It’s True: T Mobile International Roaming Gives Free Data and Texting Abroad

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There’s never been a better time to sign up for T Mobile international roaming.  Their “ONE” plans include unlimited texting and data in 210+ countries at no extra cost.

I travel every month, so I thought I’d put T-Mobile international data to the test.  Since June 2014, I’ve tested it in 18 countries on 4 continents and read reports from more than 100 other countries. 

T-Mobile works exactly as advertised, but before you sign up, here’s what you need to know.

An Overview of T Mobile International Roaming Plans

T-Mobile ONE Plans include

  • Unlimited talk, texting, and 4G LTE data within the USA
  • Unlimited talk, texting and up to 5 gigabytes of 4G LTE data within Canada & Mexico
  • Unlimited texting and 2G data connections in 210+ other countries (full list here)
  • FREE Netflix subscription
  • In-flight texting and up to 1 hour of free in-flight wi-fi on Gogo-enabled flights
T-MOBILE INTERNATIONAL ROAMING FOR TRAVELERS

T-Mobile International Roaming FAQ

How do you get access to TMobile international data?

All T-Mobile ONE plans include international data and texting automatically.  “No credit check plans” are not eligible.

Individual plans start at $70/month.  Prices per line drop as you add more lines: it’s $60/line for 2 phones, $47 each for 3 phones, or $40 per line for 4 lines.

Do I need a special phone?

Sort of.  You need a phone that is compatible with the cellular network in the country you’re traveling to.  Most modern smartphones are quad-band and support frequencies used all over the world.  However, if you have a basic model, check with T-Mobile ahead of time to see if your phone is compatible with your travel destination.

galaxy s6 cell phone

I personally use a Google Pixel 2.

What countries are covered by T Mobile?

T-Mobile International Roaming map
Heading to Europe, the Caribbean, or Latin America? Expect FREE international data.

With 210+ countries, it’s not all-inclusive but it’s pretty darn close.  You’ll need to confirm your destination has coverage in advance but there shouldn’t be many surprises.

Just like in the USA, if you’re heading to obscure or rural destinations within included countries, you may not have a cell phone signal.

How often can you travel?

Let’s be clear: this service is meant for people who live in the USA and travel sometimes…not for people who want to live abroad.

The terms specifically state excessive users of T-Mobile international roaming may have service terminated.  In practice, it seems like you should use your phone abroad less than 50% of the time.

How do you use TMobile international data?

You don’t have to do anything.  Seriously, once your phone recognizes you’re in a new country (like when your flight lands), you’ll automatically have coverage.  T-Mobile sends a text message confirming your service.

how tmobile international data works
Actual Text Messages I Received (sightDOING tested in 12 countries!)

I love that you don’t have to call T-Mobile in advance and ask them to turn international roaming on and that you don’t have to set up your phone in any special way.  It works the same way it does at home and frankly you’d never even know that you’re traveling abroad!

The one time my roaming didn’t work automatically, all I had to do was restart my phone (and it seemed to be a device issue).  

Please note that I have no affiliation with T-Mobile and cannot provide tech or billing support.

After 18 months, I’ve never been billed more than my standard monthly amount.  There are no hidden fees!

What’s the advantage to T-Mobile international coverage vs. buying SIM cards abroad?

It can be cheaper (especially for occasional travelers) to rely on other phone service in the USA and simply buy local SIM cards when they travel.  I’ve done that previously and you’d be amazed at how cheap you can pick up prepaid service in many countries.

T-Mobile has two main advantages:

  1. Your phone number doesn’t change.  You don’t have to inform friends, family, and coworkers of a new number for every trip!  Plus they can continue to text your US number at no surcharge, unlike if you just picked up a Nepal-based phone number.
  2. It’s convenient.  You don’t have to wait in line and deal with language barriers trying to buy phone service abroad.  You don’t have to switch SIM cards if you enter a new country (like on round-the-world trips).

Do you drain your phone battery? Maps in particular strain your battery, so I always pack an external battery.  Power users can quadruple battery life with a compact version for only $25.

How fast is the international data?

Not fast.

T-Mobile specifically advertises speeds of approximately 128 kbps (“2G”).  These speeds are fine for travelers to check email.  Features like web browsing, social networking, and GPS/maps work if you have a little patience.  However, streaming radio or video is basically impossible.

Texting works perfectly, although some multimedia messages make take a few seconds to download.

For an extra $10/month per line, you can double your data speeds by purchasing T-Mobile ONE Plus.

What do phone calls cost?

MOST PHONE CALLS ARE NOT FREE.

Phone calls to/from Canada and Mexico are included in your plan, but all other calls are charged!  Costs can add up quickly.

