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T-Mobile Overseas Options

Sorry to ask about a topic that has been posted about. But I did not feel I got a clear answer to these two questions, after reading five threads less than 6 months old. We have two lines under "T-Mobile ONE Unlimited 55."

  1. Is some action necessary simply to PERMIT these Iphones with plenty of GSM bands to CONNECT to partner networks, in European and Asian countries, under this plan?
  2. Is another action necessary to get $0.25 per minute calling versus [default?] $2.59/minute calling abroad?

I plan to go to a physical T-Mobile, but I want to have all of the information in case I get an under-trained employee. Thank you.

Posted by
4436 posts

I have the older plan (simple choice) and there was nothing that I needed to do in advance to use the service abroad.

When you first arrive and your phone connects to the new network, you get a text welcome message with info on how to upgrade to higher speed data. I have never upgraded as the slower data has always been fine for my purposes.

Posted by
123 posts

There is nothing to do. Your phone will hook up over there and you will be good to go (may have to enable roaming if the connection is weak. (Settings>cellular>Cellular data options>Data Roaming). I did this for 2 weeks in Italy and only had $0.80 in extra charges ( I think it was only $0.10/minute for me under the T-Mobile One Unlimited plan)

Posted by
4436 posts

p.s. This is from T Mobile website. Note that it explicitly states that you don’t have to do anything before you travel.

What plans qualify for roaming in 210+ countries and destinations, and how do I sign up?
The T-Mobile ONE, Simple Choice, New Classic and Select Choice plans provide unlimited 2G data, unlimited texting and calling at $0.25 per minute in 210+ countries and destinations. The T-Mobile Essentials plan provides unlimited text and calling at $0.25 per minute (but not data) in 210+ countries and destinations. Log in to My T-Mobile to confirm that you have one of these plans. If you have one of these plans, no need to add a separate feature or service to your account or call Customer Care before you travel. International roaming is included in qualifying plans at no extra charge.

Posted by
607 posts

If your phone is less than 5 years old, it will have so many radio frequency bands that it should have no problems to connect to a network anywhere in the world. However, the only way to be sure is to pull out the list of frequencies on your phone and compare to the available networks in each country. As long as one matches, it should work.

Posted by
4678 posts

Thanks very much for the prompt and useful replies. I was concerned because "T-Mobile ONE" and "T-Mobile ONE Unlimited 55" aren't precisely identical terms, in today's technology market! In fact, the first named product costs more (for only 2 lines), and includes Netflix. (Netflix is NOT a topic of my inquiry ... .)

The other issue is that some (perhaps, stale) pages say things that make me think I need to sign-up:

"Outside the U.S., Mexico, and Canada Our Simple Choice plan. It travels well. Only from T-Mobile, our Simple Choice Plan makes it simple for you to stay in touch while you explore the world. Now get unlimited data and texting in 95% of the places you travel most—210+ countries and destinations around the globe. Oh, and calls? They’re just 25 cents a minute."

I agree that other pages say that this former "option" is now "included" with most postpaid plans.

Edit: funpig, in fact T-Mobile provides a query page where I can input "Iphone 5" and "China" and it replies with confirmation that the phone will work, and a coverage map.

Posted by
7581 posts

I have the same plan you do. My phone has worked like a charm over 3 trips to Europe. You don't have to do a thing. Every time you cross a border you get a text welcoming you to the new country. I believe calls are .20 per minute.

Posted by
4685 posts

T-Mobile has increased the cost of calls from 20 cents/minute to 25 cents/minute.

If your phone supports WiFi calling, figure out how to use it before you leave. Then you can make free calls to US numbers while on WiFi (e.g. call your airline or bank - you could be on hold a while, and 25 cents/minute adds up). Otherwise, you can install Google Hangouts to make free calls home to the US, even to landlines, whether on WiFi or using your phone's mobile data. If you want to contact Europeans, install WhatsApp, which is very popular in Europe.

Posted by
4678 posts

I've just returned from the T-Mobile Store in Midland Park, NJ. The young woman there, who seemed well-informed, and not particularly like a stereotyped predatory salesperson, said that our phones would connect to the networks in foreign countries. But she said that unless we purchase, temporarily, T-Mobile ONE Plus, we will pay something like $3 per minute for calls. (I don't care what my data speed is while traveling.)

