I can’t be the only one that finds it horribly frustrating to lose my cell phone number. When I moved internationally in 2009, I cancelled my cell phone plan and picked up an O2 sim card that I could use with an unlocked iPhone in London. I wasn’t going to be back in the US in the near future and it made sense to have a UK phone plan. When I came back to the US, I had to get a new phone, sign up for a new plan, get a new number and let all of my contacts in on the info.
This time around, coming back to the US is much easier and will be a much frequent occurrence for us. That being the case, I hoped there was an easier option; a solution that would allow me to use my US number while in the States but not pay my normal $80+ a month service plan. Since I was out of my 2 year contract, there was a solution. Here’s the scoop:
Once you’re out of your contract, AT&T can provide you with an unlock code that allows you to free your phone from AT&T’s network. Perfect. In this case, I’ll be using my iPhone on an Anguillan network; either Lime or Digicel.
Since I won’t be using unlimited texting and a boatload of minutes through AT&T, they were able to switch my plan from a typical monthly maintenance plan to a pre-paid plan (i.e. ‘GoPhone’). In doing this, my phone had to be recognized as a non-iPhone so the data package is nonexistent. This is a minor concern since I still have Wi-fi capability and this will only be used when I’m in the US.
They have a few options, depending on how frequently you’re using your phone and how often you’re back in the US. We don’t plan on being here every other month, so I needed a plan that gave me that flexibility. With $100 prepaid, my SIM card is loaded for a year. (There are $25 options that have to be used within 90 days as well, if you’re more active than I will be.) With that dollar amount, you have the ability to choose a ‘pre-paid plan’. There’s a 10c a minute plan (which includes texts at 20c a pop), a $2 a day text/talk plan, plus a few others. With any chosen plan, the money is deducted as you use your phone on US grounds. I assumed the 10c a minute plan was fine until the guy explained the $2 a day plan.
Get this: if you use your phone in the US to talk or text (SMS not iMessage, which is a Wifi function), you’re charged a flat $2 for the day. Whether you talk for 1 minute, or 23 hours; whether you shoot one text or 1000, you’re charged $2 a day. Moral of the story: choose your days and use them to the max! For me, this was a no brainer. Unlimited text and talking for $2 a day while in the US allows me 50 entire days of US talk/text time. Again, no data package, but I can use Wi-fi which makes it a bit easier. Since most homes and many businesses offer Wi-fi, I can still stay connected. Plus, with Wi-fi capabilities, my iPhone still acts like a glorified iPod Touch – I can still use Skype, Viber, iMessaging, etc. when I’m connected. Not a bad deal.
When I’m in Anguilla, I can pop in my Anguillan SIM card, when I’m back in the US, in goes my AT&T SIM card. I get to keep my phone number and I’m a happy traveler. Done and done.
Has anyone else discovered great phone plans that make living internationally easier?