T-Mobile’s New $5 Global Pass: Frustrating To Use

Filed Under: Travel Technology

T-Mobile recently announced some changes to their international service.

Changes T-Mobile has made to international service

The good news is that T-Mobile expanded their international plan from 154 countries and destinations to 210+, which I’m very excited about. But then T-Mobile increased the cost of international calls from 20 cents per minute to 25 cents per minute, which is obviously bad news.

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 consider to be an excellent deal. I wasn’t aware that they had previously offered a 1GB high speed data plan for $10, valid for up to 10 days, as I had never used that (though I’d go through that data pretty quickly).

While I’m generally thrilled with T-Mobile’s international plan (where you get international data at no extra cost), the 2G speeds were super slow, and I would have been willing to pay a reasonable premium for something better. This fits the bill perfectly.

My frustration with T-Mobile’s new Global Plan

After having been with AT&T for so many years, I love T-Mobile. I love their transparency, I love their customer service, and I love the simplicity with which they do things.

Unfortunately T-Mobile’s Global Plan isn’t quite what I was hoping. Ironically it’s not the plan as such that I take issue with, but rather how complicated T-Mobile makes it to purchase the plan. This isn’t a huge deal, but I just feel like this should be so much easier.

For example, I’m in the US this week and Ford is in Greece, so I wanted to sign Ford up for the new Global Plan. The only way to do this is through T-Mobile’s website or app, or by calling. Even doing it through their app takes quite a few clicks. First you have to select the line you want.

Then you have to click “Manage Data & Add-ons.”

Then you select the “24 Hour Global Pass.”

Then you have to review your order and confirm it.

Then it confirms the order.

Ford is gone for about a week, so I figured I could just sign him up for it for the duration of his time there. As it turns out, that’s not possible (at least based on all the research I’ve done). You have to manually renew this every single day:

  • You’d think they’d let you buy multiple passes upfront at once
  • If they’re not going to allow that, you’d think they’d at least make it easy to extend this (like sending a text saying “your Global Pass Plan has run out, if you want to extend it, respond with XYZ to this message”); instead you have to go through the same process every time
  • This is especially frustrating because I’m the primary account holder and I’m in a different country, so it’s annoying that I have to manually go in and do this every day, when his pass ends up running out during hours I’m asleep

The last part isn’t a huge issue since Ford has my T-Mobile log-in info and is an authorized user, but for example my parents are also on my account, and I know they’d never be able to figure out how to extend this. So when they’re traveling to Germany I’ll have to do this every day.

For anyone who wonders, here’s what the communication is like when you enter a country:

Welcome to Greece! Your T-Mobile plan gives you unlimited data up to 2G speeds and texts at no extra cost! Calls at 25 cents/min. Visit t-mo.co/intl-roam to learn more and view additional data options. Enjoy your stay!

Then when you activate the plan you get the following message:

Thank you for purchasing a T-Mobile 24 Hour Global Pass, available for use as of 08/02/2018 07:08 Eastern Time. You may need to reboot your device to activate your pass.

Then when it runs out you get the following message:

Your T-Mobile 24 Hour Global Pass has expired. Visit t-mo.co/intl-roam11 to learn more and view additional data options.

I’ve researched this extensively, and have called T-Mobile, but I feel like there’s something I must be missing, which is why I’m writing this post.

T-Mobile: You’re a company that usually makes things very easy on people. I’m happy with the new Global Plan, but please make it easy for me to give you money. Let me buy multiple passes at once, and let me add a pass with a click or two directly from a text, rather than having to go into the app and go through the same steps every time.

  1. Thanks for the instructions, very useful. I’m a T-mobile ONE user too and echo your sentiments. I’ve enjoyed the plan, especially the unlimited everything in North America and overseas data. But, I also have been increasingly frustrated with the international 2G data speeds and have been looking for some sort of add-on for my next trips. I was planning to do the $10, 10-day plan, but I guess I’ll have to do the $5/day thing. It sounds lame that you have to manually renew this every day, and also annoying that on a 7-day trip, this will be a lot more expensive than $10.

  2. While no company is perfect I have to give it to Verizon on this one. While the fee is $10 rather than $5, you simply enroll the device/number one time. Then, the device is allowed to self-enroll itself upon any activity (not just power on) in an allowed country. Just begin or receive a call, text, or data stream and you have just purchased your 24 hour pass.

    You get a confirmation text, and a reminder when your 24 hour period is nearly up. It is not a day rate, but rather a 24 hour period…and that period may traverse multiple countries within the allowed group.

