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The Best Cell Phone Plans For Study Abroad Students (Perfect For Endless Travels)

By
Sara Nuss
May 5, 2023

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There is no better experience in college than to be able to study abroad in other countries. No matter if you’re going to a country in Europe, or you’re traveling to an Asian country, there are many opportunities that you can experience just by signing up for a study abroad program in college. Gaining new memories by learning about different cultures, traditions, and even making new friends is something unlike anything you’ll experience in your life.

Main image courtesy of Inside Higher Ed

Making sure that you have a successful trip studying abroad is essential, especially since you’ll be in a new country for a whole semester. One of the most important things to do is to get a cell phone plan that can be used internationally so you can continue to talk to loved ones back at home, and  have full access to using your phone just like you would at home.

Let’s check out some of the best cell phone plans for study abroad students and how to prepare for this new journey!

If you want to switch cell phone carriers, then consider looking into Really to help you with all of your phone services needs! At Really, you can compare phone plans to get more bang for your buck, and you can see what carriers and plans are in your area, sort by price, best value and more, and even click on the plan you wish to learn more about in an instant. 

How to Prepare For a Study Abroad Semester in Another Country

It can be stressful leading up to the days that you have to leave, so make sure that you have your cell phone plan ready-to-go!

Studying abroad is a great opportunity for many college students and it’s crucial to have everything you need before leaving for the semester. Image courtesy of Harding University.

If you are a college student preparing for your upcoming semester abroad, it’s important to get to know the basics of what you’ll need for your cell phone plan, and how to prepare in general. 

Get an International Cell Phone Plan

Whether you pay for your own cell phone plan every month, or you are still on your parents’ plan, one of the most important things to do if you’re planning on studying abroad is to get an international plan. By getting an international cell phone plan, you can still use your phone overseas just like you would in your home country.

It can definitely cost a little bit more each month to upgrade your cell phone plan to an international one, or depending on your plan or carrier, you may need to get a new one entirely. By getting an international plan, you’ll still be able to do everything from calling and texting loved ones, using your data, taking pictures of your journey, and accessing your school portal for class assignments. 

Purchase a Plan at an Affordable Price

Another factor to consider when purchasing a cell phone plan is to purchase one that is within your price range. College is expensive and it can be challenging to get an international cell phone plan if you’re studying abroad just because of how expensive they can be. Make sure to do your research and find one that fits your budget.

If a plan through T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon Wireless is too much for you, one of the best alternatives that you can check out is a mobile virtual network operator, or an MVNO for short. This type of carrier shares the network of one of the big three carriers to supply you with the best service and coverage, but for a cheaper price and almost all of the same features too.

Choose a Plan With a Mobile Hotspot

Since you are planning to travel abroad and live in another country for a full semester, it’s possible that you’ll want to do your classwork in a new spot everyday. Whether you want to go to a quaint cafe down the street, or go to a famous spot in the country you’re staying in, it’s important that you have a mobile hotspot to connect all of your devices.

Mobile hotspots are essential for cell phone plans, especially if you’re traveling to another country because they can help save you and your personal information in the long run. Scammers are everywhere and they can easily hack into local Wi-Fi and potentially steal your personal information just from connecting to it. A mobile hotspot allows you to use your own connection from your cell phone and by creating a password that is unique to you, so no one else will be able to hack into it and steal your personal information. 

Use Free Communication Apps When Possible

Since international plans can be expensive, there are other alternatives to using your cell phone when communicating with loved ones back at home. In your app store on your cell phone, there are a ton of free communication apps that you can use to text, call, or even video call loved ones to check up on them and make sure everything is good back at home.

There are a bunch of free communication apps that you can download and use for free no matter what country you’re in and who you’re talking to. As long as you and the recipient have an account through the communication app, you will be good to go. Some of the best free communication apps are Whatsapp, FaceTime, Viber, iMessage, Google Voice, and Skype.

Purchase a Cell Phone with an eSIM In It

One of the best things that you can get for your study abroad trip to ensure that your phone works no matter what country you’re going to or studying abroad in getting a smartphone with an eSIM in it. Smartphones with eSIM in them are great because of the many different things that you are capable of doing with it.

