Verizon Offering New International Cell Phone Service Option

Filed Under: Travel Technology

According to re/code, Verizon is offering a new option for international cell service:

Verizon is announcing Wednesday a new option that lets cellphone customers traveling overseas access high-speed data for $10 per day.

Dubbed TravelPass, the program lets customers draw data, call minutes and texts from their home packages for $10 per 24-hour period in more than 65 countries. In Mexico and Canada, roaming is only $2 per day….

Current SLOW Options

As many of you know, T-Mobile and Sprint offer free roaming while abroad. But, they stick customers on extremely slow 2G networks.

I can attest to how frustrating these slow speeds can be. In Ireland over the summer, we used a T-Mobile data plan on one of our iPads. It was useful for very simple things like email, iMessages and driving directions. But, even basic web browsing was a nightmare because pages either took forever to load or timed out before they could.


Verizon’s New High-Speed Option

That’s the big distinction with Verizon’s paid TravelPass. Customers will use the minutes, data, texts from their own plans on high-speed networks in more than 65 countries for $10 per 24-hour period. 3G and 4G service is definitely a vast improvement over the mind-numbingly slow options from Sprint and T-Mobile.

To me, this isn’t a reason to jump to Verizon since you’re paying for the faster speeds. But, for someone who already has Verizon service and is only out of the country occasionally, this might stop them from jumping ship to T-Mobile or Sprint.

Maybe more hotels will follow the lead of the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong and offer smartphones with complimentary 4G service. I agree with Ben, that this is an awesome new trend and I hope other hotels take note of this innovation.


But, until then, it’s nice to see cell phone providers start to offer more reasonable options for international service. Hopefully the days of $500 bills for one minute of international roaming are numbered.

  1. Still too expensive. I usually spring for the $40 for 100MB, 100min and 100texts from Verizon, but they really make it a pain to turn on and off on your account. God help you if your trip straddles a billing date. I usually get a SIM for trips where I am in a country for longer than 4 days.

  2. I’ve long wondered when Verizon would have a competitive option. Right now the best deal is $50 for 250 MB. So for a 5-day trip this is obviously an improvement, but longer than 5 days, it’s still extortion.

    I’m planning on jumping ship to Google Fi. This just makes it easier, since now I know that Verizon’s answer is weaksauce.

  3. I have T-Mo, and in HKG I am getting 3G, which is an improvement over 2G. So I would not be interested in switching to Verizon; plus T-Mo offers you to buy high-speed 4G, although not sure what the cost is for that (since I am ok with 3G).

  4. We’re in China right now in the midst of a three week trip to Europe and Asia. T-Mobile serves my needs nicely, but it’s good to see options and competition emerge.

  5. actually the folks at the xda have that figured out on how to unload full speed on tmobile while roaming. I have not tested it but xda is full of folks saying that thats what they do, its just a mod that you have to install on your rooted phone, and it does not work on apple phones unfortunately so it does not work for me

  6. I switched from Verizon to Google Fi and I couldn’t be happier. First of all, I think the plans overall are priced more fairly. Now of course there are other providers with similar and even better priced plans but the international access makes Google Fi the winner in my book.

  7. Pretty sure T-mo and Project Fi give you 3G in most developed countries, plus 3G for urban areas of emerging market countries.

  8. I have T-Mobile (iPhone) and the data speed while roaming depends on which carrier is selected. Sometimes the default carrier is fine, but other times really slow. Switching carriers makes a big difference.

  9. $10 a day?!?

    Back when I had Verizon’s unlimited international data plan (long since discontinued) it came out to 80 cents per day!

    So, if you take a 10-day trip, they believe $100 is reasonable? Current prices are $25 for 100 MB I think (which is still too expensive) but so long as you are prudent with your data use, a normal user should do better on this plan – basically that same $100 would get you 400 MB of data.

    Also, agree with @Tom that it’s such a pain to take on and off and it’s really annoying if your trip straddles a billing cycle.

  10. Or just pick up a SIM for that country’s local carrier. It’s much cheaper, and you have more options. Speeds are generally better, as you aren’t getting whatever Verizon (or whoever) contracted.

  11. The company I work for has Verizon phones. You can add international data for $30 a month. The speed is 3G. Interesting. I didn’t realize this was a nice perk until now.