  1. If you make a phone call in one of the 210+ covered countries while you are abroad, it will be 25 cents per minute. (example: you call your pet-sitter at home to check on your dog)
  2. If you call from an uncovered country while you are abroad, you’ll pay international rates and roaming rates may apply, so expect to pay $0.50-$5.00 per minute! (example: you call your tour guide to mention you’re running late)

Just like with data and texting, you don’t need to turn international service on.  It will work automatically.

Are there other benefits?

T-Mobile doesn’t require a contract, so if it doesn’t work for you, you’re not locked in.  That’s a great way to try things out without committing long-term.

T-Mobile ONE family plans (2 lines or more) also include Netflix subscriptions to use on your phones.

Lastly, T-Mobile users get free passes to GoGo in-air Wi-Fi so you can surf the internet during your flights.

Do you have T-Mobile and don’t have great coverage at home?  Find out how Google’s Project Fi compares (opens in new window).

What’s the catch?

If T-Mobile international roaming sounds too good to be true, you might be right.  Although it works well abroad, there are downsides within the United States.

t-mobile international roaming us coverage map

T-Mobile has a fantastic network in urban areas which quickly degrades in low-population areas.  Coverage has improved in the USA over the past year, but it’s not perfect in small towns, national parks, and a few other US locations.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you travel to major cities, T-Mobile international roaming is an amazing deal.  When it works, it is incredible value.

However, T-Mobile disappoints in smaller towns, national parks, and rural areas.  If that’s where you visit, consider a different US carrier and separate international sim cards when traveling.  Frugal travelers can make calls over Wi-Fi through Skype, Google Voice, or Facetime.

You can try risk-free since T-Mobile doesn’t require a contract.  Getting started and moving my number was quick and easy.  There’s no downside to trying it, even if it doesn’t work out long-term.

86 thoughts on “It’s True: T Mobile International Roaming Gives Free Data and Texting Abroad”

  1. I LOVE my TMobile plan and it is especially good for overseas travel.

    Here is one additional “trick” that has come in very handy: if you and your family/friends use “WhatsApp”, it has just added a free phone calling service. This is useful when you are in your hotel or other place with Wifi and you want to call another friend who has WhatsApp. In addition, even if you are not using Wifi, you can call those same people using your (free) data network (although it often does not work as well). The reason to use WhatsApp versus the similar Skype is that WhatsApp has a much more powerful texting capability–this is good when you text them first and then can call them. (If you use the TMobile phone network to text it gets expensive!)

    So, to summarize, here is what services I use with my Tmobile phone…

    Overseas–>US/overseas person with Whatsapp: Whatsapp for texts (including images and short vids), also for voice when over Wifi
    Overseas–>US person without Whatapp: Network text, Skype voice, or Network voice
    Overseas–>Overseas: network text, Skype voice
    US –> Overseas: Skype voice (unless they have Whatsapp)

    Is this also how you do it? I want to make sure I’m not overlooking anything!

    1. @bluecat, I personally use a combo of network text/voice and Google voice/hangouts, but that’s just personal preference on available apps.

    2. I also use wechat (popular in China) and Line (popular in Taiwan and Japan) in addition to Whatsapp

      1. Hi,
        I found T-Mobile free texting and data service in Asian only works when the wifi is connected.
        I traveled to Taiwan last year, I had a very difficult time in using the map without wifi connected.
        Any suggestion? I’m planning to travel to South Korea next month.
        Thank you

    3. I love TMobile’s international service feature because it allows me to have reliable email and texting and at least slow internet while traveling abroad – important for most travelers. Sadly, that is NOT the case for email or anything else relying upon their roaming data service while traveling in the US!

      Although their maps clearly show cell tower coverage, that coverage is provided by partners via roaming in many places. Their response is a boiler plate that they are constantly looking for ways to better serve their customers, but, sadly, this has been a serious issue for years.

      After having NO data service in areas that had strong TMobile partner tower service almost immediately (10 to 200 mb limit!) during a recent visit to Alaska, I want to remind others that TMobile HALTS data service while roaming in the US after reaching these very minimal caps, despite their “unlimited talk, text, and data in the US” mantra, even though they do not halt that roaming data service in Canada and Mexico via the North America Family plans. I verified several times with TMobile that this is expected behavior. Very frustrating while traveling in the US! The only current unacceptable workaround is a data pass, which is very minimal in time period and amount – and expensive: “A 1-Day 10 MB Domestic Roaming Data Pass costs $10 A 7-Day 50 MB Domestic Roaming Data Pass costs $15”. Even a short browsing session consumes that very quickly!

