Published March 20, 2020
Imagine this: You’ve just gotten home from an international holiday. You open your mail and discovered that your phone bill for the month has reached over a thousand dollars.
That seems absurd. Is that even possible?
Unfortunately, yes. And it happens to most travelers who are not aware of how much using their phone abroad can cost them. Even sending a text message abroad can set you back a few dollars.
You may think that free messaging apps got you covered in times like these. But then, there’s no assurance that the person you’re trying to contact has an internet connection. Or that you will have access to wifi all the time while you’re on the road.
To make your international trip worry-free, we’ve compiled the best ways to send free text abroad:
Sending SMS Over WiFi
If you have access to the internet but don’t want to sign-up on messaging apps, here’s how you can send SMS at no cost:
For iPhone users trying to contact fellow iPhone users, iMessage lets you send free SMS wherever you are in the world. But this only works when both you and the person receiving the message is connected to the internet.
The downsides are you won’t be able to message android users. Also, the other person won’t receive your message until they connect to the internet.
Web-based Messaging Services
For android users, there are several web-based messaging services that allow you to send SMS to mobile numbers around the world. Since it’s web-based, you can also send messages from your PC.
This service only lets you send up to 160 characters per text message. But it covers almost all countries including North Korea and even Tuvalu.
There’s no need to sign-up. Just choose the destination country, enter the recipient’s mobile number and your message. The recipient will receive the message from a local number. So be sure to include an introduction in your message to let them know who’s texting them.
Note that the service doesn’t allow spam, illegal or unsolicited SMS. Anyone caught doing so will automatically be banned.
Aside from video calling and file sharing, Globfone also lets you send international SMS for free. Like afreeSMS, users don’t need to log-in or create an account.
Calls and SMS are also subject to fair use policy though. The company implements a maximum limit on the calls and texts a single IP address can make within 24 hours.
This service uses the same business model as afreeSMS (they have similar website designs too). Except that they only allow up to 150 characters per message. Plus you don’t have to provide a sender ID. Users have reported text messages marked as sent but not received. So we advise not to rely entirely on their service or making sure the number you entered is correct.
Sending SMS Without Wifi
As mentioned above, there is no assurance that you’ll always have an internet connection while you’re traveling. Besides, even if you use international data plans, it can still be expensive.
If you’re stuck without wifi and badly needs to send a text message abroad, here are some services you can use:
MyLine subscribers get free unlimited international SMS as long as they have available mobile credits. So, you’re still paying? Technically, yes. But you can use the credits to make cheap international calls to over 150 destinations. The free SMS is just an added bonus.
Besides, you can top-up your credits for as low as $2. And international calling rates start at $0.001 per minute. Yes, it’s that cheap considering you won’t need wifi or use your mobile data. Credits are also valid for 180 days. So if you know how to stretch it out, you can send unlimited free texts abroad for six months!
The MyLine app is available for both Android and iOS users.
International Phone Plans
Most network carriers in the US offer free international SMS as part of their bundled plans. Here are some of them:
AT&T International Day Pass
For $10 per day, you get unlimited texts in addition to unlimited calls to the US and International Day Pass countries. You also get access to your data for 24 hours. This is in addition to your existing AT&T phone plan.
Sprint Global Roaming
All of Sprint’s unlimited plans include Global Roaming which lets you send free text to 200 destinations around the world. Their unlimited plans start at $60 per month.
Google Fi’s Unlimited for 3 Plan offers unlimited calls, text, and data to a group of 3 people for $150. It also includes free international texts and calls.