I’m Falling Out Of Love With T-Mobile

Filed Under: Travel Technology

I made the switch from AT&T to T-Mobile a couple of years ago, and it has almost been life-changing. Up until recently I couldn’t have been happier with T-Mobile. My bill was half of what I paid with AT&T, and T-Mobile offers an excellent international data plan. Prior to that, having international data was a foreign concept to me (no pun intended), so I’m sure you can imagine how exciting that was for me, given how much time I spent abroad.

Unfortunately my feelings are slowly starting to change about T-Mobile. I always thought they were different than the “other guys” in terms of how they designed their products, but their new Global Pass is such a flop that I have a hard time wrapping my head around how they think this is okay.

T-Mobile’s recent international service changes

T-Mobile made changes to their international data plan a couple of months ago. The good news is that T-Mobile expanded their international plan from 154 countries and destinations to 210+. The bad news is that T-Mobile increased the cost of international calls from 20 cents per minute to 25 cents per minute. Still, I’d consider those changes to be a net positive.

Then T-Mobile announced that they were introducing a new $5 Global Pass, where for $5 per day you can get high speed data and calling abroad. You receive 512MB of up to 4G LTE speeds and unlimited calls for just $5 per day, which I planned to always take advantage of.

Why T-Mobile’s Global Pass is so frustrating

I’ve already written a separate post about how poorly executed T-Mobile’s new Global Pass is. Ironically the issue isn’t the plan as such (which I love), but how damn complicated it is to actually buy it. It’s rare to see a company make it so difficult to give them money.

But as I outlined in a previous post:

  • You can only purchase a Global Pass for one day at a time, and up to two in a 24 hour period (which makes it especially complicated if you’re buying it for someone else on your line who doesn’t have access to your account, since you have to do this almost daily, rather than being able to buy it for the entire trip for them)
  • This should be a one-step process, but rather it takes several steps to actually sign up for a data plan

This isn’t the end of the world, but I just can’t wrap my head around why they’d make it complicated. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, because I’ve gotten emails from several readers with similar complaints (in addition to the comments people left on the post).

My T-Mobile Global Pass issues have gotten even worse

I thought T-Mobile’s Global Pass system was already hard to use, but it got even tougher to use, as I’ve learned over my international travels the past few days.

When I landed in Milan a few days ago I wanted to activate a Global Pass. The first problem is that 2G data is so damn slow that it literally takes five minutes to get to the page in the app where you’d add the Global Pass. Like, going between each page takes about a minute, which is ridiculous. But whatever, I don’t mind spending five minutes doing that.

What’s obnoxious is that whenever I’m not connected to Wi-Fi (but rather am using data), I don’t see the option to purchase a Global Pass on my own line. I see it on other lines, and I see it on my line when connected to wifi, but I don’t see it when trying to buy myself a pass when not on Wi-Fi (which is when I find myself buying passes most often).

See, here’s what the “add-ons” page looks like when not on wifi:

The option just doesn’t appear. Is this a glitch, or what? Has anyone else faced this?

So I then started a chat with a T-Mobile representative through the app. He was well intentioned, but the entire process took over 30 minutes from start to finish, including us establishing that there was nothing else that I wanted to add to our agenda for the day.

Here’s our chat:

Then even worse, T-Mobile doesn’t actually let you know when exactly your plan starts, so you also don’t know when it ends. They are supposed to send you a text an hour before it expires in order to warn you it’s ending soon, and then I try to make sure I’m on Wi-Fi so I can buy another pass before it expires. Yesterday I got a message at 1:02PM saying it was expiring in an hour, and at 1:09PM I got a message saying it had expired.

Bottom line

I’ve spent a couple of years now praising T-Mobile to no end for their reasonably priced, industry leading data plans, and for their no-nonsense approach to things, at least compared to their competitors. So I think it’s only fair that I share my frustrations as well.

The competition has caught up, but even so, I still wasn’t thinking of leaving T-Mobile.

This isn’t a huge deal, at the end of the day. I guess I just need to be really deliberate about buying my passes every day, and I can do that if I need to. What irks me here so much is how poorly thought out this is.

Did any executive at the company give a Global Pass feature a try before adding it? Is this really the finished product? Is this the best they can do?

All I want is that T-Mobile makes it easy for us to pay them for a feature they offer, but they’ve instead chosen to make it damn complicated.

Is anyone else as frustrated as I am with T-Mobile’s Global Pass, or am I the only one having these new issues with actually purchasing a Global Pass?

  1. With the new iPhone X dual-sim feature, I plan to finally discontinue all of my T-Mobile international stuff. I’ll keep my T-Mobile e-SIM feature for US calls and US data when I’m in the US. And when I’m out of the country, I’ll have another SIM take the physical slot.

    I figure this will reduce my monthly bill by at least $200 and give me faster data as well.

