AT&T Finally Offers a Day Pass for International Usage

Posted on January 24, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Mobile with 18 Comments

AT&T Finally Offers a Day Pass for International Usage

I’ve spent the past year singing the praises of Google’s Project Fi, especially for international usage. But now AT&T is dragging its feet into the 21st century, and finally offers a relatively inexpensive International Day Pass.

This is important to me because I travel a lot, and international phone usage—especially for data—has always been prohibitively expensive. But it’s getting better. Finally.

Not as good as Project Fi, of course. As I noted in my Google Project Fi Review, international use is seamless: You just take your phone to a new country and use it, and all your usage goes against your normal plan. (The one exception is phone calls, which are an additional 20 percent per minute for the most part.)

This is a sweet deal, and I’ve now had three international trips—to Toronto, Paris, and Amsterdam/Haarlem—to prove it. On that Paris trip, using AT&T’s normal international pricing would have cost me about $1050, but on Project Fi, the cost for the same usage came to about $70. (Verizon would have been even worse: $1765.) In The Netherlands, my total cost was about $20 for one week. I mean, seriously.

The big wireless carriers—AT&T and Verizon here in the U.S.—are slow moving, but they respond eventually. (And of course, it’s not just Project Fi nipping at their heels: T-Mobile in 2016 offered incredible promotional pricing on international data usage that may or may not be indefinite.)

So Verizon in late 2015 began offering a TravelPass plan for international travelers that costs $10 per day and provides you with normal access to your phone, texting, and data plans. (It’s only $2 per day in Mexico and Canada.) As noted in my Paris trip overview, it’s still not as cheap as Project Fi—not even close, really—but much better than in the past.

AT&T, ever the laggard, has just copied the Verizon TravelPass plan with a new International Day Pass of its own. Like the Verizon plan, it costs an additional $10 per day and lets you use your existing phone, texting, and data plans. As with that Verizon plan, it cannot touch Project Fi, but it is much less expensive than AT&T’s normal international plans.

Calculating the proof of this is tedious, but let’s say I use my existing 3 GB AT&T plan in Europe for two weeks and never exceed that limit. On AT&T, this would cost me $140 over my normal monthly bill. On Project Fi, this would cost me $20 over my normal monthly bill plus whatever phone calls I make. (Typically just a few dollars worth.)

Is seven times the cost a good deal? Actually, yes. $210 for two weeks of normal phone usage internationally is a great deal, and easy to justify. You get to use your real phone number and, in my case, the phone I actually want to use. (Fi is limited to certain Android models only.) Is it a good deal, financially, compared to Project Fi? No, of course not.

Still, lower prices are always good, as are options.

 

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Comments (19)

19 responses to “AT&T Finally Offers a Day Pass for International Usage”

  1. 5234

    Those burgers look a little....ripe.

  2. 661

    not to nit pick -- well just a little

    "$210 for two weeks of normal phone usage internationally is a great deal, and easy to justify."

    did you mean to say $140

    Also - AT&T added Canada & Mexico to my plan as a free addition which I will experience for the first time in a Cancun visit in June. I hope I do not have any surprises when I come home

     

  3. 4195

    I got excited reading the article as I have a trip to Mexico next week.  I called up AT&T wanting to see if it was true that I could fork over $70 and get a week in Mexico "as if I were in the US".  After being put on hold a couple of times the rep said that "for Mexico, it's included for free, no extra charge".  I didn't pay for some "extra" plan -- this is the first time I've ever gotten something for free from a telco.  I asked if the same were true for Canada -- sadly no, you have to pay there.  Go figure.

  4. 5664

    My solution to the problem of overseas roaming is simple: I can't afford to travel. But it is good to know that things are getting better, so when I'm finally able to take a trip somewhere, the ride I take won't be courtesy of the phone company.

  5. 1002

    I just used my Project Fi phone (a Nexus 6P) in Malaysia and Australia and it worked great, even in smaller locations in Malaysia (Kuching, Miri) and along the Sunshine Coast in Australia. I used the phone as a hot spot for my laptop, my  iPad and even for my other Nexus 6P, which is on AT&T.

  6. 5615

    If you used Google Voice (on a wifi or cellular *data* connection) to make your phone calls to other phones in Europe, most calls are 1¢ to 3¢ per minute. One or two countries might cost you 7¢ or 8¢ per minute to mobile numbers, but for the most part it's 3¢ or less. Not too shabby.

  7. 6190

    "(The one exception is phone calls, which are an additional 20 percent per minute for the most part.)"

    Did you mean an additional 20 cents per minute?

  8. 5234

    I'm good with my $55/mth (CAD...that's $41.81USD) for 1GB and unlimited US and Canada calling and global texting.  In the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), you get an extra 8GB of data too.  For Canada, that's a really good deal.

  9. 6555

    I just canceled Fi and went back to AT&T, it was that bad. I love the idea of how it works and especially internationally, but the service is horrible if you actually want to make calls.

  10. 5215

    In reply to Simard57:

    I think he added in what a normal week on his plan would cost.  It's $140 in addition to what is normally paid for that time.

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