T-Mobile Announces International Plan Changes

Filed Under: Travel Technology

I’ve been a T-Mobile customer for a couple of years now, and am thrilled with their overall value proposition. They’ve just announced some major changes to their international data plan, which I wanted to cover in this post.

Why I love my T-Mobile International Plan

I made the switch from AT&T to T-Mobile in June 2016, and in many ways it has been life changing for me, given how much I travel internationally. Back in the day I didn’t have data when traveling abroad, while my T-Mobile plan offers free 2G data and calls for 20 cents per minute in 140+ countries. I also receive an hour of free Gogo Wi-Fi per flight on my phone, plus unlimited messaging. Oh, and best of all, I pay half of what I paid with AT&T.

Sure, the 2G speeds are on the slow side, but I find T-Mobile to be a great value. Really what I’m looking for when traveling is data that allows me to check my email and use maps, and the 2G speeds do the trick for that.

I’d note that note that there T-Mobile’s competitors are starting to catch up a bit, and if you’re not married to your iPhone, Google Fi is a good alternative that many like.

So now let’s take a look at the two major changes coming to T-Mobile’s International Plan, one of which is positive, and one of which is negative.

T-Mobile increasing the cost of international calling

Starting on the first new billing cycle following July 31, 2018, T-Mobile will be increasing the cost of international calls by five cents per minute, from 20 cents per minute to 25 cents per minute.

This is of course bad news, though keep in mind these rates only apply when you’re making phone calls and aren’t on Wi-Fi. Personally this change won’t impact me much. I generally only message when abroad and not connected to wifi, and if I make calls I’m typically connected to wifi, in which case I’m not being charged anyway.

T-Mobile adding international data in 55+ countries

Now let’s talk about the good news, which I’m very excited about. Starting July 22, 2018, the number of countries eligible for T-Mobile’s International Plan is increasing from 154 to 210+. You can find the new full list of eligible countries here.

To me this is a huge positive. I’ve visited quite a few countries recently that weren’t eligible for T-Mobile’s International Plan, which I found to be a real bummer. For example, looking at my recent travels, Angola, Bangladesh, Brunei, Jordan, Mongolia, Oman, Seychelles, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam, all weren’t covered under the old plan but are covered under the new plan.

Mongolia is now covered in T-Mobile’s International Plan

Bottom line

These changes are no doubt a mixed bag, depending on how much you talk on the phone, and what countries you travel to. Personally I view this as a positive development.

I barely talk on the phone internationally when I’m not connected to wifi, while I’ve found myself in several countries where I couldn’t even use data, because they weren’t included in T-Mobile’s International Plan. So to see so many countries added is fantastic news, as far as I’m concerned.

Do you view these T-Mobile updates as being a net positive or negative?

  1. Gahh! Of course they add Jordan right after I racked up a $700 bill there last month! (I was using my phone for navigation in Israel and the highway got so close to the border that my phone jumped onto the Jordanian towers…)

  2. TMobile is 5 Stars and ATT is 1 Star. I am so happy I read your info and added it to my life. I have never been so happy about something. We carry our phones everywhere. Mexico= Free. Caribbean= Free. (Canada never travel.) . Europe=free (data and wifi only free). Love it.
    Thank you for this intel.

  3. Glad to see Vietnam added. I got hammered with a $90 bill to call an online car service for a $20 ride to the airport. I thought I was ok because I was on WiFi but the 3 digit area code I thought was a US number was actually in the Dominican Republic. Free WiFi calling is only for calling to the US.

    Does this announcement mean these new countries are part of the unlimited data plan? I got the email announcing the 5cent/min increase for phone calls but didn’t see any mention of included unlimited data. Did I miss that?

  4. @Brian Kusler You sure the holy land isn’t playing tricks with your mind. Rumor has it that someone used to split a nearby sea in half. Maybe the he accidentally split your LTE in the wrong half.

  5. Sprint is very much like T-Mobile internationally. Calls may be 10-15 cents more per minute but I use WhatsApp which obviously allows for free calling.

