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Great Travel Tool: T-Mobile Unlimited International Data & Texting (and Cheap Calling, too)

Great Travel Tool: T-Mobile Unlimited International Data & Texting (and Cheap Calling, too)

by jeffreyMarch 31, 2014

So, this might be the best thing that has happened to U.S.-based International travelers in a while (aside from U.S. banks offering Smart Chip credit cards, of course–click for link):  T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan started offering Unlimited International Roaming in late Fall 2013. This is a complete game changer when it comes to communications while abroad.



Details on the Plan

The basic plan you’ll need is the “Simple Choice” plan, starting at $50/month for 500 MB of data and up to $70/month for unlimited data. All simple plans offer unlimited talk and text. If you choose the $70 plan, this will get you:

  • Unlimited data abroad (Standard speeds ~128 Kbps. No tethering.)
  • Unlimited texts abroad (back to the U.S. or within same country)
  • Calling to the U.S. for 20¢/min

The best news? T-Mobile has completely stopped doing contracts, which means you can easily sign up for 1 month and then cancel if you just want to use it for a big trip.

Coverage is available in 115+ countries:

T-Mobile has got you covered 

T-Mobile vs The Competition

As a comparison, here’s the best Verizon can do for you (just picked a few sample countries):

CountryVoice RateDataText
Argentina$4.99$20.48/MB$0.50 send, $0.05 receive
Canada$0.89$2.05/MBRegular U.S. domestic rate
France$1.29$20.48/MB$0.50 send, $0.05 receive
Germany$1.29$20.48/MB$0.50 send, $0.05 receive
Indonesia$2.89$20.48/MB$0.50 send, $0.05 receive
Maldives$4.99$20.48/MB$0.50 send, $0.05 receive
Singapore$2.89$20.48/MB$0.50 send, $0.05 receive
Thailand$1.99$20.48/MB$0.50 send, $0.05 receive

Take Argentina, for example:  Verizon will hit you up for $4.99/min compared to T-Mobile’s $0.20/min, providing a 96% savings.

How To Get It

You can order online or in any T-Mobile store. Just ask for/select the “Simple Choice” plan. It will already come with International Roaming activated, but it’s worth confirming before heading abroad. Total price:

  • $10.85 ($10 + tax) for T-Mobile SIM card (I’m using my own unlocked phone)
  • $79.90 ($70/month + taxes/fees) for Simple Choice Unlimited Plan

Word of warning:  I went into a T-Mobile store and signed up for the “Simple Choice” plan with unlimited talk, text and data for $70/month + tax. They asked for my driver’s license and social security number; I made sure to ask if they would be doing a “soft pull” or a “hard pull” on my credit (read about the difference here). The girl helping me didn’t have the slightest clue to as what I was talking about but I proceeded because it would have to be a “soft pull,” right? I mean, they’re checking my credit to make sure I can repay them around $100/month… Well, I was very wrong. I returned from the trip to find this added to my credit report:

Damnit, T-Mobile...thanks for nothing.

Damnit, T-Mobile…thanks for nothing.

My advice:  Proceed with caution and be very clear with the customer service agent that you’re not consenting to a hard pull on your credit report.

Review of the Service

Germany, Frankfurt: Service worked great all over the city; I was able to use Google Maps easily. I had 3G data service throughout.

  1. Latency: 496ms 412ms  429ms  427ms  409ms  364ms  389ms  400ms  406ms  412ms
    Speed: 196kbps
  2. Latency: 1051ms 451ms  422ms  726ms  488ms  430ms  439ms  440ms  458ms  450ms
    Speed: 186kbps

Indonesia, Denpasar/Bali Region: The service was spotty, at best. My phone would often switch between 3G and EDGE data service. Despite the spotty service, having the phone came in handy and the speed (when I had service) was better than promised by T-Mobile (they only advertise 128kbps).

  1. Latency: 1739ms 5828ms  726ms  736ms  732ms  761ms  924ms  967ms  7559ms  1381ms
    Speed: 129kbps
  2. Latency: 706ms 740ms  757ms  752ms  738ms  742ms  747ms  713ms  759ms  954ms
    Speed: 168kbps
  3. Latency: 747ms 737ms  741ms  772ms  761ms  755ms  762ms  865ms  743ms  755ms
    Speed: 191kbps

Indonesia, Ubud/Bali Region: 

  1. Latency: 725ms 743ms 697ms 759ms 727ms 715ms 725ms 717ms 714ms 696ms
    Speed: 195kbps

Indonesia, Jakarta: Didn’t run any speed tests, but I found the service to work fine:  3G data just about everywhere.

Singapore: We had an 8 hour layover in Singapore and went into the city. Not sure what was going on, but we had NO SERVICE IN SINGAPORE. I have a quad-band GSM phone so no issues there.

The Maldives: This country is not included in T-Mobile’s free data plan so I did not test it. Current voice rates are at $5.99/min, texts are $0.50 and data is charged at $15/megabyte.

BOTTOM LINE: Communications used to be one of the most costly/inconvenient parts of traveling abroad, but, now (thanks to T-Mobile), it’s not just affordable–it’s downright cheap. The service, while slow if you’ve already been spoiled off of running LTE or 4G data, is adequate for checking email or running Google Maps while on the go. I highly recommend using T Mobile’s new plan when traveling abroad.

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