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The Best Prepaid Mobile International Voice & Text Deals

Making international calls on your prepaid phone can be expensive but it doesn't need to be. The big mobile operators charge a fortune for calls to non-US numbers, even to Canada and Mexico. Verizon and T-Mobile charge as much as $1.99/minute to calls to European and Asian countries. AT&T is a little better, but still costly with per minute surcharges as high as $1.09 to China or .89 to the Philippines.

Fortunately there are a number of prepaid mobile operators with much lower international rates. Prepaid Phone News has gone though dozens of prepaid provider's international calling options to find the operators and plans that offer the least expensive international calling and messaging. This post is updated frequently with the latest rates and the best deals.

This post is updated frequently as plans and pricing are constantly changing. Last Updated 6/25/2014: Extensively revised with updated plan and pricing information for all operators. Adde Cricket and Expo Mobile, split out descriptions for NET10, Straight Talk and Telcel America.

Read on for my recommended prepaid operators and plans for international calling and texting.

Unlimited plans: If you make a lot of international calls, 500 minutes a month or more, an unlimited international plan can be a good deal. These plans are either stand alone plans that include unlimited domestic and international calls and texts or unlimited international add-ons to unlimited domestic plans. Either way, you will end up paying between $40 and $70 per month for unlimited domestic and international talk and text.

There are several things to watch out for with unlimited international plans:
  • They only cover calls to certain countries. Many sizable, but expensive to call, countries including the Philippines, El Salvador and Nigeria are usually not included.
  • For most covered countries only calls to landlines are included, not mobile phones.
  • They may not be truly unlimited. I've seen a number of complaints from users who had their unlimited international plans shut off for using too many minutes. How many is too many? Your guess is as good as mine but I suspect more than 2000 minutes a month would be pushing the limit
In spite of these limitations, "unlimited" plans can be a good deal. Just be sure the plan you choose covers the phone numbers you want to call and don't be surprised if you get cut off. If you do get your unlimited international plan canceled for overuse, please leave a comment so that other readers can get an idea of what the hidden limits are and which operators to avoid.

On all plans watch out for cumbersome access number dialing schemes. Several operators don't let you dial international calls directly. Instead you have to dial a 3 to 11 digit access number, wait for a prompt and then dial the international number. It's possible but tricky to automate the that process by using a calling card app or by inserting pauses and waits in the address book dial strings but I recommend choosing an operator that allows international direct dialing.

Here are my picks for the best deals in unlimited international prepaid plans. Click the operator name in the first column to see details of the plan.

Unlimited International Plans
PlanInt'l Add-On PriceRequired Monthly Plan PriceNetworkCountries Included LandlinesCountries Included (Mobiles)Text CountriesInt'l Access NumberRestrict-ions
Ultra Mobileincluded$19 - $49 1T-Mobile10-404-10200direct
Cricket$5, $15$50 - $60AT&T351000 minutes to 29 countries ($15 add on only)supported, number of countries N/Adirect
Lycamobileincluded$39 - $49T-Mobile5011supported, number of countries N/AdirectUnlimited calls to up to 5 numbers
Airvoiceincluded$40 - $60AT&T608supported, number of countries N/A10 digit
Telcel Americaincluded$40 - $60Sprint, Verizon or T-Mobile373 + 250-1000 minutes to Mexicosupported, number of countries N/A11 digitUnlimited calls to up to 15 numbers
Boost Mobile$10$40 - $60Sprint705180direct
T-Mobile$10 - $15$50 - $70T-Mobile7030 countries and 100 min to Mexico ($15 add on only)200direct
Lycamobileincluded$59T-Mobile7032supported, number of countries N/AdirectUnlimited calls to up to 5 numbers
Straight Talkincluded$60At&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon37+ 400 minutes to Mexico173 (Sprint based phones only)11 digitUnlimited calls to up to 15 numbers
Net10included$65At&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon37+ 400 minutes to Mexico173 (Sprint based phones only)11 digitUnlimited calls to up to 15 numbers
1 Plus a "cost recovery fee" of 50¢ on airtime loads of $10 or less and $1 on airtime loads of $10.01 or more. $19 plan includes unlimited calls to 10 countries, $29 and higher plans include unlimited calls to 40 countries.

Unlimited Domestic Prepaid Plans with low per minute international rates. If you already use an unlimited monthly plan for domestic calls and need less than 1000 international minutes per month, it can be less expensive to pay by the minute for international calls. Several operators let you add some extra funds to your account that you can use to make international calls for as a little as a penny per minute. Two operators, Ultra Mobile and Red Pocket, even include some free international calls in some plans.

Rates vary widely and no one operator offers the best rate to every country. To help you compare I've defined a prepaid market basket of five frequently called countries. It includes the three nations (Canada, Mexico and the UK) that send the most visitors to the US, plus the three countries (Mexico, China and the Philippines.) with the most foreign born US residents.

For each provider I've computed the average Market Basket Price per Minute for calls to mobile phones in the five countries. Here are the best deals.