  3. Go with the $10/month “T-Mobile ONE” add on. You get free international data at 3G speeds (plenty fast for general browsing, email, social media and voice-over-data calls). It also includes free Gogo internet.

  4. @Daniel: I’m looking at the Add-ons management page right now, are you referring to “ONE Plus”? This sounds good but I only travel once every few months. Can I easily cancel it once my trip is up and add it back for my next trip a few months later without any penalties?

  5. Glad they kept the $10/1 week option. That works great in my situation.

    Also they gave free 4G data in Russia during the World Cup, for no extra charge. That was a nice touch I thought.

  6. Have I wasted money on the $25 international pass? I signed my son up for it for a two week trip to Europe because I was told that the phone rates could be really high per minute without it. But I honestly don’t really understand what I’m getting for it.
    Out of pure fear and ignorance, I signed my line up too, hoping that would cover me if I need to call him or hostels on his behalf.
    Any thoughts regarding how I really should have handled this?
    I have found the local t mobile office to be extremely ill informed, with many answers beginning with, “as far as I know,I think it should work like ….” but I realize that could be a very isolated situation.
    I just switched to T-Mobile based on your effusive posts!

  7. I have T-Mobile ONE Plus and my data speed is decent for the EU where I travel most. I wouldn’t fool with this mess.

  8. I’ve been told by customer service that the user will receive a text everyday that they’re abroad if they want to add a global pass. So you wouldn’t have to log on each time. But I haven’t confirmed this yet.

  9. @ Jackrin — They do receive a text, but the text simply advises them to go to T-Mobile’s website. It doesn’t actually make it any easier to subscribe.

  10. @Justin, personally I just leave it on so I can’t answer your question. But it is an “add on” (ie, not part of the actual plan) so I’d assume so.

  11. Hoping for a response…apologize if this sounds impatient, just saw a response to a comment that came after mine…thanks!

  12. @Justin – Yes, sorry, it’s called T-Mobile ONE Plus.

    Sheesh, Kate, impatient much. Think you need to be a little more hands off with your son, too.

  13. I was overseas last week and called t mobile to get the $5 extra data (having read your article a few weeks ago). They put me on the $10 ten day plan that I hadn’t heard of either! Data was quicker but never seemed like 4g speed. I guess was worth it as cheap.

    They texted me a number to call (619 or something) and it took 2mins to enable.

  14. After that first call I didn’t have to do anything nor did I hear from t mobile again via text or phone.

  15. Totally unrelated but apparently TK is going to start IST-EWR flights to connect with United.

  16. Ben – I second the idea that you go for the tmobile one plan (you currently have simple choice). This has a “tmobile one plus” $10/month option to double your international data speeds. If there are months where a particular line doesn’t need it, you just turn it back to the base plan. As a bonus, the tmobile one plans include all taxes in the price, whereas with the simple choice plan you have to pay extra. You won’t be able to stream video all day, but I’ve had no trouble with maps, email, even voip calls at the “one plus” speeds.

    @Kate – It sounds like you have “Tmobile ONE Plus International.” If this is correct, then you may call FROM the US, TO landlines and cell phones in 70 and 30 countries, respectively, for free. If you are already IN the other country (as in your son), this will do nothing to reduce the $.25/minute charge unless your son can find a wifi network. Tmobile has a wifi calling feature which will make your phone act like it’s in the US so long as it’s connected to wifi. Example: You call your son who is roaming: His line pays $.25 to receive a call while in Europe. You pay nothing, because you are dialing his US number, no need for $25 add-on. Example 2: You call a hostel in Europe: With $25 plan, you pay nothing to dial a landline in Europe. Example 3: Your son, who is roaming, calls you: $.25/min. Example 4: your son finds a wifi network and makes a call to you or a hostel in europe: with $25 plan, he pays nothing.

  17. Just get ATT Unlimited and add International to it. Then when you turn your phone on in any foreign countries you get charged $10 a day Period. And then you just use your unlimited voice and data at LTE speeds. You only get charged on the days you use your phone.

    Simple may be good but T mobile still sucks!

    T-mobile is for college and high schools students who have more time than money on their hands!

  18. Sprint does $5/day or $25/week. Seems like making you renew once per week is a lot easier than have to do it daily. That’s a bit crazy.

  19. I second the Project Fi comment. I’m a huge fan(boy) and I use an iPhone, too. Sure there are some minor quirks, but it’s so much easier than this nonsense.