  2. We had T mobile and loved it overseas. Until the slow speeds got to us. Then we began using Verizon – cause it has better coverage in the western part of the U.S. – So when we went back to Europe — WOW — Verizon was smoking hot — and fast. Much better than T Mobile. Like MeeMaw used to say “Ya git what ya pay fa”

  3. Honestly the biggest issue is the 2g. Many times it’s so bad and slow that i can’t even add the data pass. It just keeps timing out on losing the page

  4. Hi Lucky, I’ve found the easiest way to reach T-Mobile support is via Twitter. And even with 2G it’s plenty fast enough to message them and have them add the Global Pass to your account. Make sure the first time you text them on Twitter, though, that you do so via wifi as they’ll require you to confirm your account which does usually require faster speeds. But then once your account is confirmed they can do everything via Twitter DM.

  5. My Verizon plan has a similar product that is 10/day for a similar amount of data and unlimited talk and text and it is automatically available if you have an unlimited plan. No need to add it via an app, just turn your data on and it starts. Refreshes every 24 hours from when you first start using it. I use it extensively, it is available in most countries I have traveled to with the lone exception being Japan. I needed to pay extra there.

    I know verizon is more expensive but it is such a smooth experience when traveling internationally.

  6. I have had the same problem on my personal account. Luckily the small business accounts are not yet affected by this change… Maybe change over to one of them… But otherwise Google Fi works…

  7. The problem with US wireless companies is that they all generally suck in multiple areas.

    Move from Tmobile to Sprint and youll find that adding an international high speed pass is much easier (when you land they send you a text and you just reply to the text) but then youll discover 6 areas where Sprint is much worse.

    Switch to Verizon, and youll pay more and be happy, until one day they screw you over and you wonder why youre paying more to be treated like trash.

  8. Get project fi. It’s faster and I will take out my TMobile SIM card when the country I am in has super slow data compared to project fi.

    Yes, project fi does work on the iPhone. You activate it on a support device and that’s it. Once the Sim is active just put it in your iPhone and you will be all set for as long as you have that phone and keep using that sim card.

  9. Just buy the $10/month One PLUS – you get 3G speeds internationally; I’ve found that’s plenty fast for travel (email, maps, posting to social media, etc.). That plan also includes Gogo Wifi on planes that offer it.

  10. If you switch to Google Fi you won’t pay more and you will have international data nearly everywhere you go, at 3G or 4G speeds, and with none of this silliness (you use your phone overseas the same way you use it at home). It’s crazy that T-Mobile would have such complicated processes when other carriers have it figured it out seamlessly.

  11. Yes, project fi does work on the iPhone.

    Sort of. And not something a non-techie like Ben would want to play with, and try to fix.

    There are hacks but it isn’t supported by Google.

  12. A couple thoughts… (1) I’m surprised the tmo global pass thing is so hard to buy; they should really fix this. I’ve never used it because (2) tmobile one+ is twice the speed (256k), which in my experience makes maps perfectly functional, especially if local data is already downloaded over wifi. I’ve even made voice calls over kakaotalk. (3) if this won’t work for you, why not get local SIMs? For example, you could just get one prepaid SIM and use it EU-wide. (orange.fr has quite a few options for data/time. I’m sure telekom.de has something similar). The line’s active for 6 months, so with your frequent traveling, you could just top it up.

  13. I have traveled internationally and have had no problems with T-Mobile service. I added the international roaming when I travel. Yes in places the only thing you can get is 2G no matter if you use the Global pass or not. That’s just the way it is. My only complaint is when I arrive home I call them and tell them I don’t need the international plan and please discontinue it. Well sometimes they don’t discontinue it and bill you for the entire month rather than just the days you are overseas. So you call them back to adjust your bill. Thats a hassle. It seems like you should be able to tell them example I just need it for say 8 days and then there computers should stop billing for those days not for the month. I know it helps there bottom line but I have a bottom line too. I can tell you I have noticed from other when traveling especially to Europe T Mobile has the best service. People with AT&T or Verizon had no service in a lot of areas. So come on T-Mobile help your customers and not over charge them when they travel.

  14. I’m mad that T-Mo got rid of their 10 day (1gb) data pass. That was a much better deal IMO, and easier to add every 10 days vs each day now at $5/day.

  15. Local SIM. That is the way to go. I have a UK Vodafone SIM and load it before going to Europe. Now almost anywhere in Europe works as one country so no more roaming charges, etc… I usually load £20 and have fast internet for a 30 day period.

  16. Just what Daniel said. Just get the One Plus. It’s now $15/month though. I got LTE speeds when I was in Amsterdam, London and Dublin last month.

  17. How ridiculous. I wouldn’t put up with T Mobile’s global pass shenanigans for 1 second.

    Throw away your iphone, buy a nice Pixel, and switch to Project Fi. “…reasonably priced, industry leading data plans, and … no-nonsense approach to things, at least compared to their competitors” — that now describes Fi, especially when it comes to international data, which costs a whole $0 extra than domestic data. And calls from abroad are still $0.20/minute (and actually free if you call the US via wifi).

    Fi is *effortless*. It just works, without you having to do anything at all when you land in a different country. Contrast that to T Mobile, and I am astonished that someone who travels as much as Ben doesn’t use it.

