Oh, you'll have to pay extra for roaming data outside the U.S — the question is how much.​

The editors here at Android Central tend to travel a lot for this job, and that isn't limited to staying in our home country. And when we travel, we need to have our phones with us and connected to data — that's kind of what we do. We're no strangers to dealing with roaming internationally, and thankfully for us the U.S. carriers are getting on board with everyone's tendency to get out of the country and see the world with their phones and tablets at their side.

Gone are the days of astronomical pay-per-MB rates, limited roaming carrier agreements and poor options from some of the carriers. Two of the big four carriers are now offering some sort of free international roaming, with the other two coming around to friendlier pricing structures and fewer restrictions on how we use our data we bought. Even prepaid carriers are getting in on the action with some international calling plans.

Even with all of these changes, international data still isn't cheap. Your best bet is to find a local prepaid SIM card when you travel and pop it in your unlocked phone. But that's not always easy — and there's really something luxurious about stepping off a plane, firing up your phone ... and it just works.

And so we've gathered up the international data rates for the four major U.S. carriers — Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile — plus Google's own Project Fi offering. Each carrier does things slightly different, whether it's buying data ahead of time, loading up full-speed data passes once you're already gone or setting up a monthly roaming add-on.

Here's how each of the carriers handles international roaming.

Update: Information updated as of July 2016.

AT&T

AT&T changed its international roaming strategy back in 2014, and while the prices have changed a bit the idea is still the same. You can now buy one-off data packages — called "AT&T Passport" — for use internationally in over 200 countries for a 30 day period, and if you travel often you can have them auto-renew every month.

The data allotment is fixed with hefty overages, you get unlimited international texting, and as you go up to higher packages you also get lower per-minute calling rates.

Here's how it breaks down:

  • $40 for 200MB of data, 25 cents per MB overages, $1 per minute calls
  • $60 for 300MB of data, 20 cents per MB overages, 50 cents per minute calls
  • $120 for 800MB of data, 15 cents per MB overages, 35 cents per minute calls

T-Mobile

T-Mobile offers free international data roaming on its Simple Choice postpaid plans when traveling in over 140 countries worldwide. But it comes with a caveat — speeds are limited to 2G, or around 128 Kbps, much slower than what you'd be used to back home. But hey, it's free.

If you need faster speeds (we wouldn't blame you if you did), you'll have to pay for a data pass to bump up your speeds — though the actual speeds you'll get will depend on the country and your phone's radio bands. The passes:

  • $15 for 100MB of data to use for one day, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
  • $25 for 200MB of data to use for seven days, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
  • $50 for 500MB of data to use for 14 days, speeds reduced to 2G afterward

The $15 plan can be good to use in a pinch, but the best value is going to come from getting the more expensive plans that let you use the data for a longer period of time. Also remember that once you buy a data pass, it'll work to give you faster data speeds in any country that T-Mobile offers the service — you don't need a new pass for a new country.

In mid-2015 T-Mobile also threw another wrinkle into this plan by extending unlimited full-speed data and unlimited talk/text to both Canada and Mexico as part of its Simple Choice plans. No more dealing with high-speed data packages when you hit the countries bordering the U.S.

Sprint

After having some of the most woeful offerings in the business, Sprint refreshed its international data plans in April 2015. Much like T-Mobile, Sprint offers free 2G data roaming in Latin America, Japan and Europe — 144 countries in total, check with Sprint for the full list — with the option to purchase 3G-speed data packs if you need a faster connection:

  • $15 for 100MB of data to use for one day, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
  • $25 for 200MB of data to use for seven days, speeds reduced to 2G afterward
  • $50 for 500MB of data to use for 14 days, speeds reduced to 2G afterward

Now that Sprint has upped the number of countries it offers international data in the only real downside here is the free speed offering, which is only going to be fast enough for the absolute basics — you're most likely going to be buying a data pass here.

Verizon

In November 2015 Verizon drastically revamped its international options with its new TravelPass service. The gist is you pay a little bit per line per day, and voice and data usage comes out of your domestic bucket, just like if you were at home.

  • In Canada and Mexico, it's $2 a day, per device.
  • Elsewhere in the world, it's $10 a day, per device.

And that's it. Verizon's legacy international plans appear to still be intact (you can see them here), but TravelPass really looks to be the way to go.

If you have an XL or larger data plan, the $2 per day fee for Canada/Mexico roaming is waived, which is a nice treat to the high data users out there.

Google Project Fi

If you're using Google's own carrier, Project Fi, things are pretty simple when you take your phone abroad. Much like T-Mobile and Sprint, Project Fi offers roaming in a robust number of countries — now totaling over 135 — at no additional cost. Though it used to offer slower 256 Kbps speeds, with the addition of a roaming deal with Three, Project Fi customers now get HSPA-like speeds (2 to 10 mbps), and simply pay the same $10 per gigabyte rate as you do when you're in the U.S.

  • $10 per gigabyte, no restrictions on usage or speed
  • Unlimited calling to/from U.S. while on Wi-Fi
  • Unlimited incoming calls from U.S. while on Wi-Fi
  • Varying calling rates when calling internationally on Wi-Fi
  • 20 cents per minute when calling internationally on mobile data
  • Unlimited texting in any supported country

Where things get a bit confusing is on international calling. Because Project Fi allows for calling over Wi-Fi as well as cellular networks, it offers lower rates over Wi-Fi (fewer routing costs) and varying rates depending on where you're calling. You can always call to/from the U.S. for free over Wi-Fi, but that call may cost you a few cents per minute if you call internationally over Wi-Fi. Calls over mobile data will always cost you a somewhat-steep (but cheaper than others) 20 cents per minute. It's best to keep an eye on when you're calling over Wi-Fi versus cellular data to limit your additional costs.

The bottom line

Again, folks, when traveling outside the United States, it's usually cheaper to get a local SIM card, if you can. We also recommend staying on Wi-Fi whenever possible — make use of Wi-Fi calling on Sprint, T-Mobile and Project Fi, or try a VoIP solution like Skype or Hangouts.

If you just have to have roaming data, though — and there's nothing wrong with it so long as you're willing to pay — it's important to do the math. The good news is that there are options, and the options have gotten much better over the years. Not that you'll likely have much of a choice when it comes to switching carriers just for overseas use, but comparisons are good.

And as always, if you have any questions about using your phone overseas, check with your carrier. Here's where you can dive deeper into each of the carrier's offerings: