Is AT&T’s New Passport Plan the Solution to Staying Connected Abroad?

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AT&T has announced new Passport plans to help you stay connected overseas.

Is ATTs New Passport Plan The Solution To Staying Connected Abroad

Get Free SENT Text Messages and Free International Wi-Fi Hotspots With AT&T Passport But Is That Enough?

AT&T’s Passport gives you 3 plans ranging in price from $30 to $120 per 30 day period.  However, you will also pay extra to make calls and for text messages you receive.

So is this the right choice for you?

AT&T Passport

 Link:   Sign-up for AT&T Passport

With AT&T Passport you get free sent messages, free Wi-Fi hotspots in over 35 countries, and you can choose from 3 data & talk plans:

  • 120 megabytes and $1 per minute for $30
  • 300 megabytes and 50 cents per minute for $60
  • 800 megabytes and 35 cents per minute for $120
Is ATTs New Passport Plan The Solution To Staying Connected Abroad

You Can Choose From 3 Plans

You can use AT&T Passport in over 150 countries.

Keep in mind, these prices are in addition to your monthly wireless service bills.

How Does This Compare to Other Plans?

Let’s take a look at how AT&T Passport compares to other plans:

ServiceMonthly FeeDataVoiceText
AT&T PassportYour choice:


• $60

Based on monthly fee

• 120 megabytes (then 25 cents per megabyte)

• 300 megabytes (then 20 cents per megabyte)

• 800 megabytes (then 15 cents per megabyte)
Based on monthly fee

• $1 per minute

• 50 cents per minute

• 35 cents per minute
• Unlimited SENT messages

• Received messages charged based on your current plan
T-Mobile Simple Choice$50Unlimited• 20 cents per minuteUnlimited
Verizon Global Voice & DataN/A• $25 for 100 megabytes

• $25 for 100 megabytes after
• $4.99 per month for an average of 20% savings on the per-minute rate in applicable countries (actual savings vary by country)• 50 cents per message sent

• 5 cents per message received

• 25 cents for sent and received multimedia messages plus data charges

It’s nice to have free messages, but it’s only for sent messages.  You will then pay the domestic rate for received text messages (this will vary based on your wireless plan).

You also get to use AT&T’s international Wi-Fi hotspots.  But I don’t want to pay $30+ for free Wi-Fi, when many hotels, restaurants, and cafes offer free Wi-Fi anyway.

For instance, you can get free internet at Choice Hotels, Club Carlson, and IHG hotels.

And certain hotel credit cards such as the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve give you internet with elite status.

This could be a good deal if you plan on staying in a hotel that doesn’t have free Wi-Fi and there is an AT&T hotspot near-by.  That’s because Wi-Fi at a hotel can cost ~$20 per day!

However, the most disappointing part about AT&T’s new Passport plans are the high talk rates.

Is ATTs New Passport Plan The Solution To Staying Connected Abroad

Don’t Plan on Using Your Phone to Make Calls With AT&T Passport Because 35 Cents to $1.00 Per Minute Adds Up Fast!

Verizon offers a good option if you only want to use your phone to check your email, Facebook, and use maps.  That’s because you can pay $20 for 100 megabytes  But text and voice are still pay as you go, which can get costly!

T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan is the best overall deal.  With this plan you get unlimited data and text.  You also get cheaper calls at 20 cents per minute.

However, with T-Mobile you may have to contend with SLOW 2G speeds and spotty service.

T-Mobile claims 3G speeds in nearly all of the UK, but 2G in Thailand.  Check out T-Mobile coverage areas to see what service is available where you’ll be traveling.

Many folks say T-Mobile has good coverage in cities but is lacking in rural areas.

Other Ways to Stay Online Overseas

In addition to wireless carries there are also websites and apps that can work to help international travelers.

Here’s a few options:

  • FaceTime – If you have an iPhone, iPad, or Macbook and a Wi-Fi connection you can video and voice chat with other FaceTime users for free
  • Rebtel – Download the app to your smartphone and call and text other Rebtel users via Wi-Fi or 3G for free.  There are pay per minute rates for all other calls.
  • Skype – Download the app to your computer or smartphone and get free calls, video chat, and instant messaging to other Skype users with Wi-Fi or 3G.  Pay per minute or monthly rates for all other calls.
  • Viber – Download the app to your smartphone to call and text message other Viber users for free using a Wi-Fi or 3G connection.  All other calls charged at per minute rates.

Bottom Line

AT&T’s new Passport plans offer a new option for international wireless service.  You can choose from 3 plans that cost $30 to $120 (depending on the amount of data) for 30 days.  These prices are in addition to your monthly wireless bill.

With the AT&T Passport you get free SENT messages and free access to AT&T’s international hotspots.  This could be a good deal if the hotspots are in convenient locations and free Wi-Fi isn’t available at your hotel.