    Like T-Mobile, Sprint has free texts and 2G data. Maybe T-Mobile has this too but with Sprint for $5 per day or $25 per week you can upgrade to high speed which is somewhere between 3 and 4G.

    So for my week-plus in Israel I spent just $30 total and used my phone all week like I would’ve at home. Ditto for Brazil. Both counties phone coverage blows America’s out of the water.

  6. @Lucky have you considered T-Mobile One Plus? You get double the data speed internationally, and unlimited Gogo internet for like $10 more a month which is kind of a no brainer.

  7. @Brian Download Google’s offline maps before traveling anywhere international — not only does that prevent rouge connections, but even if you’re getting their 2G, it loads a lot faster.

  8. I switched to tmobile years ago, never looked back. Long gone are the days traveling with two phones or messing around with local sim cards…. the horror, the horror…Besides the benefits when traveling I am also using their $15 per month service that gives me unlimited calls from the US to pretty much all countries I care about, landlines and mobile numbers.

  9. They need to add Namibia.

    HUGE T-Mobile fan too, and have been since switching from AT&T a few years ago.

  10. Really T-Mobile? Still only 2G? T-Mobile might cover lots of countries but 2G speed data just doesn’t cut it anymore in 2018. If you’re wanting to use Google Maps, upload photos, Whatsapp voice calls etc then you really need LTE. We recently did a Europe vacation and got a SIM Card from myuksimcard.com which was shipped to us here in the USA. We got around 10GB of LTE speed data and it worked in all the countries we visited (France, Italy, Switzerland and England).

    Also be aware that unlike in the USA, there’s hardly any airlines offering in-flight Wi-Fi when you’re doing short haul Europe flights. eg British Airways has no Wi-Fi for intra-Europe flights. Neither does Ryanair or Easyjet.

  11. Hey lucky, I don’t usually comment but am a big time fan in the shadows. I am from Brunei so had to give you some love for the main photo.

  12. I am paying $60 for unlimited data. I mean unlimited 4g LTE speed data. Last month I used 60gb. I don’t know how anyone can use that much data. Fyck.

  13. I’m staying with AT&T. $10 a day international for LTE speeds. I’m not going back to the 1990s and pretending to be happy with 2G……..

  14. Bonus AT&T point here – they offered completely free data, etc in Russia during the World Cup. I was ready to pay the $10 a day. Very nice surprise!

  15. Sigh. As much as I keep trying to switch to T-Mobile, their signal just doesn’t penetrate my old house (over 100 years old and stone). I’ve tried three times over the past years, hoping their increasing number of bands will help but to no avail. It’s always back to ATT I go. I know about Wi-Fi calling but we lose power semi regularly during the summer and I need a dependable phone signal.

  16. AT&T is superior at the moment. They have a new $10/day plan that matches your plan at home. I’m watching Netflix and using my mobile hotspot as well as a VPN for a remote desktop from Seattle. My primary phone is T-Mobile, and I’m paying $20/1gb of LTE. Let’s hope John steps up the competitive edge, as T-Mobile’s corporate culture is superior.

  17. By the way, you don’t need to have T-Mobile as your carrier for the free gogo wifi and messaging. All you need is to know a phone number registered with T-Mobile (doesn’t have to be yours) and enter that in when it asks you too.

    I’ve been using my Uncle’s phone number (I have Verizon) on flights and it doesn’t make a diference.

  18. Not sure if others mentioned, but you pay for mobile calls even if you are on WiFi and using T-Mobile WiFi calling. To avoid being charged, one can use any of the messengers, FaceTime or TMobile Digits service. The latter will only be free if you use data and not WIFI connection. This could be set up in Digits app. As long as you have a strong 2G signal, this would be sufficient. T-Mobile doesn’t publicize this way of making free voice calls.

  19. One thing to note: Use messaging apps like WhatsApp, line, fb messenger, etc.. Because these apps use data, you won’t get charged for text messages or telephone calls. When I’m in Japan, I use line to call my family and the calls are very clear (but video chat won’t be a good experience due to low data speed).

