AT&T Gets Competitive With International Data — FINALLY!

Filed Under: Travel Technology

AT&T has finally added a somewhat competitive international data plan, which is long overdue.

AT&T’s new international data plan

On Friday we’ll see the introduction of the AT&T International Day Pass, where you can talk and text all you want, and use your data plan in over 100 countries. The cost will per $10 per day per device for any 24 hour period.

Here’s how AT&T describes the International Day Pass:

  • Add to each device one time and it’s available whenever you travel within the 100+ countries unless you remove the feature.
  • Use in our most popular destinations in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean – like the U.K., France, Italy, China, India, Jamaica and the Bahamas – as well as all of Central and South America.
  • Access your plan data and get unlimited calls within International Day Pass countries and back to the U.S., as well as unlimited texts to the world at no additional charge.

AT&T is copying Verizon’s TravelPass, which offers a similar plan in 100+ countries around the world. The offerings of the two carriers are virtually identical.

This is a massive improvement over AT&T’s old offering (or lack thereof). They were by far the worst of the major carriers in terms of their international data offerings. In fact, that’s why I left them last year, and I haven’t looked back since.

How does AT&T’s new plan stack up?

I switched to T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan last June, and have been so happy with it. My bill is half of what it was with AT&T, I can tether from my phone (which some AT&T plans allow, but not the one I had), and most importantly, I get free data and 20 cent per minute calls in 140+ countries. I couldn’t be happier with T-Mobile.

The catch is that T-Mobile offers 2G data internationally, which is slow. That doesn’t bother me much, though they offer faster data in Canada and Mexico, and also sometimes have promotions for faster data in other regions.


However, if you want faster speeds, there’s the new T-Mobile ONE Plus offering, which is still a great deal, and gives you faster international data.

Meanwhile I should mention that Tiffany swears by Google Project Fi, though it’s slightly over my head. 😉

Bottom line

AT&T’s new International Day Pass is a massive improvement over their current offerings. However, at best it means they’re not way behind all their competition anymore. I suspect this will prevent some AT&T customers from leaving, though I don’t see anyone switching to AT&T because of this.

In the meantime I’m still loving T-Mobile…

What do you make of AT&T’s new international data option, and will it impact whether you stay with them?

  1. You can pay a monthly fee for 4G data worldwide on TMobile as well. Its cheaper than $10 a day, and works in more countries.

  2. I hope this doesn’t mean they’re axing their existing Passport plans, which start at $40 for a whole month. (Yes, you still have to pay for voice calls, but at a reduced rate, and I don’t make very many of those anyway. When I do I can usually Skype via wifi.) $10/day is pretty steep.

  3. @Jeff R but the $40 a month on their Passport plans had a really low data limit. Depending on what you’re doing, it can be used up really quickly and the overage fees are exorbitant. It really depends on travel patterns. I’d probably pick up a local sim card instead of I were there for more than a week or two.

    I like that Tmobile basically considers US. Canada & Mexico the same zone so that you get 4G LTE and phone calls across all three countries plus 2G data abroad. It’s been more than enough for me so far. Google Fiber is a fantastic alternative and I’d probably be on it if I didnt have an large family plan with TMobile (which, on their old plans at $10 extra per line, is FANTASTICALLY CHEAP).

  4. I have T-Mobile, T-Mobile plan is lot better than AT&T. $10 a day for phone/browsing/text is a lot. May be it may work out cheaper for Business traveler and not for personal travel.

  5. This might be good if you’re visiting a lot of different countries in a short amount of time, but if you’re spending more than a few days in one place, just get a prepaid data SIM and use Skype for calls.

  6. AT & T is too late to the game on this. (Again!) I just got back form Caymans. I downloaded maps before I left and turned my cellular off when we let the USA. My phone worked perfectly well on wifi. I got bit by AT & T once, that will never happen again nor will I be paying for international coverage.

    I pay AT & T 1/3 of a penny per megabyte on my US data plan. Internationally, they charge $2.05 per mb, a markup of 53,000 percent.

