Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   T Mobile Plan Super for Travelling (

xyz123 Jun 17th, 2015 05:17 PM

T Mobile Plan Super for Travelling
I have to admit. I have always been a fan of local sim cards. I just finished a trip to Europe with my T mobile plan and I have to tell youj; for the most part local sim cards are no longer really necessary if you have that plan. 20¢ a minute for calls throughout Europe (and lots of other countries too) even some like Turkey which is not part of the eu. Unlimited text and even more importantly unlimited data for $50/month. The unlimited data functioned really well although many more hotels seem to have free wifi available (although in some cases, disconnecting from the hotel's wifi gave me faster data with the tmobile plan. In Britain, I did use an O2 sim card with 2p/minute for calls to the USA and other places in Europe but elsewhere, the t mobile plan was very much sufficient. No hassles with language and local sims and, for example, using was able to listen to my home town radio stations each night when trying to get asleep. Didn't miss a beat.

Dukey1 Jun 17th, 2015 05:38 PM

I loved having the T-Mob. unlimited data when I was using my phone's navigation function for our several trips over to Europe this past year. Worked like a charm and being able to text the house/pet sitter whenever I wanted to was also nice.

Andrew Jun 17th, 2015 06:14 PM

The problem is: what happens when you travel to countries in Europe that aren't covered under T-Mobile's international roaming plan? Then you have to buy a local SIM anyway. I had to buy SIM cards recently in Bosnia and Montenegro (might have in Slovenia but I wasn't there long).

Having T-Mobile in Croatia (and briefly, Amsterdam) on my recent trip was nice, but I'm not sure it's worth it anymore. I already use my Google Voice number a lot, and I can make free calls with Google Hangouts back home with WiFi or local data. $50 for T-Mobile's Simple Choice plan is starting to seem expensive to me, because I don't even have a 4G LTE phone (3G seems very adequate for my needs). I'm seriously considering changing to GoSmartMobile, T-Mobile's budget brand, for $35/month 3G and dumping their Simple Choice plan - and just buying local SIM cards on future trips in all countries.

xyz123 Jun 17th, 2015 06:48 PM points are well taken but I found very few countries, at least the ones I frequent, where T Mobile didn't apply (Russia would be one; didn't get to Croatia).

As I said, I did find great value in a British sim card with O2 and its dirt cheap, and I mean dirt cheap, calls from Britain to most foreign countries on an international plan (who can argue with 2p/minute to the USA?). But I found the plan worked for my needs. Unfortunately, I was on a cruise also and while at sea, wifi rates and roaming rates are simply through the wall.

welltraveledbrit Jul 12th, 2015 01:12 AM

My two cents on my blog just in case it's helpful for anyone. Mobile has worked wonderfully for us and we've been in Europe for three and a half months.

Kathie Jul 12th, 2015 08:55 AM

We have loved having free data on our travels via Team Mobile, but I think we may give it up after our upcoming trip to Bangkok. Why? Their coverage in the US isn't great including no coverage for some places we go regularly (like the San Juan Islands here in Washington - no reception at all!) And we spend a month on Kauai each year and have no data and often no voice at the place where we stay on Poipu beach.

We are tempted to return to Verizon which has excellent coverage, and just add a foreign data package when we are out of the US. Still researching this.

bvlenci Jul 12th, 2015 09:14 AM

My daughter gave up T-Mobile also because she couldn't get decent coverage at home, especially because there was no signal inside her office, which she always had with Verizon. She had switched to T-Mobile for the travel, but the final straw was when she couldn't get a signal on a trip to London.

However, I just want to warn you that Verizon's data package is very expensive. It sounds reasonable, but the price is quoted for a very small amount of data, sort of like telling you how much a wine costs per tablespoon.

