Carrier carrier with international rates that just works?

Somian

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 15, 2011
169
181
Santa Clara, CA
Hi,

I've been using AT&T for years, but they keep canceling my renewing international add-on packages without notice and then charge more than the value of the (supposedly auto-renewed) monthly packages for a single call. It happened so often, even after talking to customer service multiple times, that I believe they do this on purpose so they can charge higher international rates by the minute.

A friend of mine switched to T-Mobile because he had similar experiences with AT&T. Their international packages sounded good (although more expensive). After a couple of months of international business trips to Europe and Asia, however, they said they would just cancel the entire plan if he continued to use it abroad.

Is there any US carrier that works internationally and isn't a scam? It's fine if they charge extra for international travel and calls, but I'm looking for something that's transparent and that doesn't keep canceling your packages or the entire plan if you actually use the international service.

If they charge $100 per month I'm abroad, then so be it and I can book that as a business expense, but what I can't book as a business expense is the time I waste talking to customer support or the potentially missed calls because my plan might get canceled because they don't want me to actually use the package I'm paying for.

I have a US iPhone XS that supports e-sim, if that helps.
 

Jasonx82

macrumors member
Nov 18, 2008
37
1
I have att and used my phone daily in korea and japan with my unlimited data/txt/voice with no issues for a month at 10.00 a day. Upon arrival of korea/japan I would receive a intl txt from att asking if i wanted to use the daily intl plan by responding “Yes” simple as that. The plan was activated and renewed daily just by using it. Dont get the prepaid monthly intl plan.
 
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jpiszcz

macrumors 6502
Mar 28, 2010
320
61
Keep in mind though the $10/day is ~$13-17/day depending on where you live due to taxes.
 

andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,343
402
Boston, MA
Hi,

I've been using AT&T for years, but they keep canceling my renewing international add-on packages without notice and then charge more than the value of the (supposedly auto-renewed) monthly packages for a single call. It happened so often, even after talking to customer service multiple times, that I believe they do this on purpose so they can charge higher international rates by the minute.

A friend of mine switched to T-Mobile because he had similar experiences with AT&T. Their international packages sounded good (although more expensive). After a couple of months of international business trips to Europe and Asia, however, they said they would just cancel the entire plan if he continued to use it abroad.

Is there any US carrier that works internationally and isn't a scam? It's fine if they charge extra for international travel and calls, but I'm looking for something that's transparent and that doesn't keep canceling your packages or the entire plan if you actually use the international service.

If they charge $100 per month I'm abroad, then so be it and I can book that as a business expense, but what I can't book as a business expense is the time I waste talking to customer support or the potentially missed calls because my plan might get canceled because they don't want me to actually use the package I'm paying for.

I have a US iPhone XS that supports e-sim, if that helps.
same experience here. I have now two phones with t-mobile and ATT and I pick local plans when IO travel. It's beyond me why to this day there is no reasonable international plan. Especially since some of the carriers are multinational companies anyway.
 

NoBoMac

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 1, 2014
2,840
1,161
Imo, OP and friend did not read the T&Cs for the big cellco international plans. If they did, all say something like "majority of use needs to be in the US". ATT specifically says "over 50% over two months" is in violation.

Yeah, sucks, but not a conspiracy. Those international plans are for tourists. Guessing need to move to a business plan to maybe get a longer international plan.

Guessing EU rules, government controlled telcos, tariffs, etc make offering an open US international roaming plan difficult to deploy.
 

kevink2

macrumors 65816
Nov 2, 2008
1,410
134
Google Fi
If I spent enough time overseas I would strongly consider this. Cheaper than the $10/day+tax I used on a vacation 2 years ago. Easier than getting a local SIM like I did last September on vacation.

If I do another vacation in the future, I'll look at my options then.
 
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KeepCalmPeople

macrumors 65816
Sep 5, 2012
1,292
355
San Francisco Bay Area, California
T-Mobile ONE. My wife travels to Brazil and Singapore regularly, and recently we have also traveled to the UK and France. You get 3G speeds in 100+ countries for no extra charge, and can bump that up for a flat rate per month. Unlimited international data (albeit it at the slower speeds). Phone calls are something like 25c per minute when abroad.

When we travel abroad, there is nothing we have to do with our cellphone plans, and we don’t have to buy local SIMs. You may not be able to stream Netflix, but for email, navigation, social media and web browsing it works just fine.
 

