There are three main types of international add-ons:
- Day passes
- Monthly plans
- Pay-as-you-go plans
International Day Passes
The day passes are similar between the three carriers, but they vary slightly in terms of price and specific features.
T-Mobile's International 1 Day pass is $5/day and includes 0.5GB of high-speed data before your data is shut off. You get hotspot support, unlimited calling and texting, and this add-on works in 210 supported countries.
Verizon offers almost the same add-on here with what they call “TravelPasses.” TravelPasses are $10 per day and include the same 0.5GB of high-speed data, hotspot support, and unlimited calling and texting. Verizon’s TravelPasses work in 185 supported countries.
Verizon also offers a $5/day TravelPass just for Canada and Mexico. This is helpful for people looking for a more affordable option and are just traveling across the border to either Canada or Mexico.
AT&T’s Day Pass is the same $10 per day as Verizon’s TravelPass, but it packs way more features. You get unlimited high-speed data, mobile hotspot support, unlimited calling and texting, and it works in over 230 countries. You do have to pay-per-minute to make a call to countries outside of the 230 included countries list, but that’s likely to be very few.
I think T-Mobile and AT&T’s options are the best here. T-Mobile’s add-on is simple and affordable, while AT&T’s add-on justifies the higher price with unlimited high-speed data.
Monthly International Plans
If you’re staying in an international destination for a longer period of time, you may consider a longer-term plan.
T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T all offer 10-day to 30-day plans to choose from.
T-Mobile’s 5GB International Pass - $35/10 days
T-Mobile’s 5GB international pass is only 10 days, but it’s also the most affordable option at just $35. You get 5GB of high-speed data, mobile hotspot support, unlimited calling and texting, and it works in 210 countries.
Verizon’s Monthly International Plan - $100/30 days
Verizon’s monthly international plan is a pricey $100 per month. And, unfortunately, it’s also super limited.
You only get 5GB of high-speed data, 250 minutes, and 1,000 sent texts. If you go over your allotments for minutes, texts, or data, you are also automatically billed expensive overage charges. Overage rates are $0.25 per minute, $0.05 per text sent, and $20 per GB of data.
Two positive attributes of Verizon’s monthly international plan are that the mobile hotspot is supported, so you can share your cellular data with your tablet, laptop, or other devices, and you are able to receive unlimited text messages.
But with the overall limited amounts of minutes, texts, and data, and the expensive overage charges, I think it’s hard to justify spending $100 on Verizon’s monthly international plan.
AT&T Passport - $70/30 days
AT&T Passport, which is their monthly option, is similarly expensive to Verizon and lacking features.
It’s $70 per month for just 2GB of data, it doesn’t support the mobile hotspot feature, and calls are billed at $0.35 per minute.
AT&T also charges expensive overages. If you go over the included 2GB of cellular data, you are automatically at a rate of $30 per GB. You do get unlimited texting though.
If for some reason you wanted to spend even more money with AT&T, you could also get the 6GB AT&T Passport plan, which runs you $140 per 30 day period.
In my opinion, Verizon and AT&T’s monthly international plans are absurdly expensive. The $100 and $70 prices are on top of your regular monthly bill here in the United States. The total cost for traveling abroad for one month with these plans would be close to $200 ($80/mo for your US plan and $70-$100 for the international plan, plus all taxes and fees). And that’s assuming you don’t incur any overage charges.
T-Mobile’s 5GB International Pass is easily the best option here. It’s the most affordable, and it has the most features.
T-Mobile’s 15GB International Pass - $50/30 days
If 10 days isn’t long enough for you, T-Mobile also offers their 15GB international pass. The 15GB international pass is $50 for 30 days, includes 15GB of high-speed data before reducing your speeds to 128Kbps, and it supports the same features as before.
Not only is T-Mobile’s 15GB international pass substantially cheaper than Verizon and AT&T’s monthly options, but it also delivers 3x to 7x more cellular data and it works in the same countries.