      So, despite at least 2g unlimited data while roaming in 130 countries OTHER than the US, one cannot effectively even pick up email while traveling in roaming areas in the US (including many places in Alaska). This also means that all VOIP services such as WhatsApp and Google voice will also stop working immediately while roaming in the US.

      Hopefully once this “feature” is brought to the attention of current and potential TMobile customers, TMobile will finally provide at least the slow 2g data service they provide in the other 130 countries, and in Canada and Mexico with the North America Family plan option.

      Hope this helps.

  2. P.S. I find Here Maps to be much better than Google Maps overseas—you can preload all of the maps you will need and then you won’t even be using data (like with Google). PLUS, if you are flying in a plane through an area that you have preloaded and you see some interesting landmark below, your Here map can tell you what it is.

      1. Just so you know, you can do Offline Maps in google maps as well. I do it all the time for hunting. You can store an entire country offline using a few GB’s of storage (Delete it after your trip) or just a few MB’s to cover the exact cities you are visiting. I plan on visiting Germany and the Netherlands this year and will be using offline maps during my trips.

        For calls, i plan on setting up an auto forward for all calls to a google voice number. That way it will ring on my phone still through hangouts using data only (Which is included free in the 140). That way I can still get calls from those I may need to talk with but can ignore the robo calls without them casting me 20+ cents each call i ignore.

  3. Texting using tmobile gets expensive. I thought data and text is unlimited using tmobile roaming. Please advise

    1. @Windu, If you have a Simple Choice International plan and are in one of the included countries, it should be free (included) and unlimited. Contact T-Mobile to double check on your plan if you have any questions.

      1. Thanks for this helpful info!

        I just spent an hour on the phone with T-Mobile customer support, and they kept telling me that if I wanted to use my phone for texting or data in Europe with the $50 Simple Choice plan, I would need to pay an extra $10-$15 to enable those “features.” None of that seems to line up with what is advertised on their website, or with what you say here. Have their rates/policies changed?

      2. @BG, If you have a Simple Choice INTERNATIONAL plan, you will not need to pay anything. You can, optionally, increase the speed of your data service.

  4. Good grief, why is this so complicated! When the day comes when I simply press the call button and can call from anywhere and be billed once a month at the same price then I will get a phone. Until then I will not buy a phone and I don’t care what others think.

  5. Thanks for the info! I am contemplating switching over to T-Mobile only because I am going to be backpacking through Europe for a month. Do you think I should just sign up with them for that month or should I switch over completely? Also, how was your coverage in Europe?

    1. @Alison, It would depend on if you are planning on doing other travel in the future and/or what service is like for you back at home. Coverage in Europe is pretty expansive but data speeds are slow (usually 2G). Great for email and even Google maps but not great for streaming video, etc.

  6. Gordon Cavanaugh

    Becky,

    I did notice that data does not work unless you have DATA ROAMING turned on SETTINGS-NETWORK CONNECTIONS-MORE NETWORKS-MOBILE NETWORKS-DATA ROAMING must be checked

    I did not see this mentioned as you said it would just work – many people have data roaming turned off to prevent any charges happening by accident & I can contest this can happen when your phone connects to some unknown tower while moving around.

    So if DATA ROAMING is turned OFF then you get texting and can make calls but no data.

    Once on cruise ship to Mexico I was using the free unlimited voice, text & data allowed in Mexico & Canada with my Simple Choice International Plan but my phone connected to the CELLULAR AT SEA one day and I was billed $50 on my next statement.

    As a reference to readers I called T-Mobile to ask if there was anyway to get just the free data service without connecting to unknown towers & they told me that was not possible as this time.

    So in conclusion I use the free data & text to many countries e.g. Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand but if I am traveling by car / bus / cruise ship or boat I turn off the data roaming until I am firmly within a city I now to be covered by the free service.

    Hope this helps someone

    1. @Gordon, Thanks for the follow-up! I’ve never had any additional charges with T-Mobile but I’ve also never used it on a cruise ship, so your experience is helpful. Thanks.

    2. In theory, if T-Mobile didn’t have a roaming agreement with Cellular At Sea, the connection shouldn’t have allowed you any voice, text or data. T-Mobile either has an agreement with them and you should get a refund, or T-Mobile has an agreement with them, but doesn’t consider ocean-going vessels en route to be in any “country.”

    3. Yes, having roaming turned off on the phone will disable data (but not texting or voice). To be safe, be sure to test that texting and data access work when arriving abroad. Took a few days of frustration for us once to find out that having international call blocking turned on on our account ALSO disabled texting and data!