An eSIM card is embedded into a mobile device that can connect you to any carrier that you wish to be on, including international ones. It works the same as a traditional SIM card, but you don’t need to have a physical card in order for it to work and you can have multiple phone numbers on it, and even switch from one carrier to the next. This ultimately works great for people who enjoy traveling so they can switch their phone from their main carrier, to one in another country easily.

Choosing the Best Cell Phone Plan For Study Abroad Students

Finding the best cell phone plan as a study abroad college student is crucial, and these plans are the top rated to choose from!

Selecting a cell phone plan that fits your budget and is perfect for your study abroad trip can make your time abroad complete. Image courtesy of Cheap Air

There is nothing more exciting than leaving for your study abroad trip, but it’s important to get to know what some of the best cell phone plans are that you can get to make your trip easier. Making sure that you have a working cell phone and plan to contact your loved ones, scroll through social media and see what’s going on at home, and even to do your normal everyday activities is important even when you’re across the world.

Consider these top five cell phone plans to get as a study abroad college student today!

T-Mobile Magenta

If you want a reliable cell phone plan through one of the best carriers that has some of the best plans that you can use in your own country and overseas, you should check out T-Mobile. Offering some of the best 5G high-speed data coverage and service out there, sometimes it’s worth it to pay a little bit extra for a plan that works wherever you need it.

T-Mobile has a ton of features that you can use both domestically and internationally that include:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Truly unlimited 5G data on all plans
  • International calling to Canada and Mexico
  • Up to 40GB of a mobile hotspot
  • Nationwide 4G LTE and/or 5G high-speed data
  • Taxes and fees included in monthly price
  • Exceptional customer service
  • Bring your own cell phone and number
  • Entertainment perks
  • Scam shield to protect you against scammers
  • T-Mobile Tuesdays for exclusive perks
  • Travel benefits

There are a few different T-Mobile Magenta plans that you can choose from depending on what extra features you need:

  • Essentials Plan - $60 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, data and mobile hotspot
  • Magenta Plan  - $70 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, data, mobile hotspot and 100GB of premium data
  • Magenta MAX Plan - $85 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, data, 40GB of premium high-speed mobile hotspot, 100GB of premium data, and Netflix

Mint Mobile

Another cell phone carrier that is not owned by T-Mobile, but utilizes their incredible network service and coverage is Mint Mobile. Known for being extremely affordable and offering prepaid plans that can last as long as three months, six months, or even for a full year, Mint Mobile has some of the best rates out there right now.

Consider looking into some of Mint Mobile’s best features that are included on all of their cell phone plans:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Set data allotment plans or unlimited plans offered
  • Three-month, six-month, or year-long plans available
  • T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G coverage
  • High-speed 5G data 
  • Free calling to Mexico and Canada
  • Free 3-in-1 SIM card included when you sign up
  • Free mobile hotspot included in all plans
  • Wi-Fi calling and texting
  • Keep your current phone or buy a new one
  • Keep your current phone number or get a new one
  • Keep your contacts, photos, and apps when you switch plans
  • Mint Mobile app available to make payments and more

There are a few different options to choose from when it comes to selecting a cell phone plan through Mint Mobile:

  • $15 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, and 4GB of data
  • $20 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, and 10GB of data
  • $25 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, and 15GB of data
  • $30 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, and data

Google Fi

If you want a plan that works well both in your home country and also internationally, Google Fi is one of the best carriers to choose for your study abroad trip. Google Fi’s best feature is that you can use any of the top networks, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile depending on what area that you live in and what’s best. 

Google Fi has some of the best features offered on all of their plans where you can experience everything from:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Unlimited high-speed 5G data
  • T-Mobile’s 5G nationwide service and coverage
  • No contracts or activation fees
  • Built-in VPN and spam blocking
  • Data budgets available
  • Contact controls available
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Easily switch plans whenever you want to
  • Use Fi app to manage your account anytime
  • Mobile hotspot available on some plans
  • Entertainment perks available
  • 100GB of cloud storage available on some plans
  • Free unlimited international talk and text to Canada and Mexico
  • Free talk and text to over 200+ countries on some plans

There are three main plans where you can choose an unlimited data plan, or a pay-as-you-go data plan through Google Fi:

  • Flexible - $17 per line per month plus for unlimited talk, text, and $10 per GB of data used 
  • Simply Unlimited  - $20 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Unlimited Plus - $40 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, data, and mobile hotspot

Visible

Verizon Wireless has one of the best network services and coverage that is offered throughout the United States, and it can still be used overseas too. These cell phone plans tend to be on the more expensive side, but Visible, which is owned by Verizon, is an MVNO that can save you money with the best coverage possible. 