  18. I just switched from Verizon to T-mobile because signing up for their $10/day Travel Pass was actually TOO EASY. I would get home at the end of a 6-day trip and see a $60 charge on my bill for 6 days of Travel Pass not because I accessed any internet, but because I had processes running in the background of my phone that needed data that I didn’t know about. Verizon never told me that I was signing up for this each day. There are supposed to be texts coming in that tell you when you have one hour of a 24-hour pass left, but those never came.

    I understand peoples’ frustration with 2G speeds, but I would think that there are also others like me that would rather have 2G for free and wait until you have Wifi back at the hotel, than to be continually billed for faster service that you’re not being told that you’ve activated. Maybe this is what T-Mobile is trying to avoid?

  19. Get Google Fi. Phones can be purchased for $200 on the google website. I’m in France this month. Google Fi is faster than the internet connection at many of the places I’ve stayed.

    When I go back to the states I simply put it in vacation mode until the next trip.

    I continue to use my t-mobile phone number in the states for now. But I’ll be porting it to Google Fi very soon.

  20. I have Verizon for the 5 days of travel passes included. The big issue I ran into was that for the first month you have service you actually can’t use them (I was able to call them and get them to waive the restriction), which seems counterintuitive!

  21. Live and Let Fly posted a similar article the other week about not having good luck with T-Mobile. Seems everyone isn’t having a good experience.

    I have Verizon. I found the Travelpass with Verizon to work flawlessly. It switched between countries fine, worked reliability, no bill overcharging.

    It’s expensive in comparison to getting another SIM card – but it is a good option to have in your travel arsenal for a quick trip or if in a bind.

  22. This seems very cumbersome…poor implementation. Verizon’s plan is too expensive in most countries at $10/day ($5 in a few countries) but at least you can just enable it on your line and it activates automatically if you have data roaming enabled.

    My only question is…here you’re struggling with the speed of 2G, but isn’t that what the previous global plan offered at no cost? And I remember a lot of posts raving about how great it was not having to worry about international data. I saw this with my manager while visiting Brazil…he was encouraging me to switch to TMobile to avoid expensing international data but I was thinking his data was so slow we couldn’t even use a maps application to get walking directions to our restaurant. It might be fine for text based email and iMessage but that’s about it.

    If TMobile can get this to be convenient at $5 for all countries I might be intrigued though.

  23. I recently experienced something a little different. Was in France and needed to call a local number. Thought great, worst case I pay $0.25 per minute. Had my iPhone connected to hotel WiFi. The 3 minute called turned up on my bill as a >$10 charge. I called in and T-mo reps told me that the Intl roaming does not apply to WiFi calling. And since I was connected to WiFi, it was billed at different rate. I wonder if anyone has had similar experience before.

  24. @Lucky sez: “I’ve spent a couple of years now praising T-Mobile to no end for their reasonably priced, industry leading data plans, and for their no-nonsense approach to things, at least compared to their competitors…..[T]he competition has caught up…”

    Well, it is not that “the competition has caught up”. It’s just that T-Mobile’s plans were never “industry-leading”. They might have been ‘cheap’, but cheap service is exactly what they offered. I have been with Verizon’s TravelPass since it was introduced in 2015 and I do not even need to think about activating it when I am about to travel. It activates itself automatically whenever I land in one of the cities/countries where it is supported. Here’s a piece in ‘Ars Techinca’ that provides some perspective on what I just stated above:

    Verizon offers $10-a-day global roaming that uses your existing data plan

    Carrier mocks T-Mobile’s free (but slow) data roaming.

    By Jon Brodkin – 11/12/2015, 12:10 PM

    Verizon Wireless today announced a $10-per-day international roaming offer that taps into your existing service plan instead of charging for every megabit, voice call, or text.

    The new “TravelPass” plan costs just $2 for each 24-hour period in Mexico and Canada, and $10 in more than 65 other countries. [That number more than doubled since]

    Verizon’s press release mocks rival T-Mobile for offering free but slow international roaming. “Unlike other providers, Verizon doesn’t use gimmicks like ‘free data roaming’ to lure you in and then put you on a slower network and restrict your data use while outside of the US,” Verizon said.

    That’s a reference to T-Mobile US offering its Simple Choice customers unlimited data in more than 140 countries, but at 2G speeds of about 128kbps. T-Mobile does provide high-speed data roaming, but it charges extra for the perk—just as Verizon does. T-Mobile’s international day passes cost $15 for 100MB, while a seven-day pass is $25 for 250MB and a 14-day pass is $50 for 500MB. AndroidCentral last week published a good breakdown of the four major carriers’ plans.

    Verizon’s new $10-per-day international passes don’t have specific limits. Instead, they just use up the talk, text, and data you have on your regular monthly plan.

    Before a trip, customers can activate TravelPass online or in the My Verizon phone app. The daily fee will be charged on any day in which a customer makes or receives a call, sends a text, or uses data in one of the countries where TravelPass exists.

