Best International Cell Phone Plans

From AT&T to Project Fi, these are the international phone plans that will keep you in touch near or far.

Overview

With all the choices for international cell phone plans out there, phoning home seems easier for E.T. than for your average traveler.

Whether you prefer a traditional cell phone plan or you want to go with prepaid, we’ve picked out top choices for international cell phone plans and covered the pros and cons of each here.

All of these plans are good in their own way, so treat this like a choose-your-own-adventure story and follow your heart.

Best international phone plans comparison

ProviderPlan or add on*Learn more
AT&TInternational Day PassSee plan
VerizonAbove UnlimitedSee plan
T-MobileONE PlusSee plan
Mint MobileBase planSee plan
Project FiBase planSee plan
MetroPCSMexico Unlimited, Canada Unlimited, Global Voice, Global Voice+See plan
TingBase planSee plan
Cricket WirelessCricket International, individual country add-onsSee plan

* Country-by-country call, text, and data rates may apply.

Some international plans, like Verizon’s Above Unlimited plan, may cancel or limit your cell phone service if you spend more than 50% of your talk, text, or data allowances in another country over a certain period of time.

If you’re planning a long trip (a month or more) and want to use your phone often while globetrotting, make sure to check for these types of restrictions so you can avoid a nasty surprise.

Best postpaid international plans

AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile round out our top choices for international plans from the four biggest cell phone companies.

All of the top four wireless carriers—AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon—offer international options. But unsurprisingly, some are better than others. We think AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon offer the best solutions.

Before we dig into the nitty-gritty, let’s take a gander at how our picks from those three stack up against each other.

AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile international plans comparison

FeaturesAT&T International Day PassVerizon Above UnlimitedT-Mobile ONE Plus
Cost*$10/day plus $70–$80/mo. for 1 domestic line$95/mo. for 1 line (comes with 5 TravelPasses)$80/mo. for 1 line (includes taxes and fees)
Locations included100+130+210+
High-speed dataSame as your domestic plan512 MB of 4G LTE per day per TravelPassUnlimited at 256 Kbps**
TalkUnlimitedUnlimited per day per TravelPassWi-Fi calls at 20 cents/min.**
TextUnlimitedUnlimited per day per TravelPassUnlimited
Roaming costPay as you goPay as you goPay as you go
Learn moreView plansView plansView plans

* Cost includes autopay and paperless billing discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included unless otherwise noted.
** T-Mobile offers a daily data pass that gets you 512 MB of up to 4G LTE data and unlimited calls for 24 hours.

AT&T International Day Pass

If you’re on one of AT&T’s well-priced plans, you can add the International Day Pass for $10 extra per day. The Day Pass is a good alternative to minute-by-minute calling rates if you plan to make a lot of calls while you’re traveling—especially since you’re charged only for the days you place calls, send texts, or use data.

Here’s a quick look at some AT&T International Day Pass features.

  • $10 each day you use the plan
  • Unlimited talk and text in 100+ locations
  • Data restrictions are the same as back home

* Limited to 3G speeds. Data effective 7/30/18.
** 5 GB of 4G LTE data available in Mexico and Canada and then speeds will be reduced.

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Taking a month-long trip?

You might want to upgrade to the AT&T Passport®. You get talk, text, and data in more than 200 countries for 30 days at a time. The price starts at $60 for 1 GB of data, or you can choose to pay as you go for $2.05 per MB.

AT&T International Day Pass price

The International Day Pass is an add-on, so you’ll still need to pay for an AT&T base plan if you want to phone your friend in Berlin and ask if they want to meet up while you’re in Germany.

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Learn more about AT&T plans

Get in-depth details on performance, prices, and perks with our full AT&T review.

AT&T base plan prices vary by the amount of data you need. The unlimited plans start at around $70 per month for the Unlimited &More℠ plan or $80 per month for the Unlimited &More℠ Premium plan (with an autopay discount).

AT&T unlimited plan pricing

Plan namePrice for 1 lineData allotment*Learn more
AT&T Unlimited &More$70/mo.None**See plan
AT&T Unlimited &More Premium$80/mo.22 GBSee plan

* The data amount after which provider may throttle your speed. Data effective 9/10/18.
** Provider can throttle your speed at any time during high-traffic periods.

