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T Mobile versus Verizon Internationally

Every time we have been in Europe our fellow travelers with TMobile have unlimted access to WiFi. I currently have Verizon without a contract. Not a fan of their $10.00 a day plan. Is it possible to keep Verizon and also sign up for TMobile? Or am I better off the cancel my Verizon cell service and sign up for TMobile. We will be in Spain and Italy for over a month.

Posted by
2717 posts

Why not just buy a local SIM card when you arrive at your destination? I might be mistaken but I believe that T-Mobile throttles back your speed when overseas. In Spain you might want to check out the Orange Tu Mundo Prepaid SIM Card. In Italy TIM and Vodafone both offer tourist oriented cards. All of them last a month and include roaming so buying one in the country of arrival might fill your needs.

Posted by
1078 posts

The first thing you should do is check their coverage on their website for where you live before you make that decision. In Metro areas, I've found it excellent traveling in the U.S., however it can be spotty or non-existent in more rural areas. I travel to the EU at least a couple of times a year and have had excellent coverage virtually everywhere-even when walking the Camino from the Portuguese border in Northwest Spain, and in Morocco, Israel, and Turkey. The best thing is the ease of phoning local numbers without having to put in the country code of the country your are calling in. I gave up on Verizon about 4 years' ago because they never billed me correctly for my calls in the EU on the first try, so I would spent about 45 minutes to an hour correcting the bill when I returned home. At one point they even gave me a contact number to the international desk to reach so they had the dates and countries I was going to be in, and they still couldn't get it right. Everywhere I travel, it's 2G free data and text, and .25 cents a minute in EACH country I visit! For example, I just returned from traveling to Iceland, France, Italy, and back to France, and that's the text I received as soon as I took my phone off of Airplane mode. Love it!

Posted by
375 posts

Hi - We switched to Tmobile for the unlimited data and texting. It's fine, but can be slow. If you are going on an extended trip (more than 3-4 weeks), you may get a text from Tmobile saying, something to the effect: you are using way more data this month than we thought; international roaming is just for vacations, not for "living" there. We were more or less on our way home the times we got that message, so it worked out fine.

ANd, as noted, Tmobile is pretty average for our domestic/states use. Verizon is much better.

While we haven't yet tried switching SIM cards, we may try that next year.

Or I may upgrade my phone line to the paid version of Tmobiie international so at least one of us has better/faster connection.

Posted by
4928 posts

First question: what do you need to use your phone for? Calls and texts? Back home or also within Europe? Or mostly just mobile data? (probably what you mean by "unlimited access to WiFi" - meaning, they have internet everywhere on their phone, not just at the hotel or the airport).

If you don't really care much about calls, then I'd buy a prepaid SIM card in Europe. You can buy one when you get to Spain and another when you get to Italy (you could use one in Spain for the whole trip, because most SIM cards will roam for no extra charge to other EU countries, but it may not last for a whole month without "recharging" the SIM).

I use a Dutch Vodafone SIM card I bought on eBay for trips to Europe - I have used it in Spain and Italy. The advantage of buying one ahead of time is that you could set it up before leaving for Europe and not have to fool with it once you get there - but it's not that difficult to go into a mobile store in Spain and get someone to setup a SIM card for you. Just keep your old SIM card safe so you can put it back at the end of the trip to resume using your US phone - because without your US SIM card, you won't be able to use your US phone number at all.

Posted by
4928 posts

I would also ask whether you are paying too much for mobile service in the US? If you are not a fan of $10/day for mobile service when you travel, are you a fan of saving $40/month on mobile service at home? Verizon and T-Mobile both provide good service, but they are more expensive than most people need in my experience. A lot of good prepaid mobile companies have sprung up in the US offering much better deals for monthly phone service than Verizon and T-Mobile.

I moved one of my friends who was with Sprint to a company called Tello - she's now paying $15/month for unlimited talk and text with no contract (and 1GB/month of data). She doesn't use her phone much - 1GB is more than she needs. She is thrilled to be saving so much on her cell phone. Tello uses the same Sprint network she was using before - so her coverage is the same as it was before, but she's paying about $40/month less.

