Want to use your American phone to download a 500MB video while you’re working in Dubai? You better be a sultan, because Verizon charges $20.48 per megabyte for data transfer there, making that standard def episode of Breaking Bad you wanted to see cost as much as 106 barrels of crude oil ($10,200).
Even in the countries where Big Red’s global $25/100MB plan works, streaming that episode in HD would cost you as much as an 8 ball of Walter’s blue product. Verizon’s not alone as AT&T would charge $120 for that file under its global data plan or $9,984 in pay-as-you-go usage for countries that aren’t covered.
Solution: If you don’t need to make phone calls over cellular, renting a hotspot or USB modem from Xcom global is your best bet. For $15 a day, you get unlimited 3G data in the country of your choice. You can even connect your existing phone to the hotspot and use it to make VoIP calls.
If your phone is SIM unlocked, you can also buy a local prepaid SIM card when you arrive in your destination. Local SIMs can cost as little as $10 or $15 for 500MB of data and plenty of voice minutes and texts. If your phone is not SIM unlocked, your carrier may be willing to unlock it for foreign use; a colleague convinced AT&T to unlock his iPhone 5 by threatening to cancel his contract. If you travel overseas a lot and can’t unlock your American phone, you can purchase an inexpensive unlocked Android phone for around $100.