    The $10-per-day roaming from Verizon is available in these countries: [get an updated list at Verzion’s]


  25. Beside Google FI a good alternative is Free Mobile from France. 25GB roaming on 3G in EU, Israel, Turkey, Russia, Algeria, Australia, Ukraine, Brazil, New Zealand, Thailand, India, Malaysia, South Africa, Canada, USA and Mexico…

  26. Since were on this topic, in my experience throughout the world, Verizon’s TravelPass works superbly. The only thing to watch out for is that because what TravelPass offers is international roaming that uses one’s existing service plan for $5 or $10 per 24h instead of charging for every megabit/voice call/text, heavy data access overseas can deplete or exceed what one’s plan allows. Before you reach that limit, you will receive warning messages, then you’ll be moved to a slower system when the limit is reached. The best way to use TravelPass is thus to connect to a wifi as much as possible when near a hotspot and to turn off connection to data service when you do not need it.

  27. I had TMo for over 10 years before switching to Project Fi last year. I travel to Asia once every three months and find their international plan of $10/1 GB data to be very fair and useful.

    I had GoogleVoice on TMo and used it for international calls while in USA. Then I found out that, TMo was charging me international rates for a lot of calls placed through GoogleVoice. I managed to get some credits after a lot of hassle and filing a FCC complaint. This is when I decided to switch.

    My experience with Project Fi isn’t very satisfying either, except for their international plan. I don’t get great coverage while in USA. Also the data being utilized is far higher than my normal usage. Haven’t figured out where the leak is.

  28. What would be easier, if they just charged a weekly plan. Maybe like $25 for a certain amount of GB. I was in Ireland a couple of years ago, and at that time t-mobile offered free data during the summer. It was great.
    Other than that you can buy a local SIM card, of your phone is unlocked.

  29. “$5, $10/day”…! That’s crazy. Ultra-cheap local SIM overseas is the way to go, and it’s trivial to change out a SIM card. At home in the U.S. I have service with Ting: very cheap for my usage (runs at 4G on Tmobile or Sprint networks – choose based on your phone type). Hell, Ting is one of the few MVNOs that also works overseas, though the per-MB rates are not exactly cheap. Probably cheaper than $10/day, though!

  30. +1 on Daniel and Glenn. I have T-Mobile Plus and feel the data speeds are sufficient for traveller (social media updates, email, google maps). Also the unilimited data for gogo wifi is great too (I’m a Delta flyer so it works for me.)

  31. I haven’t looked back since switching to Project Fi. Yes, you have to leave the Apple ecosystem, but for someone who travels as much as you it’s a no brainer. Land, turn off airplane mode, go.

  32. +1 – T-Mobile makes it really hard to buy international travel data passes. I’ve had the same issue over and over again in various countries. I’m just waiting to see what the Pixel 3 does to the Project Fi lineup pricing and I’ll probably switch over.

  33. TMo back-end customer infrastructure is trash. Weak security, billing issues since their system cannot handle it once multiple offers get stacked, etc. They were a low-end provider until they got the breakup fee from the failed AT&T and invested it all into increased spectrum capacity. It is a trade-off for mostly equal service at a lower price.

    Either switch from Simple Choice plan to T-Mobile One Plus. Speeds around low-end 3G is serviceable abroad IMO. Or switch your parents to TMo 55+ plan and use Google Fi for yourself.

  34. I use AT&T. It is more expensive ($10/day) but it does at least just work — there are still a few random countries (mainly 3rd world) that you need a special plan for. For the amount I travel (which is quite a bit less than you), it is easy and doesn’t break the budget and lets me continue to use my phone as I would at home no matter where in the world I land.

  35. So easy with Verizon. But as one person said earlier, it is almost too easy as the daily renewal is automatic the first second you use any data. I always just assume I’m in for $10 every day I’m abroad and don’t sweat trying to pick and choose what days I really need the service.

    That chat with T Mobile makes my head hurt.

  36. Honestly, I am still praising T-Mobile. Possibly it is because I don’t travel for work and when I am traveling and not in wifi range I only use data for Google Maps and very light internet browsing. To my knowledge they are the only US Service provider that provides free data when traveling overseas. Yes it is slow 2G speeds but, I have been to many different European and Asian countries and never had an never thought the 2G speeds were insufficient for my needs. Also from the way this 2G speed was routed I was able to access facebook, gmail, and all other blocked websites while I was in China.

    I will not switch from Tmobile while they are the only provider who provides this benefit.

  37. I’m still happy, at least as I write, with TMo One Plus which gives me 3G in Europe (which is ok) and allows me to tether off my phone when I’m not using free hotel WiFi. Ben, try One Plus before throwing in the towel on TMo.

    I just pre-ordered the iPhone Xs Max which will have dual SIM capability this fall when the IOS 12 update comes out. That will allow me to transition to e-SIM with TMo and buy a SIM card for Europe, where I work 100 days per year, making local calls cheaper and easier and to use faster data if I need it.

