Hi Travelers – I do my best to keep this article regularly updated and accurate and my readers have been a big help with this. Things change quickly in this industry, so if you happen to notice any inaccurate information in this article, please leave a comment or e-mail [email protected] and I'll be sure to update the post right away. I've updated this post over 30+ times since publishing it last year and will continue to do so. Thank you! – PAUL
During your adventures around the world, you may have seen other travelers with WiFi hotspots seamlessly accessing the Internet while you struggled with connecting to free public WiFi signals. If you felt a bit envious of their newage digital connectivity, your tech envy days are over, because I've put together a list of the Best International 4G WiFi Hotspots & SIM Cards for Travelers and compared their pricing, coverage, and features, to help you determine the best service for your needs. I've also reached out to each company to negotiate a discount on your behalf so that you can spend your hard earned travel budget on fun activities instead of Internet data.
Table of Contents
- How do WiFi hotspots work?
- #1) Skyroam
- #2) TEP Wireless
- #3) GeeFi
- #4) Roaming Man
- #5) Travel WiFi
- #6) Google Fi
- #7) Keepgo
- #8) Always Online Wireless
- Which is the best mobile hotspot?
- What's the cheapest hotspot?
How International 4G Hotspots & SIM Cards Work
The way these companies operate is that they've licensed deals with 4G wireless carriers around the world to allow you to transition from one carrier's network to another without having to switch SIM cards and purchase a new local cell phone plan in each country you visit. With some services, you pay a flat fee for wireless access in every area they service, and other services have separate rates for each country. In some cases, you may end up paying more than you would if you bought a local SIM card, but you're paying for the convenience of having a seamless transition between carriers and service wherever you go, as well as Internet access as soon as you step off the plane. If you're taking a short trip or you're heavily dependent on Internet to run your business like I am, then you may be willing to pay for the convenience. You might also choose to carry one of these hotspots with you as you travel and only activate it for 24 hour periods at a time when you need it, and then switch to a cheaper local plan after you get acquainted in the new country.
Best 4G International WiFi Hotspots for Travelers
I've researched your best available options for 4G WiFi Hotspots and World SIM Cards and narrowed them down to these top picks, which I'll compare below. I've also attempted to negotiate a discount for you with each carrier because I love when I can save my readers money on travel technology.
#1) Skyroam Review
Skyroam launched in 2008 and has 500+ retail locations and 150+ dropoff points worldwide. Their new Solis device doubles as a 6000mAh power bank that can recharge your wireless devices and power them with Internet at the same time. The Solis can last more than 16 hours on a single charge (if not used as a power bank) and connect up to 5 devices at once.
Cost: You can BUY the Solis device for $149.99 + shipping (calculated at checkout based on your location) and pay $9/day for unlimited Internet, which includes 1 Free Day Passes. Or you can RENT the device for $9.95/day + shipping. If you choose to rent, you prepay for shipping both ways, and they include in the package a box with shipping label to return the device from whichever country you choose.
UPDATE 1: Skyroam now offers an UNLIMITED MONTHLY plan for $99/month! You'll need to purchase the Solis for $149.99 in order to take advantage of their new monthly plan, however, the device pays for itself in less than a month (versus renting daily).
UPDATE 2: As of Sep 18, 2018, Skyroam has introduced a new Go Data plan which offers per-gigabyte data for $9/GB. The service costs $9/month and includes 1GB, then you pay $9/GB for what you need in addition to the first included gigabyte. This plan requires that you own the Solis device for $149. At the introduction of this new service, they are also offering a $199 Bundle which includes a 1 Year Subscription and a Solis device.
Coverage: 110+ countries.
Speed Throttles: If you use over 500mb in one day, they switch you from 4G speed to 2G/3G.
Best Skyroam Alternatives: TEP Wireless
Skyroam Cons: 4G speed is limited to 500mbs/day with no option to add more.
Skyroam Discounts: Use this link and promo code “TRAVELISLIFE” at checkout for 10% off your entire purchase or rental.
#2) TEP Wireless Review
TEP Wireless is a pioneer in the worldwide Internet industry and has been recommended by top travel bloggers around the world since they launched in 2011. Their pocket WiFi “Teppy” device lasts up to 6 hours on a charge and can connect up to 5 devices at once.
Extras: 1) A feature called Kitestring, which is a SMS based emergency service that checks in on you while you travel via scheduled text messages that you sent the frequency of. If you don't reply to the text, Kitestring sends your emergency contacts an alert message. 2) A free Concierge service which privately connects you with locals via their TEP+ App who you can ask for recommendations on things to do, places to eat/drink, and where to stay from 9am to 8pm every day. 3) Built-in VOIP phone and SMS services via their app with international calling prices that cost about $0.01/minute. 4) Coming soon is an In Flight WiFi service which looks like it will be free or discounted Internet service during flights. I will update this post when that feature is released and more details are provided.