  20. @Kate, the $25 international add on is useless for you. You cannot make free calls on that plan while traveling (unless he’s doing wifi calling). You can remove it from both your son and your plan. Your son have 3 options. He can add the $10 ONE plus for to have a 3G data speed and 25 cents a min or don’t add anyting to use the free data at 2G for free and .25 cents a min or add the $5 day pass (This is the one Lucky is writing about) to receive unlimited data and unlimited calls. You do not need to have anything on your own line since your son has a US phone number. When you call him you’re calling an US number, he will be the only one getting charged. If you both have iphones or have a chatting app like facetime voice, whatsapp, wechat, line, vonage, and etc. You can make free calls using the app throught data without any add ons.

  21. I think this is a moot point. People survived international travels for years without mobile devices or (gasp!) a trip to cyber cafe back in the 90s and early 2000s. Unless you’re a business traveler (whose company probably pays for the data), what’s the point? I’ve a long-time T Mobile customer and am thrilled with the free 2G data. Yes, it’s slow, but allows me to access maps, look up a restaurant, and send a few texts. What more do I need? Most people check their phones something like 75 times per day. I LOVE being able ignore my phone and actually enjoy the sights, sounds, and culture of the place I’m visiting. Instagram/Facebook/Twitter can all wait. Besides, almost every hotel and Airbnb offers wifi. 2G data works just fine for the hours I’m out and about exploring.

  22. TMOB is more concerned with their Tuesday app than their actual user app…ahahaha…that’s what happens when Marketing runs your company.

  23. @Alan K, I respectfully disagree. I’ve found 2G data too slow to do a lot of those things consistently like access google maps, look up restaurants etc. It’s not bad for e-mail or text, but not good for web browsing and maps for looking up stuff, which is what I really want when travelling abroad.

  24. @Alan K, I agree with you! I Couldn’t have said it better. Yes, you may not be able to upload your high-res pictures live, but can it wait until you get back to the hotel. Sure it can!

  25. @Jeff and others.
    ATT (whom I don’t really like) offers the same $10/day pass. Once the plan is activated, any use of service internationally activates a day pass. The downside is that the pass may get inadvertently activated is you forget to switch off cellular service.
    OTOH it’s a great deal when on a cruise, as you only need to use the pass on days you are in port.

  26. @Alan K I also agree. When I was in Germany and Austria last month I just had 2G data and, while slow, it was fine as I would out wandering and sightseeing. Google Maps saved my bacon many times, and it was just fine on 2G. I uploaded my vacation photos to FB when I was on WiFi and had some down-time. But in my case, I didn’t use my U.S. number. I just bought a local SIM and paid a trivial amount for the time I was away.

  27. Can you review how much faster it is compared to the free 2G speeds? For instance, how much more responsive is Google Maps and subway navigation on the new plan vs. the free 2G?

  28. Beware of T-Mobile1 if you are grandfathered into simple choice. You might suddenly have large additional fees for certain hotspot coverage or if you have a family international calling plan. I would pay almost $50 per month more to switch.

  29. @Lucky What does “Stars when current expires Change Date” mean? Does this allow for advance purchases?

  30. Just came back from a trip to Istanbul and Malta.

    Got the 10 day /$10 deal. Great speeds.

    Spoke with associated and friends via What’s App or Hangouts.

    All went smoothly.

    Occasionally called a few regular land lines at $0.20/ minute.

    Costs for calls were a minimum.

    T Mobile rules!

  31. Also, not sure about iphone, but Android phone has “data saver” mode on settings options that compress data.

  32. look into getting the starhub happy prepaid SIM the next time you’re in singapore – even though it has a smallish footprint. US$5 for 1GB/7 days and you renew it on the app

  33. AT&T international day pass is so much easier. Sign up and forget about it. $10 per day, it automatically clicks on when you connect in a foreign country.

  34. The T-Mobile One Plus worked well for me during the two weeks I was away in Belgium earlier this year. $10 for not-perfect-but-usable internet speeds, plus the included Gogo, I found to be, for my purposes, a bargain. I could even stream my Slingbox without much issue. I’m not sure the $5/day pass would add much additional value when the 3G-ish speeds are relatively adequate.

  35. I’m surprised they make it HARD for you to pay. In my experience, it’s usually the opposite. I’ll get a text message: your data has run out but we’ve automatically extended it for you. Text XYZ to cancel.

