Clark Howard

Tello Mobile Adds International Roaming for an Additional Charge

Tello Mobile (Review) offers some of the cheapest monthly phone plans with options beginning as low as $5. This month, Tello introduced a new feature for customers: international roaming.

In this article, I’ll share everything we know about Tello Mobile’s international roaming feature including how much it costs, where it works and how to add it to your plan.

Tello Introduces International Roaming Using a Pay-As-You-Go System

Earlier this month, Tello Mobile unveiled its new international roaming feature. International roaming is available to all Tello Mobile customers, but it isn't included for free in any plan. Instead, customers can preload a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) balance in their Tello accounts to use for international calls, texts and data.

You'll need a minimum balance of $5 to activate international roaming. However, the smallest amount you can choose to add to PAYG is $20.

The rates for calls, texts and data vary by country. However, most of the countries I checked have the following charges:

  • Voice: 25¢/minute
  • Text: 5¢/SMS
  • Data: 5¢/MB ($50/GB)

You can check the rates for your destination here.

PAYG credit can be manually reloaded at any time, but know that the credit expires after 90 days. If you haven't used all of your PAYG credit before your international trip ends, you can also use the credit domestically. If your plan's monthly high-speed data runs out but you have PAYG credit available, you can use it to place calls, send/receive texts or use domestic data for 2¢/MB ($20/GB).

To use your PAYG balance for data domestically or internationally, you'll need to turn on Pay-As-You-Go Data in your Tello account. To do this, log into your Tello account and click "My Tello" and "My Settings." Then, turn on Pay-As-You-Go data.

Whenever you arrive in a new country, Tello will send you a welcome notification with the roaming rates in that specific destination. Of course, I recommend checking your destination's rates ahead of time here.

If you plan to use your PAYG balance internationally, you'll also need to turn on International Roaming in the same settings page. This setting will allow you to use your PAYG balance for calls and texts while abroad. If this setting is on but the PAYG Data setting is off, you'll only be able to use your PAYG balance for calls and texts. This is a good way to avoid accidentally overusing data abroad.

Tello's new international roaming feature will work in 250+ countries and territories. To see if your destination is covered, and to check rates, enter the country on Tello's website.

Other Ways To Save on International Data

Tello Mobile’s cheap monthly cell phone plans make it one of our top picks for the best phone plans to help you save money. However, its new international features are still relatively expensive.

Customers who have commented on Tello's announcement note that $50 is a lot for 1GB of data, and the $20 minimum to load the PAYG feature is significantly more than the $5 minimum required to activate international roaming. Plus, the credit expires after 90 days.

Alternatively, Tello's Wi-Fi calling feature is still free and included with all plans. Using Wi-Fi to place calls from international destinations is now referred to as Tello's "Free Roaming" option.

Even if you use Tello Mobile as your main phone plan, there are a couple of different ways that you can save while traveling internationally:

  • Wi-Fi. As mentioned, Wi-Fi calling is free on Tello's plans, and it can be used internationally. You can also download apps like WhatsApp to stay connected for free. Of course, these features will only work when you're connected to Wi-Fi.
  • Buy a local SIM/eSIM. If your phone is unlocked, you can buy a local phone plan when you arrive at your destination. Typically, you'll see local data plans for sale at airports and convenience stores in other countries. There, you can find cell phone service for significantly cheaper prices. Companies like Airalo also offer cheap international SIM cards. When I looked at Europe SIM cards, I saw options for as low as $5/GB for a week and $20 for 5GB for 30 days.

Tello Mobile is an excellent carrier with cheap monthly phone plans; however, if you do travel internationally often, you may find a better deal with a phone plan that includes better rates on international data. For example, Google Fi Wireless (Review) offers international data for $10/GB with its Flexible plan. The Unlimited Plus plan ($65/month) includes unlimited international data at no extra charge.

Tell us your thoughts on Tello's new international roaming features in our Community! You can also check out the latest conversations around cell phones here.

The post Tello Mobile Adds International Roaming for an Additional Charge appeared first on Clark Howard.

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