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New? International plan from ATT?

We spent tons of time researching phones/phone plans/sims/etc for our trip and even brought an old 5S with us for potential purchase of a SIM card here in Europe. A friend told us about a new international plan that ATT offers and I'm not sure how new it is but it offered all data/calls from our existing IPhone for $10 per day. It's not available in all countries but we are mostly just in Italy so it's available there. You can turn in on in the states prior to your departure and it's only active on days you connect overseas via roaming. So, if you leave the phone on airplane mode for the entire day, there is no $10 charge. If you are in the US there is no $10 charge (we were told but we went ahead and waited until the morning we left to activate).

It's certainly not the least expensive option but it was very convenient to keep up with family while we were on the road as we got to keep our number. I was even able to use the data over a wifi hotspot setup on the device. I'll update once we see the bill for this if there are any differences but wanted to put this out there in case anyone had used it or knew of this option or perhaps someone was interested in this.

Gary

Posted by
11983 posts

30€ will buy you one month of calls and data with a local plan. At $10/day if you use the phone for 3days you pretty much spend the same.

Posted by
2352 posts

I used this plan once, worked well. It’s expensive and I’d rather use a company that has better options but I’m stuck with ATT for now so this is ok.

Yes, a local plan is cheaper - but then you don’t keep your number and in many cases you can’t use your own phone (if it’s under contract and can’t be unlocked by ATT). So you have to buy an unlocked phone, which would need to be a cheap one to keep the savings. I want my number so people can reach me, and having my phone for the camera and apps is even more important. I make almost no local calls - last trip I made 3 local calls in 2+ weeks. I use my phone for apps and camera and occasionally calls from home. So that’s why this plan is used, even if it’s ridiculously overpriced.

Posted by
2525 posts

While I’ve utilized local SIMs and the Verizon international plan, just putting my phone in airplane mode and using WhatsApp, e-mail and Skype when connected to WiFi is the norm.

Posted by
1508 posts

Though not as cheap as a SIM card purchased on site, AT&T also offers a "Passport" plan that is $60 for 30 days - unlimited text including with images (iMessages use data, read the fine print), 1 GB data, 35 cents per minute calling, free WiFi at AT&T hot spots (though they're hard to find). If you're gone for a couple of weeks, the price is much better than the $10/day, which AT&T pushes hard on their website and through customer service. I had to argue with them that I wanted the "more expensive" option because I knew I'd be using my phone every day on a 3 week trip. Here's the page from AT&T with details https://www.att.com/offers/international-plans/passport.html

Posted by
158 posts

I've used the Passport plan for travel in Europe and Asia. I get the smallest amount of data, less than 1GB, and it does fine for maps and checking a few websites on a 2 week trip. I wait until I have wifi to watch TV or check social media. It includes texting so I had no additional charges for texts back to the US or to foreign numbers. If you're traveling for a while, that $10/day really adds up so I'm more comfortable using the ATT Passport plan.

Posted by
2997 posts

I'd like to second that the ATT passport plan works much better than the $10 day plan unless you are a big data user. Unlimited texts, same number, very small amount of data.

Posted by
1217 posts

We end up taking both AT&T phones with us on trips in case we become uncoupled at some point (either voluntarily or involuntarily) and need a method of getting back together. Since I'm the one who is always on my phone looking at realtime traffic information or searching for the nearest restaurant/gas station/grocery store or checking visitor center hours or weather maps, the $10 a day option is on my phone. Husband's phone doesn't get used much, so he signs up for the Passport program in order not to get charged $10 a day for sending a few texts back and forth to the cat sitter.

There may be cheaper options out there, but it's reasonable enough for our needs and doesn't require much fuss or effort.

Posted by
4695 posts

FYI, it is possible to unlock AT&T phones. First of all, if you own the phone (not still paying it off), AT&T will unlock it for you. If not, it's possible to buy an unlock code on eBay perhaps for next to nothing. I just unlocked an AT&T phone that way - for $1.49 for the code. Each phone has a unique unlock code; it's the same code whether you get it from AT&T or buy it from someone who can guess the code.

If you are from the US, install Google Hangouts on your smart phone (also Hangouts Dialer if you have an Android), and you can make free calls home to the US even to landlines, on WiFi or mobile data. Install a free texting app; if someone from home wants you to call them, they can text you and you can call them back on Hangouts and talk for free. You can even receive calls on Hangouts too if you get a free Google Voice phone number.

Posted by
2109 posts

I used this plan during my April trip to the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary and loved it--out of 13 days spent abroad, I only used the plan for 7--I have elderly parents and we like to talk every other day, often for 30 to 45 minutes so I feel I got my money's worth. On previous trips for the same duration using a different ATT plan I'd usually spend $110-120. Otherwise I used Wi-Fi for checking in on FB or texting.