    4. Concerning accidentally automatically connecting to very costly cell services like Cellular at Sea, most phones have a feature to switch from automatic to manual cell service connection. I use this feature to assure I avoid that costly accident which cruising. Much better than losing service during a cruise while traveling through the many places near shore that do have no/low cost roaming cell service (but data service is VERY limited when roaming near US ports due to “domestic roaming” max 200mb caps!). Takes a bit of effort, and well worth it for me. For an emergency at sea using Cellular at Sea, turn off data service on the phone, make minimal use of voice ($6/min on Holland America!), and use texting (which is only 50 cents to send and no cost to receive). Hope this helps.

      Note that if you have North America Family plan feature, Canada and Mexico are free, else data there is $10/mb!

  7. Hi Becky,

    Thank you for your very informative posts. I have some questions about how to call. For example, when you were in Thailand, as you stated earlier, and say you wanted to call a taxi company while in Thailand, do you have to call as if you were calling internationally from the US, or do you just call the same way like the locals do. Here is the number for Bangkok Suvurunambi Airport- 2 132 1888. If you wanted to call this number in Thailand, would you just call 2 132 1888, or do you have to add 011-66-2 132 1888? Is it the same process to text a local number from that country. Finally, I want to ask you whether its free to call internationally from the US, or if its free to call on your T-mobile phone to another US number when you are abroad.

    Hope these questions helps someone.

    1. Hi Samuel, You will dial as if you are still in the USA because you have a USA-based phone number. This will never change, regardless of where you are, as long as you are using your USA-cell phone.
      So…
      dial the exit code 011
      dial the country code (Thailand is 66)
      dial the phone number 2 132 1888

      To text, I find on my phone it works with +66 2 132 1888

      If you call a USA based phone number, it is 20 cents per minute since Thailand is a covered country.
      If you call a Thailand based phone number, you will pay international rates (no idea what they are).

      If you want to make FREE phone calls, you will need to dial via Wi-Fi, which means you need a separate app/program and it will show on caller ID as a number associated with the app (not your T-Mobile phone number). More information at https://sightdoing.net/how-to-make-an-international-call/

      1. After a chat in the T-mobile shop I signed up for the simple coices $50 (+ taxes) plan so that I would be able to get data in Canada. Its apparently impossible. There is no link to the chat line that works, the international T-mobile phone number doesnt connect and none of the Telco shops (admittedly rival cpmpanies) had any idea how to set up the phone to receive data.
        As as far as I’m concerned, I’ve been conned!

      2. @Don, Sounds frustrating. My guess is either they set you up with the wrong plan or the phone is having technical issues. Is it a new phone?

      3. Don and all. I had a frustrating experience of T-Mobile not auto connecting upon landing in Canada as it did for me last year. I eventually realized I had some months before disabled data roaming on my actual T-Mobile account from the app. Once I crossed the border to US I was able to remedy this from the TMobile app. There is now an option on the app that allows one to set a “do not use any service that will incur an international charge” and I think that’s brilliant for those of us that resist the exorbitant and often unnecessary charges. Hope this helps. Thank you for the great info on this site.

      4. we travel to europe alot, and our calls via wifi have all been free from/to the US using the standard phone app. Basically, the call is treated as originating in the US. But, for example, a wifi call in France to a LOCAL number in France should still be still $0.20/min. Our understanding is that as long as NO non-T Mobile cell tower is used while abroad, there are no call charges. Hope this helps!
        Paul

  8. Daniela Morgan

    Hello – I am sooo confused. I’ve had chats and conversations with T-Mobile reps, and receive a different answer each time. I have the Simple Choice plan, and I’ll be traveling to Germany in August. I was told that if I call a number within Germany, the charge will be 20 cents/minute (same as if I were to call the states). Is this correct? If some of my friends (within Germany) call me while I’m there, is it the same as though they are calling me in the states? And what about somebody from the states calling me? I’ve been getting different answers each time to these questions. Would hate to come back to a $500 phone bill. Most importantly, is there anything I have to do/change on my phone once I land? I understand that data and texting is free? Thank you!

    1. @Daniela,
      1) “if I call a number within Germany, the charge will be 20 cents/minute (same as if I were to call the states). Is this correct?” I’ve always been told that international calling rates will apply that 20 cents/min only applies if you call USA. I’ve never tried in Germany, so you should get an answer in writing or tread lightly.
      2) “if some of my friends (within Germany) call me while I’m there, is it the same as though they are calling me in the states? And what about somebody from the states calling me?” The person calling you will not be impacted and will be charged their standard rate (if anything). You will pay 20 cents/minute.
      3) “is there anything I have to do/change on my phone once I land?” As long as you’re roaming is turned on, your phone will work automatically.