    Fifteen years ago, back in the dark ages, when I started traveling to Europe for work, there was no WiFi availability (except at cyber shops for €1/minute), mobile phone RF frequency incompatibility and slower than slow download times, no GPS, no texting, etc.

    Things are getting better all the time. I’m sure ten years from now, we’ll all be complaining about some annoying new tech problem.

  38. @Kevin B

    Your statement is inaccurate “To my knowledge they are the only US Service provider that provides free data when traveling overseas”

    Project Fi also offers free WiFi overseas.

  39. @lsbuffs sez: “I always just assume I’m in for $10 every day I’m abroad and don’t sweat trying to pick and choose what days I really need the service.”

    TravelPass’s $10 per day is not why one should “sweat trying to pick and choose what days [one] really needs the service”. It’s to avoid running out of megabits! The first time it happened to me I was in a bar in Shanghai and had accessed by MS cloud (OneDrive) to show some pictures (at full resolution) to a friend, then suddenly I got a warning message that I was getting dangerously low on megabits that I could download.

    If you stay connected to carrier, things like downloading app updates and other services that you might not be aware of will keep running and eating away at you allotted megabits, and then you’ll find yourself with none when you need to something important. It takes but a second to connect to a wifi or turn off data access while roaming. Voice and text remain on…

  40. Count me in on the Project Fi bandwagon. Yeah, the downside is you need specific phones for painless startup. One cool thing with latest Pixel line is that they use an “e-sim” — that is, you never actually have to insert a “real” sim card.

  41. Another +1 for Project Fi. Additionally, you DO NOT need to leave the Apple ecosystem. iPhones are technically not supported, no. However, an unlocked iPhone with some minor settings changes – all of which are easily found on numerous forums – will work just fine on Project Fi (T-Mobile here in the States). There are some hiccups: no visual voicemail, no group texts with Android users, and a string of random characters after the text in text messages from Android users. But given how effortless everything else is, and how inexpensive it is, those are hardly a showstopper for someone who probably spends more time outside the US than in it.

  42. To me the big annoyance is they dropped their longer-term data pass for international data roaming, with the introduction of the 24-hour pass.

    They used to have pass that was $20 for a 10-day high-speed int’l data roaming pass with a 1gb (total) limit. That was perfect for occasional daily usage on a trip. I’d activate it on their website the night before I took my trip. Super-easy, and just the right price and amount of data for me.

    I’m guessing they went to the daily pass to make more money, and to be more in line with their competitors, but it’s both annoying to have to activate a pass daily, and more expensive.

    I think most people who travel abroad will go for a least a few days, which is why the 10-day pass is great.

    One positive thing I can say about T-Mobile and roaming — they had free high-speed data roaming in Russia during the World Cup this year. That was a nice touch.

  43. For anyone who doesn’t know; T-Mobile hired former Trump Campaign manager and Down Syndrome child mocker, Cory Lewandowski to lobby Congress to gain approval of their merger with Sprint. No doubt there are hundreds of lobbyist who could do this job. But, T-Mobile CEO John Legere hired Lewandowski. In the year or so that Lewandowski has been employed by T-Mobile, CEO Legere has refused to address the issue that has been raised daily by loyal customers who are critical of this decision. Tells you a bit about the character of the folks running T-Mobile

  44. Interesting article. I have verizon and live in NYC. Maybe I will look at switching to T-Mobile. When I travel I just buy sim cards in the countries I visit. Verizon international plans just seem too costly.

  45. This process drives me up a wall! Totally agree with Ben–it shouldn’t take 10 minutes to give T-Mobile money. I’ve spent >20 minutes using glacial 2G speeds trying to add Global Pass. Love it when the 2G speeds are too slow for the T-Mobile website pages to even load and I get a timeout error. PLEASE FIX THIS T-MOBILE!

  46. eMail their CEO so the office is aware of the issues.

    The masses toting Google Fi obviously haven’t read the privacy notice. Google own EVERYTHING on your phone when you use that service.

  47. If you have a Droid and calling is an issue internationally with T-Mobile most ppl overseas use WhatsApp to communicate with one another and if your problem ensues based on calling back to the US or even Canada start using Google Hangouts Voice. All together now….FREE (at least for open source users)!

  48. T-Mobile routes your data back to the US (kind of like a VPN) before sending it where you want it to go. Best way is to deal with the Global Pass issue is to load up that page via Wifi, disconnect from wifi and reload the page to get the Global pass option.

    I’m grandfathered in to get the 3G roaming speeds as a part of my plan so I find the connection to be tolerable when abroad.

  49. @Nawaid Which plan is that which has 3G data roaming speeds? I have an older plan (Simple Choice) and maybe I have that also.

  50. Most overseas telephone companies sell a tourist SIM, good for a week or ten days. The cost is less than Verizon’s cheapest international plan if you are going to be in-country for a few days.

    I switched to T-Mobile, and have been happy with their international coverage, but I do still buy a SIM from time to time (like in Morocco) when T-Mobile is not the best choice.

