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Top 6 Ways to Use Your Phone Internationally

Top 6 Ways to Use Your Phone Internationally

Written By Alejandra Jasso
6th Jul 2023

How to Use Your Phone Internationally?

Mobile connectivity abroad is a common concern among travelers. The thought of not being able to check in with loved ones or access GPS if lost is terrifying. For a stress-free overseas experience, here are ways you can use your cell phone almost anywhere in the world.

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1) Check Your Cellular Plan for International Benefits

Some cellular providers offer plans that already include international calls and texts to and from certain areas. Before you spend any money on alternative options, check your wireless plan to see if your destination is covered. If not, your cellular devices may still work, but at a hefty cost.

AT&T – Top Wireless Plans
AT&T Unlimited Premium℠ $85/mo. for 1 Line Unlimited calls from the US to Canada and Mexico. Unlimited texting from the US to 200+ countries and destinations. Unlimited talk, text, & data in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
AT&T Unlimited Extra® $75/mo. for 1 Line Unlimited calls from the US to Canada and Mexico. Unlimited texting from the US to 200+ countries and destinations. Unlimited talk, text, & data in Canada and Mexico.
AT&T Unlimited Starter® $65/mo. for 1 Line Unlimited calls from the US to Canada and Mexico. Unlimited texting from the US to 200+ countries and destinations. Unlimited talk, text, & data in Canada and Mexico.
T-Mobile – Top Wireless Plans
Go5G Plus $95/mo. for 1 Line Unlimited texting from the US to any country where text is available. Unlimited data (up to 5GB of high-speed, then up to 256Kbps), unlimited texts, and $0.25/minute calls in 215+ countries and destinations.
Go5G $80/mo. for 1 Line Unlimited texting from the US to any country where text is available. Unlimited data (5GB of high-speed in 11 countries, then up to 256Kbps), unlimited texts, and $0.25/minute calls in 215+ countries and destinations.
Essentials $65/mo. for 1 Line Unlimited texting from the US to any country where text is available. Unlimited texts and $0.25/minute calls in 215+ countries and destinations. Data usage not included (international rates will apply).
Verizon Wireless – Top Wireless Plans
Unlimited Plus $90/mo. for 1 Line Unlimited calls from the US to Canada and Mexico. Unlimited texting from the US to over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada.
Unlimited Welcome $75/mo. for 1 Line Unlimited calls from the US to Canada and Mexico. Unlimited texting from the US to over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada.

When using your phone in countries not included in your plan, international rates will apply. They vary across carriers and destinations. For example, AT&T charges up to $3 per minute, up to $1.30 per message, and up to $10.24 per MB. Here are AT&T’s international rates, T-Mobile's international rates, and Verizon’s international rates.

2) Add International Add-On

If traveling to a country not included in your wireless plan, most carriers offer international plan add-ons that’ll keep your phone working.

AT&T offers the International Day Pass. For $10/day for your first line and $5/day on additional lines, you can use your phone like you do at home with unlimited talk, text, and date in over 210 destinations. Fees only apply when you use your line while abroad. You will not be charged for more than 10 days per pel line, per bill. After the 10 daily fees, line will continue to work internationally at no extra cost through the end of your billing cycle. Pay-per-use rates will apply when traveling to destinations not included in the International Day Pass.

Verizon’s TravelPass is similar to AT&T’s. You can get unlimited talk, text, and data in 210+ countries and destinations for $10/day. You'll only be charged for the days you send/receive a call, send texts, or use data on your device while abroad. Unlike AT&T, Verizon does not have a maximum number of days they will charge for, so it can get pricy. For long stays, Verizon’s International Monthly Plan may be a better option. It’s $100 per month per line. It includes unlimited data, unlimited texts, and 250 minutes. Each additional minute costs $0.25. When traveling to countries not included in the TravelPass or International Monthly Plan, Pay as You Go rates apply.

For those daily passes, make sure to turn on airplane mode when you don’t plan on using your phone. A new session can be started by background data, such as apps refreshing, syncing, automatic software updates, and more.

Most of T-Mobile's phone plans include global international benefits, making it super easy and affordable to stay connected around the world. They offer unlimited data, unlimited texting, and $0.25/min calling in 215+ countries and destinations. Data speeds vary across plans. You can add an International Pass to get unlimited calling and more high-speed data in all 215+ destinations. There are three pass options available:

$5 International 1-Day Pass

Good for up to 24 Hrs.

Includes:

  • Unlimited calling
  • Up to 512MB of high-speed international data—that you can use as a mobile hotspot

$35 5GB International Pass

Good for up to 10 Days

Includes:

  • Unlimited calling
  • Up to 5GB of high-speed international data–that you can use as a mobile hotspot

$50 15GB International Pass

Good for up to 30 Days

Includes:

  • Unlimited calling
  • Up to 15GB of high-speed international data—that you can use as a mobile hotspot

If traveling somewhere not included in the destinations list, rates will apply, which vary across location.