  9. I did not give mobile my social security number because they have a history of spilling customer data via Experian. So I signed up for the no credit plan. I called before heading off to Europe and was assured that my phone would be ready to go when I hit the ground. I have texts from them to verify that. Guess what, not for no credit check customers. I actually understand the logic of it, but you should not believe anything at-mobile rep tells you. They lie and lie and lie. Now I am stuck miles from anywhere with no good options. I will switch carriers as soon as i get back to the US.

  10. How does the 2G data works with social media apps let say that you are in Tailand or Japan, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat?

    1. @Angel, Instagram loads slowly because it is so image-intensive, but it is possible to use. Posting your own photos is easier than scrolling through the feed. Snapchat is fine for photos, videos take a little longer to post or view but it is possible.

  11. T-Mobile’s SIMPLE CHOICE PLAN is good.
    They advertise that you will get FREE INTERNATIONAL TEXT MESSAGES and FREE DATA, whilst ABROAD.
    As I type this, from my cell phone, sitting IN QATAR, I can vouch for the quality of this service.
    I have free data. WOOHOO!
    WIFI calling is free. Free only to USA, CANADA and MEXICO.
    TEXT MESSAGING is free. ANOTHER WOOHOO!
    I traveled to PAKISTAN first.
    I was told that, data will be 2G speeds. I was watching NETFLIX and streaming GOT using the free data provided to me. Heck, the data service was so good that I even turned on my tethering service and had my whole family use my service.
    Later on I bought a service plan from a Pakistan cellular provider and let me tell you, T-Mobile’s data service was faster then the data package I bought in Pakistan.
    Now, Im in Qatar and T-Mobile is un-beatable, again.
    Only bummer is that I can’t make voice calls.
    But, because data is free, I connect with my family in Pakistan through Facebook, Viber, Whatsapp and Skype. Text messaging is free, in Qatar as well; as it was free in Pakistan.
    Simply put, do not make calls unless they are to USA, otherwise, T-Mobile will charge you $0.20/min.
    Wifi calling to USA is free.
    I’m loving T-Mobile for giving me this service for no extra charge.

  12. Data service has never worked for me outside the US even with Data roaming and the upgrade NA international plan turned on. Never could access the web. Was able to get full bars everywhere. Make phone calls and texts. Never got data to work in either the Philippines, Taiwan, Shang Hai, nor Thailand.

    What am I doing wrong? Would’ve been so helpful for WAZE app or even google maps but never let me get to the web.

    1. @Brian, If you’ve had access texts, it sounds like roaming is still turned off somewhere in the backend or it could be a technical glitch with your phone. Contact T-Mobile for support.

  13. I am wondering if Thethering works while roaming internationally?

    I saw a post earlier that thethering worked.

  14. Hi, does anyone have recent experience using Tmobile in Italy? I’ve heard data speed is really bad and even with $50 higher data speed ad-on, the speed never goes beyond 2G. Is using waze or google maps at all possible while in Italy?

    1. @Giya80, I used TMO in Italy in May 2016 and the service worked just fine. Calls back to the US via WIFI were free. The few calls we made to numbers in Italy were charged at $.20/min as advertised. There were NO surprise charges on the bill after our return to the US.

      In many locations data speeds are 2G, but in major cities, you may find 3G and 4G speeds. 2G was fine for google maps or you can use google offline maps.

      FInally, since the service provider that your phone locks onto when in Italy is Italian [TIM, WIND, Vodafone, etc] I believe we merely called the number internal to Italy: no international access code or country code. Also, I seem to remember that one drops the leading “0” of a cell phone number when calling in-country, ie, within Italy.

      Hope this helps.

  15. Great site, Becky. But I just wanted to add a couple of points which may help offer some clarification. In-country calls while traveling abroad in any of the 140 countries offering free roaming are $.20 a minute. No roaming; no international dial charges. I’ve done this in a number of countries I’ve traveled to in the past two years and I’ve always been charged the same $.20 a minute that I get charged for placing calls back to the States. Second point is in regards to ‘excessive roaming’. I am back in the States twice a year for approximately a month at a time — once in the summer and once in the winter. The rest of the time I use my T-mobile SIM card while traveling extensively with the exception of using a China Mobile card for TD-SCDMA LTE in China and my main card in my country of residence. Sometimes I even keep my T-Mobile SIM card active on my dual SIM phone when I need to access google services while in China (these are normally censored on my China Mobile SIM). Throughout all this I’ve never received notice of excessive use or threatened to have my service canceled. Hope this helps.