  51. I had similar experience as Ben and @FF1K. While travelling in Spain this summer, the T-mobile website was painfully slow to load, sign up for the day, and give them my money. Can’t T-mobile ramp up the speed to 3G or higher when a customer is accessing it’s own website? I agree that the daily sign up process is the most painful aspect of the whole thing. It would be great if they could bring back the one week rate, or allow signing up for multiple days at a time.

    It seemed that the 2G speed in Spain was much worse than the 2G speed in Japan, Singapore, and northern Europe, when I visited last year. I don’t know if T-mobile is purposely throttling the speed to get more people to sign up for the daily pass, or if it’s country specific. In those countries, I was able to get by on the free 2G last year.

    I do most of my international travelling with the family – wife and 2 kids. To put 4 phones on a data plan for a 1-2 week vacation can get expensive. So at $5 per day on T-mobile, vs $10 on Verizon, T-mobile gets my business. After activating the daily pass, I was able to have the family tether to my phone so every one could enjoy the faster speed, and only had to purchase one pass per day. Since were using the phone for Google Maps, Yelp, and email, we were able to stay under the 512MB limit until we got back to the hotel. Does anyone know if Verizon allows tethering on the $10 / day international roaming.

  52. I considered T-mobile, but ATT is $10 a day for international and I get LTE speeds. I know its a little more, but its so easy and fast. When I compared just my overall bills excluding international travel, TMobile would have saved me $20 a month, so not worth the switch.

  53. @Lucky — I’m considering supplementing my T-mobile iPhone X with one of those Skyroam Hotspot dongles. I think it is $5 or $10 per day and quite fast. All my colleagues in Asia use it when they travel and you can connect all your devices, not just your phone, which is probably super helpful for you since you are blogging from the road.

  54. I use to love T-Mobile when they first came out with their data roaming plan years ago, but not in recent times. Roaming in Mexico has become a nightmare for me. I returned 2 perfectly functioning new iPhone SE’s because I could not roam here and they said both times that my iPhone’s were defective. (Really? my old iPhone 5 worked just fine with my sim card — go figure?!) T-mobile still insisted they were defective, so I then purchased a iPhone 7 directly from the Apple Store (unlocked-to be used on any carrier worldwide) and still could not use my data while roaming. (phone calls and text yes, but roaming NO DATA). To make thing worse, you can no longer get through directly to tech support and usually at best your call is routed through the Philipeans Customer service call center (now navigate your way through that one please!). It all goes downhill from there. Bottom line, I will end up with a customer credit of over $350 w/T-Mobile for “buyers remorse” on purchased equipment, and the hassles of returning a perfectly fine iPhone 7 to Apple that would not roam on T-Mobile. Are you confused yet? I AM! But who knows if I will ever be able to use my T-MobileI credit or not as I am already getting warnings from T-Mobile that I am roaming too much outside of the USA, even though this go around, I have only had their stinking service for 1 month in USA and 1 month in Mexico. (Ugh – I am sick just telling the story, and all T-Mobile can say is “I am so sorry”. Very Poor customer service/tech support who cannot figure out what is “wrong with my account” no callbacks, no reasons or explanations given, no resolutions ever given. I was dropped like a hot potato. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! I will either port numbers over to ATT (who no longer restricts roaming in North America or will port over to TelCel USA which will allow me to keep my USA # at a very attractive rate, and avoid the hassles of dealing with T-Mobile crappy service that no longer delivers as promised.

  55. COULDN’T AGREE WITH YOU MORE!!! I had the same type of frustrating experience when in Germany recently. I reached out to them on facebook (they actually respond quickly there) and shared how frustrating it is to use the service.

    I bought a pass myself and my spouse (painfully of course) but regardless of what time they were purchased, I’d regularly get a message every day at 1:29 pm stating it had expired. When I’d reach out to them they confirm it was not expired and I could make all the calls I wanted to. I was buying the pass in the evening and even captured a screen shot with the text message showing the time it was purchased and the stated expiration time well short of 24 hours.

    I did last year have a Verizon line I used in Austria and yes it was $10 a day but IT WORKED BRILLIANTLY. Positively simple. Turn the phone on. Done. They send you a text 1 hour before it ends. And it was flawless. Full speed. This was Verizon, NOT Tmobile.

    I even offered to Tmobile that perhaps they could allow customers to pre buy passes ahead of time, or buy several days at once. All I can state is that the system is broken bad and I agree with you on this. I’ve been a huge fan of Tmobile for years now but this is a big let down. Particularly considering the other carriers have not only caught up with international roaming but in some ways have outshined them. Verizon offers a plan that includes 5 passes per month per line. That’s not so bad actually.

    I hope they can fix this issue as it’s really bad and takes away the good things they’ve done.

  56. I am just wondering how many of the Project Fi backers here are actually on Project Fi. Things people who never used it won’t know.
    You need a supported phone. Which besides Pixel, are not on par with iPhone X or Galaxy S9.
    Your signal will have some issues unless you are connected to WiFi, they don’t switch to cell towers that easy like they advertise.
    If you are a heavy data user on a family plan. Fi is not always cheaper than the major ones.
    You lose your privacy to Google.
    All this for better customer service and international travelers.
    Still if you can live with 2g when traveling, nothing beats T-Mobile.

