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Prepaid international roaming

Here's what 6 cell phone providers charge you to stay connected overseas.

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International roaming isn’t exclusive to postpaid plans anymore — many prepaid plans come with the option to take your cellphone overseas and still make calls, surf the web and post on Instagram. But most of these providers will charge pay-as-you-go (PAYG) rates, which are generally far more expensive than domestic rates.

We break down what to know about prepaid roaming across six top providers, including what you can expect to pay when you visit a few popular international destinations, including Mexico and Canada.

Verizon prepaid international roaming

Verizon’s $65 unlimited includes unlimited call, text and data in Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. You can add this feature to its other prepaid plans for $5 a day.

For 140 other countries, including the United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic, you can add Verizon’s TravelPass for $10 a day. You’ll use your phone’s data allowances from your plan as if you were in the US. But you’ll only get high-speed data for the first 0.5 GB each day and reduced speeds after.

AT&T prepaid international roaming

You can currently use your phone in Mexico and Canada on any AT&T prepaid plan except the lowest tier, AT&T Prepaid 5GB.

Here’s a look at AT&T’s pay-per-use travel rates for Mexico and Canada:

CountryCallTextMultimedia message
Mexico$0.25 per minute$0.25 per text$1.30 per image or video message
Canada$0.39 per minute$0.25 per text$1.30 per image or video message

AT&T offers an International Travel Add-On for $35. You’ll enjoy unlimited talk, text and 5GB of data for seven days when you’re in 14 destinations, including Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

T-Mobile prepaid international roaming

T-Mobile Simply Prepaid plans 10GB, Unlimited and Unlimited Plus can add talk, text and data in Mexico and Canada for $5 a month. Your data allowance is 5GB of 4G LTE speeds, and then your speed drops to 128kpbs or 2G.

Unfortunately, T-Mobile 2GB and 5G Connect plans don’t have international features.

Cricket Wireless international roaming

Cricket Wireless only has one plan, the Unlimited with 15 GB Mobile Hotspot, that gives you service in Mexico and Canada. You can call or text freely, but your international data may only operate at 2G speeds.

It doesn’t offer international roaming in other countries.

Mint Mobile international roaming

Mint Mobile offers pay-as-you-go international roaming. UpRoam lets you add credits to your account in $5, $10 or $20 increments, which never expire and roll over to the next month.

Mint Mobile charges different rates depending on the country you’re visiting. Here’s an idea of what you might pay to use your phone while traveling:

CountryCallTextData
Mexico$0.06 per minute$0.02 per text$0.06 per MB
Canada$0.06 per minute$0.02 per text$0.06 per MB
United Kingdom$0.25 per minute$0.05 per text$0.06 per MB
Dominican Republic$0.25 per minute$0.05 per text$0.20 per MB

Compare prepaid phone plans

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Plans start at: Data Autopay discount Keep your phone numbers Rollover data Mobile hotspot
Verizon
$40/per month
5GB, 15GB, Unlimited
Yes, $5/month off monthly bill
Yes
Yes
Yes
AT&T
$35/per month
2GB, 8GB, Unlimited, Unlimited plus
Yes, $10/month off monthly bill
Yes
Yes
Yes
Cricket
$30/per month
2GB, 10GB, Unlimited, Unlimited + 15 GB mobile hotspot
Yes, $5/month off monthly bill
Yes
No
Yes
Mint
$15/per month
3GB, 8GB, 12GB, Unlimited
No
Yes
No
Yes
Boost
$10/per month
1GB, 2GB, 5GB, 10GB, 15GB, 35GB
No
Yes
No
Yes
T-Mobile
$15/per month
2GB, 5GB, 10GB, Unlimited, Unlimited plus
Yes, $5/month off monthly bill
Yes
No
Yes
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Compare up to 4 providers

4 alternatives to prepaid international roaming plans

  • Travel or global SIM. If your phone is unlocked, you can purchase a prepaid international SIM card that works in your destination country. You can swap out your current SIM card, pop in the global SIM card and you’re good to go.
  • Local SIMs. If you’re in a foreign country, you can usually pick up a local SIM or phone plan to cover you while you’re there. Make sure your phone is unlocked and compatible.
  • Data services. Connect to free local Wi-Fi or purchase a data pack to make voice calls and texts over apps like WhatsApp — without needing a phone plan.
  • Google Fi. Travel to any of Google Fi’s 200 participating destinations and pay $20 a month plus $10 for each gig of data you use or choose its $70 unlimited plan. Both plans include free international texts and free Wi-Fi calls to the US. Regular calls while abroad are $0.20 a minute.

Is it a good idea to roam using a prepaid plan?

International roaming on a prepaid phone plan may not be for everyone. It generally boils down to where you’re going, your data needs and whether you have an unlocked smartphone.

It might be a good idea if:

  • You plan on traveling to several destinations outside of the US and may need to make voice calls or access the Internet.
  • People need to contact you via your current phone number.
  • Your phone is locked, and you don’t want to buy a compatible phone abroad.

Considering something else if:

  • You’re a video and social media fiend and plan on using a lot of data overseas.
  • You’re staying in one location with Internet access, such as a resort, and don’t plan on leaving the premises.
  • You have an unlocked phone and can find a cheaper local phone plan.

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