T-Mobile’s 15GB Global Plus Plan - $50/30 days
T-Mobile also offers their Global Plus 15GB add-on. This is basically the same as the other 15GB international pass except for three key differences:
- The Global Plus 15GB plan limits international hotspot data to just 5GB (compared to being able to use the full 15GB as hotspot data with the 15GB international pass)
- You get unlimited hotspot data while within the United States (as opposed to getting your regular amount of hotspot data in the United States)
- You get HD video streaming within the U.S. and abroad in 210+ supported countries
I think the 15GB Global Plus add-on could be tremendously useful while traveling, both domestically in the United States and abroad.
Getting unlimited high-speed hotspot data while within the United States means you can stay connected as you travel between airports, hotels, or while you are on the road. No more having to rely on slow hotel Wi-Fi or experiencing sluggish connections at airports.
And of course, when you travel abroad you get 15GB of data, unlimited texting, unlimited calling, and unlimited Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi on Gogo enabled flights.
This is a great plan.
Pay-As-You-Go International Plans
Lastly, we have the two pay-as-you-go plans from Verizon and AT&T.
And if you thought their monthly plans were expensive, wait until you see these!
Verizon’s pay-as-you-go international plan charges the following for minutes, texts, and data:
- $0.99 per minute in Mexico and Canada
- $1.79 per minute in 130+ countries
- $2.99 per minute in 80+ countries
- $0.50 per text sent
- $0.05 per text received
- $0.25 per MMS sent or received
- $2.05 per MB of cellular data
As you can tell, Verizon’s pay-as-you-go rates are expensive. Making a simple 15 minute phone call to a country in Europe would cost $26.85. That’s over double the cost of their $10 day pass!
And while the $2.05 per MB of cellular data may seem affordable on the onset, it turns out that is $2,050 per GB of cellular data. Over $2,000 per GB!!! That is astronomically expensive, and would probably cost more than your airline ticket!
Maybe AT&T’s pay-as-you-go international plan is better? Here is what their international rates are:
- $1.00 per minute in Mexico and Canada
- $2.00 per minute in Europe
- $3.00 per minute in the rest of the world
- $0.50 per text sent or received
- $1.30 per MMS sent or received
- $2.05 per MB of cellular data
Nope! It turns out that AT&T is even more expensive than Verizon!
AT&T customers are much better off going with AT&T’s $10 per day pass than risking astronomically high prices with AT&T’s pay-as-you-go plan.
Thankfully, I believe both AT&T and Verizon disable the pay-as-you-go international plans by default.
However, it’s still probably best to keep your phone in Airplane mode so you don’t incur any accidental charges. Traveling internationally can be expensive enough, and you don't want your cell phone bill racking up additional charges.
The Best International Plan
When it comes to international travel, I think T-Mobile is hands-down the best.
T-Mobile’s plans not only include international data by default, but you can get high-speed international data at affordable rates and with more features than Verizon or AT&T.
AT&T’s $10 Day Pass can be a good value, but it would still end up costing you $70 for a 1 week trip.
But there are two additional options that we haven’t even mentioned yet, and they are probably better than any of the international add-ons we’ve covered so far:
- Getting an international eSIM data plan from US Mobile, Airalo, or another international eSIM vendor
- Getting a plan local to the country you are visiting
The first option is getting an international eSIM data plan. International eSIM plans can be activated on eSIM compatible phones, such as the iPhone 8 or newer or the Pixel 3a or newer, and they provide cellular data while you travel abroad.
International eSIM plans are available from carriers such as US Mobile and Airalo. US Mobile offers an eSIM plan that works all across Europe, and it’s just $15 for 5GB of data. That’s half of what T-Mobile is charging! Airalo also offers a wide selection of eSIM plans that range from $5 to $15 with various amounts of data.
International eSIM plans are a great and affordable way to stay connected when you travel abroad.They include more data than T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T at a fraction of the cost.
The second option is getting a cell phone plan that’s local to the country you are visiting.
Traveling to the U.K.? You can get a whopping 30GB of data for just £12.00, or about $17.05 USD, from a local carrier called Three.
Going to Spain? Vodafone offers a 20GB plan with 800 minutes for €15.00, or about $18.34 USD.
Yes, it turns out that cell phone plans are often significantly cheaper in countries outside the United States, and you’re likely going to have a better experience than paying hundreds of dollars to Verizon or AT&T.
Those are how the international options compare between T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T.
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