3) Get Local Prepaid SIM Card at Destination

A SIM card is the key to your cellular provider's network. It holds subscriber details, such as phone number, location, network authorization data, and more. Without it, you wouldn't be able to make calls, send texts, or use your data anywhere.

By temporarily replacing it with a local prepaid SIM card while overseas, you’re able to remain connected with a local number. Oftentimes, this is the cheapest alternative to roaming with your cellular provider. This is especially true when traveling to areas not included in your designated carrier's international destination list.

Prices will vary by country and carrier. You can typically get an active SIM card at a kiosk in the airport or a physical store. Upon arrival, you will not have service. You can also purchase a SIM card ahead of time via Amazon. Do your research beforehand to ensure the product is legit.

There is one catch, though. Your cell phone must be unlocked for a different carrier's SIM card to work.

How to Unlock AT&T Phone? How to Unlock T-Mobile Phone? How to Unlock Verizon Phone?

4) Buy an International SIM Card

Rather than connecting to a single local network, an International SIM card allows you to connect to almost any network from any carrier around the world. They are fantastic and a popular option amongst frequent travelers, especially when visiting multiple destinations during a trip. While a little pricier than a simple local SIM card, they offer great benefits.

  1. You will no longer have to take time out of your vacation to get a local SIM card.
  2. Most can be recharged so you don’t have to buy a new one evetime it runs out.
  3. Can be easily managed online with no language barriers.
  4. You get the lowest rates for talk, text, and data worldwide.
  5. Offers more coverage than a local SIM card.
  6. You’ll have service upon arrival at your destination.

Your phone must be unlocked to use an International SIM card.

Here are a few popular international SIM cards:

Telestial

Pure World Direct SIM Card

  • Costs $19.95
  • Includes a $5 credit you can use for talk, text, and data
  • Access to hundreds of networks across 200+ countries and destinations
  • Allows you to add credit and prepaid data plan, with up to 87% savings on international roaming charges
  • Comes with a US or Canadian phone number
  • Talk, text, and data rates vary across countries
WorldSIM

WorldSIM 4G International SIM Card

  • Four pricing options: $33.75 ($20.25 credit and $13.50 SIM), $54 ($47.25 credit and $6.75 SIM), $67.50 ($67.50 credit and free SIM), and $135 ($135 credit, 13.50 bonus credit, and free SIM)
  • Offers coverage in over 190 countries
  • Add data bundles for even cheaper data rates
  • Comes with free UK mobile number
  • Roam with your existing number using our Virtual Numbers service
  • Via Virtual Number service, you can add more phone numbers to SIM
  • Trusted roaming solution with 24/7 Customer Service
  • Talk, text, and data rates vary across countries
  • Incoming calls are free
One SIMCard

OneSimCard International SIM Card

  • Costs $29.95
  • Includes $10 credit for talk, text, and data
  • Coverage in over 200 countries
  • Comes with two numbers: Europe and USA, Canada, UK, or Australia
  • Offers the option to add numbers in 60+ other countries
  • Free incoming calls received on EU number in 120+ countries; Outgoing calls as low as 25c/min
  • 4G services in 50+ countries from $0.01/MB; 5G available
  • Free incoming text messages worldwide when received on European number

5) Use an eSIM that Covers your Destination

An eSIM is a digital SIM already built into your device. You don’t have to fiddle with a small plastic card or SIM tray.

Rather than getting a local or universal SIM card, you can easily purchase and download an eSIM to your mobile device that works overseas. Of course, an unlocked eSIM-compatible device is necessary.

Some eSIMs support talk, text, and data, while others only support data. With data-only eSIMs, you can use apps or your domestic SIM card to make calls and send texts.

There are various eSIM providers. Local, regional, and global eSIM options are available. Prices will vary across provider, destination, and network needs.

Here are some eSIM providers:

One SIMCard
Voice/Text/Data
  • International eSIM
  • Costs $9.95
  • Talk, text, and data
  • Includes EU number. Add extra numbers in 60+ other countries
  • Coverage in 150+ countries with free incoming calls received on EU number in most of them
  • Mobile data service from 1c/MB; 4G/5G available
  • No shipping. Download eSIM and go
GlobaleSIM
Voice/Data
  • Local eSIM or International eSIM options
  • Costs depends on needs
  • Select preferred data plan
  • Add voice minutes (optional) and get a US, CA, or UK number to make and receive calls
  • Coverage in up to 143 countries for universal eSIMs (depends on data plan)
Airalo
Data-Only
  • Local eSIM, Regional eSIM, and Global eSIM options
  • Cost depends on eSIM type and data needs
  • Offers data packs for 200+ countries and regions
  • Flexible data plan
  • Offers best rates and mobile coverage
  • Easy set up
  • 24/7 support

We highly recommend researching various eSIM providers to ensure you find the right one for you.