  57. Project.FI FTW. I spent 3 weeks in Greece, Italy and Spain last summer. My family is on Verizon, but I got a free data only SIMs for all of them (4 total). I only had to pay the regular data rate ($10/GB) and bill protection kicks in at 6 GB. That’s $80 total ($20 for my line and $60 for data) for 5 phones with virtually unlimited 4G overseas data. The data only SIM cards worked with iPhone and Samsung devices. Here’s a link for $20 off: https://g.co/fi/r/VVP8NK

  58. There is a MUCH easier solution. I’m traveling soon and I did this yesterday.
    I just add on TMO Plus for a month. Its $15 for the month. Thats it. End of story. Those data passes are way too expensive unless you really only need it for 1-2 days.

    While overseas you should just use google voice to call back to the u.s. If you are on google voice internationally and calling a us # it will work like a domestic call i.e. free. just uses data. Best of all, people at home can still call you and not pay a international call.

    If you are overseas and you call the restaurant at the end of the street corner it will still be considered a long distance call.

  59. There is something fishy about the Project Fi fans here. The # of reply supporting is just disproportion to general distribution of each carrier.


    That’s $80 total ($20 for my line and $60 for data) for 5 phones with virtually unlimited 4G overseas data.

    Not saying it isn’t a good deal. It is. Like I said, Fi shines when traveling. But you got part of it wrong, it looks like you have 1 number with 5 sim. But you also forget the 4G data cap at 15GB combined and goes 2g after that. If you want each number to cap at 15GB you are looking at 5 numbers which will cost you up to $240 for a more accurate ‘unlimited 4G’.

    Now if only Fi works on cruise ships.

  60. Get the new iPhone XS Max on Friday and use their Dual Sim capabilities to use a local sim everytime youre in a new country, while still having access to your american #. so much easier.

  61. @eskimo, sorry just a fan. The ability to switch networks between Sprint, T-Mobile and US Cellular in the US is priceless. The fact that it doesn’t cost anything extra to use my phone almost anywhere in the world is amazing. My phone bill is typically $30-$40/month when not travelling – including my son’s iPad as a data only SIM (a service that costs $20/month on Verzion) is just cake.

  62. Huge fan of T-Mobile (ex ATT user).
    Thank you for push to change.
    I am listening to all your comments but very happy with price and service from T-Mo with USA and Mexico/France usage.

  63. Another vote for Project Fi! Here is my referral code: 1FF492

    I’m happy to help you get it set up on your iPhone if you need help. It’s the least I could do after all the great content you’ve provided over the years!

  64. PowerTel & Voicestream were outstanding companies. What morphed into T-Mobile; no. From blatantly breaking the Service Members & Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1946 to the inability to receive a signal in my own home where I live downtown in a major Top 20 metropolitan area, T-Mobile gets a no go from me. Now, Deutsche Telecom is GREAT in Deutschland. Then again, what should I expect in the country with the highest cost and poorest service in the developed world. Rah Rah USA, USA…#1, BABY!

  65. It’s just always going to be better value to buy a local SIM Card in the country you’re traveling to. For example (based on recent personal experiences):

    – Australia: Amaysim (an MVNO using the nationwide Optus network) offer 20GB of LTE data, unlimited domestic talk and talk, unlimited calling to the USA — all for $36 ($50 Australian dollars). Easy to pick up a SIM Card from grocery store or 7-Eleven etc. Even using Telstra (the biggest/best but most expensive Aussie telco) is $43 ($60 Australian dollars) for 10GB of LTE data unlimited domestic talk and talk, unlimited calling to the USA.

    – Great Britain/Europe: myuksimcard.com (seems to be a local seller here in the USA) offer 12GB of LTE data and unlimited domestic talk and talk — all for $40. Covers Great Britain and Europe.

    – Japan: go into one of the hundreds of electronic stores and get a local SIM Card. Plans vary but you’re looking at around $30 for at least 10GB of LTE data. Japan’s a little weird though in that you can only buy a data SIM as a tourist (only locals can have voice/text) so this means you can only use data apps like Whatsapp etc to make calls/texts, but that’s not an issue.

  66. Honestly the sign up problem will get fixed shortly. T-Mobile’s daily pass is the same thing which AT&T and Verizon offer for double the cost. You can still save 50% on the daily charge with T-Mobile.

  67. We went to Japan and Thailand for 5 weeks over the summer, used T-Mobile roaming (ONE Plus) and it worked fine. Then again, we weren’t trying to tether to our laptops or use our phones to watch Netflix while in the middle of nowhere either. “Get what you pay for,” yea actually you get a lot more. 1hr inflight Gogo, free Netflix, T-Mobile Tuesdays with at least one thing a week I’ll actually make use of, cheap additional lines and frequent BOGO on devices.. At a much lower cost than V or AT&T. Please though, switch so the rest of us get better service.