    1. @InAsia — you’ve mentioned that you’ve made calls in-country for 20 cents / minute. I’ve had different answers from T-Mobile reps regarding this. When you made your calls in-country, do you dial the country code etc, as though you were calling from the states? And, when you did make calls, were you notified by T-Mobile right away as far as the costs? I’m hesitant to use this option (I’ll be in Germany for a month) without knowing for sure what the call costs. I am aware it’s 20 cents/minute to US, but while there, I was told once, would be normal long distance rates at $1.99/minute. Just curious if they sent you a notification, once you’ve placed the calls. Thanks!

      1. @Daniela —
        I’m not really cognizant at the time I place a call of whether I use long-distance prefixes or not. It really depends on how I’ve stored the phone numbers in my address book. For example, I just got back from Thailand yesterday. I know that some of the mobile numbers of friends I’ve called are simply stored in their local dialing protocol (eg., 08-XXX-XXXX) while others have their full numbers with the international dialing prefix (eg., +668-XXX-XXXX). I actually prefer storing phone numbers the latter method to ensure that I can see those registered on messaging apps such as WhatsApp. And to answer your question about call charges, no, I don’t see the cost at the time I make a call. Only when I get my monthly bill.

        I can’t really offer any further guidance on what you’ve been told by TM’s CS. I can see from the responses to this blog (and other sites) that they’re highly inconsistent and pretty much all over the place. All I can suggest is that you try it for yourself. However, my experience parallels my interpretation of what’s written in plain English on T-Mobile’s own website:

        “Enjoy unlimited data and texting in 140+ countries and destinations around the globe. Calls are just 20 cents a minute.”

        -and-

        “If you are on a Simple Choice plan that includes international roaming, calls and texts back to the U.S. while using our Wi-Fi calling feature are free and calls from any Simple Global country to any other country are $0.20/min (same as cellular).”

        Couldn’t be any clearer to me. That being said, it’s best to rely on what you’re told by T-Mobile. I’m only speaking from my experience…and phone bill. But then, nothing beats first hand experience, so YOU let us know. 😉 Good luck.

        P.S. — The last time I was on the TM network was January 7th, 2016. Unfortunately, I’m missing my normal month-long summer trip home this year so I won’t be back until Dec. Nevertheless, I expect my year long roaming experience will continue unabated until then.

      2. @InAsia —

        thank you so much for your reply. That was very helpful. I did indeed confirm with a rep, during a chat session, that yes, it is 20 cents/minute for calls within the country and to US. Also, they confirmed the increased data speeds from 2G to 4G LTE this summer from July 1 through August 31 for postpaid customers on Simple Choice plan. Thank you again for taking the time to respond!

  16. Hello, I am writing with a report about the T-Mobile offer of unlimited 4G LTE data while traveling in Europe this summer using the SimpleChoice plan (July 1 to Aug 31). Bottom line: it works, and it is awesome. You get unlimited blazing fast data—fast enough to watch videos, stream, and Skype on your phone, and there are no hidden charges.

    We did experience a few glitches before getting it to work as advertised. When we first arrived in Europe, our phones had difficulty connecting to the high-speed T-Mobile 4G LTE network. The solution was to update the carrier settings on the phone and then restart the phone. It probably also is a good idea to ensure that your phone operating system is current.

    Once everything was updated, at first the phones still didn’t connect to the fast network. However, we could connect to 4G LTE networks of other carriers via roaming (no extra charges). After toggling a few times between the “automatic” carrier selection and manual selection, everything started working, and now the phones find the T-Mobile networks automatically wherever we go.

    According to the rules of the Summer Unlimited deal, you are not allowed to tether your phone to other devices (i.e., make hotspots using WiFi or Bluetooth). However, we tried tethering and it works. I watched a couple of short videos streamed to my laptop, and speeds were very fast. However, I would suggest not trying too much tethering because it burns through data very quickly, and that might be a flag to T-Mobile. Their deal allows unlimited 4G LTE data for the phone only. If you abuse this and start tethering to Netflix, X-Box, etc, you might find yourself throttled.

    The whole deal seems like some sort of T-Mobile experiment. Not only do they earn your goodwill by offering such a sweet deal, they also gather info about how people use the service. Some of my European friends cannot get a deal this good from their local carriers. In June 2017, all roaming data charges will be outlawed in Europe, so perhaps this is a T-Mobile trial run to gain a head start on the competition.

  17. Hi, if I’am traveling to Canada for 10 days, I have ATT and planning to try the prepaid Tmobile plans to use for google maps, phone calls and text while in canada. I understand that all those services will be included with the plan. The questions is if I forward my ATT calls to my new mobile phone while in canada do I get charge in my ATT phone “international” roaming rates because it is “calling a phone that is traveling in Canada”?

