I specialize in telecommunications and operations. So, I'll take you through my top five mobile plan providers to help you find the most suitable option for your travels. I'll also share valuable tips to keep you connected without spending too much on your global calls and texts.
» Which is better? Prepaid vs. postpaid plans.
Our 5 Best International Phone Plans at a Glance:
- Mint Mobile - Best international cell phone plan overall
- Tello - Best for global calling
- Visible - Best for unlimited talk in Canada and Mexico
- Xfinity - Best for flexible roaming plans
- Verizon Wireless - Best for comprehensive international coverage
1. Mint Mobile
- Starting price - From $15/month
- Network - T-Mobile
- Plans - Prepaid
Mint Mobile is my top choice for international travelers. It lets you make free calls to Mexico and Canada. You also have unlimited calling and texting within the US, along with the convenience of using your phone as a hotspot at no additional cost.
This provider uses T-Mobile’s network, which includes 5G coverage across various locations. Additionally, Mint Mobile offers a seven-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to test the service without any financial commitment. Plus, the longer your term plan (3 months, 6 months, or 12 months), the cheaper the end cost.
Why we chose Mint Mobile for international travel:
- Data abroad: Mint Mobile's UpRoam feature allows you to purchase international roaming credits in increments of $5, $10, or $20. You can use these credits in 210+ destinations. For as little as $0.06/MB, you can stay connected in Canada and Mexico, and for $0.20/MB, you can access the internet in other countries.
- Voice abroad: UpRoam also applies to voice calling. You can prepay your minutes before your trip but rates differ per country. You can check specifics for your destination on Mint Mobile's website.
- Text abroad: You can use UpRoam credits to pay for text messages.
- Starting price - From $5/month
- Network - T-Mobile
- Plans - Prepaid and custom plans
Tello offers a range of no-contract plans, from pay-as-you-go to unlimited options. You can change or cancel your service at any time, without incurring additional charges. Additionally, this carrier operates on T-Mobile’s network, providing reliable coverage. It even supports 5G in some areas.
Tello also has a 4.6-star rating on Trustpilot from over 10,000 reviews, applauding its low rates and excellent customer service. Plus, it uses eSIM technology to help frequent travelers connect quickly. However, it does not provide data roaming overseas or cellular texting abroad.
Why we chose Tello for international travel:
- Data abroad: Tello does not have international data roaming.
- Voice abroad: Tello lets you make international calls via your nearest WiFi network, such as in hotels, offices, or WiFi hotspots. These calls use minutes from your calling plan without consuming data. You also get free calls to over 60 countries. You can find the list of included destinations on Tello’s webpage.
- Text abroad: Tello’s unlimited texting applies when you’re connected to WiFi.
» Which mobile plan is best? Unlimited vs. pay-as-you-go.
- Starting price - From $25/month
- Network - Verizon
- Plans - Prepaid
Visible has various data plans at competitive prices. It operates on Verizon’s network, providing extensive coverage. Visible’s services include unlimited talk, text, and hotspot data. It also delivers a 5G connection at no extra cost. Additionally, the service is designed for easy setup and activation, with support for both SIM and eSIM.
Visible operates without annual contracts, making canceling or modifying your subscriptions easier. You can also bring your own compatible phone or trade your old device in to get credit towards a new phone.
Why we chose Visible for international travel:
- Data abroad: Visible+ includes unlimited data roaming in Mexico, Canada, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. However, it doesn't have data roaming outside these areas or the US, so you’ll need another SIM card for intercontinental usage.
- Voice abroad: You get unlimited talk when traveling in Mexico, Canada, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. International calling is also available globally with a WiFi network.
- Text abroad: Visible supports unlimited texting to 200+ countries from the US, Mexico, Canada, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Additionally, you can text from anywhere overseas as long as you have access to WiFi.
4. Xfinity Mobile
- Starting price - From $5/day/line
- Network - Verizon
- Plans - Prepaid
Xfinity Mobile's Global Travel Pass is a comprehensive solution for international travelers. This option provides a flat rate for unlimited calls and texts and a daily data allowance in over 170 countries.
Each active session covers a 24-hour period, with free text message reminders about your pass status. While Global Travel Pass doesn't cover usage on cruise ships or airplanes, it's a versatile option for land-based international travel. However, Xfinity Mobile is only available to current Xfinity customers.
Why we chose Xfinity Mobile for international travel:
- Data abroad: You get 512 MB of LTE data per pass per day at 2G speeds. It costs $10/day/line in over 170 countries and $5/day/line in Mexico and Canada.
