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Urgent advice needed for phone/plan to use overseas

My husband and I just booked last minute tickets to Iceland. In the past, we have traveled with a special old-school (not smart) phone that only works overseas and we only used it for emergencies. Now we will need to have a smart phone with us because of the many excellent Covid safety protocols involve scanning emailed bar codes, etc. We use a Cricket service which does not have an option for an international plan and we can't just purchase a phone/SIM card on arrival because we will need to receive bar codes for our layover and on landing.

It seems that I should just go purchase an entirely new phone with the international plan option right away, but I haven't done any research and I don't have much time. Can someone please recommend an option that has worked for you? I don't like to travel with expensive things so a cheaper option would be great.

Thanks for your help!

Posted by
533 posts

Hi Alyson, I bleieve Rick Steves' employees use T-Mobile which I switched to so I can use Google maps to get around. The plan I have costs $50 a month, but costs more to receive phone calls. I believe if you have an Apple smartphone device you can text for free with those who also own an Apple iPhone. Here's a link to learn more: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/phones-tech.

Posted by
1745 posts

We traveled once a year pre-pandemic, plus my husband traveled several times a year for work, and we've had no trouble with T-Mobile. Seamless transitions as you move country to country, free texting, low per minute rates when we need to call, etc. I navigated our way through Italy and Greece with Google maps on iPhones. Easy peasy.

Posted by
95 posts

Highly recommend google Fi phones and plans. We have used Fi all over the world with excellent service and low costs. Seamless use of data as same rates as US. Easy and economical use of phone and texting as needed. Other costs as mentioned above. When using maps I usually download the area ahead of time and turn off data.

Alyson, go to google.com, create an account and pick out a phone that meets your needs. They will sign you up for google Fi plan, send you the phone is a couple of days with easy instructions on how to activate it.

Enjoy Iceland - it's spectacular.

Posted by
7217 posts

Google Fi.
I use it all over, except Cuba. The sim scans for the operator that is contracted to Google anywhere you land and you are good to go.
Local calls and calls to the States are pennies.

Posted by
599 posts

We've been very happy with T-Mobile for the last 4 years. Used our phones in Ireland and on a Budapest to Amsterdam cruise before covid. Got great phone deals from them at the Costco kiosk. Text and data free in Europe. Calls 25 cents a minute I believe. Have never needed to make a call.

Posted by
435 posts

Good to know, thanks. There's a T- Mobile by my job so I can try to stop in there after work to ask around.

Posted by
24 posts

Another vote for TMobile. Whenever we enter a country it texts us with our data/phone plan information. Their website is very good at showing you their costs for every country. Most are free data and .25 calls (which we do use on occasion). Wifi calling is free so that is the option we try to use. We have had excellent coverage in Europe/south america.

Posted by
435 posts

Oh thanks, I do find Wirecutter reviews to be reliable.

Posted by
4181 posts

We’ve now got T-Mobile for our iPhones, with improved call quality and signal strength over the past 2 years. International calling and data are included in our plan.

Our Iceland trip was with our previous Verizon plan, which offered great phone signal and calling performance, but limited International data allowances. T-Mobile has worked great in Morocco and throughout Europe, for the best price (and in the USA too), and we’re sticking with it.

Posted by
7217 posts

I couldn't use my Fi in Cuba :--( , but it was available in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey....

Someone sent a pm and asked me about costs: I just got back from five months in France. Our monthly cost in the States for the two phones and numbers combined is $50. Overseas, it was less than $55 with data, local calls, and calls to the US. I was going to get a local phone, but between WhatsApp and Google Fi, it wasn't a priority during COVID.

You can sign up for Google Fi only in the US.

Posted by
435 posts

Thanks everyone for your reviews and information on prices.