Unlimited Monthly Plans with Low International Rates
OperatorMarket Basket Price / MinuteNetworkMonthly Plan PriceInt'l Call Credit IncludedInt'l Text RateInt'l Access Number
Ultra Mobile3.6¢ - 4.1¢T-Mobile$19 - $49 1$1.25 - $20 2freedirect
Lyca-mobile3.8¢T-Mobile$23 - $550 - $7.50freedirect
NET106.1¢T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon$25 - $75nonefree on Sprint
N/A on others
10 digit
Red Pocket Mobile7.4¢AT&T or Sprint$19.99 - $59.990 - $240 free texts then 10¢ ea.direct
Expo Mobile8.66¢ - 8.96¢Sprint$19.00 - $600 or 1000 minute, plus $0 -$5freedirect
Virgin Mobile16.4¢Sprint$35 - $55none15¢direct
Boost Mobile17¢Sprint$30 - $60none10¢direct
1 Plus a "cost recovery fee" of 50¢ on airtime loads of $10 or less and $1 on airtime loads of $10.01 or more.
2 All plans also include no extra cost calls to 40 countries (mobiles included in 7). $20 and higher plans also include  1000 free minutes to landlines in 72 countries and mobiles in 26 including Canada, China, India, Mexico and the UK.

Pay as you go: For light users (under approximately 300 combined domestic and international minutes and text per month) a pay as you go plan is usually the least expensive option. The best of these plans charge about 5¢ per domestic minute, 6¢ and up per international minute and 2¢ per domestic or international text. Here are the pay as you go plans with the best international rates.

International Pay As You Go
OperatorMarket Basket Price / MinuteNetworkPer Minute Domestic RateMin. Monthly Plan Cost Domestic / Int'l Text RateInt'l Access Number
Lycamobile8.8¢T-Mobile.05.0083free incoming .04/.12 outgoingDirect
Airvoice $10 Plan9.78¢AT&T.04$10 .02/.1010 digit
PTel14.4¢T-Mobile.05$5 .02/.023 digit
Airvoice PayGo15.788¢AT&T.10$3.33 .10/.1010 digit
Red Pocket Mobile16.4¢AT&T or Sprint.10$5 (Sprint) or $8.33 (AT&T).10/.10Direct

Recommendations: I advising choosing based on price and which network (T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon or AT&T) works best for you. There are some especially good deals if you can use T-Mobile, including GoSmart for the lowest priced unlimited plan, Ultra Mobile's monthly plans for their 1000 free international minutes, inexpensive international rates and $5 to $20 in free international call credit per month and Lycamobile for the lowest domestic and international pay as you go voice rates.
Text Only: If you mainly want to send international texts, Expo, Ultra and Lycamobile include unlimited international text messaging with all monthly plans. On pay as you go, PTel is the best deal at 2¢ per international text.

The Details: here's a bit more about each of the operators mentioned in the table above. The operators are listed alphabetically:

Airvoice (888-944-2355) is an AT&T MVNO that's been in business since 1999. Airvoice has monthly and pay as you go plans

Monthly unlimited plans all have unlimited domestic talk and and unlimited domestic and international texts
  • $30/month includes 500MB of data
  • $40/month includes 1GB of data and unlimited international calling to 60+ countries
  • $50/month  includes 2GB of data and unlimited international calling to 60+ countries
  • $60/month includes 2GB of data and unlimited international calling to 60+ countries
Pay as you go: Airvoice has two pay as you g plans:
  • Pay As You Go: 10¢/min, 10¢/text, 6.6¢/MB, $1/month fee, minimum top up is $10 every 90 days
  • $10 Talk & Text: 4¢/min, 2¢/text, 6.6¢/MB, no monthly fee, minimum top up is $10 every 30 days
International add ons
Unlimited international to landlines in 60 countries and mobile numbers in eight (list of covered countries) is included with $40 and higher monthly plans.

International call credit can be added to any plan by purchasing PayGo International Long Distance PINs in $5 increments. Added funds are good for 180 days and unused funds roll over as long as the customer refills before expiration. Sample rates per minute: Mexico landline 2¢, India landline 2¢, Philipines landline 14¢, UK mobile 4¢ (lookup rates).

Airvoice  requires dialing a 10 digit access code for international calls. 

Airvoice Basket pricesCalling mobiles: Canada 0 or 0.94¢; Mexico 5¢; China 0 or 1.9¢; UK 4.1¢; Philippines 17¢ - Total 28.94¢ / 5 = 5.788¢ ($30 plan), 5.22¢ (plans $40 and higher), 15.788¢ (pay as you go), 9.78¢ ($10 Talk & Text).

Airvoice Mobile International Messaging: free on monthly plans, 10¢/each on pay as you go and $10 plans.  International MMS (picture messages) are 10¢/each to send and receive on all plans. International MMS on monthly plans are funded using a $10 Cash Card. Unused cash card balances never expire as long as the account remains active and the accounts plan isn't allowed to lapse
Airvoice international rate page.
For more on Airvoice, see Prepaid Operator Profile - Airvoice Wireless


Boost Mobile (866-402-7366) is one of Sprint's prepaid brands. All plans include unlimited domestic calls and messaging.

