T-Mobile’s Simple Choice International phone plan is amazing. For $50 you get unlimited texting, unlimited data, and 20 cent/minute calls in 140+ countries. What’s even cooler is that you don’t have to sign up for anything or update your account—it just works.
When you land, your phone pings the local provider, authenticates your plan, and you hit the ground running. No buying confusing (expensive) preloaded SIM cards with unfamiliar country codes, restrictive plans, and a new number for each destination. No shocking triple digit overage charges. Just unlimited, if a little sluggish, data and texting.
But things at T-Mobile are changing. Gone is the Simple Choice International plan (unless you’re grandfathered into the plan). Instead, they’ve added a new, more expensive, option that covers everything. But does it really? T-Mobile is the digital nomad’s cell provider of choice, but it’s not always awesome, and it might not be the best in town for long.
Let’s take a look at what to expect from T-Mobile’s new three-tiered international roaming plan, and a few alternatives for when things go wrong, the data is too slow, your country isn’t covered, or you’re just looking for a better way.
Disclaimer: This is not a paid endorsement of T-Mobile, Sprint, or any cell phone company listed below. Any positive—or negative—review is my own opinion.
T-Mobile One Plan: The New International Roaming Plan
Single line plans under the new T-Mobile One plan start at $70—taxes included. Bundling all the fees, surcharges, and taxes into a flat price is pretty cool, but there is a noticeable price increase over the previous basic international plan.
If you’re traveling with the whole family, you get a discount on multiple lines, down to $40/line for four phone plans but, for the solo traveler, it’s still a price increase, so we’ll stick with the $70/month single plan for this review.
Here’s what you get with T-Mobile One ($70/month):
- Unlimited international texting
- Unlimited international data—up to 3G speeds (which is actually pretty danged fast)
- 1 Free Hour of GoGo wifi on Domestic (American) flights + free texting
- Unlimited video and audio streaming with from Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora with BingeOn and MusicFreedom
- International calls from Europe (landlines and mobile) at 20 cents/minute
- Full domestic coverage in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.
Upgrades to the T-Mobile One Plan
Business travelers or digital nomads might want to consider upgrading to the T-Mobile One+ plan and the International One+ plan (there’s always a “+”).
Here’s what you get with T-Mobile One+ ($85/month):
- All of the above plus…
- Free GoGo unlimited inflight wifi (domestic flights)
- Free unlimited HD day passes for top quality streaming service
Here’s what you get with T-Mobile One+ International ($95/month):
- All of the above plus…
- Unlimited cell phone wifi hotspot data
- Unlimited free international calling to international landlines in 70+ countries and mobile numbers in 30+ countries
T-Mobile is good but might not be the cheapest (or fastest) anymore.
T-mobile’s international plans aren’t quite as “simple” as they used to be, but they’re still one of the most reliable international cell phone plans around. The new price of $70/month is a significant jump up from the original $50/month Simple Choice International Plan that users have known (and loved!) for years, but it comes with increased service and speeds.
You won’t always have 3G data speeds but, when you do, it’s almost like what you’re used to. Allow for extra time to do the little things you take for granted—10 seconds to load Instagram, 5 seconds to refresh a page—but you shouldn’t want to be checking all that stuff on your phone anyway. You’re traveling! Get back out there and do something cool in real life.
T-Mobile also provides “data kickback” that refunds you $10/month if you use less than 2GB of data, so that’s something. It’s kind of like rollover minutes (remember those?!), but let’s be honest—you’re never going to be under 2GB of data in a month. Still, it’s a nice thought.
T-Mobile is usually great, but what happens when it isn’t? Click to continue…