Costs: You can RENT a Teppy for $8.95/day which includes the device and unlimited Internet access. Shipping to you is free, and you pay to ship the device back to either Durham NC, USA or Enfield, United Kingdom. Or you can BUY a Teppy for $129 + $9.95 shipping and pay $8/day for Internet services, which you can start and stop anytime for 24 hour coverage windows. Purchasing the device comes with 3 Free Day Passes. They also offer a 4G Upgrade for $1.95/day which adds 500mbs to the amount of daily allotted 4G data.
UPDATE: TEP Wireless now offers an UNLIMITED MONTHLY plan for $99/month like Skyroam.
Coverage: 100+ countries.
Speed Throttles: If you have the 4G upgrade (+$1.95/day), you get 1GB of high-speed data per day. After you've used 1GB, your connection speed gets slowed to 256kbs until the end of the day. If you do not have the 4G upgrade, you get 500MB of high-speed data per day and then it slows to 256kbs.
Best TEP Wireless Alternatives: Skyroam
Full Review: For more info, read my full TEP Wireless Review & Comparison.
TEP Wireless Cons: Throttled 4G with no option to increase beyond 1GB. • Short battery life.
TEP Wireless Discounts: Use this link to TEPWireless.com and discount code TILORG10 for 10% off your purchase or rental.
#3) GeeFi Review
UPDATE Sep 2018: At the moment, GeeFi is non-operational with no anticipated time of return. I'm currently looking for a new service to replace them on my top 8 list.
#4) Roaming Man Review
Roaming Man offers a 4G WiFi hotspot that works in over 100+ countries for one daily flat rate. Their device can power up to 5 devices at once and can last over 12 hours on a charge.
Cost: Their rental service costs $9.95/day + shipping in both directions and they require a minimum of 2 days rental period. They do not offer an option to purchase the device.
Coverage: 100+ countries.
Speed Throttles: If you use over 500mb in one day, they switch you from 4G speed to 2G/3G (or around 256kbs).
Roaming Man Cons: 4G speed is limited to 500mbs/day with no option to add more.
Roaming Man Discounts: Use this link to Roaming Man and promo code TILORG for $10 off your entire purchase or rental. (Valid until April 30, 2018.)
#5) Travel WiFi Review
Travel WiFi was started in Nov 2013 by five entrepreneurs in France who above all else value customer relations. They primarily cater to travelers in France and Europe (for example, they are distributed at every Tourism Information desk in CDG and ORLY Airport in Paris), however they also offer worldwide service. Their device lasts up to 10 hours on a charge and you can connect up to 10 devices at once.
Cost: Travel Wifi charges different daily rates depending on if you're traveling in France only, Europe, or Worldwide. Their plans become less expensive the longer you rent the device for and they offer two data tiers. Their Starter plans include 500mb/day and their Premium plans include 1GB/day. World Starter Plans start at 30€/day (about $35 USD) for a single day of service, then drop to 15€/day for 2 days, 9.9€/day for 4 days, and 8€/day for 30 days or longer. Their World Premium plan starts around the same price and gets as low as 12€/day for 30 day rentals. Visit their website for exact pricing for your trip, since the daily rate varies by plan, locations used, and number of days needed. You pay for shipping the device to and from and varies based on your location. Since they are a French based company, it is cheapest to ship within France and Europe.
Coverage: They cater to France and Europe but also offer Worldwide coverage to about 100 countries.
Speed Throttles: For the European and Worldwide offers, after the daily limit is reached, the speed is reduced to 265Kbps. For the France offers, there's no throttling. When the total data allotment is used, you are prompted to add more data.
Travel WiFi Cons: Complex pricing structure. • No option to purchase device. • Shipping rates increase outside of France.
Travel WiFi Discounts: Use this link to Travel Wifi and the promo code “TRAVELISLIFE2K18” for 5% off your purchase between now and Dec 31, 2018.
#6) Google Project Fi Review
Project Fi is an international cell phone plan offered by Google that works in over 170 countries and territories. They do not offer a hotspot device, however, you can tether their phones to your laptop or wireless devices to share your Internet connection. Currently the service is only offered on the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel, Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Android One Moto X4, Moto G6, LG G7 ThinQ, LG G35 ThinQ,. Their service lets you seamlessly shift from their cellular coverage partners to over four million WiFi hotspots around the world. You are only charged for data received over their cellular network and not when on WiFi networks. You can port your existing phone number over to Project Fi from your existing carrier or get a new number. In the USA, they partner with Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular to provide coverage.
Cost: Project Fi offers worldwide flat rate service fees. Their plan costs $20/month for unlimited domestic calls & texts and $10/GB for data. Additional phone lines cost $15/month. You can add as many tablets to your plan as you'd like for free and just pay for the data they use. While traveling outside of US, a flat $0.20/minute applies. While calling from within the US, international rates apply and vary by country. International data is the same flat rate of $10/GB in every country.
