Hi - I am doing the Prague & Budapest tour later this fall. The last time I traveled (2009...too long, I know) I left my cellphone at home because it seemed like it would be too expensive and too much of hassle to use. I am definitely planning on taking my phone with me this time. Do I just go to T-Mobile and sign up for an international plan for my trip? Or is there more involved to it? Will it be really expensive to use my phone over there? Thank you so much for your help...
Hi, tangiergal. Last summer I traveled on the Eastern Europe tour which spent time in both Prague and Budapest. My carrier is T-Mobile here at home so I don't need to change anything when I travel. The price remains the same $56 a month, no matter where I am. My plan used to be called Simple Choice but now has another name. I think some posters here know what it is now, or you can check that at a T-Mobile store. I have been pleased with the coverage both at home and everywhere I have traveled in Europe and the UK. Overseas, the monthly charge remains the same with phone calls $.20 (maybe $.25 or free when you have wifi calling on your phone and are connected to wifi) a minute; unlimited text and data. Sometimes it's a bit slow when out of the US but that doesn't bother me.
If you have a US T-Mobile plan, you more than likely already have free international texting and data with them. T-Mobile One and Simple Choice plans have the international roaming feature included. Data speeds are usually not that great (usually no better than 3G) but at least it doesn't cost extra! And it'll do in a pinch, until ya get on wifi.
I'd call T-Mobile and check to be sure, though - while most of their plans (and their most popular plans) have the international data and texting features included, you'll want to confirm you're actually on one of those plans.
Also, making phone calls while overseas would cost you extra by the minute so you'd want to avoid doing that unless certain you're on wifi only and using wifi calling.
tangiergal, if your have a fairly recent T-Mobile plan and not an old grandfathered plan, then you don't have to do anything - you've already got the international roaming plan: free unlimited 2G data (slow) and unlimited texting. Calls are 25 cents per minute to the US or to European numbers. If your phone supports WiFi calling, then calls to the US are free while on WiFi. (Not as simple as just connecting to WiFi and calling; you must explicitly enable the "WiFi Calling" feature to use it.)
I had T-Mobile for a few trips to Europe. 2G data was usually OK, but it can be a little slow. Don't try streaming video on it.
I did not have to do anything, and I have the Sr 2-line plan for a flat $60/mo. Voice calls were $.20/min (if I recall, maybe was $.25/min). Spent 8 days in Austria and 3 in Budapest. My wife and I were both on the trip, but not always together, so we called back and forth when apart, plus voice calls to other friends on the trip, plus calls to local establishments, restaurants, bus companies airlines. I paid a total of $22 over my normal billing, and that included both my and my wife's calls while in Europe.
Every time I crossed borders, I got a text from T-Mobil welcoming me to the new local carrier, so I landed in Switzerland and got a text "Welcome to Switzerland" when I turned my phone on after landing, then when I crossed into Austria, "Welcome to Austria". Went back to Switzerland for flight to Budapest, another text, then when I turned on the phone after landing in Budapest, and finally a text while changing planes in Munich.
You might want to call T-Mobil just to confirm for your own peace of mind. That's free.
Data worked well, and was free, but attenuated. Streaming video? Not happening, but checking email, credit card statements, bank account was fine
You may find this helpful:
If you are not now a T-Mobile customer and your phone is unlocked, it might be less expensive to purchase a local SIM card when you arrive in Prague. Vodafone has a store at the Prague airport. If you’re not in a hurry, ask your tour guide at the intro meeting.
I switched from Sprint to T Mobile six months ago and love it! I've used it in Barcelona (didn't do voice calls, I do that over Google Hangouts) for text messaging and data usage and it worked very well. We like that our bill is always the same price (we have an over 55 plan, I believe) and the fact that we now have unlimited texts and data. Also, on Tuesdays, they have promotions called "T Mobile Tuesdays" which often include freebies, such as free food from Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Boston Market, discounts on gasoline, free Redbox rentals, etc. We have even gotten free umbrellas and last week, free BBQ spatula.
I switched from Sprint to T Mobile six months ago and love it!
Sprint has pretty much exactly the same international roaming plan as T-Mobile, FYI.