The perks of using T-Mobile abroad

A couple of days ago, I covered how to survive using slow 2G internet speeds. When traveling abroad using (most) T-Mobile plans from the United States, you’re given unlimited data at 2G speeds. However, there are some other nice features that you can use as well. It can be a bit confusing for new users–particularly ones who are not particularly technologically inclined–so, I figured I’d compile my experiences using U.S.-based T-Mobile plans abroad.

In short, when you arrive in another country you will be able to:

  • Use unlimited data at 2G speeds
  • Send and receive unlimited text messages
  • Make and receive phone calls using your U.S. number for no additional cost when connected to wifi

Allow me to explain in greater detail.

Under most T-Mobile plans, users are automatically covered in over 140 countries. This includes everywhere from South Korea to France to Kazakhstan to Canada. When you arrive in an applicable country, just turn on your phone it will automatically search for a network.

Once you’re connected, you’ll be able to use unlimited data at 2G speeds. You’ll also be able to send and receive an unlimited number of text messages (SMS) or multi-media messages (MMS). These are available at no extra cost to you.

Since you will be using your device via your SIM card from the United States, you will still be able to make and receive calls from your U.S. phone number. If you are connected to wifi, you will be able to make and receive calls for an unlimited amount of time using T-Mobile Wifi at no extra charge.

If you are not connected to wifi, you will still be able to receive and make calls from your U.S. phone number, but it will cost a small amount. On this page, T-Mobile says that it will cost 20¢ per minute.

Also bear in mind that I am referring to U.S.-based phone numbers calling your U.S.-based phone number or vice versa; receiving calls from or making calls to phone numbers outside of the United States from your U.S. phone number may incur additional costs, regardless of whether you are at home or abroad.

(If you want to sidestep this entirely, use an app like FaceTime audio, WhatsApp, or KakaoTalk to make audio calls. These apps use data and will not cost you anything extra, even when you are not connected to wifi. Plus, you can do this to people without U.S. phone numbers.)

To summarize, when you leave the United States, T-Mobile has you covered at no extra charge in most other countries. You’ll have unlimited data at no extra charge, but it will be at super slow speeds. You can send text messages to and receive text messages from other U.S. numbers like normal at no extra charge. If you want to make a phone call to  or receive a phone call from another U.S. number, you can do so over wifi for no extra charge; if you do so off of wifi, you’ll pay a small amount per minute.