Monthly Select unlimited plans
  • $40/month unlimited data (throttled to 128 Kpbs after 500MB)
  • $50/month unlimited data (throttled to 128 Kpbs after 2.5GB)
  • $60/month unlimited data (throttled to 128 Kpbs after 5GB)
International add ons:
  • $5/month - unlimited international texting, unlimited calling to Canada and to land lines in Mexico. 
  • $10/month - unlimited international texting, unlimited calling to land lines in 70 countries (list of countries), 1000 minutes of calls to mobiles in Mexico and discounted rates to over 200 countries. 
Boost has international direct dialing (no access code required). 
Boost Market Basket pricesCalling mobiles: Canada 10¢; Mexico 20¢; China 15¢; UK 20¢; Philippines 20¢ - Total $0.85 / 5 = 17¢.
Boost Mobile International Messaging: 10¢/each.
Boost Mobile international rate page.
For more on Boost, see Prepaid Operator Profile - Boost Mobile

Cricket Wiireless (800-274-2538) is AT&T's value priced prepaid brand. It offers monthly plans only.

Monthly domestic plans: all include unlimited domestic and international texts. International calling is only available with an add-on to the $50 and $60 plans.
  • $50/month ($45 with autopay) - 2.5GB high speed data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps or less
  • $60/month ($55 with autopay) - 5GB high speed data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps or less
Both plans include unlimited international text messaging.

High-Speed data is throttled to a maximum of 8 Mbps for LTE data and 4 Mbps for HSPA+. After the high-speed data cap is reached speed is further throttled to about 128 Kbps. Additional high-speed data is available on $40 and higher plans for $10 for 1GB good for a month.

International add on:
Cricket offers a $5/month Cricket International add-on that lets you make unlimited calls to landlines in 35 countries using direct dialing. A $15/month Cricket International Plus add-on adds 1000 minutes of calls to mobile phones in 29 countries and unlimited international MMS picture messaging to the same 29 countries. Pay per use international calling and messaging are not available on Cricket.

Cricket has international direct dialing (no access code required). 
For more on Cricket, see: Prepaid Operator Profile: Cricket Wireless (CDMA)

Expo Mobile (800-818-1597) Sprint MVNO with monthly plans and a pay as you go plna, where, unlike most other operator's pay as you go plans, unused account balances do not roll over when the plan is renewed. Expo allows activation of Sprint phones subject to Sprint's usual restrictions. Activation is free.

Monthly domestic plans: all except pay as you go include unlimited domestic and international texts.
  • $10/month - pay as you go 5¢/min, 2¢/domestic or int'l text, 10¢/MB, no rollover
  • $19/month - 500 minutes, no data
  • $25/month - unlimited minutes, no data 
  • $35/month - unlimited minutes, 500MB data (including 4G WiMax and LTE) 
  • $40/month - non-smartphones only, unlimited minutes. unlimited data
  • $50/month - unlimited minutes. unlimited 3G (EVDO) data
  • $60/month - unlimited minutes. unlimited data (including 4G WiMax and LTE)
Free international calling: $40 and higher plans include 1000 minutes to landlines in 50 countries and mobiles in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand plus a $5 credit for calls to non-covered countries

Expo has international direct dialing (no access code required). 
Expo Basket pricesCalling mobiles: Canada 0 or 0.5¢; Mexico 4.1¢; China 0 or 1¢; UK 25.1¢; Philippines 14.1¢ - Total 44.8¢ / 5 = 8.66¢ (plans $40 and more), 8.96¢ (plans under $40), 10.96¢ pay as you go,.
Expo International Messaging: 2¢/text on pay as you go, free on other plans.
Expo Mobile international rate page (doesn't work in Chrome or Firefox browsers!)
For more on Expo, see: Sprint and Sprint MVNOs Compared

Go Smart Mobile (877-582-7788is owned by T-Mobile
Monthly domestic plans: all include unlimited domestic voice and messaging.
  • $25/month - no data
  • $35/month - unlimited data (throttled to 128 Kbps after 500MB) 
  • $45/month - unlimited data (throttled to 128 Kbps after 3GB) 
International add ons:
  • $5/month unlimited text messaging to over 200 countries 
  • $10/month unlimited calls to landlines in 50 countries including all five market basket countries and unlimited text messaging to over 200 countries. List of GoSmart unlimited voice and text countries
GoSmart has international direct dialing (no access code required). 
GoSmart Basket pricesCalling mobiles: Canada 50¢; Mexico 50¢; China 50¢; UK 50¢; Philippines 50¢ - Total $2.50 / 5 = 50¢.
GoSmart International Messaging: 10¢/each.
Gosmart international rate page
For more on GoSmart, see: T-Mobile and T-Mobile MVNOs Compared

Lycamobile (845-301-1612) is a T-Mobile MVNO with monthly and pay as you go plans and some of the best international voice rates.

