at home. T-Mobile also piles on some unexpected benefits; unlimited streaming is included, including Netflix streaming on most plans; it also includes in-flight texting and one hour of data on Gogo-enabled flights.
For travelers, the most interesting element is that texting and data in more than countries are wholly included in your main plan, with calls placed from international locations billed at 20 cents per minute.
The downside is that the standard speed is approximately kilobytes per second, which is crawling by current standards. The leisure traveler who wants a cell phone in case of emergency on her yearly vacation may rent a phone and drop it in the mail when she returns home. Each company offers different plans for various prices that work for a number of phone models and in designated countries. Per-minute calling rates vary for different countries.
Some cell phone companies have calling plans for specific regions, such as Canada or Mexico. Other plans work in a broad range of countries. You probably will not be able to make calls from every country on earth; be sure to check that your plan covers the destination in which you plan to travel. T-Mobile is worth a mention for its Simple Choice plans, which include unlimited texting and data in more than countries, not as a special add-on but as part of its regular coverage.
The plan also features reasonable rates for international calls. Note that while the majority of U. To see if your current phone has what it takes to work overseas or to find out more about roaming prices and plans , check out the following links:. Skype can be used on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. Skype users can talk to each other for free, and can make calls to landlines and cell phones at affordable rates. If you are looking for the most convenient way to make a call or send a text, regardless of cost, using your own phone is your best bet.
The names and numbers that are currently programmed into your phone will still be available to you overseas without your having to transfer them to another device. Calling the States will be less expensive than if you get a local phone plan in your destination.
If you forget to add an international plan, you could find yourself paying hundreds or even thousands in roaming charges. Even with a plan, it can be pricey if you exceed your data limit or make a lot of calls. Expensive cell phones can easily get lost or stolen in another country, and an American chatting on a mobile phone can be a target for thieves. To learn more, see Avoid Smartphone Sticker Shock: How to Pay Less Overseas.
Depending on your destination country, you may be able to purchase a local phone with a domestic calling plan. Local plans are often similar to the one you have on your current cell phone; domestic rates are cheap, and the most basic cell phone models are quite affordable. Research cell phone companies in the country you will visit or look for a local cell phone store.