That said, the T-Mobile international plan is the better value.  But it still has lots of flaws.

You can also use apps like Rebtel and Skype to call, message, and video chat with other users for free.

How do you stay connected when traveling internationally?

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17 responses to “Is AT&T’s New Passport Plan the Solution to Staying Connected Abroad?

  1. I have 5 countries in the next 2 months and while I have been buying local SIMs and service up till now I’ve thrown in the towel. Turkey makes it difficult and expensive.

    I bought a cheap travel phone that supports every cellphone band known to man (Moto G LTE) and signed up for t-mobile’s $50/month simple choice plan. There are no startup fees so in theory I could start and stop the service every few months, using the t-mobile SIM I have. Or buying a new SIM if they want – it’s only $10. There are no contracts and no “termination” fees.

    Internationally you only get 2G service, according to everything I’ve been able to find, although you can usually buy “speed upgrade” packages from them to get better speed.

    But here’s the thing – and I tested this by setting my phone to run 2G only – 2G service is *VASTLY* better than NO service. Google maps will work. Email will work, Even the odd facebook posting with a photo.

    Verizon & AT&T vastly screw you over when you travel. This new plan from AT&T is mostly a joke. I have loved my Verizon service here in the USA – available essentially everywhere and at $60/month (customer *loyalty* plan) it’s not too terribly expensive. But because of the “loyalty” plan they won’t let me add on any travel features at all. If, after a couple of months back from travel t-mobile has the coverage I need I’ll probably say goodbye to Verizon.

    The sad thing is, Verizon and AT&T *could* easily offer a better deal than t-mobile. If Verizon offered me a $25/monthly add-on package for the same unlimited text & data and 20 cents/minute voice when I travel that I get with t-mobile I’d probably stay a Verizon customer. But they don’t, so I probably won’t.

  2. i have AT&T and I’m not switching to t-mobile since my service at home would be crappy. This is only a moderate improvement from their previous offerings. One change is that they used to give you free incoming texts.

    I would like more details on the 30 day thing. Currently, they make you sign up for your entire billing period. So sometimes I have to purchase 2 months worth when I only have 3 weeks of travel. They wouldn’t let you prorate. I hope it is now a true 30 days, regardless of billing cycle.

    I don’t know why you are slamming it. Verizon’s offerings are horrid and t-mobile service sucks. We had students this summer who switched to t mobile for study abroad and the phone never worked abroad.

    I suppose I could do the SIM card thing, but I can’t be bothered.

  3. Everyone needs to have the cell service that works for them. Verizon has been awesome for service within the US. But they are problematic and expensive if you travel.

    The t-mobile service for which I signed up a few days ago has worked flawlessly here in Colorado. I’ll be able to say more about how it works internationally in two months.

    This AT&T plan is too little for the money – that’s the only thing I was slamming. Their service within the US may be great, just like Verizon’s, but they definitely screw you over when you travel.

  4. I agree that the amount of money charged is ridiculous, but the quality of the service abroad is decent and the ease of using the service is nice. When I traveled abroad with 30 students, the ones on TMobile & Verizon had nothing but problems and/or high bills (with Verizon). The AT&T students had phones that worked without any issues.

    As I said, my biggest beef was their insistence on not prorating and not allowing you to add it any time. You were always locked into your billing cycle. I really hope that has changed.

    Maybe one of these days I’ll look into trying the SIM card thing, but for family contacting me from the US, it is easier to just pay AT&T’s prices and keep my US phone number.

    Caching maps on Google Maps also saves me a bundle!

  5. I have definitely heard that AT&T has good service here in the US, from lots of friends. And expensive service when traveling. One thing I realized this week, when I started researching cell service again after being a Verizon customer for years, is that many of the original reasons for signing up for Verizon are gone. Now everybody offers unlimited talk/text and decent (1GB+) data. So for me the biggest deal is travel. I have friends who travel for work and have had no problem with t-mobile. Which doesn’t mean I won’t or that your students did not. But very recently (in the last 18 months) t-mobile has put agreements in place with providers all over the world so that their service should “just work” for no extra cost. My friends say it really does just work, so I’ll give it a try. I’m sure I’ll have a vast amount of new data when I return from my travels in mid-January.

  6. This is such a scam! If your going to Europe buy a Vodafone Sim, it should cost no more than 10 euros. I would used Vodafone because it is in more countries than some of the others. Set up a simple prepaid plan from the country you start at. If you are going to a few countries you can use “Smart Passport”. You only pay 3 euros a day for 500mb 50sms 25 minutes of calls. Most Verizon LTE phones are unlocked, all other carriers can be unlocked by request if you are done with your contract.