  36. Just added the $5/day data pass to my account for travel next week (you can future date it when you want it to start). You can now add 2 passes at once, and set the second one to begin when the first one expires. However you cannot have more than 2 on your account at a time. When the first one expires and the second one takes effect, you can then go and add a 3rd one and so on, so you can always have 2 set up at a time. It’s a step in the right direction, but you should be able to add a custom data pass for as many days as you want, charged at $5/day.

  37. I loved T Mobile’s plan when we were in Europe. Easy. Problem is, we spend more time in French Polynesia, where TM has no plan. So, calls back home cost a LOT. Come on, TM, add a few more countries!

  38. @Justin i was able to access maps, upload facebook, stream music, look for info……….and ordered plenty uber rides with the included 2g………..crazy as it seems, it worked for many occasions…some just need more time to load.

    The thing is, i run it as LTE ping. What is the difference between 2g and LTE ping? when you switch on LTE, even though the download speed is 2g, the time that the network kicked in is much faster than when you switch your frequency to 2g. Then, in some places, download speed got capped but not upload speed. Overall, i would say this is the best back up that i can have while traveling (usually get a local sim, much cheaper than $5 per day since i travel 2 months out of a year).

    By the way, my tmobile plan is $25/month data only 6gb monthly data + unlimited binge on. I average more than 50gb a month with binge on and still have 20gb of stash on data. Use google voice for regular call and texts and for you guys, here is a not so secretive secret, data only sim are able to call 911 free of charge (all sim cards have this feature).

  39. @vdude83 – Which is great for you. Unfortunately that isn’t the same everywhere- I’ve tried to use the included 2G and basically texts and e-mail work, nothing fancier than Google or old Reddit (new Reddit completely bogs it down). Maps took too long to load to be useful (and then you find out that you can’t download offline maps in certain countries), Uber was 50/50.

    And that aside, this is one area Sprint shines. $5 daily or $25 weekly, unlimited data. You just go to the special pass-ordering website (optimized to load quickly), pick your pass, confirm, and go. Took me less than 5 minutes from landing in South Korea to getting online.

  40. I can confirm ATT has made it pretty easy after having one of the WORST International plans. They offer $10/day for unlimited LTE data with their “International Day Pass” in all major travel destinations. You turn on this option once,,, and it will automatically activate if you’re out of the US and your phone is on. Every 24 hrs of use you will get charged $10. Billing is straight forward and no surprises. I even used (a ton) of data for tethering and it worked like a champ.

  41. As expected the Project FI White Knights rush to the comments section and are completely off topic as usual.

  42. I prefer getting a local SIM Card for the country we’re traveling to. It’s always going to be better value that using an international pass. Plus you get local number for that country which can be important if you’re being picked up or need to give out your number along the way (unlikely someone local is going to be able to call an American number).

    My wife and I used myuksimcard.com earlier in the year for a trip to England, Scotland, France, Italy and Spain. It was around $40 and it was delivered to our home. When we got to England we put the sim cards into our phones and we got about 10GB or 15GB of data, 3000 minutes of calling and 3000 texts. All very seamless as we moved from country to country. The only caveat is you need to make sure your phone is unlocked (my wife left this to the last minute and there was a bit of craziness the day we left getting her phone unlocked).

    Regarding wi-fi in England and Europe we found there was quite a lot but often you had to pay for it. I personally don’t like using public wi-fi though due to the security issues.

    Another thing about England and Europe and that’s that hardly any airlines have wi-fi when you’re travelling intra-Europe.

  43. I travel a lot and until now had a wallet full of different SIM cards as I need to be connected when out and about during my travels.

    As the plane is taxiing in, I turn on my GlocalMe and I am immediately connected.
    Connection is excellent and even calling via FaceTime or WhatsApp is clear as a bell.

    I have no connection with this company other than being a HIGHLY satisfied customer!
    I highly recommend this device.

  44. Just use FlexiRoam. I’ve been using it for over 2 years, and it’s perfect. No hassle with having to swap SIMs, which is a PITA.

  45. Thanks for posting the instructions.
    I can’t even do this with the app as my individual line doesn’t show up as an option. Calling T-Mo to get this turned on was frustrating and I finally had to figure it out for myself. Customer service kept telling me they didn’t have such a plan and that I didn’t have service in the country I was visiting (United Arab Emirates) even though their checker said I did as well as the text I received when I landed. Navagating T-Mo website, I finally found where to add it.

    Either way, I’ve been to both the UAE and then on to Jordan and have fingers crossed that my calls are at least covered. I’ll find out when I get my bill.

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