T-Mobile Simple Choice international plans are the best choice for frequent travelers. Cell phone plans include unlimited texting and data in 140+ countries at no extra cost.
I travel every month, so I thought I’d put T-Mobile to the test. Since June 2014, I’ve tested T-Mobile in 18 countries on 4 continents. Although it works well abroad, there are still some significant downsides.
This post was originally written in October 2014 and was last updated in August 2016.
T-Mobile International Roaming
- Unlimited talk within the USA
- Unlimited texting in the USA and 140+ other countries
- High-speed 4G LTE data in the USA (when available), ranging from 2 gigs of data to unlimited
- Unlimited 2G data in the USA after using your high-speed allowance
- Unlimited 2G data connections in 140+ other countries
- Select phones also include Wi-Fi calling and in-flight texting.
Choosing a T-Mobile Plan:
T-Mobile international plans are competitively priced. Individual plans include unlimited talk and text + 2GB high-speed data for $50/month. Higher data allowances are also available.
Some music and video streaming do not count toward your high-speed data, so you might need less data than you think. For example, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and unlimited video streaming through Netflix and Hulu are included in your allowance.
What’s Good About T-Mobile Simple Choice International Roaming:
True to it’s name, T-Mobile international roaming is simple.
When arrive in a country, service is immediate and automatic. You don’t need to turn service on or slip in a new sim card. Just turn on your phone and you’re ready to go with unlimited texting and data.
It works just as advertised and I’ve never received a bill for international roaming. I texted friends and family and used an extensive amount of data, particularly when I was in Europe. My plan? Always a flat $50 per month.
Additionally, you can call home (or any US number) for $0.20/minute. It’s comforting to know you have coverage for emergencies. Just like texting and data, just pick up your phone and use it as normal. There are no hoops to jump through.
Are you ready to buy? Single lines with 2GB data start at $50/month, but family plans are an even better deal! Get 4 lines with 3GB data (each!) for just $100/month.
T-Mobile “only” includes 140 countries in their global service. Calls, texts, and data are expensive in excluded countries. Be sure to check ahead of time online or by phone to see if your next destination is covered.
Extra costs include phone calls while abroad at $0.20/minute. That’s fine for emergencies and expensive for a casual call. Think twice before calling your tour guide to make arrangements or to make a restaurant reservation. Check out my updated FAQ (opens in new window) for more info.
Do you drain your phone battery? Maps in particular strain your battery, so I always pack an external battery. Basic models double your battery life and are small as a tube of lipstick (starting around $10). Power users can quadruple battery life with a compact version for only $25.
T-Mobile may have great service abroad, but coverage in the United States sucks. I wish I could put that in a nicer way, but it’s downright terrible.
I have great service in urban areas, but there are huge gaps in the USA. I wasn’t surprised in rural areas and national parks, but suburban gaps were shocking. Major highway corridors often have phone (talk) coverage but not data.
For comparison, when my T-Mobile phone didn’t have coverage, my Verizon (work) phone almost always did.
Do you have T-Mobile and don’t have great coverage at home? Find out how Google’s Project Fi compares (opens in new window).
The Bottom Line
If you travel to major cities, T-Mobile international roaming is an amazing deal. When it works, it is incredible value.
However, T-Mobile disappoints in smaller towns, national parks, and rural areas. If that’s where you visit, consider a different US carrier and separate international sim cards when traveling. Frugal travelers can make calls over Wi-Fi through Skype, Google Voice, or Facetime.
Read More: How to Make an International Call (opens in new window)
You can try risk-free since T-Mobile doesn’t require a contract. Getting started and keeping my number was quick and easy. There’s no downside to trying it, even if it doesn’t work out long-term.
* * *
Do you have more questions about T-Mobile?
First, check out my Follow-up Review & FAQ (opens in new window)
Plus be sure to read the comments on this post. There are 85+ data points and tips to share firsthand experiences.
* * *
Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links, which help provide support to The Girl and Globe.