- Voice abroad: Xfinity Mobile’s international calling plan works like its domestic plan. You pay for what you use.
- Text abroad: Xfinity Mobile supports unlimited texting with the Global Travel Pass.
5. Verizon Wireless
- Starting price - From $5/line
- Network - Verizon
- Plans - Prepaid and postpaid plans
Verizon Wireless has various international phone plans to keep you connected in 210+ countries. The carrier offers a TravelPass so you can use your phone abroad without worrying about separate roaming charges.
With this pass, you get unlimited talk, text, and data for a daily date, but you'll only be charged when you use your device overseas. Without this option, Verizon levies pay-as-you-go rates.
Why we chose Verizon Wireless for international travel:
- Data abroad: Verizon's TravelPass lets you use your domestic data allowance as if you're at home. You can also get unlimited data on the $100 international monthly plan and 50MB on the $20 international monthly package.
- Voice abroad: You can use your domestic voice allowance in over 210 countries with the TravelPass. If you opt for the $100 international monthly plan, you get 250 minutes per month. Without a plan or pass, you pay per-minute rates.
- Text abroad: The TravelPass lets you access your domestic text allowance abroad. You also get unlimited texts with the $100 international monthly plan. If you don't choose a global package, you're charged per text.
Top Factors to Consider When Choosing a Plan
When choosing an international cell phone plan, consider these key factors:
Communication Standards and Phone Compatibility
Ensure your phone is compatible with the communication standards of your destination. Certain regions like Japan and South Korea have unique lines. In the US, Verizon uses CDMA (code division multiple access), while AT&T and T-Mobile use the more globally common GSM (global system for mobile communications) standard.
Cell Phone Functionalities and Needs
Modern phones usually support dual SIMs, allowing you to use both your home and a local number abroad. Assess your primary needs, whether calls, texts, or data, and choose a plan that aligns with your usage preferences.
If you text frequently, select a provider that offers unlimited texting abroad. Or for those who travel intermittently, consider carriers that allow flexibility adjustments based on your current needs, like only adding data when you need it.
If you're often on the move, opt for plans with roaming caps or warning systems that track your usage in real time, like those from US Mobile and PureTalk. Features such as unlimited worldwide texting and WiFi calling can also help you save on roaming and data charges.
Additionally, consider roaming packages since they can be more cost-effective than standard international rates, especially for short trips.
Be vigilant about hidden costs, specifically those that may apply to receiving calls or texts abroad. Read the terms carefully to understand what you need to pay for calls, texts, or a combination of the two while traveling.
Regional Cell Phone Differences for Travelers
When exploring international cell phone plans, keep these points in mind:
- Country-specific plans: Some carriers provide special packages for popular destinations. With these options, you can use your domestic plan for free in selected countries.
- Europe: Thanks to the Roaming Regulation 2022 (EU 2022/612), roaming charges within the EU are reduced. This regulation ensures you aren’t charged extra to receive calls or texts while roaming in the EU, even if the person calling you uses a different service provider.
- Asia and Africa: These regions may have different network standards and coverage levels. Some US-based plans, like those from Ultra Mobile, provide better options for these areas, including unlimited international calling to several countries in Asia and Africa.
Tips for Practical and Cost-Effective Global Connectivity
To save money on your phone plan while traveling, use:
- Local SIM cards: Local SIM cards are often more affordable than roaming, particularly in Southeast Asia and Africa. You can easily purchase inexpensive SIM cards upon arrival.
- Portable WiFi devices: Portable WiFi gadgets, known as "pocket WiFi," can create a personal internet hotspot for multiple devices.
- Communication apps: Use apps like WhatsApp, Skype, or Viber. This versatile software can switch between data or WiFi for messaging, video calling, and group chats.
- Data management: Limit background updates to WiFi connections. Also, download your maps and entertainment before traveling.
- Traveler packages: Compare different cell plan providers for benefits like unlimited calls or consistent connectivity abroad.
Find the Best Cell Phone Plan for You
Selecting the best mobile package for frequent travel involves balancing cost, coverage, and convenience. From Mint Mobile's overall value to Verizon's comprehensive international plans, each provider delivers unique benefits.
By understanding your specific needs and the offerings of each carrier, you can choose a plan that ensures seamless communication during your travels without overspending on global calls and texts.
» Want more bang for your buck? Find out how to save on cellular service.