  12. What Nolan said.

    The caveat, though, is that you can spend a LOT of time trying to buy and activate a SIM card in a country where you don’t speak the language and English is not widely spoken. Like Brazil.

  13. I have T Mobile and I never got 2G when I used my phone in Germany and Austria two weeks ago. I am quite happy with the intl plan. Also stayed at the HK Hyatt and Intercontinental in June and didn’t bother with the hotel cell phone because T Mobile did the job.

  14. T-mobile still offers the best deal.

    At a minimum, the data is free. I have had consistent 3G speeds this year in the UK, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Argentina. Plus if you travel overseas, I highly recommend having a wifi enabled phone for free wifi phone calls. You can pay $5 before you leave the US for 4G speeds, and T-mobile have other options/packages for travel.

    Verizon as always, along with AT&T are having a laugh!!

  15. Blech, still too $$$. We usually just deal without a phone. Last summer we were in Europe traveling for two weeks with friends and I decided to just buy a dumbphone and minutes for about $30 when I was there. Next summer I’ll just reload minutes when we return. No map function but I’m okay with the adventure of getting lost when it happens.

  16. Mike, what you fail to mention—and perhaps you’re unaware—that, if you need to boost your speed, you have the option on T-Mobile to buy up to faster data based on usage.

    Verizon’s offering charges by the day, not by the amount of data you use. So if you use only 100 MB on one day, you’re still being charged $10. I suppose if you planning on a Netflix binge while traveling you’d be better off on Verizon in one of those 65 countries (as opposed to the 140 countries on T-Mobile).

    You also left out the fact that when you’re in Canada or Mexico on T-Mobile, you get all the normal features of your plan. An extra $2/day may not seem like much, but if it’s truly that insignificant one has to wonder why Verizon charges for it in the first place.

  17. If getting internet is your only concern, why would you bother subscribing for international options at all?
    Going to another country and getting a SIM card there is usually way better priced than trying to go on roaming.

  18. have had t-mobile for over a year now. I’ve had slow internet in Germany mostly, while UK, Hong Kong and China have been consistently pretty decent 3g speeds (remember when those felt fast? they’re ok! I don’t have to stream netflix when I’m over there)
    In Japan I got full LTE speed, it was faster than in the US. I’m not sure if that’s always the case — but I see signs that the slowing-down of data will change in the future, if only because 2G networks are being replaced and will be obsolete within the next 2 years.

  19. @Alvin: getting another SIM card isn’t going to work if you have a locked iPhone — actually if you got your iPhone from t-mobile, or if your contract with another provider is up, they’ll unlock it for you, but it’s still a bit of a pain though. And then you have a different number, which means people in your home country may incur huge overseas calling charges when calling you unless they use skype.

    I like the fact that my number stays the same, I use my phone the same way. And the highest bills I get while traveling for a whole month out of the US are around $150, and usually the bill is about $90-100. On AT&T I would pay over $300 regularly, and I had to review each bill meticulously, since they made so many “mistakes”

  20. @Donn Yes, just call and add the $25 for 100 MB plan backdated to the first day of your billing cycle for the month you’ll be gone – then when you get back, have them remove it on a pro rated basis to how much data you used.

    So, for example, if your bill cycle ran on a calendar month (started on the 1st, ended on the last day of the month) and you used 40 MB of data while there, have them backdate the addition to the 1st of the month, and when you return, have them set a future date cancellation to the 12th or 13th (40/100*30=12 days).

    When you return and call them, they’ll tell you how much data you used while there. Again, just be prudent with it.

  21. Many enterprise phones don’t allow you to swap sims due to contracts/security.

    I have a Verizon phone for work and am set on the plan that offers 100mb for $25 in most countries. This has been the best option for my work needs because it just “works”. 3G speeds get it done for me.

    That being said, $10 per day is interesting because it would mean either $50 or $120 per trip for me based on average length. On a 12 day trip I see the value of the new plan, but not a 5 day trip. All of this is of course based on my own data consumption habits.

    Would you have to opt in for each trip when you want to use $10/day data?

  22. @hahaha03

    While Verizon still uses CDMA based 2G and 3G networks, if you have a late-model smartphone (past 3-4 years) from them, it should have GSM capability as well at all frequencies. “World phone” chips have been standard for awhile now. Starting with the iPhone 4S the CDMA versions have been able to access GSM networks too. Starting with the iPhone 6, there are no longer even separate GSM and CDMA versions of the iPhone. (there are small version differences with LTE bands that vary a tiny bit by carrier and country).