    Thanks

    1. @Diego, Prepaid plans do not qualify. You will need to sign up for their traditional phone plan if you want coverage in Canada.

  18. Question: If I’m in Italy, and use the tmobile international plan, is it $0.20/min for me to call within Italy? Or is it more expensive? Or free? It is roaming, after all.

    Also, what about Italian friends calling me? Is it free/cheap for them? Or is it as if they were calling me in the US

    Finally, if I call an Italian, do they have a cost for my calling them? I.e. is it caller-pays? Or both caller and receiver pay?

    I can’t get a straight answer from tmobile support, I guess I’m not asking the right questions. Sigh.

    1. @Owen, T-Mobile support isn’t really helpful. Your calls should all be $0.20/minute regardless of where you’re calling.

      If you call an Italian (or they call you), they will pay whatever charge they normally pay to speak with a USA-based phone number. Your geographical position is irrelevant, it is all based on the country code (e.g. USA) of the phone number itself.

  19. I have simple choice plan. When I went to Paris and Amsterdam in April, I received the texts welcoming me to france/holland. I had internet on the first day in each country only. the second day, it dissapeared. I restarted the phone a few times, turned off wifi, and nothing. I tried talking to folks at tmobile once I return to US, but they say they have never heard of this before. I find it odd that the connection dissapeared on the second day onward until I go to another country in Europe.

  20. Were you able to receive calls from U.S. or any other countries while you were travelling abroad?? What is the rate for receiving calls??

    I did find information on making calls to U.S. and other countries, but not on “receiving calls.”

    Thank you!

  21. If i’m on a Simple Choice plan and travel to a covered country such as Germany, someone calls me but I don’t answer but they leave a voicemail, will I get charged $0.20 for the voicemail without me even listening to it? I ask because years ago, AT&T charged for voicemails when roaming overseas, without even answering the phone. So I simply logged into Skype in wifi coverage, called my cell phone to listen to voicemails.

  22. Follow-up to my previous posts…everything worked as advertised! I spent 4 weeks in Germany, had 4G all the way, free data, free texting, etc. Calls were indeed 20 cents/minute within the country. I used WhatsApp to call friends and relatives who have it, and for those who do not, I paid 20 cents/minute for calls.

    When I arrived in Munich, I turned on “roaming.” It had trouble connecting to network, at first. All I did is turn phone off and on, and it worked. Never had any problems the entire time. Sooo much easier than buying a SIM card, which is what I did in the past. I love T-Mobile!

  23. The promise of “Unlimited Data” with T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan is not reliable when roaming in India.

    Its service partner Vodafone will deny access to data. AirTel however gives you access to all three services i.e. Call, Text and Data.

    Bottom line, expect zero access to “Unlimited Data” in the areas where T-mobile has partnered with Vodafone. The consumer cannot opt for another carrier but T-mobile can and should, to live up to its ad.

  24. Big mistake in your article, In USA t-Mobile data speed is 4G/LTE, not 2G. (unlimited slower data after your high speed data is consumed, typically 2GB for the cheapest plan). In answer to another question, if a call comes while you are overseas, if you do not pick up, the call goes to your voice mail (and there is no charge). You can however see in the caller ID and in the calls log who is looking for you in case you want to pick up or call back.
    Texting is free almost all over the world except in African countries. Check before you travel. In Morocco I got charged 50 cents per text message.
    If you you use wifi calling, calls to and from USA are free.
    Most countries I have visited, I got 3G speed, higher than advertised. China is terribly slow but you can use google maps to navigate.
    Countries me or my family have used T-Mobile: China, Taiwan, S. Korea, Japan, Hong-Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Turkey, Bulgaria, Sweden, Denmark, England, Spain, Portugal, (Morrocco was expensive roaming), Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Mexico, Canada, Colombia, & Ecuador. Most countries were about 3G except for China. Right now (Summer of 2016) Europe and South America are free 4G. I just came back from Colombia, 4G was cool.
    My present plan allows me to free roam at high speed in Canada and Mexico, and calls are free instead of 20 cents.
    Last but never the least, I get uninterrupted coverage on I-95 from NJ to Florida on T-mobile. and from NJ to WV on main roads.

    1. @Jorge, Thanks for sharing your experience. I have dead spots on I-95 in Virginia (even near my home in Richmond, VA). I have call service nearly all the time but data is hit or miss.

  25. Was really wonderful for our recent trip to Italy. Used for both iPad and iPhone, 1 each for both me and my wife, a total of 4 systems. Basically always connected to email, whatsapp, phone and so on. Got 3G all over the trip: Ancona, Ravenna, Padova, Venice.