6) Sign Up for Google Fi

Google Fi, originally Project Fi, aims to give people the fastest speed and coverage anywhere they are, at home and overseas. Their framework intelligently connects you to the best available network, whether it be a verified WiFi hotspot or a partner cellular network.

There are three plan options: Simply Unlimited ($50/line), Unlimited Plus ($65/line), and Flexible ($20/line + $10/GB). Discounts apply the more lines you add.

All plans include data, calls, and texts within the US, Canada, and Mexico. Flexible and Unlimited Plus also come with international data in 200+ destinations, and for supported Pixel and Samsung phones, 5G coverage is available in select countries and territories. When you travel to the 200+ select destinations, calls, texts, and data just work.

Simply Unlimited Unlimited Plus Flexible
Data, calls & texts within the US, Canada & Mexico Included Included Included
($10/GB)
Data while traveling outside US, Canada & Mexico No Free in over 200 destinations $10/GB in over 200 destinations
Texts & calls while traveling outside US, Canada & Mexico No Free texts, 20¢/min for calls Free texts, 20¢/min for calls
Calls to 200+ destinations Free to Canada & Mexico Free to over 50 destinations Free to Canada & Mexico
Free texts to other countries included Yes Yes Yes

Google Fi is not solely for international use. Terms of service require you use Google Fi services mainly in the United States. If usage is predominately abroad, Google may suspend your Google Fi account, terminate your service, or limit your use of roaming.

International Calling Tips

Texting and accessing the web internationally is pretty seamless. As long as you have cellular reception, they’ll work. Calling to or from a different country, however, requires a little bit of work.

How to Make Calls to International Countries from the US?

  1. Dial 011 – That’s the international direct dialing (IDD) number, also known as international access code, exit code, and international call prefix. It tells your cellular network that you’re trying to dial out of the country. The + replaces the IDD when using a mobile device to call another country.
  2. Dial the Country Code – Code is used for destination routing to the country you’re trying to reach. Every country has one. It can range from one to three digits. For example, the United States country code is “1.” Here is a list of Country Codes.
  3. Dial the City or Area Code (if applicable) – Code is typically given as part of the phone number. It’s used to narrow down the connection to a specific city or region within the country you’re calling. It’s made up of one to three digits. Some countries do not use city/area codes, so you can ignore this step.
  4. Dial Phone Number – Will vary in length depending on the country you’re trying to call.

Dialing example:

From Mobile Device
Location IDD Country Code City/Area Code Phone Number Full Number Dialed
Mexico City, Mexico + 52 55 XXX-XXXX +52-55-XXX-XXXX
Sydney, Australia + 61 2 XXX-XXXX +61-2-XXX-XXXX
From Landline
Location IDD Country Code City/Area Code Phone Number Full Number Dialed
Mexico City, Mexico 011 52 55 XXX-XXXX 011-52-55-XXX-XXXX
Sydney, Australia 011 61 2 XXX-XXXX 011-61-2-XXX-XXXX

According to the FCC, the calling process may vary across some countries. It's recommended to check the dialing process with your cellular provider.

Make International Calls with AT&T Make International Calls with T-Mobile Make International Calls with Verizon

Not all phone plans include free calls to other countries. International call rates will apply. There are international calling add-ons that you can add to your plan to mitigate costs.

AT&T International Calling offers unlimited calling from the U.S. to 85+ countries and discounted calling to 140 more for $15/mo. For the same price, T-Mobile's Stateside International Talk offers unlimited calls from the US, Mexico, or Canada to landlines in 70+ countries and mobile lines in 30+ countries. It also includes discounted calling to the rest of the world.

Verizon offers three international calling options. Global Calling gets you unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada, plus discounted calling to 220+ countries for $5/mo. With Global Choice, you can select a bundle of minutes to call your preferred country for $10/mo. For $5 more a month, Global Calling Plus offers unlimited calls from the US to landline phones in 60+ countries and mobiles in 30+ countries. It also includes discounted calls to an additional 160+ countries.

If you have trouble making or receiving calls from friends and family that are out of the country, cell phone signal boosters can help. They will enhance cellular reception in your home, office, or vehicle for crisp voice, reliable texting, and faster data.

How to Make Calls from International Countries to the US?

When calling to the United States from a different country, there is a slight change in the dialing process. Rather than just dialing the standard 10-digit number, you need to add the United States IDD number (00 or +) and country code (1). The number you’d dial would look like 00-1-XXX-XXX-XXXX or +1-XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Call Outside the US Without Any Issue with SignalBoosters

Things like building material, cell tower distance, and topography heavily affect the cellular coverage you get in your home and vehicle. Calling family in Europe or receiving calls from friends in Africa can feel impossible. We are a leading provider of cell phone signal boosters for homes, offices, and vehicles. We will eliminate your cell reception woes to keep you connected with the world. Give us a call at 1-800-470-6777 or email us at sales@signalboosters.com.

Interested in Learning More? Check Out Our Cellular Info Hub / WiFi Info Hub

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