  20. T-Mobile and Sprint compete with innovative plans with cool roaming features like this because their networks in the U.S. are second rate. I get full LTE coverage with AT&T at my cabin on the Oregon coast but no coverage from T-Mobile. If you travel much in rural areas in the United States you need to be on AT&T or Verizon (or U.S. Cellular in some regions).

  21. @Gene

    That’s incorrect. If you’re on Wifi, and the network shows “T-Mobile Wi-Fi”, any calls you make will appear to be placed as if you’re in the USA and billed accordingly (free to call US). I’ve never been charged otherwise.

  22. Also T-Mobile One Plus (at least in Europe where I travel) speeds are 3G or higher and tethering works off your phone. And WiFi calls are free.

  23. I put a burner phone on MetroPCS to see if T-Mobile would work for me and found that I did not get a 4G or LTE signal at my residence or nearby and no signal at all in some rooms in my house. Therefore, while I would appreciate the International access, I need my phone to work well in my house and neighborhood. Since I travel less internationally than you and don’t have a project FI phone, I am sticking with AT&T and buying local pre-paid sim cards on my infrequent international trips using Google voice or Skype for voice calls and checking my voice mail for calls since it would be the wrong time zone to answer anyhow.

  24. still no NEPAL? It is a major international tourist destination country for mountainnering and trekking!

  25. Sprint’s plan is similar (unlimited slow data worldwide in over 200 countries, all calls abroad are 20 cents a minute), and their domestic US coverage is better than T-Mobile’s. The monthly plan is about $15 a month cheaper on Sprint.

    Sprint already supported over 200 countries in their plan, so this is T-Mobile matching them, while charging a lot more per month and now increasing the cost of calls abroad!
    Having recently switched from T-Mobile to Sprint, I can say that customer service on T-Mobile was better.

    Both carriers fleece you if you place an international call from inside the US. Expect charges up to $3/minute.

  26. Interesting… doesn’t seem to be a very good deal compared to what mobile carriers are doing elsewhere.

    I’m with Vodafone in Australia. Their international roaming is a flat $5 a day in 60+ countries. For that, you get whatever data is on your domestic plan (in my case, 40GB) at whatever speeds their local partner supports (generally 4G). You also get whatever calls are included in your domestic plan. As a bonus, when I’m overseas, my phone still thinks it is in Australia, so all my streaming services still work.

    While this is a particularly good plan for roaming, several other carriers also offer flat rates or data packs for international roaming, although they often only include 500MB or 1GB of data per day.

    Most plans also include several hundred free international minutes.

  27. Rojer – any EU SIM card roams for free throughout Europe. Buying a special travel sim is pretty redundant now.

  28. If I don’t have WiFi and I have to make a call (to hotels, airlines, etc), I use the Google Hangout app to make calls. Free if calling back to the US and only a few cents a minute to other countries.

  29. I can’t stand T-Mobile, we switched before a recent work trip to Egypt. I’m working here for the next year and it’s been a crappy experience. Randomly dropping signal (Vodafone is the primary carrier here). I’ve spent hours on the phone with technical support, wiped my phone, got a new sim card, etc. Last week my phone disconnected from service for 30 minutes. The customer service is really horrible too. My wife back in the states has had nothing but issues as well. Signal dropping out going inside buildings. Even a simple trip to the grocery store nearby means her device doesn’t work inside the building. We’ll be definitely switching our service back to Verizon!

  30. If you are on “T-Mobile Wi-Fi” your phone works as if it was on the US network. Calls to and from US phones are free anywhere in the world. However if you want to call a local number it will cost you a lot more than $.20 per minute in a lot of cases because it will be an international call. My solution is to use google voice. Their international call rates are the lowest. I put $25 there beginning of the year and still have about $15. Calls are normal 1 to 26 cents per minute depending where you are and if you’re calling a landline or cell phone.

  31. I pay the $10 extra a month for One Plus that includes increased speeds (generally 3G speeds) – it’s more than adequate for my travel needs. You can use data to make free call to US phone numbers with Google Hangouts, free calls are also available via Facetime Audio to other iOS devices, Whatsapp, etc.