The Day Pass itself costs $10 per day, which sounds like it adds up fast. But it’s only $10 for any day you make a call, send a text, or use your data, so unless you’re on a long trip and using your phone on the regular, the price is pretty reasonable.

AT&T International Day Pass coverage

With the Day Pass, you can use your phone in more than 100 locations. While this includes many popular destinations, you’ll find several countries are missing from the list. (Unless you upgrade to the AT&T Passport, which includes more than 200 locations—a quick skim didn’t reveal any locations missing from this list.)

AT&T International Day Pass speed

But speeds in other countries may range from 2G all the way to 4G—that could be the difference between downloading a web page in a few seconds (4G) to downloading a web page in three minutes (2G). depending on how much data you use or how much congestion there is. You can find out what data speeds to expect in AT&T’s comprehensive international coverage chart.

This is pretty common while traveling internationally since speeds rely on the technology available in the country you’re in. So if you’re planning to put your toes in the water and your—well, you know—in the sand at Anse Lazio in Seychelles, you’ll have access to only 2G and 3G networks. (But really, who cares? You’re on the beach, baby!)

Verizon Above Unlimited

If you don’t want the hassle of an international add-on and just want a plan that can hang while you’re on a short trip abroad, Verizon’s Above Unlimited plan is a great choice.

While it’s the priciest option out of Verizon’s three unlimited plans, it offers a few extras you won’t have to find room for in your carry-on.

  • One line costs $95 per month (with autopay discount).
  • Talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada are included.
  • Five TravelPasses per month (with international talk, text, and data) are included.
  • TravelPasses give you unlimited talk, text, and data in 130+ locations per day.
  • Outside the US, you get 512 MB of 4G data per day.

You’ll need a “world device”—check your phone’s compatibility here.

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How long does TravelPass last?

Each TravelPass gets you 24 hours of access to the talk, text, and data you’d normally have back in the US.

So if you think you’ll need more than five days of access to your phone while traveling, you should look into adding more TravelPasses. One pass costs $5 per day in Mexico and Canada or $10 per day everywhere else.

Verizon Above Unlimited price

At $95 per month, Verizon’s Above Unlimited plan is the most expensive of our picks. Unless, of course, you make a lot of calls with another plan that charges per day or per minute.

Verizon Above Unlimited plan pricing

Plan namePrice for 1 lineData allotment*Learn more
Verizon Above Unlimited$95/mo.75 GBSee plan

* The data amount after which provider may throttle your speed. Data effective 9/10/18.
** Provider can throttle your speed at any time during high-traffic periods.

If you travel a lot and like to use your phone to keep in touch with the folks back home, this price can quickly be justified, especially since Above Unlimited functions the same as your cell phone plan back in the US. That’s right—you’re not paying extra for those international perks here.

The Above Unlimited plan also comes with a ginormous 75 GB data cap while you’re in the US, meaning you’d have to use 75 GB of data in your billing cycle before your data speeds get slowed. So if you love to stream videos on public transit or make Skype calls from the airport (there’s a reason we don’t trust airport Wi-Fi), don’t worry.

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Find out what else you get with Verizon

Check out our full Verizon review for all the details.

Verizon Above Unlimited coverage

If you go all in with the Above Unlimited plan, you’ll get to travel with all your talk, text, and data in 130+ destinations.

This is a pretty long list that includes a number of popular destinations. Watching the vibrant colors of the Northern Lights from the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel in Rovaniemi, Finland, anyone?

Verizon Above Unlimited speed

Take Verizon overseas and you may experience speeds as low as 2G, depending on the technology available in your country—or if you’ve used up that 512 MB of 4G data allowance.

T-Mobile ONE Plus

We originally picked the T-Mobile ONE Plus International plan, but the company just changed its international coverage, making the T-Mobile ONE plan a big contender in the international phone plan arena.

While you’ll get the same main international perks on the ONE plan compared to ONE Plus, we picked ONE Plus based on a couple of features that could be worth the extra cash you’d fork over each month.

T-Mobile ONE compared to T-Mobile ONE Plus

FeaturesT-Mobile ONE PlusT-Mobile ONE
Data speed abroad1256 Kbps128 Kbps
Video streaming qualityHDSD
Hotspot data10 GB of 4G LTENone
In-flight Wi-Fi*Unlimited1 hour
Texting and data2210+ locations210+ locations
Talk, text, and data in Canada and MexicoUnlimitedUnlimited
Learn moreView planView plan

*On Gogo-enabled flights.