Monthly Plans: All include unlimited domestic and international text messaging.
  • $23/month - unlimited domestic voice minutes, 100 MB data
  • $35/month - unlimited domestic voice minutes, unlimited data (1 GB at 4G speeds) and a $2.50 international call credit
  • $45/month - unlimited domestic voice minutes, unlimited data (3 GB at 4G speeds) and a $5.00 international call credit
  • $55/month - unlimited domestic voice minutes, unlimited data (5 GB at 4G speeds) and a $7.50 international call credit
International plans:
  • $29/month - 1000 minutes to up to 5 different numbers (the first 5 international numbers dialed each month) in 50 countries and mobiles in 11. $2.50 int'l call credit. 500MB of high speed data
  • $39/month - unlimited calls to 5 unique numbers in the same countries as the $29 plan. $5 int'l call credit. 750MB of high speed data
  • $49/month, same as the $39 plan except 1GB of high speed data and a $10 int'l call credit
  • $59/month unlimited calls to up to 5 different numbers in 70 countries and mobiles in 32. $5 int'l call credit. 3GB of high speed data
Pay as you go: Domestic minutes are 5 cents, incoming texts are free, outgoing domestic texts are 4¢ and outgoing international texts are 12¢ cents each. Data is 6 cents per MB. 
There is no minimum payment but you must have a billable event (call, outgoing text or data use) every 90 days or your service will be cancelled.
Lycamobile has international direct dialing
Lycamobile Market Basket prices (unlimited plans, add .05/minute for pay as you go):
Calling mobiles:  Canada 1¢; Mexico 3¢; China 1¢; UK 5¢; Philippines 9¢ - Total 19¢ / 5 = 3.8¢ (unlimited) 8.8¢ (pay as you go)
Lycamobile International Messaging: free on monthly plans, 12¢/each on pay as you go
Lycamobile international rate page.
For more on Lycamobile, see: T-Mobile and T-Mobile MVNOs Compared

NET10 (877-836-2368) is a brand of América Móvil's Tracfone division. It's an MVNO that uses all four national operators (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint). NET10 offers different phone models for each network as well as AT&T and T-Mobile based SIMs and a Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) program for Verizon and Sprint phones. It offers an unlimited international plan and pay as you go international calling on monthly and pay as you go plans.

Unlimited International Plan:  NET10's $65/month ($60 with autopay) unlimited international plan includes unlimited domestic calling and messaging, 2.5GB of high-speed data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps or less  and unlimited calls to landlines in 37 countries, including all the market basket countries except the Philippines  and to cell phones in Canada, China, India and Mexico (PDF list of covered countries). User users can only make international calls to 15 unique numbers per month. Calls to mobile phones in Mexico are limited to 400 minutes per month and 

International Text Messaging: Net10's unlimited plans include unlimited international texting to 173 countries, but only with phones that run on the Sprint network.


Monthly domestic plans:
  • $25/month - non-smartphones only,1000 voice minutes, texts charged at 1 min ea., MMS 1.5 min plus data used, data 1 min per min of browsing. This plan offers calling to 100 countries for 5 cents per minute extra. Free online registration is required to use international calling feature. International direct dialing is not supported, you need to dial a two character (*1) access code and wait for a prompt before dialing the international number.
    • $35/month -  non-smartphones only,unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited MMS, no data.
    • $40/month - unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited MMS, 500MB high-speed data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps or less.
    • $50/month - unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited MMS, 2.5GB high-speed data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps or less.
    • $60/month - unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited MMS, 3.5GB high-speed data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps or less.
    • $75/month - unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, unlimited MMS, 5GB high-speed data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps or less.
    International add on:
    NET10 offers a $10 Global Card that lets you call landlines and mobiles in over 100 countries at competitive per minute rates. Used balance doesn't expire as long as you an international call at least every 180 days and your NET10 plan is active.
      Net10 Global Card Market Basket pricesCalling mobiles: Canada 1.53¢; Mexico 5.38¢; China 1.48¢; UK 6.93¢; Philippines 15.17¢ - Total 30.49¢ / 5 = 6.1¢.

      NET10's unlimited international plan and $10 Global Card both require using an 10 digit access number for international calls. There's an Android app that automates calling the access number when you place an international call

      Pay as You Go: NET10 offers pay as you go plans priced at $15/per month and up with per minute rates of 6.67¢ to10¢ depending on the denomination of the refill used. Texts are charged as half a voice minute. NET10 offers calls to 100 countries for 5 cents per minute extra. Free online registration is required to use this plan.

      International direct dialing is not supported, you need to dial a two character (*1) access code and wait for a prompt before dialing the international number.