If you're happy with T-Mobile at home and will be visiting a number of countries, T-Mobile might be your best option. Otherwise, buying a local SIM card is usually the best. If you'll be visiting only within the EU, the cost of call roaming is minimal and rates for data roaming are going down. All inter-EU roaming charges are scheduled to disappear in 2016, although I'll wait to see that really happen. (They were scheduled to disappear this year and the telecoms were given a reprieve. Data roaming is a cash cow for them.)

Andrew Jul 12th, 2015 01:25 PM

T-Mobile has excellent coverage in US cities. In rural areas, Verizon tends to be better. But Verizon isn't always better everywhere. I work in an office in Portland occasionally which is a Verizon "dead zone" - people who work in the office have to go outside to use their Verizon phones. My T-Mobile phone works fine in the same space. YMMV.

Even where my folks live in a semi-rural area, my T-mobile coverage has been fine, though only 2G in spots. I can still use data but it's a tad slower of course on 2G. Regular calls are fine.

FYI, anyone who simply can't get good T-Mobile single inside their homes might consider a phone that supports WiFi calling, which is free with T-Mobile. It uses your WiFi connection instead of regular cell service for calls, automatically. If you have good internet and WiFi at home, this might be an option. I have used it a few times. My new Android phone doesn't support WiFI calling (old one does), but I use my Google phone number most of the time, and I can therefore use Google Hangouts to receive phone calls on my main phone number.

I am probably going to dump T-Mobile too, though, only because I don't use it much and $50/month for their Simple Choice plan seems too expensive. I can get the same thing (without 4GLTE which I don't think I need) from T-Mobile's sub-brand, GoSmartWireless, for $30/month, without international roaming, and just buy SIM cards overseas as needed. I can still use my same Google US phone number in Europe (free!) with Google Hangouts.

Kathie Jul 12th, 2015 01:32 PM

Andrew, you are so right that it depends on each person's needs. I live right in Seattle and sometimes I have good reception at home, sometimes not on T-Mobile. (Yup, we could do wi-fi calling but why don't they upgrade their systems?) My reception on Verizon was always just fine at home. But no reception at all when we go to visit my mother on Lopez and poor reception/no data on Poipu Beach is the deal breaker for us. Last year we just put up with the problems on Kauai (we could do wi-fi calling from our unit), but said we wouldn't do it again!

welltraveledbrit Jul 12th, 2015 02:23 PM

<If you're happy with T-Mobile at home and will be visiting a number of countries, T-Mobile might be your best option.>

I agree with all of the caveats, it works for us precisely because the reception at home is ok and we have a back up landline when we need it.

Andrew Jul 12th, 2015 02:40 PM

Kathie, I wonder what kind of phone you have and what kind of T-Mobile service you are using? (4GLTE? 3G?) I really haven't had the kinds of issues you describe with my T-Mobile service over the years, and I have used my phone all over the US (and in Oahu too). Some years ago I spent a month driving cross country. Not that I had service everywhere, but in anything close to a populated area I always did. I have never, ever thought about dumping my T-Mobile service due to poor reception.

Kathie Jul 12th, 2015 03:00 PM

I have an iPhone 5s, we have 4GLTE, though as you know, LTE isn't available everywhere. On Lopez, the islanders voted years ago not to have a cell phone tower on the island, so with Verizon, I could get a signal from a nearby island (Orcas) or from Vancouver Island, but not with T Mobile. Elsewhere on Kauai, we get data and voice fairly reliably, but we could never get data at Poipu (except via wi-fi). We spent a long time on the phone with T-Mobile last year and they suggested some settings changes (forcing use of the AT&T network, for instance) which helped a little but still didn't give us reliable data. We had no reception problems on Oahu.

I don't know where you live, but here in Seattle, I have friends who have AT&T as their provider and they reliably have dropped calls between the airport and the city two or three times in one drive, so it isn't just T-Mobile that seems to have problems here. I never had problems like this with Verizon.