0970373

Suspended
Mar 15, 2008
2,727
1,407
Hi,

I've been using AT&T for years, but they keep canceling my renewing international add-on packages without notice and then charge more than the value of the (supposedly auto-renewed) monthly packages for a single call. It happened so often, even after talking to customer service multiple times, that I believe they do this on purpose so they can charge higher international rates by the minute.

A friend of mine switched to T-Mobile because he had similar experiences with AT&T. Their international packages sounded good (although more expensive). After a couple of months of international business trips to Europe and Asia, however, they said they would just cancel the entire plan if he continued to use it abroad.

Is there any US carrier that works internationally and isn't a scam? It's fine if they charge extra for international travel and calls, but I'm looking for something that's transparent and that doesn't keep canceling your packages or the entire plan if you actually use the international service.

If they charge $100 per month I'm abroad, then so be it and I can book that as a business expense, but what I can't book as a business expense is the time I waste talking to customer support or the potentially missed calls because my plan might get canceled because they don't want me to actually use the package I'm paying for.

I have a US iPhone XS that supports e-sim, if that helps.
To clarify, TMO said they would cancel the plan or did AT&T say that? I think all carriers have some kind of limit (I think 50% for TMO & Verizon) of international data use over the period of a few months. I think part of it is to protect users, and themselves.

If you have an XR, why not move your US service to eSIM and get a local physical SIM? I think carriers care more about data than voice/text usage. I travel often, mostly to the UK so I have had Three PAYG for a long time. I just top it up when I'm heading over and use that. With Dual SIM, it has made a HUGE difference. Verizon on eSIM and Three nano SIM is my set up. The Three SIM also allows roaming in the EU - it's called Feel at Home and I can use it here in the US also but I keep data roaming off.

There is also Verizon Travel Pass which is $10/day but you basically get to use your bucket of calls/text/data just as you would at home. They have an add-on plan as well for really frequent travelers.

If you really travel that often I think getting local SIMs for data is really your best value and would eliminate problems w/ your US carrier. EE (UK) allows eSIM on post-paid only but they also have roaming included on their higher end plans. If you're willing to spend $100/mo US, why not just use that to get a local international SIM for the EU and Asia?
 
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rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
8,343
4,334
If I spent enough time overseas I would strongly consider this. Cheaper than the $10/day+tax I used on a vacation 2 years ago. Easier than getting a local SIM like I did last September on vacation.

If I do another vacation in the future, I'll look at my options then.
Honestly, $10/day seems excessive to me ($300/mo + tax). I usually spend just $20-30 for 30 days service with local SIM. Last time, the airline even gave away free complimentary local SIM cards that we were able to refill at the customer service desk at the airport. Granted, my trips were always recreational rather than business so I didn't need my US number to work.
 
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Somian

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 15, 2011
169
181
Santa Clara, CA
To clarify, TMO said they would cancel the plan or did AT&T say that? I think all carriers have some kind of limit (I think 50% for TMO & Verizon) of international data use over the period of a few months. I think part of it is to protect users, and themselves.

If you have an XR, why not move your US service to eSIM and get a local physical SIM? I think carriers care more about data than voice/text usage. I travel often, mostly to the UK so I have had Three PAYG for a long time. I just top it up when I'm heading over and use that. With Dual SIM, it has made a HUGE difference. Verizon on eSIM and Three nano SIM is my set up. The Three SIM also allows roaming in the EU - it's called Feel at Home and I can use it here in the US also but I keep data roaming off.

There is also Verizon Travel Pass which is $10/day but you basically get to use your bucket of calls/text/data just as you would at home. They have an add-on plan as well for really frequent travelers.

If you really travel that often I think getting local SIMs for data is really your best value and would eliminate problems w/ your US carrier. EE (UK) allows eSIM on post-paid only but they also have roaming included on their higher end plans. If you're willing to spend $100/mo US, why not just use that to get a local international SIM for the EU and Asia?
AT&T cancels add-on packages, T-mobile threatens to cancel the entire plan. From my experience.

With my older iPhones I used to fiddle with prepaid SIM-cards, but it's a hassle With the e-sim, which I haven't used yet, It should be more convenient. Then, I just need a phone plan that allows roaming so I can be called on my US number and use that on the physical SIM slot.

I guess I'll just stick with a "local" plan for the US and get an e-SIM plan next time I travel.
 

0970373

Suspended
Mar 15, 2008
2,727
1,407
AT&T cancels add-on packages, T-mobile threatens to cancel the entire plan. From my experience.