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What does T-Mobile ONE Plus International get you?

Thinking about upgrading your plan? It could be worth it if you globe-trot a lot. T-Mobile ONE Plus International comes with a few extras while you’re traveling overseas. That includes unlimited international calls to landlines in 70+ countries, calls to cell phones in 30+ countries, and unlimited 4G LTE data in Mexico and Canada.

T-Mobile ONE Plus price

Prices for T-Mobile ONE start out relatively low compared to the other top four carriers. You’ll pay $70 per month for one line—but if you want to upgrade to the ONE Plus plan, you’ll need to add $10 each month (and for each line).

That puts your monthly cost at $80 for just one line. That’s just below the price for the Verizon Above Unlimited plan, and we think T-Mobile ONE Plus is simpler to use.

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Get all the T-Mobile deets

Find out what else the “uncarrier” has to offer in our full T-Mobile review.

T-Mobile ONE Plus International coverage

T-Mobile recently expanded its international coverage from over 140 destinations to over 210. That’s a huge jump, and it means you can use data and text friends in more places on your bucket list. Check included countries here.

One thing that’s missing from T-Mobile ONE Plus, though, is international calls. While AT&T’s and Verizon’s international passes include text, ONE Plus charges you 20 cents per minute to make an international call over Wi-Fi.

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T-Mobile’s daily data pass adds international calls

You can add international calling with a T-Mobile on-demand international data pass—plus get up to 512 MB of up to 4G LTE data each day. And at $5 per day, the cost for T-Mobile’s daily pass is cheaper than AT&T’s International Day Pass or Verizon’s TravelPass. Winning.

To be fair, that’s not the most expensive rate we’ve seen. And T-Mobile just introduced a daily data pass option that includes international calling, so we must not be the only ones who noticed this missing piece.

T-Mobile ONE Plus International speed

Overseas, things might start to slow down for T-Mobile. This is common for pretty much any international plan, and it mostly has to do with what network technology is available in the country you’re exploring.

Best prepaid international plans

Prefer prepaid? We recommend Mint Mobile and Project Fi for staying in touch while abroad.

If prepaid is more your jam, there are still plenty of international options out there. We think Mint Mobile and Project Fi offer the best options.

Both offer pricing that varies depending on your location. Here’s a quick glance at how they compare if you’re traveling outside the US.

Mint Mobile and Project Fi international roaming comparison

FeaturesMint MobileProject Fi
Cost*Starts at $15/mo. for 1 lineStarts at $20/mo. for 1 line
Locations included160+170+
High-speed data6 or 20 cents/MB**Same as your domestic plan
Talk6 or 25 cents/min**20 cents/min.
Text2 or 5 cents/outgoing text**Unlimited
Learn moreView plansView plans

* Cost includes autopay and paperless billing discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.
** Lower rates for Mint Mobile cover talk, text, and data in Canada and Mexico. Higher rates are for everywhere else.

Mint Mobile international roaming

Mint Mobile’s approach to international calls caught our eye when we saw the low minute-by-minute rates—and that calls to Mexico and Canada are included in your basic Mint plan.

Here’s what else Mint Mobile has going on.

Mint Mobile offers low rates to 160+ locations.

Mint Mobile price

If you have a Mint Mobile base plan, you can add to your international roaming balance through Mint’s UpRoam service.

Mint Mobile base plans and pricing

DataPrice*Learn more
2 GBStarts at $15/mo.See plan
5 GBStarts at $20/mo.See plan
10 GBStarts at $25/mo.See plan

*Price includes autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

This gets you talk, text, and data in over 160 countries at pretty cheap rates compared to other international plans. Here’s what it’ll cost you to call your mom and let her know you arrived or text your old roommate to meet up while you’re in country.

Mint Mobile International roaming rates

FeaturesMint MobileEverywhere else price
Calls6 cents/min.25 cents/min.
Texts2 cents/outgoing text5 cents/outgoing text
Data6 cents/MB20 cents/MB
Learn moreView plansView plans

*Price includes autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

Mint Mobile coverage

Mint boasts a pretty large list of destinations you can call—over 160, to be exact. Of course, what countries you can call depends on where you’re calling from.

If you’re calling from the US, Mexico, or Canada, you can check which countries are included here. And if you’re calling from another location, you can check which countries are included in Mint’s international roaming plan here.

