How To: Using Your Verizon Wireless Phone Internationally, Rates and Plans

You’ve heard horror stories about people racking up tens and thousands of dollars on bills when they leave their cell phone on and travel internationally. There is a better way thanks to Verizon’s Global Services package.

Now – let me be forward here. Verizon is NOT the cheapest option when it comes to using your phone overseas. In fact, T-Mobile is. However, I personally think a majority of the cell phone market in the US belongs to Verizon, and their domestic coverage is one of the best – so, considering this, it’s likely you have a Verizon plan, and want to know the inside scoop on using that phone and plan internationally.

I’m traveling to Amsterdam this November, and Italy in February, so I explored the rates for these 2 countries in particular. You’ll find that most mainland European countries use the same rates, so this should give you a general idea of what to expect.

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Voice Calls

Verizon offers a Global Value plan for $4.99, which gives you discounted rates on data and voice. By using the Global Value plan, you will only pay .99 cents a minute, vs. the standard $1.29. It’s important to note here that the voice call rate is only charged when you answer the phone. So, if you keep your phone on, see that someone is calling and do not answer the call, the rate will not be charged. 

Text Messages

Regardless of whether you have the Global Value plan, you’ll still pay the same rates for text messages – .50 cents for a sent message, and .05 cents for a received message. It’s important to note that when sending a message, this is per recipient, so if you’re sending a mass text to 3 people, you’ll be charged $1.50, which can add up quickly. Receiving text messages is cheap, however – and depending on how many texts you receive a week, it may be worth just “eating up” this charge, since you’d have to receive 20 messages just to pay a dollar. Not too bad.

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For me, data is the most important feature when traveling abroad. Without going into any other detail on the Verizon data rates, you should always plan on using WiFi when available. Many cafes, hotels and other buildings have free WiFi, so when you see it, take advantage of it to reduce your cellular data rates. If you have to use your cell plan, Data rates are very very hefty without a plan. You can purchase 100 MB of data for $25, which will bill in recurring chunks the more you use (so, after you use the first 100MB, it will just add on another 100MB for the same price). Without using this package, rates for a single MB run about $20 each, which is so exorbitant, it’s not even worth talking about. Just get the package.

So, there’s the inside scoop on using your Verizon Wireless cell plan overseas. It’s not cheap, but it does provide a convenience factor.

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  1. rick b says

    Who uses these stupid plans? It’s much cheaper to just buy a local SIM and pop it into your phone. I do that in every country I visit. In UK, for example, I got 1GB of data and plenty of calls/txt for 10 pounds with 3.

  2. says

    I agree with your post. People should keep in mind that Verizon prorated charges can make your bill a mess for multiple billing cycles, especially if you turn it on and off for periods of less than a month. The $25 for 100 meg is all within a billing cycle.

    The Verizon plans will prorate, so if you keep the plan on for one week you get 25 meg for 1/4 the price. But watch your data usage — you could use more than 25 meg during that one week period; in which case you should leave your data plan on for a longer period until your prorated data allowance catches up to your usage (e.g., if you used 50 meg of data, leave the plan on for two weeks even if you’re only abroad for one week).

    The cleanest way to handle things is to turn the international data on and off on the day your bill cycle ends/starts. This gets messier when your trip spans two billing cycles.

    The good news is that Verizon has great customer support that can help you think through the options, and after you’re back they are even pretty nice about retroactively removing the plan if you kept it for too long and can save a few dollars.

    Watch your bill if you travel near the end of a billing cycle especially, but regardless before you turn off the plan. Data charges from foreign carriers can take a few days to show up, so you want to make sure all the data usage is in before you turn off the plan.

    Your billing statements will be a mess from all the pre-payment and proration and cancellation and retractive.

    Finally, Verizon has been very cool about providing unlock codes to allow a foreign SIM to be used, so no harm to call and explain your situation and see if they’ll oblige. I’m not sure what their criteria is.

  3. Adam says

    Good point with the international data/voice turning on/off with your billing cycle but also don’t forget about the free MagicJack app for free US calls whenever in a wifi zone – just returned from Seoul and the MagicJack app worked flawlessly…granted people get a random # when I called but the voice quality was excellent and better yet…no voice charges!!

  4. says

    We use Selectel who is a Verizon reseller and don’t have a data plan, even in the US. Or rather I should say that we have an “emergency” data plan but generally speaking, we turn data off unless we really need it (like we’re lost and need to turn it on to figure out how to get where we need to go).

    Generally speaking, we just use wi-fi since 90% of the time we’re somewhere (home, work, church, etc) that has free-wifi

  5. smitty06 says

    I tried Verizon plan once and they registered me for the wrong plan. I then got a huge bill which I had to fight to resolve. Went out and got a t-mobile phone with plan. I love it. No matter what country I just turn it on and go. No SIM cards and only one number for my family to have to remember.


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