UPDATE: Google Fi now offers Unlimited Data for $60/month (in addition to the $20/month for calls & texts), but you only pay that amount if you use more than 6 GB, otherwise you just pay for the data you use at $10/GB. So for example, if you only used 2GB you'd pay $40 (2 x $10/GB + $20 calls/texts), but if you used 12GB you'd only pay $80 ($60 unlimited data + $20 calls/texts).
Coverage: 170+ countries and territories.
Speed Throttles: They do not throttle your speed since you pay per gigabyte. They always offer you the fastest available speed in whichever country you're in at the time.
Google Fi Cons: Only works on certain devices. • No hotspot devices. • No discount offered to Travel is Life readers.
Google Fi Discounts: Project Fi does not offer any discounts, however, you may find individual promotions for specific devices depending on when you look.
#7) KeepGo Review
Keepgo offers WiFi hotspot devices and World SIM Cards that work with your existing unlocked mobile device. They sell pre-paid data by the gigabyte that is unthrottled and usable up to a year after purchase (unlike many companies where the data expires after 30 days). They offer 24 hour customer service via live chat or telephone. KeepGo currently does not offer an unlimited plan, but there is one in the works.
Cost: Their SIM Cards cost $49 and their WiFi Hotspots cost $99 with free shipping to 38 countries. Data is priced in bundles at $19 for 500MB, $35 for 1GB, $85 for 3GB, $119 for 5GB, and $219 for 10GB. They do not offer device rentals or unlimited plans.
Coverage: 70+ countries.
Speed Throttles: Keepgo does not throttle your 4G speeds since you are paying per gigabyte.
Best Keepgo Alternatives: Always Online Wireless
KeepGo Cons: No unlimited data plans (yet).
KeepGo Discounts: Use this link to Keepgo for 15% off your purchase with no promo code needed.
#8) Always Online Wireless Review
Always Online Wireless offers a 4G World SIM Card that works in your unlocked mobile device and data plans by the day, hour, or megabyte. They also work with iPad's Apple SIM Card. Essentially they are like a data broker, selling you an individual plan with different prices for each country using the same SIM card. AOW has agreements with multiple carriers in almost every country, so their SIM will actually jump from carrier to carrier to give you the best signal/speeds wherever they are. They do not offer a single rate worldwide plan.
Cost: Their SIM Card costs $14.95 + $5 shipping. Data rates start at $2.99/day, $0.11/hour, and $0.01/mb but vary per country. Their international rates average about $1.99/hour for 20mb, $9.99/day for 200mb, and $49/GB.
Coverage: 90 countries>.
Speed Throttles: They do not throttle your speeds since they are essentially charging you per megabyte to be used within a window of time.
Best Always Online Wireless Alternatives: Keepgo
Always Online Wireless Cons: Data fees vary by country (sometimes substantially). • Separate data plan for each country. • No discount offered to Travel is Life readers.
Always Online Wireless Discounts: At this time, I do not have a discount available to my readers for Always Online Wireless, but have reached out to the company to obtain one. Please let them know in the notes section of your checkout process that you found them via TravelisLife.org.
Which is the best mobile hotspot 2018?
If unlimited data is important to you then Skyroam or TEP Wireless will be a good choice because of their unlimited data, flat rate pricing, and affordable devices. If you require more than 500 mbs of 4G data in a day, go with TEP because you can double that to 1 GB for an additional $1.95/day which you can't do with Skyroam. (Note: If you do go with Skyroam, be sure to use our promo code TRAVELISLIFE at checkout to save 15% off your entire purchase or rental. And if you go with TEP Wireless be sure to use our promo code TILORG10 for 10% off.)
If you'd rather pay per gigabyte and have unthrottled 4G speed no matter how much you use, give Keepgo a try and use our link for 15% off your purchase. If you have any questions about which service will fit your needs best, drop us a comment below and we'll do our best to help you out.
What's the cheapest hotspot?
The least expensive hotspot for daily use is TEP Wireless at $129 for the device and $8/day for the Internet access. At they moment, they also offer their Teppy device for free if you subsribe to their $99/month plan. Skyroam also offers a $99/month unlimited plan but you have to purchase the device.
Keepgo doesn't offer an unlimited plan – but their data does not expire. So if you're only looking for occasional or emergency use Internet abroad, you can purchase 1GB from KeepGo and only use it when you need it. For minimal usage, this can be a savings because you're not paying for unlimited data that you don't need. Use this link to Keepgo for 15% off your purchase with no promo code needed.
Travelers found this article by searching:
• What is the best portable WiFi hotspot for international travelers?
• Unlimited Worldwide 4G Wireless Plans for Traveling
• Best data plans that work in every country
• Best international wifi hotspot devices for travel
• Best mobile hotspot unlimited plans
• How do I get Internet anywhere in the world?
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