Verizon is making it a little easier for customers to stay connected while traveling abroad.
The company announced on Thursday its new TravelPass feature aimed at globe-trotting customers, which allows them to use their existing talk, messaging and data plan when overseas without having to pay roaming charges, purchase calling cards or use a hotspot.
Of course, being able to use your phone when traveling outside of the U.S. comes at a cost. However, the TravelPass plan will only cost as little as $2 per day per line in Canada and Mexico, and $10 per day per line in more than 65 other countries, including Aruba, Turks & Caicos, France, Greece, Italy and the UK. That means you won't have to worry about overages or hidden fees — or going a week without talking to your family, sending texts and browsing Facebook — while soaking up the sun in some tropical oasis or while backpacking through Europe.
TravelPass works by deducting minutes, text and data from your preexisting plan with the mobile carrier, but even those with unlimited voice and text plans can take advantage of the abroad program.
The daily fee is charged only on the days you use your smartphone when traveling, and is activated instantly when you make or receive a call, go online or send a text. However, once you do use your phone that one time, you can keep on using it for 24 hours before you will be charged with either a $2 or $10 fee again. That means customers should disable the service or put their smartphones on airplane mode to ensure TravelPass doesn't automatically activate if you don't want to use it.
Verizon customers looking to enroll in the TravelPass plan can do so by visiting their account at MyVerizon.com and selecting "manage international services" or by using the MyVerizon app to activate it prior to leaving for your trip. Customers will then receive a text when they arrive at their destination, reminding them about the daily fee. There is no additional charge to add this service to your account.
Previously, Verizon customers based in New York had to pay $25 per month for an international plan for Mexico and Canada. For the $25, customers got 500 minutes, 500 sent text messages and 1 GB of data. Other international pay-as-you-go plans cost $2.99 a minute and $2 per megabyte, which can add up quickly. This new option lets short-term travelers use their phone without significantly hurting their wallet.
T-Mobile, on the other hand, eliminated fees for its customers to access calls, texts and data when they travel to Mexico and Canada. Sprint offers calls, texts and 1 GB of 3G data for free in Mexico and Canada, and AT&T gives customers access to calls and texts when in Mexico for an extra $5 per month.
Photo: Eric Hauser | Flickr