How to Use an AT&T Mobile Phone Internationally

How to Use an AT&T Mobile Phone Internationally

Using your AT&T mobile phone internationally can help you stay connected with friends, family, and colleagues while traveling abroad. However, navigating roaming charges, international plans, and local networks can be challenging. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of using your AT&T mobile phone internationally, covering topics such as choosing the right plan, understanding roaming charges, and troubleshooting common issues. By following this guide, you’ll be well-prepared to use your AT&T phone abroad without any unexpected surprises or excessive fees.

Understanding International Roaming

Before using your AT&T mobile phone internationally, it’s essential to understand how international roaming works. International roaming allows you to use your mobile phone on foreign networks when traveling outside the United States. Here’s what you need to know:

A. Roaming charges: When you use your phone internationally, you may incur additional charges for voice calls, text messages, and data usage. These charges can be significantly higher than your domestic rates and may vary depending on the country you’re visiting.

B. Network compatibility: Your AT&T phone may not be compatible with all international networks due to differences in network technologies and frequencies. To use your phone abroad, it must be compatible with the local networks in the countries you’re visiting.

C. SIM cards: Your AT&T phone may require a different SIM card to work on international networks. Some AT&T phones come with a pre-installed international SIM card, while others may require you to purchase a local SIM card in your destination country.

Choosing the Right International Plan

To avoid excessive roaming charges, it’s crucial to choose the right international plan for your needs. AT&T offers various options for international travelers, including pay-per-use rates, international day passes, and monthly plans. Here’s a breakdown of these options:

A. Pay-per-use rates: If you only plan to use your phone occasionally while abroad, you can opt for AT&T’s pay-per-use rates. These rates are charged based on your voice, text, and data usage and can be quite expensive. It’s essential to monitor your usage carefully to avoid unexpected charges.

B. International Day Pass: The International Day Pass allows you to use your existing voice, text, and data plan in over 200 countries for a daily fee. With this option, you only pay for the days you use your phone abroad, making it a cost-effective choice for short trips or infrequent international usage.

C. Monthly international plans: For frequent travelers or extended stays abroad, AT&T offers monthly international plans that include voice, text, and data allowances for use in specific countries or regions. These plans may also include discounted calling and texting rates to other countries.

D. Cruise ship roaming: If you’re traveling on a cruise, AT&T offers cruise ship roaming plans that allow you to use your phone while at sea. These plans include voice, text, and data allowances and vary based on the cruise line and destination.

E. Choosing the best option: To select the right international plan for your needs, consider factors such as the length of your trip, your expected voice, text, and data usage, and the countries you’ll be visiting. Compare the costs and benefits of each option to determine the most cost-effective solution for your needs.

Preparing Your AT&T Mobile Phone for International Use

Before departing for your trip, it’s essential to prepare your AT&T mobile phone for international use. Here’s a checklist of tasks to complete before you leave:

A. Verify network compatibility: Check if your AT&T phone is compatible with the networks in the countries you’ll be visiting. You can do this by contacting AT&T customer service or consulting their website for a list of compatible countries and networks.

B. Unlock your phone: If your phone is locked to AT&T, you may need to unlock it before using it internationally. Contact AT&T customer service to request an unlock code or visit an authorized AT&T retail store for assistance.

C. Update your phone’s software: Ensure your phone’s operating system and carrier settings are up-to-date to avoid potential compatibility issues with international networks.

D. Enable international roaming: Log in to your AT&T account online or contact customer service to enable international roaming on your mobile phone.

E. Set up your international plan: Choose the appropriate international plan based on your needs, and activate it on your AT&T account. Make sure to confirm the start and end dates of the plan to avoid unexpected charges.

F. Configure your phone settings: Adjust your phone’s settings to optimize it for international use. Turn off automatic app updates, enable Wi-Fi calling, and set your phone to use Wi-Fi for data when available to minimize data usage.

G. Set up an international dialing prefix: Add the “+” symbol followed by the country code before dialing any international phone numbers. This ensures that your calls are correctly routed through the international network.

Using Your AT&T Mobile Phone Abroad

Once you’ve prepared your phone and activated an international plan, you’re ready to use your AT&T mobile phone abroad. Here are some tips for using your phone effectively while traveling:

A. Connect to local networks: Upon arrival in your destination country, your phone should automatically connect to a local network. If it doesn’t, you can manually search for networks in your phone’s settings and select the appropriate one.

B. Monitor your usage: Keep track of your voice, text, and data usage to avoid exceeding your plan’s allowances and incurring additional charges. You can monitor your usage through your AT&T account or by using a third-party usage tracking app.

C. Use Wi-Fi whenever possible: To minimize data usage, connect to Wi-Fi networks whenever available. Use Wi-Fi for activities like streaming video, downloading large files, or updating apps.

D. Enable Wi-Fi calling: If your AT&T plan includes Wi-Fi calling, you can make and receive calls and texts over Wi-Fi, potentially reducing your voice and text usage on the local network.

E. Manage roaming charges: Be aware of any additional roaming charges that may apply outside of your international plan, such as calls to countries not covered by your plan or data overage fees. Adjust your phone usage accordingly to avoid unexpected charges.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While using your AT&T mobile phone internationally, you may encounter some common issues. Here are some troubleshooting tips to help you resolve these problems:

A. No network connection: If your phone isn’t connecting to a local network, try manually searching for networks in your phone’s settings. If you still can’t connect, contact AT&T customer service for assistance.

B. Poor call quality: If you’re experiencing poor call quality, try using Wi-Fi calling or a third-party voice app like WhatsApp, Skype, or Viber.

C. Slow data speeds: If your data speeds are slower than expected, check if you’ve reached your plan’s data allowance. If not, try connecting to a Wi-Fi network or contact AT&T customer service for assistance.

D. Unexpected charges: Review your usage and your international plan details to identify the source of any unexpected charges. Contact AT&T customer service to dispute charges or adjust your plan as needed.


Using your AT&T mobile phone internationally can be a convenient way to stay connected while traveling. By understanding international roaming, choosing the right plan, preparing your phone for international use, and knowing how to troubleshoot common issues, you can ensure a seamless and cost-effective mobile experience abroad. This comprehensive guide has provided you with the necessary steps and tips to use your AT&T mobile phone internationally with confidence. By following these guidelines and being mindful of your usage, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip and stay connected without worrying about unexpected fees or connectivity issues. Happy travels!