Verizon Wireless Changes International TravelPass. With A Sledgehammer

When Verizon Wireless announced their new international phone and data plan, TravelPass last year, it was pretty big news.  Phone calls and data used to cost a fortune when traveling internationally.  With the new TravelPass, Verizon Wireless was allowing users to pay $5 or $10 a day to use their existing phone, text and data allotment abroad.

All you had to pay was the $5 or $10 a day, depending on which country you were traveling in.  Then, you could talk, text, surf as much as you want, within your monthly limits.  In my case, our country is grandfathered into some pretty large data allowances, so we never usually run out.  Folks who have subscribed to newly re-introduced unlimited data plans were probably pretty happy about TravelPass as well.

I had a short overseas trip this week and came to find out that Verizon Wireless made a change to TravelPass.  I’ve used it dozens of times since rollout and never received a message about throttling data speeds until this week:

Sure enough, the Verizon Wireless website now reflects that you only get 512MB of high-speed data a day before they start throttling speeds:

Instead of paying per minute, per message, or per MB you’ll be charged a flat rate with TravelPass. The daily rate is $5/day in Mexico and Canada and $10/day in other countries where TravelPass is available. You’ll use your minutes, messages and data allowances from your domestic plan. 4G data speeds apply for the first 512 MB/day with reduced speeds thereafter. The daily charge only applies on days you use your service outside of the US, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.

512 MB might seem like a lot of data, but I pretty much live on my phone when traveling abroad.  On top of using it for Google Maps, it’s my primary device for keeping up with work e-mail.  I exceeded my allowance both days I was overseas and got to experience the throttled data speeds.  I don’t feel like I used anywhere near 512MB either day, but that’s what Verizon Wireless said and there’s no easy way to contest that.

They were pretty bad.  At first, I thought they were 3G-ish.  But, that was when I was on 3G networks.  I was bouncing between LTE and 3G pretty regularly.  When I would bounce back to LTE, the speeds would often get slower.

The Final Two Pennies

TravelPass is still cheaper than the previous versions of data plans, where you would pay for chunks of data.  That’s especially true if you text and make phone calls, since the old rates for those could be $3 or $4 a minute in certain countries.  Still, at $10 a day you can spend a decent chunk of extra cash to stay connected.

Now I’ll have to be extra careful about getting WiFi passwords every time I’m in a restaurant, etc when traveling abroad.  Because the throttled data speeds are pretty bad.

The post Verizon Wireless Changes International TravelPass.  With A Sledgehammer was published first on Pizza in Motion

55 Comments

        1. Tenmoc, there’s not a lot of incentive for me to do so. I *know* I can get half a gig of high speed every day when traveling abroad. I’m not sure if the throttled VZW speeds are less than T-Mobile. But, I know for certain the first half gig is at considerably higher speeds than T-Mobile.

  1. T-Mobile works for us too. We were recently in China. Over the next couple of weeks we’re hitting Europe, Japan, and Australia. We have phone and data all the way. Even if one feels the need to keep Verizon due to domestic coverage, it could be worthwhile to pick up a T-Mobile line just for foreign travel. Those $10 charges could add up quickly.

    1. Fredd, I enjoy the convenience of not having to switch phones when abroad. Also, from what I’ve heard, the T-mobile data is probably slower than the throttled VZW. I haven’t run a speed test, though.

      1. Our experience (Israel, numerous parts of Europe) T-mobile was plenty fast for our needs. Able to FaceTime clearly with kids, google maps, etc. with no issues. Didn’t run speedtests, mainly because never had issues with speed. But I get the domestic issues with T-Mobile.

      2. T-Mobile just doubled the speed on our plan. We, of course, are not business travelers but leisure travelers, so as long as Google Maps and email and the odd website load we’re happy. We were in Europe and China a couple of weeks ago and it worked well. Besides, it’s very rare that we’re not staying in a hotel with Internet. Your fellow blogger Lucky found T-Mobile to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

        Still, just because it meets our needs doesn’t mean it will meet yours, and domestic coverage is still a question mark. About four years ago on a cross-country Amtrak trip my in-laws’ Verizon phones showed significantly better coverage than ours in the boondocks.

        We’re on a “third-line-free” promotion just to have a loaner phone for visiting foreign friends and if you lived nearby I’d be happy to let you take it for a test drive.

        1. Fredd, I’ve read Lucky’s review. I believe him, but I still believe he’s in the minority. When you say T-mobile doubled the speed on your plan, was that for domestic, international or both?