    To echo an earlier comment, make sure to pre-download the Google Maps for the area(s) you’ll be in. That will save you time and data at your destination. https://onemileatatime.com/google-maps-offline/

  32. So Austria is no longer on the lost. Maybe T-Mobile thinks Australia and Austria are the same thing? Or (slightly more troubling) Austria’s a part of Germany?

  33. Not sure what “T-Mobile WiFi” is. I have WiFi calling activated on my phones and it is active when I’m overseas so all voice calls are supposed to be going through WiFi if WiFi is available. However, I was specifically told by T-Mobile that those are charged as regular cell calls and the only way to avoid that would be using Digits with data only connection. It would be great if someone from TMobile could clarify that. But regardless, the Digits service works great for voice calls and text even with 2G. Unfortunately, for everything else, 2G is not only slow but also non existent in some areas. Early this year in Zalzburg I was put on Tmobile Austria that was absolutely terrible.

  34. Thanks.
    You’re absolutely right, for international travel it’s the best.

    as @BrewerSEA points out, domestically, it’s probably the worst, but then that’s not what this is about.

    My only issue using it overseas is that for my friends to call me, they end up making an international call, when I’m only a few klicks away. That’s the benefit of using a dual SIM phone.

  35. Even at 20 cents, I never used voice call. While traveling, I’m not the one to make voice calls, but I would receive from time to time. I forward my calls to my google voice number before I board the plane. I strictly use my google voice/hangouts for voice call using the data, which has a much better rate that 20 center per minute. With Google hangouts dialer installed, it is just like making a regular voice call, but it get re-routed over phone data (which is unlimited if you have tmobile), instead of voice, has a much better voice call rates, and I receive all my voice calls from whoever calls my number, like regular calls.

  36. @Lucky. One really nice thing about the T-Mobile family plan is each separate line can have different upgrade features, and you can change plans at will from the app on your phone. Click ‘Manage Plan’, it shows you the 3 or 4 choices clearly on one screen, check the box(es) you want, done. Takes 5 minutes or less. Want to change again after a month? Same drill. And unlike ATT, T-Mobile actually process the bill correctly (and it’s easy to confirm because all taxes and fees are rolled in). Also don’t forget Kickback. One of our lines uses minimal data each month and we get an automatic $10 mo/discount for that line. So much more user friendly than ATT.

  37. Nice, but very much useless for me. T-Mobile has supposedly coverage in my area, but I can’t get any signal at home. Neither can my neighbors. So, Project Fi it is.

  38. Can you please explain how you use wifi to make calls on your cell phone using T-mobile? Thanks!

  39. Any globetrotters getting warned, or booted, from T-Mobile for “abusing fair usage” standards? Kinda surprised no one has piped up on this one.

  40. Hi, Lucky, can you please clarify for me whaat I quoted from you above:

    “This is of course bad news, though keep in mind these rates only apply when you’re making phone calls and aren’t on wifi. Personally this change won’t impact me much. I generally only message when abroad and not connected to wifi, and if I make calls I’m typically connected to wifi, in which case I’m not being charged anyway.”

    Do you mean if you are connected to wifi and make a call, it is free? I never know there is a way to call without charge. Please confirm if my understanding is correct. Thanks!

  41. Umm, hellooooo guys? Lucky is NOT a technie guy, nor is he your T-Mobile support rep. There are clearly conflicting answers from people regarding free T-Mobile wifi calling and what it exactly means from people here who sound decently savvy, so it’s kinda crazy to pepper Lucky with duplicate questions on the same thing. Call the operator?!

  42. Oh, and, as people have mentioned. You can make free calls using wifi using WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangsouts, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, etc. Works fabulous, even on the 2g service from T-Mobile internationally!

  43. T-Mobile is awesome. And for the record, they are NOT like Sprint internationally. Sprint limits throughput to 64k. They state “2g” but to Sprint “2g” is 64k. Tmobile is 128k with 256k for One Plus users. 128 is bad, but 64 is far worse. 128 is super slow, but 64 is unusable. 256 is not as terrible and much more functional.

