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The 6 best phone plans for international travel in 2024

Older couple looking at beautiful coastal views while traveling.
Vidar Nordli Mathisen / Unsplash

If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll want to keep your wireless service active for many reasons, the most important being to still contact friends and family. It’s highly likely you’ll also need to use GPS, Google, and other smartphone features during your trip. Unfortunately, even with the best cell phone plan deals, most wireless plans don’t include international travel or coverage overseas. That means you’ll either have to sign up explicitly for a foreign wireless account, or you can grab a burner phone to use while you’re there. Regardless, there are a few options, and we’ve taken the liberty of hunting down the best ones and sharing them all for you right here.

The best phone plans for international travel in 2024

  1. Go with if you want reliable yet flexible international plans.
  2. Go with Google Fi for temporary coverage with existing plans.
  3. Go with if you’re an existing customer and want to use the daily TravelPass.
  4. Go with for another solid and reliable wireless option.
  5. Go with for the best eSIM opportunities.
  6. Go with for specific and affordable coverage in select countries and regions.

T-Mobile

Best flexible option

T-Mobile store.
T-Mobile
Pros Cons
One of the most flexible international providers on the market Not meant for extended use abroad
Affordable data packages with lots of options
International passes make adding coverage quick and easy
  • Price: $60 to $90 per month
  • Data: Free up to 5GB depending on plan and country
  • Options: Talk, text, and data

T-Mobile is one of the best international travel providers because of its extreme flexibility. In addition to its voice and text plans, you can add an international pass for up to 15GB for 30 days to secure data coverage. However, T-Mobile expressly states that its services are “not for extended international use,” meaning your primary usage must include coverage at home in the United States.

Google Fi

Best for temporary coverage

Google Fi logo
Google Fi
Pros Cons
Affordable and accessible pricing Not meant for extended use
Uses existing networks to ensure coverage
Flexible coverage and data options
  • Price: $20 to $65 per month
  • Data: $10 per GB
  • Options: Talk, text, and data

If you’re a U.S. resident traveling abroad, Google Fi is an excellent option, especially if you already use the service. The cost for a single phone line is between $20 and $65  — plus taxes and fees — depending on which plan you opt for, and data abroad is about $10 per GB, with free data after 6GB per month. Talk costs about 20 cents per minute abroad in eligible countries. If you subscribe to the Unlimited Plus plan, you’ll get unlimited talk, text, and data in over 200 destinations worldwide. In some areas, Google Fi will rely on other carrier networks, like T-Mobile’s, to ensure you have widespread coverage. Basically, the most important thing to know here is that Google expressly forbids the use of Google Fi internationally if that’s your only activity. In other words, if you’re traveling abroad temporarily, it’s okay, but if you’re a permanent resident elsewhere, it’s a no-no.

Try Google Fi

Verizon

Best for existing customers

Verizon logo on a smartphone screen in a dark room and a finger touching it.
Stone Staffordshire / Shutterstock
Pros Cons
Excellent add-ons for existing customers Expensive for new customers
Some of the best coverage and reliability in the business
You only pay for TravelPass on the days you use it
  • Price: Adds $10 per day to $100 per month
  • Data: Unlimited
  • Options: Talk, text, and data

Verizon offers several options for international wireless coverage, including Verizon TravelPass and its international monthly plans. With TravelPass, you pay $10 per day, per line, for unlimited talk, text, and data, and it’s accessible in over 210 countries. TravelPass only charges you for the days you use data or send or receive calls. Alternatively, Verizon’s international monthly plan is $100 per month for 250 minutes of talk, but you get unlimited texts and data in eligible countries. The TravelPass option is excellent if Verizon is already your main wireless carrier.

AT&T

Another great option

AT&T logo.
AT&T
Pros Cons
Affordable international coverage options Coverage is not available in some countries
Unlimited talk, text, and data in select countries
Best for existing AT&T customers
  • Price: Adds $10 per day
  • Data: Unlimited
  • Options: Talk, text, and data

Like the other major carriers, AT&T offers a variety of international options for existing customers. Mexico and Canada are already covered, for example, with calls up to 85-plus countries from the U.S. for $15 per month, per line, and discounted rates in an additional 140 countries. You can also take on specific international access for Europe, Asia Pacific, and other countries through a $10 per day International Day Pass. With that, you get unlimited talk, text, and data, and you can add on extra phones for just $5 per day per phone.

Boost

Best eSIM option

Package and card showing off Boost Mobile's 5GB of 5G prepaid data plan.
Boost
Pros Cons
Decent coverage and reliability Data options are limited
Works with any eSim-compatible device
International Connect is affordable
  • Price: Adds $10 per month
  • Data: $5 per 1GB for 7 days
  • Options: Data (talk and text over data)

Maybe it’s surprising to see Boost Mobile on this list, or maybe not, but it offers some great international support via the International Connect plans, and eSIM compatibility. With any existing Boost plan, $10 per month gets you International Connect for voice in over 120 countries and texting in over 200. You will need an eSIM on an unlocked phone to utilize it, however, so if your phone doesn’t support the protocol you’ll need another option. You can also add data, starting at $5 for 1GB over 7 days.

