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Question about AT&T's International Plan

For the past several years, we have purchased AT&T's International Plan for both of our mobile phones whenever we traveled to Europe. I think the rate was about $50 for one month. Yesterday, when my husband went to sign up for the international plan, he found out that AT&T changed their international plan. For 2 phones, the cost is $150 for 15 days of cellular coverage; days are flexible. The suggestion is to turn off cellular on days you don't need it, and just use Wi-Fi. The downside to turning off cellular is that "Find my Phone" would not work.
We'll be in Switzerland for more than 15 days, so the cost of cellular would be pricey. Just wondering what others with AT&T have done, or if anyone has any suggestions.
Thank you.Carol

Posted by
4761 posts

Did you talk to anyone at ATT or go by the website? The reason I ask is that in order to get the lower monthly cost in the past, I had to talk to a representative because this option didn't seem to exist on the website.

Posted by
206 posts

Check to see if your phones support an eSIM. Later models iPhones and many newer Android phones support a second SIM that can added for a local European carrier. Then you can use the EU carrier's data plan (much cheaper) and a local phone number while retaining your US phone number as well.

I plan to try this if/when I get to Italy, I have not done this yet myself so cannot report how well it works.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209044

Posted by
381 posts

My experience was the same as "Carol now retired." The last time I was abroad, just before the pandemic, I had an international plan for $60 for a month, but I had to call AT&T to sign up for it. They were not advertising this plan on their website.

Their plan that involves charging you by the day for days that you use the phone is significantly more expensive than the previous monthly plan, and that's why they push it.

If you're concerned about cost, I'm not sure why you would need to buy two plans for phones for a couple traveling together. Can you get by with just one connected phone between you for the trip?

Posted by
69 posts

I am a long time ATT wireless customer and have always used 30 day Passport plan when traveling. Cost is $70 for 2GB of data and reduced rate for voice. My spouse keeps her phone on airplane mode and just uses wifi for communication. I just checked and the 30 day Passport plan is easily added on ATT website.

Posted by
420 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions:
Carol now retired (Me Too): I'm waiting on a call back from At&T to ask what all my options are. Will report back.
AlanJ: Unfortunately our phones are 11Pro, so doesn't support 2 SIM cards ...Hmm. maybe we should have upgraded.
Simpgolf: The Passport plan expired August 12. Hoping maybe we can still get it.
marcia: For our earlier trips, only hubby got the International Plan, but later we decided to add both phones. It was a good thing we had it when his phone was stolen in Barcelona and so we immediately called AT&T to "wipe clean" his phone.

Posted by
189 posts

I agree that you will get better help talking to a live person.
Call AT&T and ask to speak to the Loyalty Department and ask if they can help before you approach their competitor. Sometimes they have perks and promos that are not advertised. Good luck and safe travels!

Posted by
149 posts

I was AT&T customer on my prior trips to Europe.
I did not like the "Plan" it offered and took an unlocked phone instead ( I always keep my previous phone handy getting it unlocked after my contract ends)

By doing this, I simply purchased a sim card in the local economy when I arrived and the cost was CONSIDERABLY less than what the "Plan" cost. Seems maybe 20 euro for several GB of data.

If you have - or can have access to - an unlocked phone, look into going with a sim card upon arrival in the country where you are traveling.

Posted by
2396 posts

for a 2 week trip, I'd recommend buying an unlocked phone and buying a local SIM card upon arrival. Just a quick google will show the providers and their options. You'll have a local phone number and plenty of data for Google maps, train schedules, etc. and if it allows mobile hotspot, you can also have your tablets and laptops using your data.

Otherwise the standard recommendation is to stay in airplane mode, use only wifi and Whatsapp.

Posted by
5 posts

We have AT&T and whenever we travel outside US, we keep our phones on Airplane Mode. We are then able to use Wi-Fi and have never had a problem. We use WhatsApp to make any calls, which are free over Wi-Fi.

Posted by
836 posts

Have you considered Google Fi? It allows you to travel to most countries without having to buy local SIMs. You can turn it on or off whenever you like. I use it all the time.

