There are a ton of ways to get connected when traveling internationally. You can opt for an international cell plan from a U.S. provider like T-Mobile or Verizon. You can also get a local SIM card from wherever you’re traveling and use that. Finally, you can go with satellite internet from Starlink or try TravelWiFi, an international service provider that sells data plans, SIM cards, and hotspots.
T-Mobile’s dedicated hotspot plans all include up to 5GB of high-speed international data. There’s a caveat in the fine print that states they’re not for extended international use, though, and 5GB is not much.
Aside from that, you’re more or less out of luck when it comes to getting an international hotspot from a major U.S. carrier. If that’s what you’re after, your best bet is pocket Wi-Fi from a third party like TravelWiFi.
If you want to stick with your domestic provider for international travel, you have some options. But the goal is to avoid data roaming or pay-as-you-go charges. These are almost always painfully expensive (sometimes several dollars per megabyte), and you can easily rack up hundreds of dollars in fees over the course of a trip.
Verizon’s TravelPass is an add-on to your existing phone plan. For $10 per day, it adds unlimited talk, text, and data (2GB high-speed) in 140+ countries. You pay only for the days you use the TravelPass, so you don’t have to worry about canceling or otherwise messing with your service between trips.
For longer trips, Verizon also offers a monthly international plan, which is $100 per month for unlimited data (up to 20GB high-speed). Just remember—this is on top of your normal monthly bill.
Finally, the Unlimited Ultimate plan includes international talk, text, and data by default, although there are some limits (10GB per month high-speed data, plus you can’t use more than 50% of your data in a foreign country).
T-Mobile’s Go5G plans all include 5GB of international high-speed data, along with unlimited data at 256kbps (basically unusable, but hey, it’s unlimited!). If you need more, or you’re on a different plan, you can add an International Pass for more data.
AT&T offers an International Day Pass for $10 per day. This feature allows you to use your plan’s regular data allotment internationally, so if you have an unlimited plan, you’ll get unlimited international data.
You can add additional lines to your Day Pass for $5 per day, as long as they’re used on the same calendar day. AT&T also charges for a maximum of 10 days in a month—even if you use it more than that—which is perfect for extended trips.
Mint Mobile doesn’t really have an international plan or program. It does allow data roaming, but since it’s a prepaid carrier, you need to purchase credits in advance, in $5, $10, or $20 increments.
Mint calls these credits UpRoam to make them sound exciting, but it’s just prepaid roaming with prices to match. You’ll pay $0.02 per megabyte in most countries, which works out to $20.00 per gigabyte—ouch. You can check rates in the countries you’ll be visiting with Mint’s quick search tool.
Some users have reported that Mint has a hidden $60.00 cap on international roaming credits that is not communicated in any of its documentation. In this particular instance, the user only found out when they tried to add more data and were told they had to wait. With Mint’s prices, $60.00 amounts to only 3GB, which is not much.
Visible offers international services in Mexico and Canada on its more expensive Visible+ plan. Frustratingly, data speeds slow dramatically after just 0.5GB of use per day, but at least these features are already included in your plan, so there’s no additional cost.
Ultra Mobile uses an identical setup to Mint Mobile—down to calling its roaming credits UpRoam (possibly because both companies are actually owned by T-Mobile). To recap, there are no international plans. Instead, you can prepay for roaming data in increments of $5, $10, or $20.
Another option for internet abroad is purchasing a local SIM card and prepaid plan. For example, in England, you could grab a Vodafone or O2 SIM card and a month-to-month plan. You can then use the SIM card in your unlocked phone or mobile hotspot device.
This strategy is usually better for people who will be in the country for an extended period—say a couple weeks. You can likely get a better experience with a local SIM for less money than sticking with your U.S. carrier, but you’ll have a different phone number. So just remember to let people know how to reach you.
TravelWifi is an interesting service that offers SIM cards, hotspot devices, and even a hotspot rental service, all designed for international travel. The rates and plans vary depending on location, but prices are generally reasonable (for international data, anyway). For example, a 30-day, 20GB data package for Australia will cost $102.
The hotspot rental service is pretty unique. You can choose your destination, where the hotspot will be delivered, and where you’ll return the hotspot. There are several data plan options as well, priced on a per-day basis.
TravelWifi’s plans seem to be based on 4G LTE instead of 5G, which means potentially slower performance than in the U.S. That said, we’re usually more concerned with staying connected while traveling without emptying our savings than we are about having the absolute fastest speeds. Plus, LTE is still quite fast in most cases.
Finally, if you prefer a satellite option, Starlink offers global mobile satellite internet service in the form of Starlink Roam Global. There are two service plans: Starlink Mobile Global, which uses the provider’s standard satellite antenna, or Starlink Mobile Priority, which uses the Flat High Performance dish and allows in-motion use.
The main differences are hardware and cost. The standard Starlink dish has to be set up every time you connect from a new location—not a difficult process, but potentially annoying if you do it a lot. The Flat High Performance dish is always ready to go, but it has to be mounted to your vehicle, which isn’t ideal.
As for cost, here’s the breakdown: