While AT&T phones do work virtually anywhere on the planet, which is the good news, you pay a hefty price for this convenience. In fact, many travelers either forgo roaming with their AT&T service all together or, they find other solutions. Nowadays, your phone is not just a device that allows you to make and receive phone calls; it is a travel tool that adds extreme convenience for tasks such as finding your way in an unknown country, or helping you to decide what restaurant to dine at, help understand the local language, allow you to buy train and museum tickets without having to stand in line and to help share your trip with friends and family back home. Applications such as Google Maps, Yelp, Whatapp, Facebook and others can be even more useful for the international travelers. And of course, for others basic talk and text features are still a staple.
The problem with AT&T is that the international roaming rates and data rates are expensive and, many would prefer to pay high data usage rates than to stand in line at the Uffizi to get museum tickets. So here are AT&Ts international roaming rates. Many AT&T travers go abroad and low and behold, cellular service. They can get their emails, text messages, even stream videos - just like back home. If you do NOT make arrangements with AT&T, your call rates in Europe for all incoming and outgoing calls will be $1.50 per minute, plus tax. In other countries, it will be $2.50 per minute, plus tax (so around $3.00 per minute). Data roaming will be just under $20 per mb. That's $2000 for 1GB of data, not including tax. Ouch! Many of Cellular Abroad's customers have an entire travel budget that is less than that! The good news, sort of, is that you can get a plan that will be somewhat more palatable.
AT&T offers 3 global roaming packages, the Passport, the Passport Plus and the Passport Pro. The Passport offers 120mb of data and call rates of $1.00 per minute, in and out. 120mb is not much and at $1.00 per minute, you still need to be very careful about the usage. The Passport Plus offers 300mb of data and knocks calls to $0.50 per minute in and out. This package is $60, so with tax closer to $70. Lastly, the Passport Pro, costing $120, gives 800mb of data and knocks the price of making and receiving calls to $0.35 per minute. While less than spectacular, the one good thing about these packages is that they offer unlimited text messaging. Still, there are much better options.
By far, the least expensive way to have cellular service, including data, is to use a local SIM card. Rates are literally pennies per minutes to make outgoing calls, incoming calls are free and data is faster and far less expensive than getting an international data plan with AT&T. In addition, you also get a local number. Cellular Abroad offers local SIM cards for many popular destinations including Italy, France, the UK, Germany, Spain, China and others. In addition to the great rates and service, you also get more options, If you roam with AT&T, what you have in the US is what you will have overseas - except that you will be paying a high premium and the data service will be slower. Cellular Abroad offers faster speeds, a local number for many popular destinations (Italy, UK, Germany, etc.) and the option of being able to either keep your current number (not always a good thing for those traveling to get some peace and quiet!) or you can get a new one to hand out to select friends and family. Based in Los Angeles, Cellular Abroad has helped over 200,000 customers save on roaming fees since 2004.
To sum it up, yes, AT&T does work and, with a plan at least, if you are really careful and will not use your phone much (sometimes that "plan" doesn't work, ex., if they block your credit card and you have to call the bank or the airline misplaces your luggage), you can get away with using AT&T. If you want to enjoy your vacation and not have to worry about huge unexpected roaming fees, then a local SIM card is the way to go.
Will my AT&T cell phone work internationally?
Most of AT&T phones do work internationally. As long as it is a quad band, it will work outside of the US or Canada. The exceptions to the rule are older phones and pay as you go phones (GoPhones).
How good is the coverage overseas with my AT&T Phone?
Coverage is typically a non issue these days. Of course, if you are in the middle of the ocean, a forest, jungle or mountain then chances are there will be coverage issues. Just like back in the United States or Canada, there are always exceptions. If you need cellular or data service 100% at the villa you are renting in Tuscany or Provence, as the manager or owner of the villa if A) there is coverage B) with what provider and C) if there is 3G or 4G, assuming you need data. This is really the ONLY way to know as there may be service literally 50 feet away from the villa but not at or inside the villa.