Kathie Jul 12th, 2015 03:08 PM

I suppose I should mention that we had fine reception and data speeds in Paris last year, and we had no problems in Peru - not just Lima and Cusco but also in the Sacred Valley and at Machu Picchu. We laughed about having good reception at Machu Picchu but problems in less remote places like Kauai and Lopez.

xyz123 Jul 13th, 2015 01:42 AM

I will never understand why Verizon and Sprint years ago did not switch to for its very flexibility. The eu understood the importance of this flexibility a couple of decades ago by making it the standard within the eu. Change the sim card and voila. Admittedly if you never leave the confines of the USA it doesn't matter but once again unfortunately for international consistency, we have the USA going one way and the rest of the world another. And while I'm not disputing what somebody said above, T Mobile almost always givrd me 4 bars everywhere in London. it prefers T Mobile UK (now EE after the merger with Orange UK) but can roam on O2 UK and Vodafone UK if needed. However, British sim cards have dirt cheap, and I mean dirt cheap (2p/minute or less) on some plans for calls to the USA. The problem is when you leave the UK, because what has happened is that roaming on a European sim card inside the eu does mean very cheap roaming rates which indeed are scheduled to disappear next year but calls outside the eu become extremely expensive as compared to the 20¢/minute on the t mobile plan (can be cheaper of course via voip) and on some of these UK plans, the 20¢/minute for international calls while high as compared to international calls outside the UK, the calls within the UK to local numbers run about 35p/minute. What it means is I have resorted to a dual sim phone with a t mobile sim card and a local UK sim card and try to get the best of both worlds.

xyz123 Jul 13th, 2015 01:44 AM

first sentence should say did not switch to gsm. Big problems with my laptop which Dell refuses to acknowledge is that I can be typing along and suddenly the insertion point jumps to a new location and it might take me several strokes to recognize it. Also sometimes I suddenly find text selected and if I type one more character, the selected text disappears. Dell says I'm imagining this but that's for another time and place.

Sher Jul 13th, 2015 04:44 AM

I switched to T Mobile's Simple Choice plan a year or so ago. There are four family members on the plan with various types of phones and I feel my plan is very inexpensive.

I also like the fact that I can use my phone when in Europe and I find that the cost, IMHO, is very little. Of course I am only making personal calls and not using it for business calls.

I just purchased the Samsung Galaxy 6 and am getting all of my kinks out before I travel to Italy.

I did go the GSM phone route previously in Europe and I just feel this simplifies my life. It is one thing I do not have to plan for when I travel.

I don't know if I would switch plans just for the reason of the calls in Europe. But I am happy with my service here and the calls abroad are just another perk for me.

Telephone plans and SIM cards change so much here and the same in Europe or worse that it just gave me a headache trying to keep up.

xyz123 Jul 13th, 2015 05:05 AM

As I said, some of the android apps available on the Samsung phones are really neat today. For example I got the app from NBC sports and I was able to watch the 7th game of the Rangers-Lightning Stanley Cup semi final series while laying in bed in my London hotel (and this room had no wifi so I was using my unlimited T mobile data plan (and reception was fine; I have the mlb app and can enter my password and can watch and/or listen to every mlb telecast or broadcast. I have the and tune it apps, all free, and can listen to most every radio station in the US...I have the sirrius app and can listen to my favorite satellite radio stations. No extra cost. I know there are those who will say you're on holiday so why bother and the 5 or 6 hour time difference can be a problem but I find the whole thing and what we have available today to be awesome.

Kathie Jul 13th, 2015 07:08 AM

xyz, my sweetie had a Dell laptop that did that - and they will always deny that it is a problem. And I agree with you that the US's need to do things differently is a big disadvantage - in cell phone standardization, even standards for dvds.

It's ironic that we have better T-Mobile reception in foreign countries than at home!

welltraveledbrit Jul 13th, 2015 07:34 AM

We even got reception on our T-mobile plan as we went down the Nile on a dahabiya!

Andrew Jul 13th, 2015 09:26 AM

[It's not just a "Dell laptop" problem - I have had the same issue on several different laptops from different manufacturers.]

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:10 AM.