  68. I disagree with your analysis depending on the type of phone that you have. I have an iPhone 8 and I travel a lot for work. The international calling is usually free if I am connected to a wifi network, which I am often when making such international calls because of the feature of calling over wifi. I also often get LTE or 4G data overseas. Their rates are much lower than others.

  69. I’ve been a happy T-Mobile One Plus customer for a few years, with my rate being grandfathered in from a prior special deal, so paying a few bucks less. However, I’ve been thinking of switching ONLY to get a 241 new phone deal. I travel globally 10-12 times per year, so international data is important. I’m now looking at switching providers and only focusing on price and what they offer domestically (service area/speed, etc). I’ve always thought about using Project Fi but now I think there may be a better alternative ? ….. https://www.skyroam.com/go-data-tripit-exclusive

    Anyone have any experience or thoughts about this ?

  70. I have been a T-Mobile customer for over 10 years because I didn’t want to sign a two year contract so I stayed prepaid until two years ago. They better than all the rest out there. I am very impressed with the new international plan. I don’t have to have a local number anymore when I travel to countries in Asia mainly Philippine, Thailand and Hong Kong. Few people in Philippines use voice service but text, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger are preferred and with T-Mobile’s international automatic free package I don’t use my local phone number anymore. I agree with the writer that its a bit difficult to maneuver thru the Global plan but you can’t get a better value from other carriers. Switch but you get stuck in a contract and no better benefits from the other carriers.

  71. I traveled with my wife to Curaçao few weeks ago, using our iPhoneX,8 and GslaxyS8 on TMo One+. The 2G signal was so bad, we had to use the hotel WiFi. Although 4-5 bar signal, the 2G data was too slow or not working. The island had commercial signs about their LTE 4G high speed data (local carrier), but for us on TMo 2G, it was worthless.

  72. I haven’t had major problems with T-Mobile while traveling internationally. I’ve purchased the data pass on several occasions while in Seoul, Gdansk, and Helsinki to assist with navigation. No major issues. Do beware that free calling via the data pass is NOT available on all plans. It would be nice if they gave a choice of 1-day, 3-day, 5-day, etc. options.

    2G/3G/Wi-Fi speeds were fine otherwise.

  73. T-mobile much like other US carriers are not designed for people that travel a lot. I have worked for many of US carriers and am very familiar with the way they work. International roaming is very complex and the agents are not properly trained in it. If you travel once in a while T-Mobile is your best choice but if you travel at least 30 day per year I would look into a boutique carrier. I travel on a regular bases, with some stays above 2 weeks. Knowing the polices of the carriers i had to alternate between the 4 of them which was very expensive. A few months ago a came across pond mobile. All their plans are designed for people that travel and they dont shut you off for excessive roaming. Their site is very business oriented but when i reached out to them as a consumer they helped me out. Im gladly paying $200 per month and not only do i have coverage everywhere i can also switch operators on my phone without changing the sim. This way i have the best service win whichever country i go to. Their site is business.pondmobile.com. Another thing i really like about them is that they where able to give me a local UK number in addition to my US number on one sim.

  74. I use Fi when traveling abroad and T-Mobile when in the US. This is the text of a message I just sent to someone else

    I am using both Fi and T-Mobile right now. My phone has a SIM chip and a eSIM chip. I have the eSIM setup to use Fi and the SIM is setup to use T-Mobile. That way I can flip between the two easily. Here is why. The plan we have on T-Mobile is $60 for two unlimited lines, this is much cheaper than Fi would be, I use about 4G a month. On Fi this would be ($20+$40, $20 plus $10 for each 1G, or $60 a month, just for one line). However when travelling the T-Mobile data speed is awful (2G), for an extra $5/day you can get LTE, which you have to purchase everyday (total pain when phone is working at 2G speeds). Fi however gives you LTE everywhere it’s available. Fi also allows you to disable the service and they prorate the costs. So T-Mobile for a week in Melbourne which I just did a couple of weeks ago would have cost $35 (7 days at $5) on top of my normal bill. Fi cost $5 (quarter of $20) + $10 (1G of data), for a total of $15. Plus the speeds in Australia where much better than T-Mobile, the $5 T-Mobile charges gave me only a faction of the speed I got with Fi. Better still a couple of months ago I used Fi while on a cruise and all the WiFi data was free (it should have cost $350), I think this might have something to do with the VPN that Google uses with Fi.

  75. @Jim try Pond Mobile it will save you a lot of hassle. I have been using them for a few months now and its been great. Also unlike Google Fi theirs customer service is easily available plus having my personal account manger makes life so much easier specially when i lost my phone last week in Spain and they sent me a replacement in 2 days. My account manager handled everything with a 5 min call and kept me in the lop the whole time.

  76. T-Mobile finally came out with a 30day pass for 15gb and unlimited called for $50. Amazing plan and super easy to setup an tells you exactly how much is used and when it expires. Cannot get easier then this.

  77. Its a very good deal. Unfortunately its not available for extended international use. I still think im getting a much better deal for my use.

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