Today AT&T rolled out a new plan for international calling today that should help frequent travelers avoid frustrating phone bill surprises when returning from overseas trips. It could also push other carriers to improve their offerings for international travelers.
What’s unique about AT&T’s new Passport plan is that it is offering three different one-time packages (for $30, $60 and $120) that you can choose instead of its recurring Global Packages– a nice alternative for the occasional international traveler.
The least expensive Passport bundle goes for $30 and with it you get 30 days of unlimited messaging (text, image or video), 120MB of data, and $1 per minute calling in 150 countries. That’s plenty for a most users, but if you are busy uploading photos or sending or watching videos, there are fatter plans: For $60 you get 300MB of data and calls at .50 per minute. And for $120, you get 800MB of data and .35 per minute calls.
You’ll pay for these packages in addition to your monthly AT&T bill and the deal expires after the 30 days are up… it’s not a recurring charge. Just be sure and sign up for a plan BEFORE you take your trip. (Details about Passport plans here)
AT&T likely rolled out this plan to retain customers tempted by T-Mobile’s very popular, inexpensive and aggressively marketed Simple Choice plan, which offers unlimited data and texting and .20/minute calling in 120 countries (vs AT&T’s 150 countries) for $80 a month. What’s nice about the T-Mobile plan is that you don’t have to “sign up” before each trip… the deal is included in your monthly rate whether or not you are traveling overseas. (Regrettably, T-Mobile’s coverage lags in many parts of the US and much of my home town of San Francisco, which is why I moved away from it two years ago after an 11 year run! But I’m going to give ’em another try via its new, free “test drive” promo. Stay tuned for results…)
Currently, Verizon offers a $25 global data plan that provides 100MB of data overseas, but doesn’t offer free messaging or discounts on voice calls. Plus you have to sign up for it before each trip. Maybe AT&T’s new offer will push Verizon to offer a more streamlined and lucrative deal to retain its frequent traveling customers. Stay tuned….
What mobile carrier do you use? How would you rate its international coverage– and its pricing for international calls and data?
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