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What about Mint Mobile's coverage?

What about Mint’s coverage in the states? Well, Mint runs on the T-Mobile network, so you can expect good coverage in populated areas. But out in the country, not so much.

Mint Mobile speed

Depending on which base plan you select, you’ll get a certain amount of 4G LTE data while in the US. Since Mint runs on the T-Mobile network, you’re on one of the top-rated networks when it comes to speed in the US.

Once you hop across the pond, however, your data speed may drop. This can happen while roaming internationally since not all countries have 4G networks up and running.

Project Fi

Is it wrong of us to expect great things of Project Fi just because it’s owned by Google? Let’s just say we weren’t disappointed.

Although you’re limited to “Fi-friendly phones”—which, unsurprisingly, include the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel XL as well as the Moto G6 and Moto X4, among others—Project Fi has a somewhat unique approach to international roaming.

  • Base plans start at $20 per month for one line.
  • International roaming includes 170+ locations.
  • You get the same data rates and free unlimited texts while abroad.
  • Calls from the US start at 1 cent per minute—you can check the rates beforehand.
  • Calls from outside the US are 20 cents a minute.
  • All Project Fi plans include pay-per-GB Bill Protection (free over 6 GB), so you’ll only pay for the data you use—and if you need more than 6 GB to get GPS directions to that fab restaurant in Paris, you’re still golden.

Project Fi price

Project Fi’s prices were a pleasant surprise. The base price of $20 a month gets you unlimited calls and texts (but no data).

That price caps out at $80 per month, which nets you those unlimited calls and texts, plus at least 6 GB of data.

Yes, we said “at least 6 GB.” That’s because Project Fi offers Bill Protection, which means you can customize how much data your plan includes—and if you need more than 6 GB, well, my friend, it’s no extra cost to you. (Up to 15 GB—because rules.)

Project Fi coverage

Instead of relying on just one network, Project Fi hops on networks owned by Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular—and it uses Wi-Fi networks too.

This is a huge boon when you’re traveling, since you’ll likely have a Wi-Fi network nearby. (Unless you like to go all Bear Grylls and challenge yourself to navigate extreme terrain.)

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Instead of relying on just one network, Project Fi hops on networks owned by Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular—and it uses Wi-Fi networks too.

Basically, if you have more than one cellular network available to you, Project Fi will use the network that’s the fastest. This happens in real time, so you can rest assured that if you’re experiencing coverage issues, Project Fi is on the case and hunting down a better network ASAP.3

That network and Wi-Fi hopping gets you coverage in 170+ locations. And those locations include some popular destinations that might just be on your bucket list.

Project Fi speed

Because Project Fi hops onto three different cellular networks and also alternates between a cell signal and Wi-Fi, chances are good you’ll have the fastest speed possible 99.9% of the time. At least.

Sometimes this means you’re still stuck on a 2G network—and that’s just how the cookie crumbles, since some countries don’t have US-level cellular technology yet.

Recap

So which international cell phone plan deserves to be your plus one on your next world adventure? Here’s a quick summary of what we discovered.

Best overall international plans

PostpaidPostpaidPostpaidPrepaidPrepaid
ATT Logot-mobile logomint mobile logoproject-fi-logo
View PlansView PlansView PlansView PlansView Plans

Which international cell phone plan should I choose?

  • AT&T International Day Pass can easily be added onto your current AT&T plan for a short trip—and you’re only charged per day when you use your phone while overseas.
  • Verizon Above Unlimited is at the higher end of the price spectrum, but it includes five TravelPasses each month that let you use your talk, text, and a small amount of 4G data (512 MB) each day while abroad.
  • T-Mobile ONE Plus is less costly than Verizon Above Unlimited and comes with unlimited international texting and data—but it has pay-as-you-go rates for international calls. However, you can add international calling and double your data speed for $5 extra per day.
  • Mint Mobile is a prepaid option and boasts the lowest per-minute rates we could find. And you don’t have to pay extra for calls to Canada or Mexico. We call that a win.
  • Project Fi offers prepaid international service that uses three cell networks plus Wi-Fi to ensure you always have the best coverage available. But only Google and some Android phones are allowed.

Other notable international cell phone plans we didn’t mention

Since we kept our focus on international phone plans that offer both roaming and calling abroad from the US, we left out some other notable options. If you’re still not sure which international cell phone plan to choose, give these a look.

