If you’re getting ready to start traveling internationally again, making sure you have the right cell phone plan can help you reduce the cost.
In this article, I’ll share my top picks for the best and cheapest international phone plans including options that run on each of the major carriers’ networks. I’ve researched more than 70 phone plans to find the absolute best international prices and features available.
- International calls to 50+ destinations
- International data abroad in 200+ destinations with no extra roaming cost
- Includes all the same international features as T-Mobile Magenta for a lower cost
Choosing The Best International Phone Plan
Planning an international trip can be stressful, but thankfully it’s gotten a lot easier to find an international phone plan that works for you.
“Traveling outside the U.S. is night and day compared to what it used to be,” says money expert Clark Howard. “It’s really easy now as long as you make your plans and understand your phone plan before you go.”
The most important thing to consider is what you’ll need with an international phone plan. If you’re simply looking to communicate with friends and family back home, you may be able to get away with downloading a free app like Viber or WhatsApp and catching up when you’re connected to Wi-Fi. If you’re looking to use international data or place traditional voice calls, you’ll need to take a closer look at your phone plan. Some plans include international perks while others offer day passes for an additional fee.
Below, you’ll find my top picks for the best international phone plans, the best ways to travel internationally with each network and additional tips/things to consider when it comes to using your phone plan outside the U.S.
- The Best International Phone Plans
- The Best International Phone Plans by Network
- Other Ways To Save on International Phone Plans
The Best International Phone Plans
If you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to consider getting a phone plan that works for you both domestically and internationally. That way, when it’s time to travel, your phone will be ready to go. Unfortunately, these aren’t the cheapest phone plans available, but they’re worth considering if international travel is a big part of your life.
For the most frequent travelers, Clark recommends Google Fi. For a simple international plan that’s also great in the States, he says T-Mobile is worth checking out. And if you just want the option to travel while still using your phone plan as you normally would, AT&T offers a great day pass that works with any of its unlimited plans.
Below, you’ll find more information about three of the best international phone plans available now:
- Best Overall International Phone Plan: Google Fi Flexible
- Best International Phone Plan From a Major Carrier: T-Mobile Magenta
- Best International Day Pass Option: AT&T Unlimited Starter
Google Fi Flexible
Best Overall International Phone Plan
|Google Fi Flexible|
|Network||T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular|
|Price||$20/month + $10/GB|
|Talk and Text||Unlimited|
|Data Cap Overage||Data slows after 15GB.|
When it comes to traveling abroad, Clark says Google Fi has great international features.
“Google Fi is great for somebody who routinely travels or spends lengthy amounts of time outside of the United States. Basically, your service works outside the U.S. very similar to how it works in the U.S.”
Google Fi offers unlimited calls and texts beginning at $20 monthly for a single line. This plan includes data at $10 per GB and no charge after 6GB for one person with the Bill Protection feature. Unlimited international data plans begin at $60 per month for a single line. If you’re switching to this plan, you can likely bring your own phone with you to save extra money. Check your phone’s compatibility here. You can also read our full review of Google Fi before making the decision to switch.
Best International Phone Plan from a Major Carrier
|Price||$70 for one line; $40 per line for 3 lines (taxes & fees included)|
|Talk and Text||Unlimited|
|Data Cap Overage||Customers using >100GB/mo. may notice reduced speeds during congestion.|
If you’re looking for a phone plan from a major carrier that includes great international perks, consider T-Mobile Magenta. For one line, this plan costs $70 per month with taxes and fees included. In the United States, it includes unlimited talk, text and data (100GB of premium data). It also includes a basic Netflix subscription and 4GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data before unlimited 3G speeds. Internationally, it includes unlimited texting and unlimited data at 2G speeds in more than 210 countries. It also includes unlimited talk, text and data in Mexico and Canada.
“With Magenta, you’ll have very slow internet, but you’ll have unlimited free texting and $0.25 per minute for calling. If you want to use data more like you’re used to in the United States, then you’ll need Magenta Max.”
Magenta Max is available for $85 per month for one line and includes international data that’s twice as fast as Magenta. If you’re switching to this plan, you may be able to bring your own phone with you to save additional money. You can check your phone’s eligibility online.