Finding the best features for a cell phone plan to study abroad with is your top priority, and the ones on Visible include:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 4G LTE or 5G nationwide coverage
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot
  • Spam protection
  • Unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada
  • 5G ultra wideband on their most expensive plan
  • Unlimited roaming in Mexico and Canada on most expensive plan
  • International calling and texting to 30+ countries
  • International texting to 200+ countries
  • 24/7 access to customer service
  • Add a smartwatch for and extra $5 per month
  • No hidden fees 

Make your decision easier by choosing one of the two cell phone plans that Visible has to offer:

  • Visible Plan - $30 per month for unlimited talk, text, data, mobile hotspot, and 4G LTE and 5G nationwide coverage
  • Visible+ Plan - $45 per month for unlimited talk, text, data, mobile hotspot, 4G LTE and 5G nationwide coverage, 5G ultra wideband, and premium network experience

AT&T International Plans 

Struggling to find the perfect cell phone plan for your study abroad trip can be stressful, especially if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. If you want to get the best plan out there, an AT&T international plan is just what you need. Coming with all of the basics that you’ll need for your cell phone plan overseas, you won’t have to worry about not having a working cell phone at all.

AT&T’s international plans are some of the best for those who like to travel and include features such as:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 50GB of premium 5G high-speed data and then slower unlimited data afterwards
  • AT&T’s incredible 5G nationwide service and coverage
  • AT&T ActiveArmor which protects you while using public Wi-Fi, Identity Monitoring, and more
  • 15GB of a mobile hotspot available per line 
  • Unlimited international talk, text, and data in Canada and Mexico
  • Unlimited texting from the United States to 200+ countries
  • Standard definition streaming included

There are a few plans that are offered through AT&T that you can choose from for your study abroad trip:

  • AT&T Unlimited Starter Plan - $65 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, data, and 3GB of a mobile hotspot
  • AT&T Unlimited Extra Plan - $75 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, data, and 15G of a mobile hotspot
  • AT&T Unlimited Premium Plan - $85 per line per month for unlimited talk, text, data, and 50G of a mobile hotspot

It can be difficult to find the best cell phone plan for your study abroad semester overseas. 

With so many plans to choose from, consider looking into one of these top cell phone plans for study abroad students now!

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T-Mobile Magenta

Magenta
data
100GB premium data
Hotspot access
5GB premium
Best for:
Heavier data users
More Details

T-Mobile Magenta MAX

Magenta MAX
data
Unlimited premium data
Hotspot access
40GB premium
Best for:
Heaviest data users
More Details

Mint Mobile Unlimited Plan

Unlimited
data
40GB high-speed data, unlimited data at 512 kbps (3G speeds)
Hotspot access
10GB mobile hotspot data
Best for:
Heavy data users
More Details

Mint Mobile 20GB Plan

20GB
data
20GB full-speed data
Hotspot access
All plan data (stops at 20GB)
Best for:
Average data users
More Details

Google Fi Simply Unlimited

Simply Unlimited
data
35GB premium data, then 256 kbps slow down after
Hotspot access
5GB, then data stops
Best for:
Average data users
More Details

Google Fi Unlimited Plus

Unlimited Plus
data
50GB premium data, 256 kbps slow down after
Hotspot access
All plan data (50GB, then data stops)
Best for:
Heavy data users
More Details

Visible+

Visible+
data
50GB premium, unlimited deprioritized data after
Hotspot access
Unlimited access
Best for:
Those who want more features
More Details

Visible Base

Visible Base
data
Unlimited deprioritized data
Hotspot access
Unlimited access
Best for:
Those who want to save the most money
More Details

AT&T Unlimited Starter

Unlimited Starter
data
Unlimited deprioritized data
Hotspot access
3GB
Best for:
Average to heavy data users
More Details

AT&T Unlimited Premium

Unlimited Premium
data
Unlimited premium data
Hotspot access
50GB
Best for:
Heaviest data users
More Details

AT&T Unlimited Extra

Unlimited Extra
data
50GB premium
Hotspot access
15GB
Best for:
Heavy data users
More Details

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