I have no way of verifying precisely what she said. I will agree that the quote below (from online expansion of T-Mobile ONE Plus details), does not mention rates for data, texts, or voice minutes. I am inclined to believe the previous posts by experienced users!

"One Plus gives you HD streaming, 20GB of high speed mobile hotspot data, 2X the data speeds abroad compared to T-Mobile ONE in 210+ countries & destinations, unlimited in-flight data on Gogo-enabled flights to, from, or within the U.S., Visual voicemail, and Name ID. On all T-Mobile plans, during congestion, the small fraction of customers using >50GB/mo. may notice reduced speeds until next bill cycle due to data prioritization."

T-Mobile ONE Plus costs $15 a month, monthly until canceled online or in person. She said that cancelling T-Mobile ONE Plus, after a month or two, would not harm my right to my previous (Unlimited 55) plan.

Posted by
4685 posts

Tim, the question is, do you really need the international calling? It seems like you still get free unlimited data and texting even without "Plus." If you need to make calls, you might be able to make them for free with WiFi Calling (or Google Hangouts). If you need to make local calls overseas, you can use Hangouts or Skype and pay a few cents per minute to non-US numbers. (You have to buy credit in $10 increments.)

Posted by
4678 posts

Yes, thank you for asking. Because my mother is 92 and frail, and there are 3 siblings, it's better to have the voice service. We also plan to do some local calling (for example, meeting local friends, from a cruise ship - so I'm willing to pay. When we go to Panama and Costa Rica in January, 2019, I'll have the chance to see what happens without buying the extra product.

Thanks to all.

Posted by
11153 posts

I have the T-Mobile ONE Unlimited 55 plan. I have done nothing to my plan and not signed up for any special offers for travel or roaming. Here is the exact text message I got when I landed in London on September 14, 2018:

Welcome to the United Kingdom! Your T-Mobile plan gives you unlimited data up to 2G speeds and texts at no extra cost! Calls at 25 cents/min. Visit t-mo.co/intl-roam to learn more and view additional data options. Enjoy your stay!

The only difference between this message and the one from May 2018 is the call rate; back then, it was 20 cents/min. I've been getting a variant of this message ever since I had T-Mobile Simple Choice (even before I had Unlimited 55).

So there you have it - your calls will be indeed be 25 cents per minute, you don't have to do anything to get this rate, and the sales staff at your store was not correct.

Posted by
4685 posts

Good info, Harold.

Tim, here's what I suggest: go on T-Mobile's website and do a chat with them. Ask them explicitly about the calls with your plan. I think they will confirm there what Harold has said. Note down the name of the person who chats with you...even make a screeen shot of it. Hang on to that. If by chance you find after you get back that you were charged for calls, you have the chat saved to back you up that you were told no extra charges.

Posted by
4678 posts

Harold, thank you for the conclusive and detailed report!

Posted by
4678 posts

I chickened out and paid for the extra product. So my first greeting looked like this:

Welcome to Japan! Your T-Mobile ONE Plus feature gives you data at 2X the speeds of our T-Mobile ONE plan, up to 256kbps, unlimited texts, and calls at 25 cents/min. Visit t-mo.co/intl-plus1 to learn more and view additional data options. Enjoy your stay!

My main reason for posting again is to warn about the special case of a cruise ship. I later got a text:

Caution- Cruise Ship is NOT covered in your T-Mobile plan! Data is $15/MB+ tax, Talk $5.99/min, $.50/text. It adds up quickly- dial #763# to disable data and switch to Wi-Fi to browse the internet or check emails

and I noticed that my Carrier now ended on the word "OnWaves". So I avoided that carrier for the rest of the trip.

Posted by
16729 posts

I've had T-Mobile pay-as-you-go service for a number of years. Recently I've been on the phone a lot more and figured a monthly plan would probably be cheaper. Plus there's the advantage of affordable service in Europe when I need it, which is not included with pay-as-you-go. I went into the local T-Mobile store to complete the switch. When I asked about overseas service, the staffer suggested that I call customer service (611, I think) a week or so before departure. From posts here it doesn't sound as if it's necessary, but I suppose it won't hurt.

The staffer also asked about the timing--I guess to be sure I wasn't signing up for the plan one day and heading off on a long trip to Europe the next. I have a long trip planned, but it will come 5-1/2 months after signing up for the monthly plan, so I think I should be OK.