      For more on Net10 see: Prepaid Operator Profile - NET10

      Ptel (866-225-5631) is a T-Mobile MVNO with no extra charge international texts and good international voice rates
      Monthly Plans: All include unlimited domestic talk, unlimited domestic and international text messaging
      • $20month - no data
      • $25/month - unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps.
      • $35/month - 500 MB of 4G data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps. 
      • $50/month - 2 GB of 4G data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps. 
      • $65/month - 4 GB of 4G data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps.
      Pay as you go: Domestic minutes are 5 cents, domestic and international texts are 2 cents each and data is 10 cents per MB. Minimum payment is $10 every 60 days ($5/month).
      PTel requires a 3 digit access code for international calls.
      PTel Market Basket prices (unlimited plans, add .05/minute for pay as you go): Calling mobiles: Canada 1¢; Mexico 14¢; China 1¢; UK 13¢; Philippines 18¢ - Total 47¢ / 5 = 9.4¢ (unlimited) 14.4¢ (pay as you go)
      PTel International Messaging: no extra charge (free on unlimited, 2¢/each on pay as you go) PTel international rate page.
      For more on PTel see: Prepaid Operator Profile: PTel

      Red Pocket Mobile, (888-993-3888) has traditionally used the AT&T network and recently added new plans and service that use the Sprint CDMA network. The Sprint based service is sold as "Red Pocket CDMAS". The AT&T based service has been rebranded as "Red Pocket GSMA"

      Monthly Plans (AT&T GSM):
      • $19.99 - 250 minutes, 500 texts 
      • $29.99 - Unlimited domestic voice and messaging, 100 MB of data
      • $39.99 - Unlimited domestic voice and messaging, 500 MB of data, unlimited international calls to Canada, China, Mexico*, India and the UK** (* Cities of Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey only. ** Landlines only.)
      • $49.99 - Unlimited domestic voice and messaging, Unlimited data (throttled after 500 MB)
      • $54.99 - Unlimited domestic voice and messaging, 1.5 GB of data, $2 rollover international call credit 
      • $59.99 - Unlimited domestic voice and messaging, 3 GB  of data, $2 rollover international call credit 
      The $2 international credit that comes with the 54.99 and higher plans is good for up to 200 minutes of free international calling per month. Unused international credit rolls over from one month to the next. You can check your international calling credit balance at ica.redpocketmobile.com. Log in using your phone number and the last four digits of your SIM card ID.

      Monthly Plans (Sprint CDMA):
      • $29.99 - Unlimited domestic voice and messaging,  100 MB of data
      • $34.99 - 300 minutes, unlimited domestic messaging, unlimited data (throttled after 2.5 GB)
      • $49.99 - Unlimited domestic voice and messaging, unlimited  data (throttled after 2.5 GB)
      Pay as you go: Domestic minutes are 10 cents, domestic texts are 10 cents each and data is 30 cents per MB. Minimum payment is $25 every 90 days ($8.33/month) on GSM or $5 every 30 days on CDMA. Pay as you go customers can call  landlines in Taiwan, landlines and cell phones in Canada, China, South Korea, Singapore and Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City, Mexico for the same price (10 cents/minute) as calls within the US.
      Red Pocket has international direct dialing (no access code required)
      Red Pocket Market Basket prices - unlimited plans: Calling mobiles: Canada 1¢; Mexico 10¢; China 1¢; UK 10¢; Philippines 15¢ - Total 37¢ / 5 = 7.4¢
      Red Pocket Market Basket prices - pay as you go (includes 10¢/minute base rate): Calling mobiles: Canada 10¢; Mexico 10¢; China 10¢; UK 20¢; Philippines 32¢ - Total 82¢ / 5 = 16.4¢ 
      Red Pocket International Messaging: GSM monthly plans include 40 free outgoing international texts. Additional  texts 10¢ ea. On pay as you go texts are 10¢ each. International MMS are 20¢ each to send and receive on pay as you go and free to send on GSM monthly plans priced at $29.99 and up.
      Red Pocket international rate page.
      For more on Red Pocket see: Prepaid Operator Profile: Red Pocket Mobile

      Straight Talk (800-299-7784) is another brand of América Móvil's Tracfone division. Like NET10, it uses all four national operators (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint). Straight Talk offers different phone models for each network as well as AT&T and T-Mobile based SIMS and a Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP) program for Verizon and Sprint phones.

      Unlimited International Plan:  Straight Talk offers a single $60/month unlimited international plan. It includes unlimited domestic voice calling and messaging, 3GB/month of high-speed data, unlimited throttled data and unlimited calls to landlines in 37 countries, including all the market basket countries except the Philippines  and to cell phones in Canada, China, India and Mexico (PDF list of covered countries). Calls to mobile phones in Mexico are limited to 400 minutes per month and users can only make international calls to 15 unique numbers per month.

      International Text Messaging: Straight Talk's unlimited plan includes unlimited international texting to 173 countries, but only on phones that run on the Sprint network.

      Straight Talk requires using an 11 digit access number or an Android app for international calls. 
      For more on Straight Talk see: Prepaid Operator Profile - Straight Talk

      Telcel America (800-220-9518) is yet another brand of América Móvil's Tracfone division that's targeted at users do do a lot of international calling, especially to Mexico. Telcel America phones use either T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint depending on phone model. T-Mobile based SIMs are also available.

      Unlimited International Plans: Telcel America offers four plans with international calling and messaging. All include unlimited domestic calling and unlimited domestic and international messaging texting
      • $29/month non-smartphones only, 100MB data, 1000 minutes* to international landlines, 100 minutes to Mexican mobiles
      • $40/month unlimited data (throttled to 128 Kpbs after 500MB),  unlimited* minutes to international landlines, 250 minutes to Mexican mobiles
      • $50/month unlimited data (throttled to 128 Kpbs after 1GB),  unlimited* minutes to international landlines, 500 minutes to Mexican mobiles
      • $60/month unlimited data (throttled to 128 Kpbs after 2GB),  unlimited* minutes to international landlines, 1000 minutes to Mexican mobiles. Roaming in mexico: 1000 roaming minutes and 1GB of roaming data
      * unlimited calls to landlines in 37 countries, including all the market basket countries except the Philippines  and to cell phones in Canada, China, India and Mexico (list of covered countries) Unlimited calls can be made to up to 15 unique international numbers per month.

      For calls to countries that aren't included with the internationals plans or if you need more minutes, theres $10 Global Card that lets you call landlines and mobiles in over 100 countries at competitive per minute rates. The unused card balance doesn't expire as long as you an international call at least every 180 days and your Telcel America plan is active.

      International Text Messaging: all Telcel America plans include unlimited international texting

      Telcel America requires using an 11 digit access number for international calls. There's an Android app that automates calling the access number when you place an international call
      For more  about Telcel America click here.

      T-Mobile (800-866-2453) 

      Monthly Plans: all include unlimited domestic voice and unlimited domestic and international text messaging.
      • $50/month - 1GB of 4G data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps. 
      • $60/month - 3GB of 4G data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps. 
      • $70/month - 5GB of 4G data, unlimited data throttled to 128 Kbps.
      • $80/month - unlimited, unthrottled data.
      International add ons: Customers on all T-Mobile prepaid monthly plans you can add their choice of three "Stateside" international add  ons. The add ons aren't available with Pay By The Day or Pay As You Go plans.
      • $10/month = unlimited calls to landlines in 70+ countries, unlimited text messaging and discounted calling to over 200 countries. 
      • $15/month Unlimited calling to landlines in 70+ countries, unlimited calling to mobile numbers in 32 countries, 1000 minutes of calling to Mexican mobile numbers and unlimited texting to over 200 countries.  List of countries covered
      T-Mobile has international direct dialing (no access code required)
      For more on T-Mobile see: Prepaid Operator Profile - T-Mobile

      TracFone (800-867-7183) is owned by América Móvil and has pay as you go plans only.
      Pay as you go: Tracfone pricing is quite complicated:
      For feature phones the price per domestic voice minute ranges from 4.4¢ to 33.¢ per minute depending on the refill denomination and if the phone includes "double or triple minutes for life". Domestic texts are charged as a third of a minute. Data is either half a minute per minute of browsing (older phones) or 1.5 voice minutes per KB of data (phones released since June, 2012).
      TracFone Android phones have a unique "triple-triple" pricing model with separate buckets for minutes, data and texts. Price per minute, text or MB of data varies from 4.4¢ to 11¢ depending on refill denomination.
      The minimum monthly cost is $6.67 ($19.99 refill every 90 days).
      "Free" international calling: Tracfone users can make no surcharge calls to landlines in 60 counties including all the market basket countries except the Philippines.

      Tracfone requires an 11 digit access code for international calls.
      TracFone doesn't support sending international texts. 
      For more on Tracfone, see Prepaid Operator Profile - Tracfone

      Ultra Mobile (888-777-0446) is a T-Mobile MVNO which currently offers monthly plans only. All plans include unlimited international texts at no extra charge.
      Monthly Plans: Ultra Mobile has five monthly plans, all of which include unlimited domestic calling and international text messaging and unlimited international calls to either 10 ($19 plan) or 40 countries (list).
      $29 and higher plans also include 1000 minutes of no extra charge international calling to landlines in 45 additional countries and mobiles in 18. The difference between the plans include the amount of data and how much international call credit is included with each plan. The choices are:
      • $19/month - unlimited calls to landlines in 10 countries and mobiles in 4, a $1.25/month international call credit and 100MB of data,  
      • $29/month - unlimited calls to landlines in 40 countries and mobiles in 9, 1000 minutes to landlines in 45 additional countries and mobiles in 18, a $2.50/month international call credit and 500 MB of data, 
      • $39/month - unlimited calls to landlines in 40 countries and mobiles in 9, 1000 minutes to landlines in 45 additional countries and mobiles in 18, a $5/month international call credit and unlimited data (throttled after 500MB)
      • $49/month - unlimited calls to landlines in 40 countries and mobiles in 9, 1000 minutes to landlines in 45 additional countries and mobiles in 18, a $10/month international call credit and unlimited data (throttled after 1GB)
      Ultra add a "cost recovery fee" to all airtime purchases from retail locations and 3rd party online PIN sllers. The fee will be 50¢ on airtime loads of $10 or less and $1 on airtime loads of $10.01 or more. For airtime purchases from the Ultra mobile site adds sales and use taxes and Federal Universal Service Fund Fees. These taxes and fees vary with the user's location.

      A unique Ultra Mobile feature is "Call Me Free", a no extra charge service that provides local access numbers in 44 countries that non-US family members and friends can use to call Ultra customers for the price of a local call.
      Ultra Mobile has international direct dialing (no access code required)
      Ultra Market Basket prices (1st 1000 minutes/month of $29 and higher plans)Canada 0¢; Mexico 0¢; China 0¢; UK 5¢; Philippines 13¢ - Total 18¢ / 5 = 3.6¢ 
      Ultra Market Basket prices ($19 plan and after 1000 minutes on others)Canada 0¢; Mexico 2.5¢; China 0¢; UK 5¢; Philippines 13¢ - Total 20.5¢ / 5 = 4.1¢ 
      Ultra Mobile International Messaging: no extra charge, unlimited messaging is included with all plans
      Ultra Mobile international rate page.
      For more on Ultra Mobile, see: T-Mobile and T-Mobile MVNOs Compared

      Virgin Mobile (888-322-1122), is owned by Sprint
      Monthly plans (Beyond Talk): All include unlimited data (throttled to 256 Kbps after 2.5 GB and unlimited domestic texts.
      • $35/month - 300 domestic minutes 
      • $45/month - 1200 domestic minutes 
      • $55/month - unlimited domestic minutes 
      Virgin has international direct dialing (no access code required) 
      Virgin Mobile Market Basket prices: Canada 10¢; Mexico 20¢; China 2¢; UK 25¢; Philippines 25¢ - Total 82¢ / 5 = 16.4¢
      Virgin Mobile International Messaging: 15¢/each
      Virgin Mobile international rate page
      For more on Virgin Mobile see: Prepaid Operator Profile - Virgin Mobile

      Updated 20-Aug-2014: Added Airvoice plans.

      Sidewalk flags image cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Tom Magliery


      46 comments:

      Comment Page :
      1. Do not forget there are other MVNO's than the ones mentikoned here. They offer other plans that rival the carriers mentioned bere.

        ReplyDelete
      2. Tracfone has a great International Long Distance plan. No additional charge at all.

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. This post mentioned Tracfone and links to the post that describes Tracphone ILD.
          -You have cumbersome access number and language choice dialing.
          -You have to buy a Tracfone dumbphone.
          -You have to pay relatively high Tracfone minute rates.
          -You can only call cellphones in a handful of major countries.
          -You deal with Tracfone's poor customer service when something goes wrong.

          Delete
      3. PTel has about 40 countries that add a penny a minute to their 5 cents a minute PayGo plan, so that brings it down to 6 cents a minute if the countries you call are in there. Haven't tried it though, and hopefully I read it right:

        List of countries and a note that "you pay for International per minute rate plus regular airtime rate at all times" is here: http://www.platinumtel.com/plans/intlrates

        ReplyDelete
      4. It does require a 3 digit code in front of the phone number, though. Better than 11 digits!

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      5. SpotMobile is another, Airvoice, Jolt, H2O.....competitive as well.

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      6. What Lycamobile? i just switched from simplemobile and i believe their rates for call are:

        Rates for paygo:
        2 cents - per minute of talk
        4 cents - per text message
        6 cents - per mb of web

        http://slickdeals.net/f/5936054-Lycamobile-T-Mobile-MVNO-with-Paygo-Rates-of-2cents-minute-4cents-text-6cents-MB-Also-Unlimited-Talk-and-Text-for-19-per-month

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. Have you seen their international calling rates? Not good, certainly too expensive for "best" consideration here.

          Delete
      7. Recommendations: "PTel for the lowest domestic and international pay as you go rates."
        Is this still your recommendation?

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. Yes, although if you don't care about international texting Lyca is better. But 12¢/text kills Lyca for general use.

          Delete
      8. Lycamobile International Add-on Edit:
        "$20/month - same as the $10 plan but includes 17 additional calls and calls to Mexican mobile phones."
        17 additional countries?

        ReplyDelete
      9. Just bought international call from Airvioce, and they text me a passcode for logging in ILD, but I couldn't. I Called the service couple times, they are always busy. Useless!

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. I have Airvoice and never a problem with the ILD. You have to be extra careful with the website they use. It's a thrid party company. Formerly Vintalk(Vincall). They are an abysmal company. Thankfully Airvoice took over the site even though Vincall still owns it outright. From my experience the reps are not that busy to help with the issue. All carriers have a hold time. The ILD rates on Airvoice, SpotMobile, and UltraMobile are the top 3. Airvoice is the only AT&T while the other 2 are T-Mobile native network based. Take your pick.

          Delete
      10. telcel, has 1000 minutes to cell to mexico now

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. Only 400 minutes to Mexican cellphones are included.
          1000 world-wide >destinations, whatever that means.

          Delete
      11. Any input re: call plan from US to India?

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. I didn't look at rates to India specifically when I researched this article but I believe all the unlimited international plans mentioned cover calls to landlines in India and most cover calls to mobiles too.

          On the pay per minute international plans calls to India are typically pretty low.

          Determine how many minutes of calls to India you need and which network works best in your location. For the operators that offer plans you need on your preferred network(s), click the links to the operator's site in each one's detail section to verify if India is covered and at what price.

          Delete
      12. Dennis, you should update information about PTel. Now you can call international directly without that 3 digit access number.

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. Not according to the PTel website ptel.com/plans/intlrates

          To place an International Call:
          Dial TEL (835) from your PTel GSM phone
          Listen to the prompt then enter the destination number, country code first (without entering 011)
          Then, press the pound (#) key
          For calls to the Caribbean, you must dial the number 1, followed by the area code, and then the 7-digit number

          Delete
      13. My wife calls Europe directly by adding 011 before number. And it works. Without dialing 835. They don't update their website too often :)

        ReplyDelete
      14. Ultra Mobile monthly plans include 1000 international minutes to over 70 countries, not just the 5 countries listed above.

        ReplyDelete
      15. Ptel says you can call these counties for 1c/minute now: Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Canada, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Peru, Russia (Metro Moscow), Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and Venezuela

        https://www.ptel.com/plans/intlrates

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. This should increase Ptel's ranking in the charts for low international calling costs.

          With PayGo, the rate is still only 6c/minute to these countries.

          Delete
        2. Thanks, but the rates for calling mobile phones in the market basket countries (Canada 1¢; Mexico 14¢; China 1¢; UK 13¢; Philippines 18¢) haven't changed.

          Delete
        3. Didn't the Ptel rate for Mexico change from 14c to 1c? Or do you use the highest rate or average rate for Mexico?

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        4. Oops. I see now that the marketbasket includes only rates for mobile phones.

          Delete
        5. PTel charges 1¢/minute to call Mexican landlines and 14¢/minute to call Mexican mobile phones. I use mobile rates to compare providers because there's more variation between providers for mobile rates and because the majority of calls today are between mobile phones.

          Delete
      16. Sat-Fi. Satcom on your WiFi smartphone or tablet:
        http://www.fiercewireless.com/tech/story/globalstars-sat-fi-deliver-satellite-coverage-wi-fi-enabled-devices/2014-01-29

        ReplyDelete
      17. BREAKING NEWS ! CRICKET S5 COMES OUT TOMORROW $589.99 BEFORE MAIL IN REBATE $539.99 AFTER

        ReplyDelete
      18. Some companies include "free" international calling minutes in their monthly plans but your international calls never go thru. Ultra Mobile and Spot Mobile are the worst at this

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. I never had an issue using the free international credit the couple of months that I was with Spot. I haven' tried Ultra.

          Delete
      19. Hello. Dennis
        I have seen a few comments like the one above that say free international calls never connect with MVNOs like Ultra Mobile, Airvoice and others. Is this true?
        Thanks.

        ReplyDelete
      20. I have seen a few comments that say free international calls never connect with MVNOs like Ultra Mobile, Airvoice and others. Is this true?
        Thanks.

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. Calls can fail for a variety of reasons but I believe that the vast majority of international calls on all carriers do go through.

          Plans that include "free" international calls are generally limited to calls to landline numbers only and for calls to some countries calls may only be supported to certain cities.

          If you have specific numbers that you need to call, I recommend asking perspective operators customer support if those numbers are supported.

          Delete
      21. Cricket no longer allows international add-on's with the $25 and $40 plans

        ReplyDelete
      22. The post is missing this info
        Cricket's $15 (International Extra) add-on includes 1000 minutes of calls to MOBILE phones.

        ReplyDelete
      23. Straight Talk and NET10 don't include all landline numbers in the countries they support in their unlimited international plans. They have tools on their websites which haven't always worked for me. You can also text a number to 64372 for NET10 and 47787 for Straight Talk and get a response if it's included. You can do this from your current carrier (if they support texts to short numbers).

        ReplyDelete
      24. Are phones in Europe sold unlocked? I travel there often and was wondering if I buy a phone in Europe can I use it in the US?

        ReplyDelete
        Replies
        1. Anyone have a clue?

          Delete
        2. In most European countries phones with an operator's name on them are usually locked. Unlocked phones will usually be labeled as unlocked.

          In a few countries around the world including Israel, Andorra, Columbia and Singaphore all phones are sold unlocked by law or convention See https://chimeratool.com/help/sim-lock-country-laws for more information.

          Delete
      25. Will GoSmart allow the international calling add-on's with the $25 plan?

        ReplyDelete
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