Cell service Cost

Hello- What do you do with your cell phone service? I called my company and they said it would cost an extra $10/day on top of the monthly service plan for international
Waters. Any better ideas?

T-Mobile offers free international roaming in many countries.

AT&T international roaming works the best, but its expensive.

If you have an unlocked phone you can put a local prepaid SIM card in it. That will work the best and be the cheapest. Or you can buy another cheap phone with a prepaid local SIM card.


I’ve paid +$800 phone bill’s with Sprint & AT&T. I switched to T-Mobile 6-7 years ago & hands down its the best for international travel. I don’t even think about my phone bill anymore while before I always had a little voice in the back of my head worried about the monster bill I would get at the end of the month. With T-Mobile I pay $10 extra a month for an international plan that gives me unlimited texts, unlimited 3G(sometimes 4G) & international calls for 25 cents a minute. In the last 7 years I’ve used T-Mobile on 5 continents in 15+ countries with uninterrupted services & no surprises. It even worked in Japan which I guess was a different type signal because I could never get Sprint or AT&T to work there while passing through.

Thanks for the info! Do you remember if you were able to bring your phone number from att to T-Mobile or did you have to start a new number?

I also used T-Mobile overseas but now I quit sailing and also I no longer get a T-Mobile signal at my house.

Just a few days ago I switched the other way - from T-Mobile to AT&T. Kept my phone number.

I needed my account number and I had to contact T-Mobile to get a PIN number. The PIN number they gave me was good for 72 hrs.

Most will allow you to retain your original phone number during a transfer of services unless someone in their system unlikely has the same number.

Most?. The FCC has mandated Wireless Local Number Portability starting November 24, 2003. In other countries it is often known as full mobile number portability (FMNP).


Correct sir.

When you call a cell phone, how could the system know which one you want to call …
… when different providers assign the same international phone number in their own network as in other national networks?

The providers do their homework.

I also have been very pleased with T-Mobile service out of CONUS. I also have a dual SIM phone and slide in a local SIM whenever I’m going to be in one country for long. Some online services and accounts want to verify your identity when signing in online overseas and not all will send a code by email without a hassle. It is nice to be able to get a SMS via T Mobile.

I have had mixed results with keeping phone numbers when changing carriers. In general, the numbers are portable between major carriers.

But when a “smaller” regional carrier, like GCI (Alaska), gets control of your number they will not let it go. I have moved AT&T numbers to GCI for the summer, but have been unable to move them back to ATT. I have not been able to move GCI numbers anywhere else.

There is sometimes a similar problem with small local telephone company landlines.

I don’t like AT&Ts gotchas, high costs, and screw you attitude, but in some places they have the only reliable international service. They also have good operator assistance.

T-Mobile has worked well for me. However if I am going to be in a foreign country more than a few days, I get a local SIM card to put in my phone. Phone service including calls to the US is very cheap in many other countries.

Local people probably won’t know how to make an international call to your T-Mobile number. They may also be afraid of the cost. These are good reasons to get a local SIM card and telephone number.

In many places, locals only use services like WhatsApp or Line ID, actual phone calls (although cheap to us) are too expensive for them.

In Europe, I have had the best luck with ORANGE card SIMs. In Central and South America, I prefer CLARO or MOVISTAR, unless local advice indicates otherwise. In my experience, T-Mobile outperforms local TELCEL in Mexico.

I prefer to use my own unlocked iPhone because I know how to use it and it has my contacts and other info stored.

The iPhone is also a four-band phone that works everywhere. Not matter what your hometown cell carrier claims, all iPhones are unlocked. They work with any other carriers SIM card.

You can buy very cheap unlocked local phones to use, such as a BLU phone with dual SIM cards, but the instructions and local carrier messages probably won’t be in English. Many of these phones are only single-band or dual-band, thus they may not work in other nearby countries. I didn’t like carrying a briefcase full of phones with incompatible cables and chargers. The iPhone solves this problem.

In some countries you cannot legally buy SIM cards or a phone without showing your passport in a store.

I can remember the old days when you couldn’t pay cash for a local prepaid phone in some countries without a passport and a local co-signer.

However, sometimes you can buy “gray market” sim cards or local phones from Hustlers on the dock, street, or airport. Usually, these cards won’t work more than a few minutes before they need to be recharged. Some places have vending machines to recharge them, some can be recharged online, others can be recharged at certain stores. If you don’t have all the right code numbers it may not be possible to recharge them.


I actually switched to Red Pocket which uses the AT&T network. I’ve only had them for a few days but so far so good. It’s $10 a month no contract.

EDIT: With Red Pocket you can pick whichever network you want. I picked AT&T because they have good coverage in Maine and it uses GSM same as t-mobile so my old phone works.

I used T-Mobile for a while, they had better coverage offshore in the GOM than they did where my wife works or my daughter goes to college so I switched back to ATT. My boat has satellite based WiFi which is fine for texting, email and an occasional quick audio FaceTime.

Red Pocket looks pretty good.

Has anyone tried the Red Pocket Global hot spot plans?

iPhones work on both GSM and CDMA networks; they are also capable of being Red Pocket Global hot spots, without having to buy or carry an extra device.

I have found that as long as a phone handles LTE and GSM they are compatible with most countries. CDMA will soon be a thing of the past. When I have access to 5G it is like being on my fiber network at home. Super quick.

So your monthly telephone bill was $10? Really? Sounds Great but too good to be true- especially if it’s capable of going overseas!

I didn’t look into using Red Pocket internationally because I retired.

I don’t recall exactly what I paid, it was under $11. Been making calls / texts no problem.

At my house, CDMA phones work 95% percent of the time, but GSM phones only work occasionally. The local carrier and Verizon share the same towers and network, but it prioritizes the local carrier. The local carrier works 95% of the time, but Verizon only works 50% of the time. The local carrier is the only reliable option.

It often surprises me which network works best in various urban harbors. Usually, it’s GSM, but sometimes it’s CDMA.

Not long ago, I would get business cards from people in foreign countries that would list both CDMA and GSM cellphone numbers. Now the cards list WhatsApp instead.

I have found that in Alaska I sometimes can send and receive WhatsApp texts on my phone when everything else is out of range. I sometimes find that texting to other iPhone users works, when texting to other types of phones will not work.

I suppose everything will be different when 5G is more available.

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As T-Mobile slowly integrates Sprint into its business they will eventually shut down Sprint’s CDMA network leaving Version the only major CDMA carrier in the US.