          1. “Get T-Mobile ONE with ONE Plus for only $5 a month. You will get unlimited premium connectivity with unlimited HD video streaming, 10GB of high-speed Mobile Hotspot data, unlimited data in 140+ global destinations at twice the speed (up to 256kbps) and unlimited data and texting on all Gogo-equipped domestic flights. Plus, get Visual Voicemail and Name ID for voicemail-to-text and superior caller ID. All for only $5/mo when added to T-Mobile ONE.
            Changes made in the middle of a billing cycle will result in full monthly charges of the new feature.”

            That’s a simple copy-and-paste out of my account, Ed.

          2. This is from my phone. Sorry, but I can’t comment on the actual speed, other than it works or it doesn’t.

            Welcome to Germany! T-Mobile ONE Plus gives you unlimited data at 2X the speeds of our T-Mobile One plan, up to 256kbps, calls at 20 cents/min, and free texts. Learn about high speed data passes at. http://bit.ly/250H9WW

          3. Already answered in some form. 256kbps intl. Canada and Mexico are considered domestic, full LTE. You can choose to buy up faster data, but rarely do I find a need. As for domestic speeds, often better than VZW or ATT. Plus free gogo for $5/m on phone which crushes other gogo pricing.

          4. I asked about purchasing faster speed, they updated me and it still was worse than ATT. if anyone knows how to correct it I would like to know.

          5. Tenmoc, my speeds in the US are lightning quick on VZW, and I rarely find a spot without coverage. If an until T-Mobile has wall-to-wall coverage like VZW, I’m really not likely to switch.

  2. Do you have unlimited data?

    From the FAQ page under another topic, it implies that 512MB/day applies to unlimited users but not for people with a limited data plan(top section, fourth point)

    4) What data speeds can I expect from my 4G LTE device while traveling outside the US?
    4G LTE World Devices are capable of roaming at 4G LTE speeds where available. In other countries, data service is on our roaming partner’s GSM network at 3G/2G speeds.

    If you’re on the new Verizon Plan Unlimited, 4G data speeds apply for the first 512 MB/day with reduced speeds thereafter. Learn more about the new Verizon Plan Unlimited.

  3. I’m a Verizon user also. I wish they would improve on this issue. I think they drive people to change carriers. $10 a day isn’t cheap to me. Oh and make sure to download your travel areas for Google maps. That will save you a ton of data.

    1. Dan, I hadn’t been downloading my maps when I traveled given the size of our data pools. I will now. When you consider your monthly plan amount, I agree $10 a day isn’t cheap. But, if you make a lot of phone calls like I do, it still pays for itself.

  4. I used it in Europe the last few times i’ve gone. The $10 /day is more than other carriers, but the service was good. Once you were being throttled, how slow was google maps? That’s the number one thing I use, so interested to know how the lowered speeds affected that.

    1. Shaun, Google Maps still worked pretty well. It wasn’t instant when mapping a new destination but it was definitely usable. However, I think some of that was on 3G. It’s kind of backwards, but I almost think you might want to turn off LTE once you hit the data cap on a given day. It seemed 3G yielded better speeds in my small sample set.

  5. I tried the ATT daily pass a few weeks ago while traveling in Europe. I had consistent 4g speeds, granted at $10 a day it can be steep, but so can having $7 coffee each time. But it worked for me when I needed it.

  6. To those that posted using T-Mobile , their international data plan was awful. I tried it twice. At&T was much better. Got 50MB download speed when I arrived in Germany and T-moble was to even 1MB. I was told they would correct it, it never happened.

    if I thought it would work I would change all of our phones to T-mobile just does not work.

      1. Domestically T-Mobile was fine. Like all the other carriers they have their strong and weak areas.

        Internationally I would revive a message with t-mobile welcome to (insert country) you have unlimited 2g. It was unusable for reading email. They told me I had an unsupported phone, at the time I had a 6s iPhone. Next time I took a 7plus same result. I tried T-mobile failed.

        Until recently I was using a grandfathered att plan that charged me 10 for each GN over two I went. Calls were still at roaming fees but since data was reasonable I used bria or skype for my calls. They were data which I calculated at 4 cents a minute based on how much data per minute was used. Then the day pass came for ATT. I have changed and although I can’t prove it yet the coverage seems to throttle, but when I speed test the speed is good, just seems like it works less reliably. I am in Europee again in a week I will continue to test.

        One last item. The day pass works in less countries than T-Mobile. For example day pass does not cover the Philippines however t-mobile does. I keep a basic plan t-mobile phone for use in the other countries. I know it is expensive to do but one trip to an unsupported country can pay for years of coverage.

  7. Just curious how good of a plan does Verizon business offer because with 8 employees, T-Mobile is looking at running us $33 a line all in. At 13 employees it’s $25 a line

    1. Scott, we spend more than that per line, but we use a LOT of data. I have a great VZW business rep I can refer you to if you want to ask questions. He’s a lifesaver for our team.

