If you live abroad and frequent the U.S., you’re probably well aware that economical mobile plans are relatively rare. International roaming rates in the U.S. are among the “highest in the world” for what you get, according to PrepaidPhoneNews.com, and prepaid plans aren’t necessarily any better: data AT&T’s $30 monthly plan, for instance, is capped at 100MB. But starting today, there’s an alternative: T-Mobile’s Tourist Plan, a three-week, $30 prepaid arrangement that includes up to 2GB of 4G LTE data, 1,000 minutes of domestic calling, and unlimited texting to over 140 countries.
The Tourist Plan is essentially the reverse of a benefit T-Mobile offers subscribers to its U.S. Simple Choice plans, Simple Global, which offers free international roaming to 145 countries. And in principle, it’s not all that different from the carrier’s stateside crop of monthly Simply Prepaid plans. Both net you a bucket of minutes, unlimited texting, and 4G LTE data that throttles to 2G speeds after you’ve exceeded your allotted threshold. But the Tourist Plan, importantly, differs in duration, since it’s automatically cancelled after three weeks, and in terms — you get just a tad less data than T-Mobile’s $40 per month, 3GB plan, and for $10 less. And to sweeten the pot, T-Mobile is waiving all activation fees and offering the plan’s SIM card free of charge.
The Tourist Plan isn’t without caveats. You can’t take advantage of Music Freedom, Binge On, or other any of the other benefits that Simply Choice customers get, phone calls outside of the U.S. aren’t covered, and you can’t roam for more than 200MB of data. And you’ve got to bring your own GSM phone — the Tourist Plan is strictly a SIM affair. Still, the Tourist Plan’s pricing is attractive compared to the mainstream competition. Verizon’s $30 per month prepaid plan includes unlimited talk and text, but no data. And Sprint’s less expensive, $35 prepaid tier caps out at 1GB of data. It may not be as good as, say, T-Mobile’s Walmart-exclusive, $30 5GB data plan, but if you’re touching down in the U.S. only briefly, you could do worse.
Folks interested in taking advantage can stop by a T-Mobile store or “[select] dealers that offer T-Mobile prepaid services” starting June 12.