The Best Cell Phone Plan for Frequent International Travel

The Best Cell Phone Plan for Frequent International Travel

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Our pick

T-Mobile Magenta

T-Mobile Magenta

The best plan for frequent international travelers

With coverage in more than 210 countries and no international data roaming fees, T-Mobile Magenta is the best plan for most people who travel frequently and already own their phone. The one drawback: the data is slow.

Buying Options

Buy from T-Mobile

With its near-worldwide coverage and “unlimited” data even when roaming, the T-Mobile Magenta plan will likely save you money and headaches when traveling abroad. Dozens of new Android and iOS phones will work on T-Mobile, and if you already have one you’re happy with, you can probably use it. This plan is also relatively inexpensive compared with its competition and, in particular, their international roaming plans. However, although you’ll have dependable data in more than 210 “countries and destinations,” that data is very slow: 2G speeds, or 128 Kbps. That is only slightly faster than old-school dial-up speeds, so everything takes forever to load: It’s still usable for maps and email and researching destinations (albeit slowly), but video isn’t going to work. For the days when you need faster downloads—let’s say you want to work from the beach—you can get a 512 MB “Data Pass” 4G data pack (good for a day) for $5, or you can get a local SIM if you need faster Internet for multiple days in the same country. We’ll discuss this option more in the What about local SIMs? section below.

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Also great

Google Fi Flexible

Google Fi Flexible

Best for traveling with a Pixel or a handful of other recent phones

Google Fi offers fast, 4G data in more than 200 countries. It doesn’t work with every phone, though.

Buying Options

Buy from Google Play

In every way but one, Google Fi is superior to T-Mobile Magenta. You get significantly faster 4G data in more than 200 countries and destinations, and with the flexible plan you pay only for the data you use, so it will likely cost you less per month than T-Mobile. The reason why it’s not our main pick is a big one: Although you can now use it with recent iPhones as well as just about all Androids, not all of its features work on all phones. If you already own (or want to own) one of the most compatible phones (that is, “designed for Fi,” not “compatible with Fi”) and you travel a lot internationally, it’s the best plan. Even if you only have a “compatible with Fi” phone, it still might be the best option. We’ll discuss the specifics below.

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Our pick

T-Mobile Magenta

T-Mobile Magenta

The best plan for frequent international travelers

With coverage in more than 210 countries and no international data roaming fees, T-Mobile Magenta is the best plan for most people who travel frequently and already own their phone. The one drawback: the data is slow.

Buying Options

Buy from T-Mobile

Also great

Google Fi Flexible

Google Fi Flexible

Best for traveling with a Pixel or a handful of other recent phones

Google Fi offers fast, 4G data in more than 200 countries. It doesn’t work with every phone, though.

Buying Options

Buy from Google Play

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter
Keyword: The Best Cell Phone Plan for Frequent International Travel

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