      1. $33 to as low as $25 a line for unlimited, plus $5 a month for 3G speeds overseas seems a no brainer price wise. Many of our team has dual SIM phone where we have project fi data cards for places we might need LTE that’s included in some countries like UAE when necessary. 3G had been fast enough though for Skype calls over the handset.

  8. This conversation prompted me to call Verizon and check on my plan. Travel Pass does not work in Vietnam. Unless I’m using hotel/restaurant wifi, it’s going to cost me. The agent told me it’s $2.05 per minute per megabit. Ok. I asked what exactly this means. She doesn’t have a clue. I asked if I go to a website, or read my e mail, or spend 25 minutes on Facebook, how many MB will I use? The agent didn’t know. Can anyone address what they think the usage will be?

    1. I can reply with these words, don’t use it !!! . — I did some test using SIP applications for voice calls, this uses 4 MB a minute. Have a spare phone when you arrive, most of the Asian countries sell sim cards either at the airport when you go past customs or the local 7-11 store which are all over Asia.

    2. dhammer, this is the one fatal flaw of VZW. Their customer service is horrible. It’s why I’m so thankful for the business rep we have. For the most part, it keeps me from having to call customer service very often. When I do have to call CS, the answers are usually pretty poor.

  9. Depending on the country, you could simply swap out your SIM card with a local one. Last time i was in Cambodia, a month’s SIM card with data was only $8. and yes I am a Verizon customer. I use Textnow to talk with friends since they give you a phone number that uses your internet connection. i also use whatsapp to talk to family.

  10. I’m an inexperienced overseas traveler going to Ireland next month (my first time) and a Verizon customer – would I be better off buying a Sim card there or using the International Plan at $10/day?

    1. Hellen, how long are you going for? For anything a week or less, I’d probably say go with TravelPass. Longer trips, you can probably find a SIM card for $50 or less, but you need to deal with the hassle of a phone number change and actually swapping the SIM. Not hard, but some nuisance factor.

      1. My daughter & I will be there for 10 days. She’s a VZW customer too. I’m concerned about text and data charges too. Any extra advice? Thank you!

        1. The $10 VZW pass covers talk, text and data from your regular plan. One of you could buy the plan and have the other use your phone as a hotspot. But, you’ll likely find a SIM card for cheaper than $100 ($10 a day x 10 days).

  11. Verizon’s travelpass was good for Canada and Mexico at $2/day (as it was last year) and too expensive everywhere else at $10/day.

    They silently jacked the price to $5/day in Canada and Mexico sometime since my last trip to Canada, which miffed me much more than the potentially throttled data.

    I have an iPad with a t-mobile SIM that gets full LTE speeds in Canada and after the first WTF day I just tethered my Verizon phone to it, as I will in Europe this summer. 128Kbps is slow, but usable. $20/month for the tablet SIM more than pays for itself if you’re in Europe for any amount of time.

    1. Rob, SIMs for tablets make much more sense to me. Having to deal with a new phone number for my phone is a nuisance factor I avoid. I’m still fine with $5 a day in Canada or Mexico.

  12. Spoke with Verizon at length today, as I’d encountered the 2G throttling after exceeding .5 GB the first day of a 2 week stay in Prague last month. I had not had had this problem the month before in South America.

    Apparently this “feature” is called Data Optimization, and may *not* actually be a required component of TravelPass, although it apparently is a new one. The Verizon rep was unaware of it; I had to spend several minutes breaking it down to her, and she took another few minutes to research on her end.

    Result: The rep offered to remove Data Optimization. Really? Just remove?

    After a significant amount of back-n-forth on my part regarding “Why would VZW do this in the first place?” and “Are you sure this will fix the problem?” and “Is there anything else I need to know so I won’t be surprised later?” we’ve removed Data Optimization.

    So, in theory, when we go to Italy end of this month, things should be back to what they were previously – unlimited data a 4G speeds, where available, at $10/day internationally, subject only to the throttling caps on US unlimited plans (which if I recall is ~22 GB per line, ~11GB of tethered 4G, depending on local demand). If you do blow through that much, you should then be throttled to 3G, rather than 2G.

    We’ll see if it works in Italy. Would be great if others might try this, see if it works, & report back.

  13. Thanks for this blog post! This just happened to my daughter today and we were trying to figure out why! She’s been in Europe over three weeks and this was her first day to be throttled. This limit was not mentioned to us while talking to customer service rep in store. We have the New Verizon Plan 12GB, with plenty of carry over every month. She should have 16GB at her disposal, but she cannot even browse the internet… pages won’t load, no google maps, etc. She was unable to connect to WIFI at her current hostel, which likely caused the problem. Thanks to you and google for providing the quickest answer to our question.

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