AT&T Unlimited Starter
Best International Day Pass Option
|AT&T Unlimited Starter|
|Price||$65/month per line (plus taxes & fees)|
|Talk and Text||Unlimited|
|Data Cap Overage||None, but speeds may slow during congestion.|
AT&T offers three basic unlimited plans: Starter, Extra and Elite. AT&T Unlimited Starter is the cheapest plan at $65 per month for one line. These plans all include unlimited talk, text and data in the United States as well as unlimited talk, text and slowed unlimited data in Mexico and Canada. They also include unlimited texting from the U.S. to more than 120 countries.
AT&T’s Unlimited plans are great to consider if you’re traveling to Mexico or Canada. For other countries, AT&T offers an international day pass for $10 per day. With this pass, you can use your phone just like you would at home with unlimited high-speed data, talk and text in more than 210 destinations. And you’ll never be charged more than $100 per billing cycle for the pass. If you’re switching from a different plan, you may be able to bring your own phone to save even more. Check your phone’s compatibility online.
The Best International Phone Plans by Network
If you already have a phone plan with a major network, you may not need to switch plans in order to use your service internationally. Instead, you can add a day pass or travel pass, or you can check to see if your plan already includes international perks for the destination to which you’re traveling.
“With AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, they all three have various plans available for international, and so often T-Mobile’s is the simplest to understand. You get unlimited free texting and unlimited free data overseas in most countries on T-Mobile.”
Below, you’ll find more information on how to travel internationally with each of the three major carriers as well as my top picks for the international plans they offer:
T-Mobile offers three different unlimited plans; each includes some international benefits. With T-Mobile, you won’t have to buy a day pass or incur any additional charges for texting internationally. Traditional voice calls are only $0.25 per minute with each plan. If you plan to use international data, it’s included with both Magenta and Magenta Max; however, speeds will be significantly slowed with Magenta.
- T-Mobile Essentials: For $60 per month for one line (plus taxes and fees), you can get unlimited talk, text and data (50GB of premium data) in the United States. Internationally, Essentials includes unlimited texting to and from more than 210 destinations. It also includes unlimited talk, text and 2G data in Mexico and Canada.
- T-Mobile Magenta: For $70 per month for one line with taxes and fees included, you can get unlimited talk, text and data (100GB of premium data) in the United States. Internationally, Magenta includes unlimited texting and 2G data for 210+ destinations. It also includes unlimited talk, text and data in Mexico and Canada as well as unlimited in-flight texting and one hour of in-flight Wi-Fi.
- T-Mobile Magenta Max: For $85 per month for one line with taxes and fees included, you can get unlimited talk, text and data that never slows in the United States. Internationally, Magenta Max includes unlimited texting and 2G data (twice the speeds of Magenta) for more than 210 destinations. It also includes unlimited talk, text and data in Mexico and Canada as well as unlimited in-flight texting and Wi-Fi.
AT&T offers three different unlimited plans that each include unlimited texting from the U.S. to more than 120 countries. They each also include unlimited talk, text and (slowed) data in Mexico and Canada. For more international options with AT&T, you’ll have to purchase an international day pass.
- Unlimited Starter: All of AT&T’s unlimited plans include the same international features, so I’ve chosen to highlight the most affordable one. This plan costs $65 per month for one line (plus taxes and fees). It includes unlimited talk, text and data in the United States. Internationally, it includes unlimited talk, text and data in Mexico and Canada. It also includes unlimited texting from the U.S. to more than 120 countries.
- International Day Pass: If you have an AT&T plan, you can add the International Day Pass for $10 per day. You’ll never be charged for more than 10 days ($100) in a single billing cycle even if you use it for longer. This pass allows you to use your phone like you do at home with unlimited high-speed data (speeds may slow in the U.S. or Mexico if the network is busy) in more than 210 destinations.
Verizon offers four unlimited plans that each include unlimited talk and text in the U.S. as well as talk and text to Mexico and Canada plus data and roaming. If you’re just traveling to Canada or Mexico, these plans are great options. If you’re traveling to other countries, Verizon offers a Travel Pass and International Monthly Plan. You can add it to any qualifying Verizon phone plan.