Posted by
5399 posts

Because we travel for a month or more at a time, we have our AT&T service put on vacation hold (I.e., we're not paying our usual monthly fee for data and unlimited calling in the U.S. that we won't be using, just $10 per line) and use hotel Wi-Fi to email, research data, and text via What'sApp. In six years of trips we have not had any situations that required a phone call home (but our kids are all 30+, the dog-sitter is reliable and we no longer have elderly parents.) For emergency local calls, we have two old Mobal phones which cost $0.79 per minute -- usually less than $10 per trip.

Posted by
5217 posts

This is a good plan if you only need occasional or emergency use. I think other companies have similar plans now. We both used this plan on our last trip. Since there were two of us, we agreed to coordinate so that if we turned a phone on, we would maximize use of it that day. We relied on emails via hotel wifi for most communication back home (you can still turn on and use wifi in Airplane Mode), and for checking websites. For a two week trip, we used it a total of two days, so $20. Of course some people can't manage a day w/o using the phone, so wouldn't work for them.

Posted by
409 posts

Here's what I did:

I called Sprint and had my iphone unlocked for europe. I came to Ireland; a SIM card was free, for 20 euros a month I get unlimited data; unlimited texts; 6 cents a minute calls (I rarely use the phone, since I have free data I used skypephone to make calls!). It's through 3. Three. Three.ie. 3.ie..... Yep - just plain 3. That's why when you watch Irish Rugby they have a bug #3 on the front of their jerseys!!

I also recommend folks coming over with existing numbers from the USA set up WhatsApp or Vipr..... WhatsApp is a texting and phone service you can use free if you're on wifi of data..... and also, if you set up your Facebook account with a cell phone number (you can keep it private) your friends/family on Facebook can call you that way. Additionally, since I live here, now, I have most of my iphone owning friends set up to use FaceTime without long distance charges (you have to set it up that way) so we can FaceTime each other for free....

The USA has the most insanely expensive cell phone charges, and there's no reason to continue that madness when you go to Europe!!

Susan
Expat living in Waterville, Ireland

Posted by
6251 posts

US cell companies gouge folks who want to use their phones internationally. $10 per day is pretty exorbitant and downright unaffordable for those who travel for extended periods of time. Although it's limited to certain phones, Project Fi (Google) is much less expensive, as are SIM cards used in-country.

Posted by
4695 posts

On the contrary, I think US cell service has become ridiculously cheap. There are now numerous MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that use Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T as their mobile network but charge far less per month for service. For example, MintSIM is an MNVO that operates on T-Mobile and charges $15/month for unlimited talk+text and 2GB of fast data (then unlimited after 2GB) - though one does have to pay for a year at once. (but $180/year for phone service is hard to beat.) It doesn't include international roaming, but if you get a phone with WiFI calling, you could still use your phone on WiFi overseas. If you need data, buy a SIM when you get to your destination.

If you want "free" international roaming for data, stick with Sprint or T-Mobile - if you are on a family plan, their prices can be pretty affordable.

Sprint has an amazing offer right now: a free year of unlimited talk, text, and data (and the international roaming) to anyone who switches to them from any other mobile company. But you must own the phone, and only certain phones qualify. (And "free" still means about $5-$6/month of taxes/fees.) I just bought an unlocked Moto E4 (a pretty sweet phone for just over $100) that qualifies - will activate a prepaid service like Ting then switch to Sprint immediately and get this deal.

Posted by
467 posts

I use the passport plan on my iphone 5 and have and android phone I use with my Italian sim. I had the iphone unlocked twice but it never worked with my wind sim card or a vodafone one. I had people over there try and help me and my husband stateside but I gave up and bought a phone that I use in Italy since I am there for long periods of time.

Posted by
233 posts

Little more info on the ATT plans- The $10 per day wouldn't work for me since I wanted it for 2.5 weeks, and didn't want to hassle with buying a sim card (did that once and there wasn't much savings and not worth the trouble/time). I wanted the passport plan (30 or 40 for a month, with minimal texting/phone calls, but enough for me since so much can be done while on wifi), but it didn't show up as an option on the website under Italy. I called them, and they said the most popular plan- the 10 per day- comes up if it's available in the country, as it is in Italy, and if you want the monthly passport plan, you have to put in a country that doesn't offer it. ATT doesn't really care where you're going. The monthly plan, once you sign up, will still work even if you don't really go to Afghanistan.

But I assume the 10 per day plan can be specified for a day here, a day there, if you know when you might need a data plan? Then use wifi on the other days.

Posted by
34 posts

Yes you may want to check the ATT passport prices in your area. In our market it was $60 for the lower level plan and $120 for the higher level plan that I think included 3 GB of data. We had two phones one for my wife and the other for me. My phone is a company phone. It's against company policy to do any meddling with in any form and I'm also dissuaded from connecting to so called free-wifi for security reasons. This only applies to my company phone though.