Airalo

Best modular option

Airalo featured image
Airalo
Pros Cons
Pick and choose exactly what you need and where Only data-based text and voice are supported
Remarkably flexible coverage and data options
Works with any eSim-compatible device
  • Price: $36 to $89 per month
  • Data: 20GB over 30 to 180 days (depending on location)
  • Options: Data (talk and text over data)

If your device supports eSIM, you can also use something like Airalo to find coverage wherever you’re traveling. Be aware that standard SMS is not available through something like this as it’s data-based only, but you can still send text and make voice calls over data connections where available. Prices vary, but they do tend to be cheaper than other options, with callouts being 20GB over 180 days for $89 in over 84 countries globally or 20GB over 30 days for $36 in France. You can buy piecemeal based on where you’ll be visiting and for how long you’ll be there.

How we chose these phone plans for international travel

The core elements of a good international wireless plan will differ greatly from local options. Speeds, for example, will be limited by what’s available in the current country or region. The same is true for wireless coverage, which can directly affect signal strength and connection experiences. That said, there are some common factors that you should look for when choosing a plan for yourself or your family.

Price

You’re traveling, maybe even to multiple countries or locations, so you need the plan to be reliable but flexible, and the same goes for the price. The last thing you want to see is unexpected roaming or international charges because the plan didn’t offer coverage in an obscure situation or remote location.

All the plans that we have chosen are feasible in this regard, offering flexible yet accessible pricing that’s clear and easily modifiable when needed to match coverage requirements. Ultimately, these plans reduce the headaches and complexities of managing international wireless services.

Maintenance

With some plans, like a WiFi-only plan, you need to do something to activate the plan and make sure you’re getting coverage — in that case, you would need to disable your mobile activity and swap to a nearby WiFi network. Moreover, some might require you to use a specific physical SIM card, eSIM, or digital SIM card, which might require you to swap out your current one or activate the digital variant. These small maintenance tasks are important to keep in mind because it’s easy to forget the upkeep when you’re busy exploring or sightseeing. We were mindful to select wireless options that make this process as simple or virtually seamless as possible.

Plan Features

As with a local plan, international plans also have varying features. Some allow you to text, access a limited quantity of data, and make calls to supported countries. However, not all plans are created equal, which means some will restrict some of these options or charge extra for using them. It’s important to pay close attention to what you’re getting with your plan so you don’t encounter any unforeseen charges. We’ve made sure everything on our list offers a suitable arrangement of features, from text and talk to beyond.

Unlimited Data

By now, you’re probably well aware this is a thing in the wireless industry: They promise “unlimited data,” but what you’re really getting is not that. The same is true with international phone plans and coverage. When available, you might see data speeds throttled after certain thresholds, connectivity issues in various locations, or even some hidden charges associated when there shouldn’t be. There’s not much you can do about this, disingenuous on the part of wireless providers or not. But you should definitely be mindful of these concerns and keep an eye on your phone bill, just in case.

Q&A about international phone plans

If you still have some questions after reading through the guide, this is where you’ll find the answers.

Do I need to buy a new phone?

It depends on your current phone’s capabilities and what wireless provider you decide to go with abroad. Some devices are not compatible across the different carrier networks. Moreover, you might need to swap out your current SIM for another to gain access, and depending on where you purchase or acquire the card, they may not be compatible with specific carriers.

What are hidden fees?

Typically, when you sign a contract or subscribe to a plan with your wireless provider, you agree to some combination of talk, text, and data for a specific monthly rate — say, $75 per month. However, when you receive your bill, you’ll notice almost immediately that the true cost is higher than what was promised. All that extra, the additional money you’re being charged, makes up hidden fees.

Some fees come from the carriers themselves, like smartphone line access, device payments or subsidies, or usage and additional purchase charges for various services like roaming or international coverage. Other fees include the Fed Universal service charge, regulatory fees, administrative charges, local business license surcharges, taxes, and governmental surcharges, including state fees and beyond. In some cases, you can try to negotiate these charges, but you’ll still see them on your bill, regardless.

There are hidden fees associated with international wireless plans, too.

Can you use WiFi abroad?

Yes, you can use WiFi abroad and while traveling internationally. Whether or not you can access the network(s) for free depends on the provider. Just like here in the States, local coffee shops and small venues may provide free access to service. Others may charge a small fee to use their network. While we would not recommend maintaining contact with friends and family through WiFi alone and cutting off mobile service entirely, it is an alternative in areas where coverage may be spotty or unavailable.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

Editors' Recommendations

Briley Kenney

Briley has been writing about consumer electronics and technology for over a decade. When he's not writing about deals for Digital Trends, he's writing how-to content, and guides for Lifewire, Ideaing, and several other online publications. He's also a ghostwriter for more than one confidential SEO marketing agency. In his downtime, he's either spending time with his family, playing games, or enjoying a good ol' stogie.

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