- Start Unlimited: For one line, Start Unlimited is available for $70 per month plus taxes and fees. It includes unlimited talk, text and data in the United States as well as several perks (six months of Disney+, discovery+, Apple Music and more). Internationally, it includes unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada as well as data and roaming.
- Travel Pass: If you’re traveling beyond Canada or Mexico, Verizon’s TravelPass is available for $10 per day and works in more than 185 countries. The TravelPass includes unlimited calls, texts and your domestic data allowance. Still, data speeds are reduced after the first 0.5GB of daily use.
- International Monthly Plan: This one-time bundle includes 250 minutes, 1000 sent texts, unlimited received texts and 5GB of data for $100 per line per month. It’s available in more than 185 countries. You can add this bundle to your existing plan for one-time use. You can also opt for a bundle to remain active until you decide to cancel it.
Other Ways To Save on International Phone Plans
If you want to avoid the hassle of switching phone plans or if you’re looking to keep costs as low as possible, there are a few other ways to save when it comes to traveling internationally.
First, be sure to download a communication app such as Viber or WhatsApp to your phone and ask your friends and family to do the same. Now, you’ll be able to communicate with them without making traditional voice calls or sending SMS text messages. You’ll just need access to the internet.
Unfortunately, if you plan on using data and placing calls as you normally would at home, you’ll likely have to switch to a phone plan that includes international features. But if you can get away with limited communication and data use, consider these other ways to save while traveling.
Rely on Wi-Fi
If you don’t want to switch phone plans or worry about any additional charges while traveling, just make sure you’ll have access to public Wi-Fi. Many hotels and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi, and you can use these hotspots to stay connected.
“There’s so much Wi-Fi around the world now. Depending on the service, you may be able to place calls for free over the Wi-Fi. You’ll certainly be able to use all the apps for communicating when you have Wi-Fi available, and then you don’t have to worry about any bill or being able to stay in touch with people outside the United States.”
With a little planning ahead, you can travel internationally without any roaming data, minutes or traditional texting. Instead, know where you’re going beforehand and make use of public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Buy a Local SIM Card
Instead of switching your phone plan or buying a day pass, you can pick up a local SIM card. Clark says you can buy a gig of data for a week and it usually costs the equivalent of $10-$15. Once you have the data, you can use apps like Viber or WhatsApp to communicate from anywhere.
If you plan to buy a local SIM card, just make sure your phone is compatible first. If you’re in a contract for your cell phone, you won’t be able to use a local SIM card because you’re locked to your carrier. Instead, you’ll want to bring a cheap, unlocked phone. If you’re already using an MVNO (such as Mint, Boost or Tello) at home, then this is a great option.
“If you’re with a discounter, that’s when the way to handle being overseas is to buy a local SIM, put it in your phone and use the apps to communicate.”
Relying on free Wi-Fi hotspots or buying a local SIM card for a little bit of data on-the-go are great ways to avoid additional charges on your phone bill after your trip. But if you’ll need to use data regularly on your trip, it’s best to switch to an international phone plan.
Using your phone internationally is easier now than it ever has been. There are free Wi-Fi hotspots all over the world and free communication apps that make it easy to stay connected. Plus, many phone plans now include international features.
If you’re a frequent traveler, consider a plan from Google Fi. Flexible offers unlimited calls and texts beginning at $20 per month for one line and it works in 200+ destinations. T-Mobile offers a few different unlimited plans, and each includes international features. Magenta is an affordable option that includes unlimited texting and slowed data for $70 per month for one line. Magenta Max offers unlimited international data that’s twice the speed for $85 monthly. Finally, AT&T’s Unlimited Starter plan is a great option to consider at $65 per month for one line. AT&T offers an international day pass for $10 per day that works in more than 210 destinations.
For even more options, be sure to read our guide on the best cell phone plans and deals available now. If you do decide to switch to a new phone plan, be sure to check out this guide that we put together to take you step-by-step through the process.