How can I tell if my AT&T phone is unlocked?
You cannot tell if your phone is unlocked just by examining it. If you swap out the SIM with, say a T-Mobile SIM and it works then it is unlocked. Almost all AT&T phones come locked if you buy them from AT&T. However, if you are no longer on contract, they should unlock your phone. Make sure you call them at least a few days in advance of your trip as they usually take a couple of days to unlock your phone.
Do I automatically have international roaming with AT&T?
Unfortunately, yes. AT&T makes it extremely easy to use their service. However, you will be paying a high premium if you just use your phone without having them add a travel bundle.
Is there any way I can use my AT&AT phone for free when I travel overseas?
Yes there is. You can use your AT&T phone for free if you make sure that your incoming calls directly to either voicemail or Google Voice and then turn off the 3G or roaming data. Then, you can use your phone strictly for wifi, when and if available. You can call for free using Skype, text for free using an app such as Whatsapp and of course you can browse the web. Another suggestion is to buy the least expensive bundle, the passport, and only text.
What is the best way to avoid roaming fees when traveling abroad with my AT&T phone?
The best way to avoid roaming fees is to get your phone unlocked and use a local SIM card. Another problem with using your own SIM with your own number is that anyone and everyone who has your number - even telemarketers - can call you and you pay for that call. Even if your phone is switched off you can be billed. If your AT&T phone with their SIM card picks up a network for one second, even if you turn off your phone, every call that comes in, even if it goes to voice mail, will cost you.
Is my AT&T phone a GSM phone?
If your phone is an AT&T phone, it automatically is a GSM phone. It must ALSO have the 900 and 1800 Mhz networks to work overseas. Virtually all newer phones except for the very least expensive, entry level phones do have these networks.
How does AT&T's international rates compare to other Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon's rates?
They are not the best but not the worst. T-Mobile has the best call rates but, although they boast free data in many countries, as does Sprint, the free data is 2G which is virtually useless unless you are only using data for emails and have plenty of time on your hands.
How do I make a call from overseas using my AT&T phone?
When you are overseas, you will need to dial the + sign followed by the country code and then the area and phone number. The plus sign means 00. Example, if you need to dial the US from overseas, dial +1, area code, phone number.
Do you have other tips for using my AT&T phone internationally?
If you are not already using apps such as Whatsapp, Google Maps and Skype, and even Uber, you should consider doing so. Whatsapp allows you to communicate via text with your friends and family. As long as they have Whatsapp as well, you will pay nothing if you are using wifi or just pennies even with data for each message. Google Maps is a great app to help you know where you are. Uber can definitely come in handy, particularly when there are no taxis to be found or there is a long taxi line. The number one tip is to get a local SIM card before your trip.
When I get my AT&T bill and there are excessive roaming charges, what can I do?
This happens all the time. What you MAY be able to do is, after the fact, ask the customer service rep to charge you as if you had activated a bundle. They will usually do this. If they don't, ask to speak with a supervisor. Remind them that there are other service providers such as T-Mobile who offer better international solutions to begin with.
Which is the best AT&T phone for traveling abroad?
This depends on different factors. For example, if you are accustomed to the latest and greatest Samsung Galaxy S6 or the iPhone 6 and you are going to backpack in a country where the average income for a year is less than what that phone cost you, you may want to find a less conspicuous solution. In addition, the best AT&T phone is one that is unlockable. You may have an older phone, perhaps the iPhone 4, that is just sitting in a drawer, and, since you are out of contract with that phone, you can unlock it whereas the newer iPhone 6 would be costly to unlock.
Will AT&T unlock my phone?
If the phone was paid in full when you bought the phone or if your contract is up, they will unlock your phone.
In how many countries will my AT&T phone work?
It depends on the phone as only some phones work in Japan and Korea (like the iPhone 4, 5 or 6). Most phones will work virtually everywhere else in the world. Rates do vary depending on the destination.