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My US wireless carrier (Verizon) sells a service that claims to allow me to use my phone as usual while in Europe, for a flat $10/day. There's no mention of changing SIM cards, per-minute charges, or anything like that. That sounds too good to be true. Does anyone have experience with this service (TravelPass)? Is it as advertised?

EDIT: it's a GSM-compatible phone. I checked.

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    My UK carrier (O2) sells a similar service for use in the US for £5/day, it doesn't strike me as unbelieveable that the opposite will exist. I have used the service they offered in the past of using your phone as usual anywhere in the EU for £2/day, which did work exactly like it sounds. (They don't offer it any more because new EU rules came in that mean roaming is now free.) – djr Dec 18 '17 at 23:49
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    There are by now offers around for unlimited international data and SMS, for no extra charge (t-mobile). Fortunately, the world of roaming for an arm and a leg has changed. – Aganju Dec 19 '17 at 3:22
  • Please note that carriers in Germany have started turning off the GSM network in favor of LTE. I don't know about other countries in Europe, but you can expect that pretty soon a "GSM compatible phone" won't do you any good here anymore. – Gerald Schneider Dec 19 '17 at 5:58
  • You have to consider that you can get a local plan for a few dollars a month, European cell phones can be used in other countries completely free of charge, some mobile operators in the Middle East or elsewhere have plans with free roaming in 50 countries for a few tens of dollars a month, etc. In other words, $10 is not that cheap. – Relaxed Dec 19 '17 at 6:45
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    Um, $10/day is $300/month - admittedly, most travellers won't stay that long, but to me, that doesn't sound "too good to be true" to me. – Sabine Dec 19 '17 at 14:06
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Considering that if your phone were unlocked, you could probably get a local SIM card for a few tens of euros/pounds for an entire month, yes, that sounds quite possible. Check its terms carefully as the flat charge may not apply in all countries in Europe. Check also to ensure that data will work as expected without sublimits.

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I used this service when I went to five European countries in March/April 2016, and it works pretty much exactly as advertised – you’re basically paying Verizon a $10 per day surcharge to pretend your phone is in the US when it isn’t (and thus, you just use your normal pool of minutes/texts/data).

The good thing about this approach is that you still have your US number, so communicating with anyone in the US is not treated as an international call/text.

The bad thing about it is that if you’re calling/texting someone in the foreign country, it is treated exactly as if you made the call from the US - that is, you’re paying international rates to call them and vice versa.

Still, it’s a nice setup and once you opt in, it’s automatic – you only get the surcharge on days you use the phone on the cell towers of a foreign country.

  • So is it worth getting some kind of prepaid European phone in case I need to make calls within Europe? I don't know anyone there and I'm not going there to socialize... – crmdgn Dec 19 '17 at 17:46
  • @crmdgn I only had to make two or three short “local” calls while I was there, so I wouldn’t have found it worth it to have a separate prepaid phone. – bogardpd Dec 19 '17 at 18:16

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