  7. Looks like this plan is only available to business customers:

    AT&T INTERNATIONAL DAY PASS℠: Available only to business and government customers with a qualified AT&T wireless service agreement (Business Agreement) and only for Corporate Responsibility User lines of service with eligible devices and qualified plans. Once provisioned, user will be charged $10 fee for each day of data, voice or text use in a covered country for each device provisioned with service. Countries subject to change. Overage charges may apply.

  8. I left AT&T for T-Mobile last summer after ten years of being gouged on domestic service and locked out (price) of international use. I’m on T-Mobile One Plus and have no intention of going back to AT&T.

  9. So I could send $210 to that decrepit dinosaur just for the privilege of using their ghastly overpriced plans on a three week vacation? Compared to the $53 that Google Project Fi cost me on my last three week vacation?

    Are you looking to have AT&T sponsor your blog?

  10. Wow let me crunch the math.

    T-Mobile data only tablet plan: $20/month

    12-day trip to Europe: $120


  11. @ American Telephone and Telextortion — I’ve done nothing but complain about how much AT&T sucks on this blog for the past year, so not sure how you came to that conclusion. I’m giving them credit, however, for improving, and at least matching Verizon. I still have no interest in ever using AT&T, but that still represents a huge improvement for them.

  12. Only if T-Mobile would work outside major metropolitan areas….. AT&T charging $10/day for this plan is outrageous. I got 30GB (yes, GB) of data in Italy for 30 days for less than 20euros. Yes, you have to go to a TIM Italia store to get the SIM card with the plan but they are everywhere.

  13. @ben – just buy an unlocked raw android phone like Motorola offers and you can tether all you want. ATT and other carriers have to put OS modifications onto your phone to cap things like that.

  14. It’s shocking how much data costs to US consumers. Here in the UK, I pay £9 per month for 12GB 4G data, 200 minutes and unlimited texts — and I can use all of that data for tethering or in 42 international destinations, although it is limited to 3G when roaming. I can use the bundled minutes and texts internationally as well, provided I’m contacting UK numbers. If I run out of data, an additional 18GB (usable both for tethering and internationally if I want) costs £5. Admittedly there are limits on how long I can roam for free abroad, but $10/day/device or $10/GB with Project Fi is still far more expensive — 30× as much, in fact, for Project Fi. I don’t know how you cope 😉

  15. Also, “you‘ll pay just $10 a day per device for any 24-hour period you use your device in an International Day Pass country.”

    So lets say you pull it out to receive or send one SMS. Without this plan, it is free to receive and $0.50 to send when outside the US. With the plan, you have just “used your device” and you’re out $10.

  16. Better, but still not what it could/should be. Of course data charges for U.S. consumers is outrageous anyway. I’d switch in a heartbeat, but AT&T has by far the best coverage/connections in my area of the U.S.. We travel internationally 50-60% of the year (for fun, not business) and usually find local SIMs and free Internet calls & texts to cover most situations. We can get around the tethering block on our phones (with a little tinkering) when using our AT&T Samsung phones. (It chaps me that AT&T blocks tethering even when you’re not using their SIM.)

  17. What?! $10 a day?! Thats $900/ month! Gets competitive with whom? Nigerian bloggers? There are about 50 better alternatives. AT$T provides the worst service, largely unregulated, with usurious rates and a horrible attitude toward its customers. My communications company in Spain provides better service at one fifth the cost. We Americans pay a lot because we don’t know better.

  18. I really don’t see how this is much of an improvement. $10 a day for unlimited local data would still be steep, but if you read the fine print, this $10 is the price of accessing the data on your USA plan, so you’re still chewing through your plan back home while you roam. So a two week vacation will set you back $140 PER DEVICE, per day. Ouch. I hope they don’t get rid of the other plans!

  19. Google Fi has been the best choice I’ve made, high speed data almost anywhere internationally and no extra charges–just the same $10/GB domestic or international. They even refund you what you don’t use.

    If you want to join at get a $20 credit, use my referral link:

  20. This is a joke, period. $300 for a month of travel plus the regular plan cost plus it seems it will still go against my domestic data?
    I travel between 50 – 100 days per year abroad and project fi is working flawlessly for me, except that fact that is it Android, which I am still trying to learn. But, it typically costs me somewhere around $50-$100 per month depending on use. I cannot use T-Mobile, since their coverage at my home is non-existent.

