What Phone Are You Bringing Abroad? Here’s how I saved hundreds.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I know which phone I’m bringing with me to South Africa, and Switzerland, and France, and Argentina, and on and on. It’s my iPhone with service by T-Mobile.

In days gone by, I used to bring two phones: my iPhone and another simpler phone for which I would buy a sim card for each country I would visit. Why? Because calls on my iPhone (with my previous carrier) cost $1.25/minute, sometimes more. And that’s incoming and outgoing calls, local and long distance. Texting was $0.25-$0.50 and don’t event get me started on data. On one trip my tab was over $600!

T-Mobile

T-Mobile

But that all changed when T-Mobile launched several salvos toward the US mobile market as part of their multi-part “UnCarrier” campaign/strategy (no more contacts; unlimited calling, texting and data domestically for one flat fee; free international texting and free basic data (3G or below); unheard of 0.20 per min calls while abroad in over 100 countries; free data tethering, will pay your early termination fee, etc). So, I switched to T-Mobile. Their basic service is not much less inexpensive than other carriers, but the really big savings come when you bring the phone abroad. All calls you place or receive while abroad are $0.20/minute (local calls, long distance calls, and incoming calls). Even better, texting while abroad (picture and text, send and receive) AND basic data are free (albeit at a bit slower 3G-speeds or less [still fast enough to check email, look up directions or do a quick post Facebook]). You can even use your smart phone to tether your computer anywhere there isn’t wifi service (although I’m not sure if free tethering applies abroad).

oldcell1No more turning off my IPhone so I wouldn’t be charged for incoming calls. No more bringing a second phone, buying a sim card for about $30 bucks and then paying about $0.30-$0.70 for local calls, and then discarding the sim card because it’s useless after a year. No more flinching when my daughter would call my wife abroad multiple times a day and for looonnnnggg minutes at a time as the image of numbers and dollar signs scrolling upward dinging as on a gas pump haunted me. No more monitoring my data use multiple times a day in fear of outlandish overage charges. No more scrambling to find the nearest wifi hotspot or waiting to get back to the hotel. Can you tell it feels very liberating now? Long live the Un-carrier revolution.

Remember, that I get no remuneration from T-Mobile for writing this article. This is merely based on my experience over the years traveling abroad. It really has saved me a lot of money and hassle abroad. In fairness, it didn’t take long for the other US carriers to follow suit domestically with no more contracts and similarly priced plans (domestically they’re all pretty close now in price) – and while T-mobile isn’t perfect (and some carriers may have better coverage in certain areas domestically for example), the pure fact is that none of the other US carriers can even touch or come close to T-Mobile’s international offering. I’m sticking with T-Mobile, and if you do a lot of traveling, you should seriously consider switching. It is liberating.

 

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Japger says:

    Do the local people, e.g., your friends or business associates in South Africa, have to pay their international rates to call you on your T-Mobile US number while you are in that country?

  • WineLoversTours says:

    Hi Japger! Thanks for your comment. No, for those in the US or Canada calling, it would basically be the same as if I were still in the US and they were calling me locally. That includes texting, etc. However, if I were doing a wine in France for example and my French friends or wine contacts there called me, they would pay the same long distance charges when I am there as they would normally when I am in the US because my number is still US based number.

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