Posted by
1294 posts

iPhones since the XS have been dual SIM. One physical SIM slot and E SIM capable.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209044

In order to use a local SIM (physical or E) your phone will need to be unlocked. The few times I have checked foreign, mostly UK, cell carriers they have not offered E SIMs on their pay as you go plans. I have used a local physical SIM for my pre pandemic trips. Inexpensive and great service. Only downside is I lose access to my US number. Not a problem for me and it’s useful to have a local number. If I could move my home service to the E SIM then I would retain the capstone receive calls and texts to my regular number.

Posted by
2678 posts

I am stuck with ATT for several reasons. Unfortunately getting a local sim or other phone is not a possibility for me. If you get another phone you obviously don’t have YOUR phone, which means you loose your apps, camera (very important!), everything. A local sim would prevent that, but your phone needs to be unlocked and you then don’t have your phone number active so can’t get calls and texts. A non-starter for those of us who need to stay in contact with home, like for work/sick relatives/neighbors reporting that a tree fell on your house (this actually happened).

So I do use the day pass at the rate you quote. $10/day, $5 for the second line, charged 10 days/month. So $150/month for 2 phones. I’d rather not pay it but it is worth it until I can switch from ATT. I do leave it on WiFi some days to cut the bill, most things do work, but there are times cellular is valuable. Ordering ride share, for example, or getting point to point directions, or looking up info on a sight or restaurant in an area with no WiFi.

Posted by
420 posts

Reporting back: I did speak to AT&T's customer service dept., and couldn't get the old Passport plan. So, we did consider all our options, including taking an extra phone for a local SIM card, turning off cellular, adding only one phone to the International Plan. But...in the end, we have decided to purchase the only International Plan offered., for lots of reasons, mainly mentioned by Mira. We are retired, so phone # not necessary for work, but I only take photos with my phone, and we'll be using the train a lot.
Sometimes, it is necessary to have your phone # accessible. We were in Paris a couple of years ago, when I got a call from my CC company. Someone in New York was using my cc fraudelently, even though I had the physical card with me.
Unfortunately, our trip will extend over 2 billing cycles, and so our total cost will be $270 for 3 ½ weeks. But it is "Switzerland, the most expensive country." And, I think what finally helped make the decision was the 270 CHF/night hotel room in Luzern, which is our big splurge. Our thinking, "If we can spend that much on one night's lodging, we shouldn't hesitate to have the convenience of 2 cell phones on our trip.
I do appreciate all who give good advice.

Posted by
1670 posts

A good example of how the same plan isn’t right for everyone’s situation. Glad you were able to hear about options and choose what will work for you. :)

Posted by
2289 posts

I just checked and they still offer what I have used on several trips--the International Day Pass, $10 per day, only charged if you use it, same amount of data, etc as your regular phone plan. I find that on a 14 day trip I may only use it perhaps 10 days, and it allows me to call my elderly parents every day if I want without worrying about running up a huge bill that occurred previously when billed by the minute.

Posted by
69 posts

Carol, I am surprised that ATT told you that 30 day Passport plan is no longer available. I just went to ATT website which shows 30 day Passport plan with 2GB data and discounted phone rates for $70.

Posted by
567 posts

Just a heads up for anyone using the AT&T international day pass plan. We had that set up for our 3 phone lines for our trip to Iceland in August. When we got home the bill was enormous, and sure enough there was a big error. We were charged for the plan, which is correct, but they also charged us roaming and also overcharged us one day on one of the lines (charged us $10 and it should have been $5) as wells charged us for one text which.

It took three phone calls to finally get the charges reversed. So just keep an eye on your bill to make sure that you are not paying twice. Our bill is on autopay, but the large amount is what alerted me.

Posted by
1 posts

The Passport plan is still available, but only as a grandfathered plan. If you already have it, you can access it. If you don’t have it, you aren’t eligible and need to use the $10/day if you want to use AT&Ts plan.

Posted by
567 posts

scheidrica--When I called to ask about that, they said it was not available and we have had AT&T since 1999. That would have been cheaper for us. I will check again before our trip in February.