Verizon’s TravelPass lets you take your existing smartphone plan abroad.
Verizon Wireless is giving its globetrotting customers a break.
The nation’s largest wireless carrier on Thursday introduced TravelPass, an option that lets subscribers draw minutes, text messages and data from their existing phone plans while traveling. Customers with unlimited voice and text messages, for instance, will get that capability overseas as well.
TravelPass, which is available now, costs $2 a day per line in Canada and Mexico, and $10 a day per line in more than 65 other countries around the world.
It’s the latest shot in what’s turning into a new front in the wireless wars: giving customers better and more affordable access to their smartphones outside of the States. The days of excessive and unpredictable roaming charges for a phone call or text message are starting to fade as the carriers offer different incentives across borders.
Customers of the New York-based company previously had to buy a pricey new plan when going overseas. A typical plan for Mexico and Canada for 500 minutes, 500 sent text messages and 1 gigabyte of data would cost $25. The plans for other countries are even more expensive and offer less data. Without a plan, a phone call would cost as much as $2.99 a minute and data would cost more than $2 per megabyte.
Verizon subscribers have to activate TravelPass by enabling international services on their account on Verizon’s website or through its smartphone app. Once a customer makes a phone call, sends or receives a text message or uses data, the daily TravelPass kicks in for the next 24 hours and the fee is charged.
The plan provides some a measure of predictability in terms of mobile usage. Customers can use their smartphone as they would normally based on their existing plans. Verizon said TravelPass allows the smartphone to connect to the fastest available network. There isn’t an additional fee for the option.
If you don’t want TravelPass to automatically activate, you can disable the service through the app or website, or put your smartphone on airplane mode and just use Wi-Fi.
Verizon isn’t alone in stepping up its international game. T-Mobile already offers free text messages and data overseas, although the network connection is a slower 2G one (customers can pay for higher speeds). It also said in July that many of its customers can use their smartphones in Canada and Mexico without roaming charges. AT&T, meanwhile, has made it easier to call and text message people in Mexico with a $5 add-on option.