Updated: April 9, 2024 | Has affiliate links

Will My Phone Work in Europe?


Mobile phone working in Europe

Whether your mobile phone works or not in Europe depends on your phone and your US phone carrier. While the question is very common for everyone traveling to Europe, the answer sometimes is unnecessarily complex. Yes, there are many phone carriers in the US and each of them has different ways to make your phone work in Europe. In addition, each phone carrier has different prices for the same service. So, without trying to write another complicated article, let’s answer this simple question: will my phone work in Europe?

Along with using your debit and credit cards in Europe, making your phone work in Europe is the next important task everyone has to complete before heading off to Europe for vacation. So, will my phone work in Europe? The simple answer is: it depends on your phone and your phone carrier. So, let’s take a look together at a few simple options to make sure your phone will work in Europe on your next trip.

1. Use Your Phone Carrier International Plan

The simplest way to make sure your cell phone works in Europe is to use whatever your current US phone carrier offers. So, call your phone carrier (or check out their website) and give them the date of your trip and pay for the service.

Calling your phone company works best because some carriers block international roaming or international calls by default. When you call, they might ask you what countries you are traveling to and they may make some changes to your account in order to enable your phone to work in Europe. Make sure you ask this simple question before you hang up: So, is my phone ready to be used in Europe during my trip?

Then, wait a few days and call your phone provider again and ask the same simple question: will my phone work in Europe during my trip? For example, I use AT&T as my phone provider and some time in the past I had added a block to international calls…and I forgot about it. The first person I talk to enabled all the international features on my phone plan, but didn’t check for any international calls blocking features. I remembered and I called the second time and sure enough, the AT&T person had to make more changes to ensure my iPhone will work in Europe during my trip. I am glad I called twice.

If you’re making payments on your phone, your phone is locked to your carrier and you can only use your carrier plans for making your phone work in Europe

Will My Phone Work in Europe with AT&T?

AT&T is an expensive phone carrier in the US and it costs quite a bit to use your AT&T phone in Europe. AT&T charges $10 per day when you use your cell phone in Europe. If you don’t use it one day, you don’t pay. If you have multiple people on your AT&T phone plan, only one person pays $10 while any additional people on the same plan pay $5 per day for using their phone in Europe. Also, they will only charge a maximum of $100 in a 28 day billing cycle. Since my upcoming trip to Europe spans two billing cycles, I will end up paying quite a bit for using my AT&T phone in Europe.

Personal update after using my locked ATT phone in Europe. Recently, I completed a trip through Europe, visiting Italy, France and Switzerland along with my teenage daughter. Since both ours cell phones are locked to ATT, we were forced to use AT&T International Day Pass. It did end up costing me $10 per day while my daughter paid $5 per day.  How did my AT&T phone work in Europe? It worked great!  Very good connection speed overall and my phone worked just as I used it at home.  My daughter had a similar experience with her phone. It was expensive but the phones worked very well in Europe.

Will My Phone Work in Europe with Verizon?

When it comes to taking your Verizon phone to Europe, Verizon seems to charge you just like AT&T, which is $10 per day. Verizon calls it a Verizon Travel Pass, and it ensures that your phone works in Europe just like it works at home. Whatever your current Verizon plan offers, will work the same during your trip to Europe.

Will My Phone Work in Europe with T-Mobile?

Since T-Mobile is owned by a German company, it is a lot cheaper to use your T-Mobile phone in Europe with a T-Mobile International Pass. T-Mobile charges $35 for 10 days of using your phone in Europe which seems like a cheap way to use your phone in Europe. From a quick read on T-Mobile website however, I find that using your T-Mobile phone in Europe is a bit more complicated, as they have certain countries included for free, while others are not. It is best to call T-Mobile customer support and ask them the same simple question: will my phone work in Europe?

Will My Phone Work in Europe with Boost Mobile?

Boost, being a budget phone carrier in the US charges $20 for a 15 day international data roaming pack. You can just add the Boost international roaming pack to your plan using the Boost mobile app.

2. Install a Europe Mobile Data eSim

If you phone is unlocked, which usually means that you have finished making payments on it with your phone carrier, then you have other much cheaper options. If you have a somewhat modern phone which supports eSIM technology, you can buy an inexpensive Europe data eSim card.

My son purchased the Europe Mobile Data plan from AirAlo, downloaded the AirAlo mobile app and simply activated the plan on his iPhone. For 30 days he gets 5 Gb of data anywhere in data, all for just $13.

Any drawbacks with using a mobile data eSim? Yes there is one more major drawback. With a data eSim you don’t have a phone number in Europe, so you can’t make phone calls like you do at home. You only get a data plan, so all your apps will work normally including messages if you use iMessage on your iPhone.

If you use a phone data plan in Europe, you only have data available to you, so your phone behaves as if you are only using it on Wi-Fi

The main advantage with using AirAlo data eSIM is that it will work across borders if your trip takes you to multiple countries in Europe. In addition, this option will make your phone work in Europe very cheaply. This is usually the cheapest option possible as it provides data roaming throughout Europe.

My teenage son brought his unlocked iPhone during our recent trip through Europe and installed an AirAlo eSIM card.  He purchased only 5 GB of data initially, but was able to easily add 5 more Gb using the AirAlo app. Overall, he had a great experience using his phone with AirAlo throughout Europe at a fraction of the cost of my AT&T international plan.

Get a European data eSIM card.

3. Buy a SIM card in Europe

If your phone is unlocked you have a cheaper option available once you arrive in Europe. The other option for using your cell phone in Europe is to wait until you arrive at your destination. When you arrive in Europe, look for a store for one of the large phone operators in Europe ( Vodafone, Orange or Deutsche Telekom) and buy a European sim card for your phone. I have frequently used Vodafone phone SIM cards while in Europe. These days, with many newer phones supporting eSIM cards, you don’t have to do anything physical to your phone, everything is purchased and installed electronically.

The major drawback for buying a SIM card from a Europe phone operator is that you have to pay roaming charges if you travel to multiple countries. While you can get a great deal for your SIM card in a country, adding roaming charges can get expensive and becomes very limiting during your trip.

The other difficulty with buying a European SIM card for your cell phones is that you have to overcome the language barrier that you likely encounter when you walk into a physical phone store in Europe.

4. Have the Right Plug Converter for Your Phone Charger

While the previous steps will help you make your phone work in Europe, this step has to do with making sure you can use your phone charger in Europe. All power plugs in Europe are different than in the US. So, while your phone charger will work fine in Europe, you cannot simply plug into the wall socket.
In order to be able to plug in your phone charger during your trip to Europe you have to purchase a plug converter. So, make sure you buy a plug converter for Europe from the last US airport you’re flying to Europe from. Don’t expect to find plug converters for Europe while you are in Europe because they will be very difficult to find outside of airports. Or simply read my article about making your electronics work in Europe and buy the right plug converter for Europe.

Will Your Phone Work in Europe?

The answer is yes! Your phone will work in Europe if you do a few simple steps before leaving on your trip. Yes, the cost can vary depending on what option you choose, but your phone will work in Europe and you can use it for everything you need during your trip.

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