Posted by
238 posts

I have always used the passport plan. the cheapest is 40/month per phone. Unlimited texting to anyone any where. Very limited data, which is fine as I always use the hotels free wifi. Calls are $1.00/minute. Unless of an emergency i'm not making any phone calls. Our children we text or use Tango or What's app. Both are free apps and use the hotels free wifi for video calls.. Att did explain if I was to make one text with my phone I would be charged the 10/day fee. As my husband and I always travel for 2.5 to 3 weeks the 10/day per phone is not economical. We check in with our children daily. Everyone else can wait until we get home.

Posted by
1517 posts

Joyce - I don't understand. You mention unlimited texting, then later say that AT&T said if you make one text with your phone it will trigger the $10/day. Please explain. Thank you.

Posted by
4695 posts

Joyce - I don't understand. You mention unlimited texting, then later say that AT&T said if you make one text with your phone it will trigger the $10/day. Please explain. Thank you.

I think she was talking about two different AT&T plans: the $40/month plan that gives you free unlimited texting and a tiny amount of data...and the $10/day plan that is charged the $10 even if you send/receive only one text message that day.

Actually, I don't think AT&T offers the $40/month plan anymore. Instead, they have a $60/month "passport" plan that gives you 1GB of data for the month. The $40/month plan gave you only 100MB I think for the whole month - almost nothing, really, easy to use up in a day and get hit with roaming charges when you go above that. $60/month is still highway robbery for 1GB of data (and 35 cents/minute for calls!!!), given that a Sprint or T-Mobile user already gets that included in her or his plan (even if 2G data only). A local SIM with 2GB of data or more is only 20 to 30 Euros give or take in most countries. (I used 2GB of data over 17 days in Europe last May, so AT&Ts 1GB wouldn't have been enough.)

Posted by
9363 posts

I'm a Verizon customer, not AT&T. Verizon also has the $10/day thing for unlimited data. I tend to use more data, and don't care about calling, but I did discover something on my last trip to Spain (last May). My phone allows "wifi calling", which I discovered by accident when I received a call when I was in a wifi area. Thinking I had set something incorrectly, and wondering why I got a call when my phone was in airplane mode, I chatted online with customer service. They explained that my phone had wifi calling enabled, which meant that I could both receive and make calls when I was in a wifi area without impacting my phone plan at all. It was great to be able to call my aging parents to check in without having to worry about the phone bill. They still need to improve their data choices, though.

Posted by
238 posts

Janet thank you, you are correct. I was talking about the two different plans. The 40/month was back in September 2017. We used it when we went to Greece. I don't use that much internet as I always use the hotels free wifi. I use the texting like crazy. I text my children, family and friends. So the 40/month was a better choice. With the 10/day plan if you use your phone for anything ie one text you will be charged the $10. It would have cost me 190 for the 19 days compared to 40. I'm guessing the 40/month went up to 60/month since September. I have used the passport plan for our travels to Italy and Spain during the last 4 years as well.

Posted by
4695 posts

I can see why AT&T dumped their $40/month plan: it had only 100MB/month of data. That's nothing. I was just running a speed test on a new phone, and in two minutes of testing I used about 60MB of data! That would have lasted me about a day on my last trip to Europe. At least for $60 you get 1GB.

Glad you figured out how to use WiFi calling, Nancy - it's a nice feature to have. Not every phone or plan supports WiFi calling, though. That's why Google Hangouts is so great (for Americans) - you can still call US landlines (and cell phones) for free from overseas, while on WiFi - it's basically WiFi calling without using your original number. And it works on mobile data too (say if you buy a SIM), whereas you can't use WiFi calling unless you are on WiFi, obviously.

Posted by
238 posts

FYI, there are two free apps Tango and Whats app. They both have video wifi calling. So, if you have free wifi in your hotel/apartment you can make free calls video or no video with both those applications. Have used them before and they both work great.

Posted by
4695 posts

Great to have more free calling options, Joyce. The big benefit of Hangouts over most of the other apps is that you can call landlines too (the other person doesn't need Hangouts, obviously not possible on a landline, but you can call only US numbers). I'm pretty sure with WhatsApp both people need to be on it before you can connect. Being able to make free calls to any US phone number while abroad is helpful if say you need to make a long call to your airline or bank or something - e.g. when my Delta flight home was four hours late out of Paris on my last trip and I called Delta reservations as soon as I found out before I even got to the airport.

Posted by
10 posts

With the $10 plan, how is the coverage. We will be in Rome which I would assume pretty good. Cinque Terre which I would assume not so good. Florence good. Venice, who knows. All of these are assumptions.

Thanks