  21. My last trip was 3 countries in 2 weeks. I messed with both AT&T and local sims, because I was blowing through my Passport data plan too quickly. The local Sims were a PITA. Like others, I find AT&T has far better coverage than TMO at home, and unfortunately I don’t have a phone that would work with Google Fi, or I’d switch to those others in a minute. So this is an improvement, not a huge one.

  22. I used the Verizon plan in Oct/Nov on an around the world jaunt. Ten dollars per day gets pretty steep if you are traveling for a long time but I loved the fact that any data/calls/text counted against your own plan allowances and, mostly, I could start the 24 hour period in Singapore, use it in New Zealand on a stop over and finish the period in Sydney upon arrival.

  23. Why would you “20 cent per minute calls in 140+ countries. I couldn’t be happier with T-Mobile.” Fine a wifi spot and use Skype to make calls anywhere for a few cents a minute and free Skype to Skype.

    VZ also has a $40/month plan (you can sign up for one month). You are limited to 100 minutes, 100 texts, and 100 MB – but if you don’t plan to use it much it can be more affordable than $10 / day. Use Skype for calls and WiFi for web and text. And just use the plan when you absolutely need to.

  24. You need to move to google fi. It will cut your bill to $30-$35 per month . I used to have T-mobile – loved them, loved their international roaming – Google fi is the same service at half the price – and yes I travel and use it internationally regularly. “legacy” mobile vendors need to catch up.

  25. The ATT Passport plans are a good choice. 200MB @ $40 for a 30 day period. The cost for additional data is not punitive. Talk is $1 per minute. WI-FI / WI-FI calling limits the costs associated with both data and voice. Texts are unlimited. Leaving international data off works well. I traveled for 10 days in Vietnam without coverage (as Vietnam is not included in any US cellular service) without issue. Google Maps works quite well offline.

    The $10 per day may be in line with the competition but cost prohibitive in my opinion; but for the business traveler the $10 per day cost is worthwhile.

  26. Agree on the ProjectFi. Is cheap and good, and seamless internationally. What most people don’t realize is that you can get up to 9 additional data SIM cards on your account. Mine work fine in my unlocked iPad, Verizon Hotspot, and iPhone. I actually don’t use Fi for my regular phone service, just have it for the international data. So much simpler than finding a Vodafone/Orange/Optus, etc store and getting SIM cards. The genuine data rollover is right on. You literally only pay for what you use.

  27. @Robert B: How much do you pay per month for ProjectFi just to have it for international travel? I see you don’t use it as your regular service but I believe the minimum you have to pay per month is $20 so unless you travel a lot internationally to use the data that is $240/year. Correct? I would love to switch from AT&T to Fi but T-Mobile coverage is not that good outside major metro areas and I won’t give up my iPhone for a Google phone so I won’t have access to Sprint or US Cellular network with that device.

  28. Typical AT&T trick to make it look like cheap and overcharge later.

    Look at AT&T Passport option
    30 days, Unlimited text, pic/vid messages. Unlimited global wifi hotspot access.

    basic – $40 – included 200MB, overage $0.25/MB, calls $1.00/min
    Silver – $60 – included 300MB, overage $0.20MB, calls $0.50/min
    Gold – $120 – included 800MB, overage $0.15MB, call $0.35/min

  29. @Santastico I travel internationally about 8-10X per year. Each trip I use about 1GB of data. So works out to be $350/year. I was getting SIM cards each trip, which would vary between $20-50, and would be a hassle. It isn’t worth it as a secondary service unless you travel a lot, but is perfect for me.

  30. I love my Tmobile Simple Choice plan. With a family plan of 12, we each pays a bit less than $20 including tax and fees, and still gets unlimited everything in North America and unlimited data and text worldwide. It’s increditble.

  31. I’ll stick with Google FI. Yea it’s $10 per GB but it’s 4G. Even worked out of the box on Google in Beijing

  32. The passport plans are now a whopping $60 for a month (up from $30 a year ago). Sure, it includes a little bit more data, but you still pay for calls. What a ripoff.

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