How International Roaming Really Works

08 August 2017

International Roaming and Cell Phones

We need our phones when we travel. What we don't need is the stress of not knowing if our phones will work when we're doing it. 

It's definitely easy to get access to your phone's talk, text, and data while traveling internationally. It's all about how you pay for it and how much. We'll dive into that in the following guide. If you're looking for other travel guides for cell phones then go to the main page now for ideas on what to do before you travel.

International Roaming OR SIM?

GSM network phones can use SIM cards. This should probably be your first choice if you are on a GSM network. Not sure if you're on GSM or CDMA? You can learn more about SIM cards here. And if you're on a CDMA network phone, you'll want to learn about international roaming.

What is Roaming? 

What is roaming?

Roaming is when you use your cell phone outside of the range of your home network. When your cell phone needs to use a local (wherever you are) available network, this is considered roaming. Learn more about data roaming here.

This works great because it is an automatic feature and you never have to actually lose network connection. When you roam, you're hopping on a network instead of having a completely dead phone. If you're staying stateside, you can check out the coverage map for the locations you'll be traveling to. 

How do I Roam Internationally?

It is automatically done for most carriers when you're traveling domestically- unless you turn off the roaming feature so you aren't charged. For international travel, it is easiest on the GSM networks since that is largest worldwide (SIM cards). But for those travelers on CDMA network, you need to speak with your carrier. There are fees and options that you can choose from. You should hop over here to get details on your specific carrier, but here's a quick rundown of options the bigger carriers offer:

  • You can look into their International Day Pass for $10 per day and make unlimited calls, send unlimited texts, and use your plan's monthly data allowance without additional roaming charges.
  • $40 Passport 
  • $60 Silver Passport
  • $120 Gold Passport
  • Pay per use rates
  • Sprint's free Global Roaming service is now automatically activated on all eligible plans.
  • Speed passes available 
  • Premium International Roaming go Canada and Mexico
  • Pay per use rates
  • If you're going to Mexico or Canada, just purchase the new TravelPass feature 
  • You can buy separate plans for $10 a day
  • $25 a month for the Global Plan
  • Pay per use rates
  • The Simple Choice and One Unlimited plans are the most popular for travel
  • $15 single day pass 100MB data
  • $25 week pass 200MB data
  • $50 14-day pass 500MB data
  • Pay per use rate

Hopefully this helps you kickstart your international travel planning. Be sure to revisit the travel guide main page for up-to-date information. As always, compare cell phone plans before you choose!

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