Other notable international cell phone plans

ProviderPrice*Get started
Verizon TravelPass$5–$10/dayView plan
Sprint International Connect$15/mo.View plan
AT&T International Passport$60/30 daysView plan
LycamobileStarts at $19/30 daysView plan
TelloStarts at $5/mo.View plan
MetroPCS$5–$20/mo.View plan
TingStarts at $9/mo.View plan
Straight Talk$10 calling card or $59/mo.View plan
Cricket Wireless$5–$15/mo.View plan

*Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included unless otherwise noted.

International calling alternatives

Communication apps

If all this international phone plan business feels overwhelming, you’re not alone. That’s why call and text apps were created.

Not only can an app be easier to use (you’ll just need to worry about a Wi-Fi connection or data), it can be cheaper too. And chances are you’ve heard about and maybe even used some of these apps before.

  • WhatsApp lets you send texts, audio recordings, and videos. It’s free and works on pretty much any phone—no need to worry about that SIM card. Check out WhatsApp
  • Skype has been around the block a few times, and it shows. You can easily use this app to make a voice call to your sister in Paris or do a group video call and chat with friends from all around the world. Learn more about Skype
  • Viber lets you call, text, or send photos to your mom while you’re enjoying the good life on a beach, ice cold drinks in hand. You know, the kind with little, colored umbrellas. Get Viber
  • FaceTime is available only on Apple devices, but it’s a great way to make a video call to your family in the UK over the holidays if they also have an iPhone or iPad. Download FaceTime on the App Store

OK, while we did say these apps could be cheaper than buying an international plan, you’ll need to be careful. Unless you’re connected to Wi-Fi, using any app on your phone means you’ll be paying for data.

For example, let’s say you’re using a Mint Mobile plan while you’re on a business trip to Dubai. You open up WhatsApp to call your spouse, who then passes the phone to each of your kiddos before you have to end your 30-minute call and go to dinner with a client. That means you’ve used about about 22.5 MB of data,4 so that one call just cost you $4,50. It adds up fast.

The SIM card swap

If you’re lucky enough to have a phone that runs on a GSM network, you might be able to swap your SIM card out for one that works overseas. (And some CDMA phones allow you to do this too.)

If you’re not sure if your phone uses a GSM network, you can check which network it uses with this guide. (If you’re on an AT&T or T-Mobile plan, chances are your phone uses GSM.)

Once you’ve confirmed your phone uses GSM, you’ll then need to unlock it, which can take several hours and requires you to make a few calls.

It’s usually cheaper to buy a prepaid SIM card once you’ve reached your destination, though you can buy them in the states if you really want to. Be aware, though, that once you pop in your new international SIM card, you won’t be able to check messages sent to your US phone number.

Burner phones

You don’t need to be Jason Bourne to take advantage of burner phones overseas.

Grabbing a cheap prepaid phone once you reach your destination may be less expensive than paying for an international plan, especially if you plan on staying abroad for a while. But check the fine print first.

For instance, when we moved to Japan for a few years, we ditched our stateside cell phone plan (sorry, Verizon!) for an NTT plan and phone. One thing we didn’t know at the time is that our contract was re-upped without our knowledge. So by the time we were leaving—three years later—we had to pay an early termination fee to close out our contract.

Long story short: if you’re buying a phone and plan overseas, research all the fine print beforehand.

What does “4G speeds” actually mean?

Sure, we’re all used to 4G speeds by now, but most of us can’t even remember when 2G was the standard.

Normally, you probably don’t give much thought to whether you’re on a 4G network or not, but while you’re traveling, those slow speeds can come out of nowhere.

These speeds measure how quickly you can download information from the internet to your phone. That includes loading websites and downloading the latest selfie your spouse sends you while you’re on a business trip.

Here’s how each speed compares.5

  • 2G: Ranges from under 0.1 Megabits per second to 0.1 Megabits per second. That means it’ll take about three minutes to download that selfie.
  • 3G: Ranges from 0.1 Megabits per second to 8 Megabits per second, depending on the type of 3G technology used. That selfie will now take four seconds to download. Whoop!
  • 4G: Is typically set at about 15 Megabits per second. Now that selfie will pretty much instantly appear. Aww, suddenly we feel homesick.

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