I myself have moved to Mint Mobile, a prepaid company that uses the T-Mobile network. I get unlimited talk and text plus 3GB/month of 4GLTE data for $15/month. The only downside is that, although I don't have a contract, I had to prepay for a year to get that price. But for $15/month, who cares? That's about three months worth of T-Mobile or Verizon service.

The only downside of using these prepaid services, though, is that they don't offer international roaming like T-Mobile or Sprint does. (So T-Mobile's international roaming may be "free" but you still pay a lot more for home phone service to get it.) And that's where you'd need to buy a SIM card to use in Europe to use your phone over there. It's too much trouble for some people - I get that - but it is something to consider if you don't travel out of the country that much.

Posted by
10 posts

Sounds like the SIM card is the way I should proceed. Having never done this before, will I still have access to my apps (Like Rick Steves Europe Audio Tours and WhatsApp) and contacts with my existing phone or does the new SIM card prevent this?

Posted by
4928 posts

Yes, you'll still have your apps. Yes, in a modern smart phone, you'll still have your contacts. (Older phones used to save the contacts to the SIM itself, but I suspect few phones do that anymore.) To see what it might be like, turn the phone off and remove the SIM and power it on and just use it on WiFi. You'll get a message about a SIM card missing, but otherwise the phone will work on WiFi.

But you won't have access to your US number. You can bring up contacts in the Dialer to make a call, but if you have say a Spanish SIM you'll be dialing from your new Spanish phone number - an international call, and you'd have to add the +1 for US country/access code in front of the number. (Hint: install the Google Voice app so you can make free calls to US phone numbers, even landlines, while in Europe. Even just using WiFi.)

Posted by
1220 posts

My experience is from May of 2017, things may have changed. I have Verizon on $10 day international plan, the friend I met up with has T Mobile. We’re both heavy phone users for social media, texting, streaming music and video and just about anything you can do with a smartphone.

He found T mobile to be annoyingly slow, almost like a trip back to 2011 smartphone era. It’ll work for texts, but most apps are going to run slow and I wouldn’t try uploading pics until you’re on WiFi

My Verizon $10 a day worked just like it did at home, service was occasionally slow in big cities, but I can get that in the Chicago Loop as well.

Of course, your dilemma is that you’re not just there for a two week trip. The $10 a day can start to add up over a month. I think a month is about the right length where buying a local sim probably makes sense.

The Verizon $10 is per 24 hours, so you can avoid the charge if you won’t need data that day. For example, a long train ride and the train has WiFi, you might be able to not use any data that day and stick to only WiFi.

Posted by
4928 posts

He found T mobile to be annoyingly slow, almost like a trip back to 2011 smartphone era. It’ll work for texts, but most apps are going to run slow and I wouldn’t try uploading pics until you’re on WiFi

Yes, T-Mobile throttles their data speed to 2G speeds for its unlimited international roaming data - and it can be frustratingly slow. (Sprint too - they have basically the same international roaming plan as T-Mobile.)

You can buy high speed data passes from T-Mobile that will speed things up - and still be cheaper than Verizon's $10/day plan. At least you have the option to try the "slow" data first - may be fast enough for many people just for basic things.

Posted by
10 posts

With T Mobile do you only pay the extra $5.00 only the days that you actually use the higher speed.
What I need the Wifi for is using Google Translate for Conversations, maybe looking up a restaurant, or using my location to get directions on Google maps? What do you think? Will I need the increased speed or will the slower speed work for my needs?

Posted by
4928 posts

Mary, most things will probably work at the slower speed. It just may require a little more patience. And you don't have to decide now; you should be able to order T-Mobile data passes as needed. There are also multi-day fast data packages that are better deals than the Verizon packages, I think.

But I would try it and see.

FYI, you can download Google Translate "offline" packages into your phone so you won't have to use data for everything - though I'm not sure how it works for conversations. I'm not sure how effective Google Translate would be for actual "conversations" anyway. I've found it helpful in some cases to communicate, but I wouldn't want to try having a prolonged conversation with it! It did help me order orange juice for breakfast in St. Petersburg one morning...

Posted by
8278 posts

I switched from Verizon to TMobile 14 mos ago and am extremely happy i did. Used to buy SIM cards but TMobile is so much easier and works super well here and in Europe for me. I do pay for faster speed. I use a lot of data and have never gotten a message saying i’m using too much (spent a whole month in Paris last June). TMobile is the easiest, and most affordable service provider for international travel.