With my older iPhones I used to fiddle with prepaid SIM-cards, but it's a hassle With the e-sim, which I haven't used yet, It should be more convenient. Then, I just need a phone plan that allows roaming so I can be called on my US number and use that on the physical SIM slot.

I guess I'll just stick with a "local" plan for the US and get an e-SIM plan next time I travel.
Well, the problem is that eSIM prepaid isn’t readily available yet. That’s why most us have our main US line on eSIM. And if it’s just 1 overseas SIM, you just leave it in the phone. Maybe switch out for an Asia SIM when needed. You can still get calls on the US line even if you use the international SIM for data.

But talk to Verizon. They are probably have the most business friendly travel plans if you’re willing to pay.
 

AlliFlowers

Contributor
Jan 1, 2011
4,482
11,705
L.A. (Lower Alabama)
I went to Mexico in December, thinking "no worries, I have ATT's Mexico/Canada plan." Evidently they removed it at some point without mentioning it, and it isn't even available anymore.
 
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yukari

macrumors 6502a
Jun 29, 2010
539
274
I use LINE2 as a second number and get data plan when overseas. I then use only data when placing a call or texting using LINE2.

If there is any wifi, I use wifi to call with LINE2. Of course you have to pay LINE2 monthly fee of $10, but since I use that number as my business number, it works out perfect.
 

Somian

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 15, 2011
169
181
Santa Clara, CA
Here's another reason why I need an international number… European banks now have a mandatory SMS-TAN two-factor authentication. This means that I can't access bank accounts without access to that number.

If I give them the German number, it won't work in the US and if I give them the US number, it won't work in Germany.

I need a number that works anywhere in the world and that doesn't get canceled no matter how much time I spend "abroad". I simply don't know how long I'm going to be where. I don't know how else to meet those two-factor authentication requirements otherwise.
 

Beelzbub

macrumors 6502
Feb 6, 2012
362
108
Is your AT&T account personal or business? On our business plan, we have the international plan that is $10 per day, which kicks in when you leave the country. I know some scoff at that, but for us it has been cheaper than trying to guestimate how much data/minutes one needs. It used to be a person would travel overseas and I would do the $60 passport plan for 7 days and we would still get hit with an additional $300 for that month due to overages and additional taxes. Now it is roughly $100 when you include the taxes and what not. That has been my experience.
 

sirghost

macrumors regular
Jun 22, 2014
158
142
Here's another reason why I need an international number… European banks now have a mandatory SMS-TAN two-factor authentication. This means that I can't access bank accounts without access to that number.

If I give them the German number, it won't work in the US and if I give them the US number, it won't work in Germany.

I need a number that works anywhere in the world and that doesn't get canceled no matter how much time I spend "abroad". I simply don't know how long I'm going to be where. I don't know how else to meet those two-factor authentication requirements otherwise.
You are not going to find one that gives you unique numbers for every country you go to, it simply does not exist.

if all you needed was aUS number, then google if is your absolute best option along with local sims for whatever country you happen to be in and if you require that same number to stay active between visits, then you keep paying those companies.
 

rui no onna

macrumors G3
Oct 25, 2013
8,343
4,334
Here's another reason why I need an international number… European banks now have a mandatory SMS-TAN two-factor authentication. This means that I can't access bank accounts without access to that number.
My mom was in a similar boat when she went on vacation.

She needed SMS for 2FA (US banks) but she didn't want to bring her AT&T iPhone since she gets tons of group messages daily. We set up SMS forwarding to her iPad and travel iPhone (with local SIM) and she left her AT&T iPhone with me. That way, she still received all her messages (including 2FA) to her normal number but didn't get hit with roaming charges.

Google Fi might be worth a try as long as European banks allow US numbers for 2FA. That said, I'm not sure what Google's policy is for long-term international usage and how strictly they enforce it.

They have the following statement in their terms but they don't quantify what they consider excessive.

The Services are offered only to residents of the United States. The Services must be primarily used in the United States and are not intended for extended international use. Further, the Services are designed for use predominantly within our network. If your usage outside our network is excessive, abnormally high, or cause us to incur too much cost, we may, at our option and sole discretion, suspend your Google Fi account, terminate your service, or limit your use of roaming.
 

Somian

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 15, 2011
169
181
Santa Clara, CA
Ah you’re right. The EU banks only work with EU numbers... Right now I’m just carrying multiple SIM cards. I’m hoping that I can switch one of them to a provider that supports the eSim... seems to not work with AT&T…
 
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