  7. T-mobile for me has been very good while traveling overseas. Yes you get 2G or 3G speeds but you don’t have to pay extra for internet access and messaging. We’ve tried it in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Maldives with no issues. The one feature I have found to be the best is their Wi-Fi calling. We were in resorts last year in the Maldives, Thailand and Mexico and were able to make and received calls without having to buy a local SIM card. As long as you can get onto a Wi-Fi network somewhere, it was like calling from home. And in those times we didn’t have Wi-Fi to make calls, we would only racked up about $10 in fees for about 1 hour of talk time. The kids were delighted they could call or text us anytime.

  8. We spend a month twice a year traveling all over the UK. For the last few years we have got a sim from We buy a Pay As You Go All in One add on for £15 that’s good for 30 days. For that we get 3000 texts, 300 minutes of talk and unlimited data. This is for UK only. We use the data for everything, including navigation. Yes, data coverage can be spotty in remote areas although we can usually get voice. We honestly haven’t found our coverage much worse when compared to Vodaphone or O2 used by our family there.

  9. I remember in the not so distant past when placing mobile calls from overseas were $3/minute and texts were 50 cents. Prices have come down considerably. I have done the local SIM thing on a couple of occasions. However I found it was just not worth the hassle. Maybe when staying in a foreign country for a few weeks or more, fine, but not when staying in any one country a week or less. When using a local SIM you get a new number, and it takes time, not time I am willing to spend when on vacation. When using AT&T, it has never let me down no matter where I go in Europe or China. I also utilize a SIP app on my phone by using the free WiFi in the hotel lobbies costing me only a couple of cents per minute. I am curious what AT&T will roll out in the near future with seamless WiFi calling.

  10. Also worth noting is that the T-Mobile Simply Choice plan is your entire phone bill, not an add on service like Verizon and AT&T. It’s a great deal – I’ve been using them since September and have been very pleased overall.

  11. I purchased the ATT Passport plan for a 44 day trip to 5 countries in southern Africa, 3 of which were to have been covered under the plan. I was able to find 1 (one!) hotspot the entire trip and that next to the international airport in Johannesburg. The data portion of this plan is useless if traveling to Africa. Also after the 30 days, you not only lose the Passport, you won’t be able to use your phone at all for calls or text. Shutout. This is ATTs third attempt at an international plan and it gets worse with each try.

  12. I love t-mobile’s international service. It literally just works. Used it for half a dozen countries last year. Sadly, their service is not very where I live, so it’s still Verizon or me at home. But I turn on t-mobile on my android phone when I travel. Unless I’m going to be in one place for a long time. This upcoming trip to NZ I’ll just get a “travelers” package from Vodafone.

  13. Made the mistake of signing myself and teen boys up for AT&T passport plan for a trip to Mexico (Aug 2015) to avoid extra charges while traveling. What a complete joke…first of all, we used the hotel free wi-fi at the hotel, so the only place we ended up wanting to use the Passport was at the Cancun airport while waiting for several hours before boarding to come home. Guess what…the Cancun airport is a fairly large airport and didn’t have a hotspot for AT&T. If the Cancun airport can’t be a hotspot, you are likely going to have a hard time finding wifi connection in many places. Don’t waste your money…just go without and use free wi fi in hotels and coffee shops.

  14. The AT&T Passport plan was extremely expensive and was close to useless during our month-long trip to Scandinavia and Germany. It’s important to note that you pay for the plan above and beyond — not instead of– your regular monthly plan. So essentially you are paying twice. Secondly, the hotspots are only in major cities and, as an AT&T rep told me over the phone, mostly in airports. Others have already pointed out that you will likely have wifi in your hotel, cafes, restaurants, and even a rural vacation rental. What you most want is texting and calling. This worked mostly seamlessly with people back home, so that was nice. However, I couldn’t call our friends and relatives in Europe without changing the country and regional area codes several times (the format seemed to be different in each country) and texting simply didn’t work most of the time. Since texting wasn’t working, and we needed instant communication to coordinate with each other while on the go, we racked up an unexpectedly high phone bill in a matter of days. Very frustrating and a waste of money. Since my husband just has a pay as you go phone for home, we also bought local SIM cards from gas stations that were much better. We’ve done this in the past, too, often where you buy a starter kit with a simple phone. I think that is the way to go.

  15. t-mobile $50/month flat rate for unlimited data & sms home & while traveling internationally. If, like most travelers, you just use VoIP for phone calls a $20/month data-only (and SMS) plan is even cheaper.

    Verizon has finally gotten their act somewhat together. $2/day on top of your normal rate for Mexico and Canada. Sadly, $10/day elsewhere. So my iPhone will just connect via my t-mobile hotspot while I’m traveling this year.

    AT&T has the least appealing options.

    Never forget that this is always in flux. This blog posting is from *2014*. Everything is different now.

  16. I was recently on a trip to Canada with my son’s hockey team – I forgot to switch over to an international plan before leaving. The bill was huge – ouch! People need to remember that this applies to trips to Canada and Mexico too