Posted by
107 posts

We switched to T mobile a couple years ago. Used our iPhone 6s phones all over London, Paris, France and Spain tours without the high speed add on. Highly recommend it and no more messing with SIM cards. Google translate worked perfect in a small town in Spain where RS arranged breakfast with a local who spoke no english, Worked perfect. Also down load your city maps at your hotel before leaving and use walk mode to find your way. PS if you quality they offer a 55+ plan for two phones includes all fees and taxes $60 mo. Take along a backup charger pack and keep your phone safe.

Posted by
3303 posts

If you are on Verizon without a contract, unless T-Mobile is more expensive than Verizon or if their coverage is not as widespread as Verizon, why not select T-mobile as your mobile carrier?

Posted by
10 posts

Not sure move over to T Mobile because my Samsun Galaxy 7 that I purchased through Verizon uses CDMA and I think T Mobile uses GSM. Think this also presents a problem with SIM cards in Europe. Does anyone know for sure?

Posted by
4928 posts

Not sure move over to T Mobile because my Samsun Galaxy 7 that I purchased through Verizon uses CDMA and I think T Mobile uses GSM. Think this also presents a problem with SIM cards in Europe. Does anyone know for sure?

The two Verizon Android phones I have/have used have actually never been used on Verizon, only on T-Mobile or European GSM carriers. They were prepaid phones that were both locked but I used tricks to unlock them. Most Verizon "post-paid" phones (probably like yours) are not locked. Yes, they are native CDMA but can also roam on GSM, like most modern Verizon and Sprint CDMA smart phones. Any Verizon phone that you would be able to use in Europe (say with Verizon's international roaming plan) must be able to roam on GSM - there is no CDMA service there.

As long as your Verizon phone is truly unlocked (I'd guess yourst already is), no problem swapping out a CDMA SIM for a GSM SIM. You may have to change a setting or two - turn on "roaming" and "data roaming" - to use other SIM cards, perhaps. But it may just switch to GSM/LTE automatically.

Posted by
440 posts

Just got back from London w my T Mobile Samsung S9. Had no issues, except I was disappointed I couldn't play the new Harry Potter game in London very well b/c of the 2G.
I did not buy the upgraded plan, the 2G was fine.
I talked to my husband on the phone, messaged on FB, used conventional text messages as well, checked my email. Even uploaded pics (yes, slower, but it's at least 2G).
Interestingly enough, my friend on Verizon, w/an S8, got practically NIL for service on their $10/day plan.

Posted by
72 posts

"Every time we have been in Europe our fellow travelers with TMobile have unlimted access to WiFi. "

We are on Verizon and had unlimited access to free WiFi last year for two weeks/four countries in Europe, on our phones and tablets. Nothing stopped our free access to WiFi . Our hotels had the password for us to use there. There were a few times I had to use the Travel Pass $10/day plan, when there was no WiFi around. We also used a VPN on our devices for public WiFi use. I can't see how switching carriers would make any difference with WiFi.

Posted by
4928 posts

"Every time we have been in Europe our fellow travelers with TMobile have unlimted access to WiFi. "

We are on Verizon and had unlimited access to free WiFi last year for two weeks/four countries in Europe, on our phones and tablets. Nothing stopped our free access to WiFi .

I think the poster meant they had unlimited 2G mobile data with T-Mobile - which isn't the same as WiFi, but some people don't quite understand the difference. Yes, everyone can use the WiFi at the hotel whether they have mobile service or not.

Posted by
366 posts

I've used T-Mobile for YEARS - have 9 phones on my plan - for only $220 per month.

Went to Switzerland 2 years ago
Spain last year
Switzerland and Italy this year.

Yes, it is only 2G or 3G (forget) but it works fine for train schedules, etc.
I thought it was unlimited at those speeds.

We also use the Telegram app for phone calls to each other or friends (that have the Telegram app) and the phone calls work well.
2 years ago, my wife and I did a day-trip and we called our Zurich friends from the train w/our return time - they had diner waiting for us. When we're home (state side) we use Telegram to converse w/ those same friends.