Posted by
372 posts

Side note: We have t-mobile and were traveling for 6 weeks this past summer. When we got back and the monthly invoice was tallied, I got a text from t-mobile saying I used too much data in Europe...that it was for traveling and not living abroad. And that if I kept up my overuse, I'd be in trouble. When I called to clarify, everything was fine. But if our trip had been longer, say 2 or more months, I would have have had to be more proactive in using wifi rather than the 2g.

Posted by
342 posts

OP Tim may find my T-Mobile experience (in eight countries, three continents over three years) of interest.

  • The data speedy can range from excellent to miserable, depending on the local networks and the locations. On the average, it has been acceptable for my limited usage (web browsing, e-mail, Google Maps). I did not pay for any extra service.

  • For calls and text, I use WhatsApp for free. I make sure that my contacts at home have it before the trips. WhatsApp was also preferred by the locals in many countries, such as hotels, tour guides, etc.

  • T-Mobile's site and store staff said that wifi hotspot is not supported overseas. I had no problem setting up my phone for wifi hotspot in three countries, and was able to get online with my tablet.

Posted by
4685 posts

The data speedy can range from excellent to miserable, depending on the local networks and the locations. On the average, it has been acceptable for my limited usage (web browsing, e-mail, Google Maps). I did not pay for any extra service.

Your phone should always connect to the fastest network available, but not every North American phone has all the fastest data frequencies used in Europe. Plus the frequencies used vary by country a little in Europe. Your phone may work better in some countries than others as a result, which would have nothing to do with T-Mobile.

For calls and text, I use WhatsApp for free. I make sure that my contacts at home have it before the trips. WhatsApp was also preferred by the locals in many countries, such as hotels, tour guides, etc.

WhatsApp is great for communicating with people in Europe because it is so popular. For communicating with people back home, I prefer Google Hangouts, so I can just call them and I don't need to make sure they have anything special installed. I can even call landlines e.g. my airline, my bank, etc. for free. (Hangouts can call non-US numbers but they aren't free, a few cents a minute like Skype.)

Posted by
4678 posts

In general, our T-Mobile service in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, coastal China, Cambodia, and Singapore was superb. We had good coverage and plenty of data. The Great Firewall in China did affect many aspects of data usage. Interestingly, it seemed to vary with the specific carrier I happened to get.

We flew back from 34 days (relevant quantity ... ) in Asia on a Tuesday and resumed using our phones in New Jersey. On Friday, my wife (one of our two T-Mobile lines) received the following text:

"The majority of the recent T-Mobile usage on line 201zzzxxxx has been roaming internationally. Per our terms and conditions roaming benefits are not intended for extensive use abroad. You can use Wi-Fi to reduce your international usage. See details: t-mo.co/roaming"

What did they think we were going to do with our phones on vacation? Turn off roaming?

I'll also add that both the T-Mobile website and the T-Mobile IOS App failed to provide any access to my account in any of the four countries we had (good) cell service in. It was kind of like the problem with Yahoo email in the corporation assuming that any foreign access must be hackers.

Posted by
4436 posts

Tim, How long did you have T-Mobile service before your trip started? I recall reading that some people have had issues when the percentage use overseas exceeds their use on the U.S use. T-Mobile has never stated explicitly what the parameters are (as far as I Know). Just curious. I haven’t taken any trips that were more than 3 weeks.

Posted by
4678 posts

Sorry for the delayed reply Laura. My "55+ Account"-2 lines was 11 months old at the time we left on this trip. I have had a T-Mobile number for several years, but it used to be Prepaid. That's an entirely different thing, so I think we have to use the 11-month figure.

Since the post just above, I have received (12/12/18, maybe a month later) the same Text Message threat from T-Mobile, even though we returned from Singapore on November 13, and have been in the US since. It has been my impression that, except for the bricks and mortar stores, T-Mobile's "service infrastructure" is entirely automated and quite lousy. But the plan suits my needs.

Posted by
1293 posts

Even after trips of 3 and 6 months abroad never got these kinds of threats from Google Fi.

Posted by
4685 posts

Yeah, I don't think Google Fi cares about overseas roaming the way Sprint and T-Mobile do.

Posted by
8561 posts

I have T-Mobile 55+ plan. I will have spent about 8 months outside the U.S. this year. No messages from T-Mobile. Granted, most of my calls are done on Skype and surfing the web via WiFi.