    Only downside: our Italian friends couldn’t contact us, it’d be a costly international call. Fix was to have folks message us and we’d call back. No incoming call charge.

    Hopefully this international roaming will become more wide spread. It is, after all, a “mobile” phone!

  26. So I left the US in July 2016 and in came back on Oct 2016. That’s 3 months! I used the North America choice plan without a glitch. However upon my arrival it seems that I got a text message from Tmobile stating that I have violated the terms and agreements of the plan and my line was scheduled to be disconnected. I spoke with them and got them to at least simpathize on not disconnecting my line. However I am Banned from ever using Roaming again. I felt this was somewhat unfair. Does anyone know if this ban would be lifted if I change my phone number? I cant ask the representantive that since their calls are monitored and recorded, they obviously wont tell me the workaround this ban.

    1. @Jorge, The plan terms specifically state that excessive use of roaming is cause for termination; my assumption is that if you sign up again for a new number, they will still track you via social security number. Good luck!

  27. Confused by T-Mobile

    My wife and I have been in Mexico for the past 4 months (with the exception of a week we were back in the USA).

    We have 4 lines with the Simple Choice North America 6GB Family Match. My wife just received a text from T-mobile that her line was going to be disconnected because “our systems show most usage for the past several months was roaming off our network.” She has only used about 3GB of data per month. I have used much more, but have not received the same message.

    When we left ATT to join T-Mobile, we knew we were going to be traveling a lot to Mexico and were told that we could: “Call, text, and surf the web in Mexico and Canada like you do in the U.S.”

    1) Is the North America Plan not really what it claims to be?
    2) Is there anything we can do to prevent the cancellation?
    3) Is it inevitable that I am also going to get this cancellation notice?
    4) If we turn off Data Roaming and use Wi-Fi, will that change anything?

    1. @Confused, As my article states…”Excessive users of T-Mobile international roaming may have service terminated.” The service is meant for Americans who occasionally go on vacation, not someone who is using roaming every day for 4 months.

      I don’t know if you can prevent your wife’s impending cancellation but it’s possible that you can prevent the other 3 lines from being cancelled by using wi-fi instead of roaming.

      My assumption is that T-Mobile is defining excessive usage of data roaming as a percentage of overall use. Sounds like your wife was using roaming 95% of the time (with the other 5% when you were in the USA).

      1. After a long and painful discussion with T-Mobile, they finally revealed their ACTUAL terms. It has nothing to do with the quantity of data used while roaming. It is the PERCENTAGE of roaming used in a 3 month period. In other words, if you used 1 MB of data internationally in 3 months and used .9 MB of data in the US during that period, you will be canceled. In fact, we were told that if we made a single 5 minute call in Mexico, but 4 minutes or less in the US, we are subject to cancellation. Not only is this ridiculous – It is NOWHERE to be found in their terms and services. They (like all of these companies) can arbitrarily decide what the rules are whenever they want. If the rule is 50%, then PUT IT IN YOUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS! Don’t (falsely) advertise unlimited, calls in North America when it isn’t. It’s their company. They can set their own rules. But don’t deliberately mislead people to lure them to your company when what you say is not what we actually get.

  28. I wonder if there is a guidelines from T-Mobile on the number of days that you can use the International Roaming data/texting and any data usage limit for travelers?

    1. Yes – but they don’t tell you in advance. It isn’t even written in their Terms and Agreement.

      Simply stated (but not simply advertised) if you are roaming more than 50% of your calls/data/texts during a 3 month period, you will be canceled with virtually no notice or opportunity to adjust.

      I got this info directly from a T-Mobile rep.

      Goodbye T-Mobile. I’m taking my 4 lines, $140/month and several friends elsewhere where you actually receive what you are promised.

  29. Your comment is not necessarily fair. I have engraved in my mind from reading the T-Mobile international roaming conditions that I cannot be outside of the Unites States for more than 30 days. My son lives overseas and has one of my lines. After 30 days he removes the SIM card. When he returns to the USA, he uses it again. Nothing has happened in 2 years.

  30. I just want the terms to be consistent and IN WRITING so I can decide before switching carriers what the terms are.

    They can set any policy they want, but what is unfair is to NOT put it in writing in their Terms and Conditions.

    As for your son, it is a matter of time before he gets that message if he roams more than 50% during a 3 month period. My wife used much less than I did and got the text from them, but I didn’t – nor our hotspot which does nothing data. It has nothing to do with 30 days, it has everything to do with 50% and a random checking of a person’s roaming usage.

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