  44. Have you hear of flexiroam ? It’s a popular international data SIM very popular among us pilots. From memory I believe I paid just under 99US for 6 GB over 360 days. It world practically anywhere I go including places like Nepal. Never had any issues. Only trouble I find is that they send a sticker to be placed on the top of your SIM which disabels your SIM when you enable the flexiroam. I want to be able to receive SMS from my bank specially when travelling abroad as I had my card clonned a couple of times. All the best ! Great website. Thank you

  45. Lucky, Do you mean January 2019 in your article because the article is written in July 2018 and you wrote about the international roaming calling rates going up effective January 2018 which would have passed?

  46. I’m sad to see that Cuba still isn’t on the list…it certainly would have helped when I was there a couple of months ago. Perhaps the political winds will shift someday and make the island nation more accessible to U.S. companies like T-Mobile.

  47. @Arnold – I used Flexiroam once and it worked reasonably well. However, I now have Fi and it is worlds better because (a) it’s still my own phone number when I’m abroad, so I get texts to that number; (b) no stickers to mess with and no need to switch anything in an app; and (c) it comes with phone service, whereas Flexiroam does not.

    Fi is really the way to go if you travel internationally a lot – I imagine that many pilots and FAs use it because it’s so easy and cost-effective.

  48. After 20 years with AT&T
    I cut ties last month solely due to their horribly exspensive international plans. I made the switch to T-Mobile and just wish that I had done it so much sooner!

  49. Their 2G speed is so slow, it’s impossible to be considered usable in any international countries. I even have problems loading text messages and it was freaking Canada not even like far….

  50. Wifi calling on TMobile is basically placing a voice call over WiFi instead of a cell tower. In order to use this feature with tmobile, you need 1. To be connected to WiFi and 2. Have a phone that supports wifi calling.
    Most current handsets support it. I can confirm that the iPhone 6 supported it so I assume all iPhones since then do also.

    Enable wifi calling in your phone’s settings.

    Now your phone will say T-Mobile Wifi on the upper left corner of your screen (at least on an iPhone it does).

    Now, any voice call you make will act like you are physically placing a call from the US. So if you call another US number, either cell or landline, it will be the same as if you were placing the call from the US – which is free, since these days most all plans give you unlimited voice and only meter data.

    Now, if you were to call an international number while on Wifi calling, you will be charged the same as if you were in the States and calling the same international number.

    Remember, just because you’re traveling in Japan, for example, and you call a local Japan number (local to you at the time because you’re also physically in Japan) but the call is an international long distance call, since your phone is a US phone and wifi calling makes the phone act as if you’re in the States.

    This of course has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages are that you can call home while travelling for free while on wifi calling. You can also receive voice calls from people that call your US number for free while on wifi calling. Your callers won’t know the difference. If phones on both ends are on wifi calling your voice call will be ultra clear as it uses a higher bitrate audio codec due to the increased bandwidth.

    Disadvantages: you need to be on wifi for this to be free and any international calls outside if the US are still charged as if you didn’t leave the US. Sometimes calls drop out or get garbled if wifi signal degrades.

    Yes 2g sucks but I’d rather have that and wait till I get wifi than pay AT&T $10 a day… Especially when I’m somewhere for a month or two at a time.

    As far as I know, T-Mobile doesn’t charge extra for wifi calling. All TMobile users have it available if you have a phone that supports it.

  51. “Dan says:
    July 19, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Their 2G speed is so slow, it’s impossible to be considered usable in any international countries. I even have problems loading text messages and it was freaking Canada not even like far….”

    I’m going to go ahead and call BS. I’ve used my TMO service on different phones over the years and in very small countries on back roads in the country (Latvia as an example) and while it is a little slow it works fine and was able to do most anything I needed. In major metro Euro areas I was getting faster than 2G, my phone even showed LTE sometimes. Your Canada issue likely happened to be in one area that was bad. Canada is super fast and considered like the US.

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