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AT&T has announced new Passport plans to help you stay connected overseas.
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?
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
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:
|AT&T Passport||Your choice:|
|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||$50||Unlimited||• 20 cents per minute||Unlimited|
|Verizon Global Voice & Data||N/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.
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.
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
- Google Voice & Hangout – With a Wi-Fi connection you can call US numbers and video chat 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.
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.
How do you stay connected when traveling internationally?