    Any limitation in the number of countries served by roaming has more to do with roaming agreements between carriers than technical limitations. T-Mobile is more of a global company for example and has agreements with operators in more countries.

  23. US airlines and Us cell phone companies are still in the Stone Age when compared to their competitors in Europe and Asia. I spent a lot of time in Europe this year and it is very easy to buy a local SIM card with a prepaid plan and enjoy very cheap and fast internet. I got SIM cards from TIM Italia with 20gb of data for 30 days for less than 30 euros and from Swisscom with 1gb for 20 swiss francs. I dream about the day I can travel with my cell phone without having to switch SIM cards and access fast internet for very low money.

  24. I have a grandfathered ATT plan that gives unlimited global data for $60/month. Can’t ever cancel or would lose it, and is always a hastle to have transferred over. But, as I am overseas most months it is well worth it.

  25. Other than Google Maps giving me some grief in remote parts of Iceland, I have had fantastic international service with T-Mobile. Data speeds never dropped below 3G. The fact that they now treat ALL of North America is also helpful as we often travel to Canada.

  26. I use a Telestial international SIM card for my business trips, which often involve a short stay in several countries at once. I used to get a new SIM in each country I went to, but pretty soon I had twenty or so micro-SIMs to try to keep track of, and those suckers get lost really easily. The price isn’t quite as cheap as with a local SIM card, but the convenience of having one SIM for over 150 countries is well worth it, especially if you don’t have the time to spend waiting at a phone shop every time.

  27. I just signed up for this an hour ago. It actually went live today (11/13) and it was the first time the Verizon associate had added this to someone’s plan. I appreciate the fact that I don’t have to add a plan before I leave and remember to cancel it each time I come back. For someone who travels to Europe four times a year its simplicity makes it worthwhile.

  28. $10 per day is still pretty expensive, IMO. I’d consider doing the $2 per day with Canada/Mexico, if it’s a short trip I’m taking.

  29. Have to agree with the rest of the Tmobile crowd here. I had 3G in Kenya, UAE, and Qatar last month. Was able to make FaceTime audio calls to family/friends while out and about and not have to worry about finding wifi.

  30. This is definitely a big improvement. I have the Verizon “global plan” on my Motorola Droid Turbo global phone, which charges me $25 for 100MB for international data roaming. If I am most of the time in an area with a WiFi and connecting to it, then it does not matter; the $25/100MB is plenty. Otherwise, if I forget to turn off “data roaming” as I did a couple of days ago after arriving here in Cancun, I get hit big because the phone will keep busy! Mine was so busy getting my emails and updating apps that within 1 day I had used up the 100MB, and I got charged for a second $25/100MB unit because that is my default — if I run out, just get me another $25/100MB automatically. As this would suggest, I often end up with fairly hefty international data roaming charges. This offer is therefore for someone like me.

    I just called VZ’s intl help line and signed up because I will be in here Cancun for 3 more days and it’s tough to beat $2/day for unlimited data roaming in Mexico, when I have been paying $25 for a measly 100MB…

    The agent just told me that TravelPass will activate automatically the next time I use the phone here, either to make a call [local or back to the US] or access online data. The package will be on “indefinitely” and will turn on automatically when the conditions are just right. The only limitation is that it is not offered in some of my favorite N and SE Asian destinations like China, Japan, HKG or Thailand. For those, my existing global plan ($25/100MB) will automatically kick in. It is available in Singapore, which is good. Lastly, I won’t be charged for the unused portion of the second $25/100MB unit that was added.

    Come to OMAAT to learn about the best travel deal! 😉

  31. Travel Pass is only available for plans that are newer without the Unlimited Data Plans. I have a Nationwide 450 plan with Unlimited Data, and was told this was not available to me.

  32. Sorry I know this in old post but I’ve just discovered that the biggest problem with Verizon is that you can’t use Travelpass or even wifi HD calling if you are on a prepaid plan. I prefer to buy my phones outright and ended up on this type of plan so I can’t use my phone in europe on travelpass or via wifi. Considering changing phone companies because of this limit

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