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Cost to receive text to US phone while in Italy

Can anyone who has traveled to Italy lately remember what it cost to receive texts to their phone while they were there? My sister has an AT&T phone. AT&T says that incoming texts to her phone will be charged whatever the "domestic country's" text rate is. And they say they have no idea what this is. Their website is similarly frustratingly vague. Lots of info about calling to and from and outgoing texts back to the U.S. but nothing on incoming texts. She would like to avoid a phone bill surprise when she gets home but was hoping to be able to carry her current phone and retain her current number (which you lose if you use a local SIM card).

Thanks for any advice!

Posted by
7689 posts

She might want to look at downloading What'sApp. My brother, SIL and I downloaded this and were able to keep up with their 2 sons while one was at home and one was traveling. It does require wifi but we did not find that to be a problem. Everyone has to download the app.

Posted by
134 posts

I think it is strange that ATT cannot provide international rates they apply for each country! Messagging is generally not so expensive, may be 20,cents per message.
I do not understand why changing sim card would have her change her number. She can put it back when she has finished with the other one. There are also phones which permit the use of two sim cards. If she needs to phone she can also use skype if she has an internet connection where she is.

Posted by
30971 posts

ck,

The "domestic country's text rate" is often FREE, but may depend on which plan the customer chooses. I use a "travel SIM" when in Europe, and there's no charge for incoming texts with that.

A few other points for your sister to consider......

  • Some older phones may not have the necessary GSM frequency bands to operate in Europe. If she's using a newer phone (especially a Smartphone), that shouldn't be a problem.
  • If she's using a Smartphone, it's VERY important to pay attention to data roaming costs as they can be HUGE. Cellular data should be switched OFF, unless that's something she wants to pay for.
  • As she wants to keep her current phone number, the cost for incoming texts is not the only thing she'll have to be concerned with. The cost of incoming calls is more expensive than that for incoming texts, and if she's using her regular number that could be a problem. It's especially annoying to be getting calls while sleeping in the wee hours of the morning, from some moron that was told not to call but did anyway, and didn't bother to check the time difference.

If she's using a Smartphone, another App to consider is Viber, which allows FREE texts (and I believe calls) using Wi-Fi (which should be available in most hotels).

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks, everybody. No smartphone but a husband who must talk to her every single day (and we're leaving him behind in the U.S.). AT&T said the incoming texts may be as high as $1.50 each, which is what had us a bit concerned.

Re: retaining her current number - I was not using my words with precision. I know that she would not lose it permanently, just that IF her phone happens to be quadband and IF it's unlockable and she uses an in-country SIM, that while the SIM is in, she won't be receiving calls to her U.S. number. Very good advice about not wanting to receive calls while she is there. Is this problem avoided if she leaves the phone off?

Posted by
3263 posts

All of these questions should be answered by AT&T and the answers should be specific to her phone and her plan or the special set up for European travel. There should be a part of the company that deals with overseas travel exclusively. Those are the people to talk to, not just the rep who answers the general number or works in the phone store.

At least that's the way it works with Verizon. The global people have always gotten it right on my trips. The initial reps who answer the main number have always screwed it up. Verizon is typically more expensive than AT&T, but our price is set by them because our phones are global ready and there is no SIM card manipulation.

For Italy this past fall, sending a text from Italy to the US or anywhere else cost us $.50 and receiving one from the US or anywhere else cost $.05. The cost of phone calls was $.99 vs. the standard rate of $1.29 per minute. That was with an additional $10 per phone per month to cover both calling/texting from the US to Italy and from Italy to the US or other European countries. We did not get data because it was too expensive. We just used Wi-Fi. Our phone numbers stayed the same.

Your sister needs to check with AT&T and be persistent until she gets to the right people to talk to about traveling to Italy with her own phone and phone number. And here's another tip: she needs to turn the thing off at night so no one wakes her up in the middle of the night. That's a good time for charging, using a plug adapter.

Posted by
267 posts

I used the AT&T Passport plan on a trip to Italy last October, and I plan to use it again when I return to Italy next month. I got the middle-of-the-road plan for $60, which included 300MB of data, $0.50 per minute for phone calls and unlimited texting. Yes, it was expensive, but it was totally hassle-free.

Posted by
2963 posts

ATT has plans that are clearly described on their website. If you purchase their ATT passport plan for $30 it will include unlimited texts if that is also what you have in the United States. Remember, to contact them directly and look carefully at the list of countries that are included.

ATT will be a better source of information than this site.

Posted by
3 posts

Carole and Marie,
You are correct that the Passport plan is described on the website, but it does not specify the charges to receive incoming texts while you are in-country. I will follow the advice given on this thread to make sure we reach someone who is familiar with international plans if she decides to go that route. i'm leaning toward recommending she leave her current phone home for her husband to field any incoming calls and texts and getting either an in-country burner phone or an unlocked quad phone here before we go and using the local SIM. If she can get a smartphone or is willing to use mine most of the time, she can Skype or use one of the free apps for VOIP. thanks, everyone!

Posted by
507 posts

ck,

Go to your local ATT store or check www.att.net for customer service. Your sister should be able to call 611 for customer service.

Posted by
267 posts

ckester, I received a fair number of texts while in Italy on the AT&T passport plan. I will double check my bill, but I don't think I paid for any texts. (The bill was a little confusing because the trip was happening on the same billing cycle with an iPhone upgrade/trade-in.)

Posted by
267 posts

I just doubled checked my AT&T bills from last fall, and they did not charge me for international texting on the Passport plan.

Posted by
410 posts

We have AT&T and purchased their $30.00 Passport Plan for our trip in December. It was $1.00/minute for phone calls, but we weren't planning on making any calls, wanted it for the free, unlimited texting. It worked like a charm. We sent numerous texts, with photos attached, to friends and family back in the U.S. It didn't cost anything above the $30.00.