Best Cellphone Provider for International Travelers
What’s the Best Cellphone Provider for International Travelers?
If you are looking for the best cellphone provider to use at home and during international travel with the United States as your home base, it’s hands down T-Mobile. T-Mobile and AT&T both run on the GSM (Global System for Mobiles) network. This is the only system that is setup for international use of your phone because most other places in the world run their cellular networks on GSM as well. CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) is the other network and it represents the other players in the industry like Verizon, Sprint and US Cellular and is nearly exclusive to the US.
I choose T-Mobile over AT&T because they over free unlimited international data and texting, and calls are anywhere from free to $0.20 per minute depending on where you’re going. You can find a call cost breakdown here. Plus, you don’t have to add any package to your plan to get these perks (although you do have to opt in which takes just a few minutes in a store or on the phone to complete). My cell service in Tokyo, New Zealand, Mexico and France were perfect. The data is sometimes brought down to 2G depending on where I’m at (so it can be slow) but it’s working and at no additional charge, so I love it.
T-Mobile has a series of single line and family plans with no contract that work with all the top cellphones like the iPhone, Google Phones and Samsung devices.
If you are on a CDMA network already and don’t want to switch providers, you have a few options.
- You can get a sim card prior to when you leave the country then buy a burner phone to put the sim card into upon arrival to make/receive all your calls/texts/data needs.
- You can forego getting a SIM and just get a burner phone for the trip as a emergency backup and depending on the burner phone, install necessary apps or browse the internet as you see fit
If you do work while you travel for fun, getting a T-Mobile or AT&T phone that you can take with is the better option than relying on a burner phone (in my opinion).
Hope this helps! Safe travels!