The Best Phone Plan for Digital Nomads Around the World (Updated March 2018)

Going without a cell phone is not really an option anymore. If you are going to be doing business anywhere, with anyone, then you need to have a number they can call (or more likely text.) This is a review of Republic Wireless, the cell phone carrier that I use to talk to the USA anytime I want (keeping in mind timezone differences!). It's the best phone plan for American digital nomads, whether they live in the US or live in other countries.

 
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What I want people to think I'm doing while conducting business

Preamble: 

I am not a stooge of any cell phone carrier. I do not make money from them (although I’d like to, if any of you reading want to make a deal!) nor do I even get a discount on any of my services from them. As many of my close friends and family can attest to, I am a huge proponent of not spending waaaaay too much (read: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) on crappy service at a crappy company and will talk about it with pretty much anyone who has the misfortune of saying “hello” to me.

Republic Wireless is not one of the big carriers. It doesn’t offer you a free phone or have a million different plan options. But it does offer something I haven’t seen before: the ability for you, the customer, to talk and text over WiFi anywhere in the world with an American phone number. And, they are super cheap. Like, the cheapest phone plan for one person, no contract, in the US.

Note that major carriers have started offering similar plans, and Travel is Life has broken them down pretty well. The problem? They're still complicated, they're more expensive, many are fixed contracts, plus I have been lied to by multiple major cell phone carriers. Seriously, they're just terrible to deal with.

Even if you need cell data in the US it's still the most affordable no-contract plan I've found. It's $15 plus tax for unlimited talk and text inside the US, or over WiFi outside the US. If you want to add data, pay just $5 per GB to add cell data at any time.

No good caption for this. 
Just seemed like a related photo and I wanted another photo.

Why this is cool:

Trying to get work in the United States while not living in the United States comes with its own set of challenges, most of which I won’t get into here. But one of the big ones is having a phone number that someone can call and actually talk to you (this is especially important if you ever plan on having a boss who is a baby boomer, a.k.a. the-last-generation-that-likes-to-talk-on-the-phone.) Google will give you a number… if you already have an American number… which doesn’t help. Skype will give you a number and then make it freaking impossible to actually use it. But Republic Wireless will give you a phone number that you can use literally anywhere (provided you have WiFi, which is most places these days.)

Yesterday, in Bali, I called my mom in Michigan. She received the call on her phone with my American caller ID showing. If she wasn’t my mom, rather some potential client/boss, then she would easily be mistaken in thinking I was located somewhere in Michigan, not Bali. She can call me back too! On the same number! If you’ve never tried to get a US number abroad, then you are not nearly impressed enough by this.

And! And, all of this ability comes at the super low price of 15USD a month!!!!


What I'm actually doing while conducting business

Yes, you have to buy your phone outright. But I recently purchased the Moto E4 for 99USD, and as my partner/family are sick of hearing, it is easily the best, most responsive phone I’ve ever had (previously, I had been on the Galaxy S track, with my last being an S5). Republic Wireless does send it to an American address though, which might be a problem if you ignored the whole “visit your family” thing and just took off to some far away land. But virtual mailboxes are a thing, and maybe you still have little goodwill with your family yet.

But why can’t you just bring your own phone that you already own, you ask? Well, you can, as long as it is a specific type of phone (list here). Go ahead and buy that refurbished Samsung Galaxy S8. But what if I really want an iPhone all the time forever and ever and ever, you ask? Then be prepared to pay way too much money for pretty much everything forever and ever and ever, or get stuck in a contract plan. HuffPo likes this idea, but I'm not cool with that.

Finally, if you do come back to the states and feel like you have to purchase data, be prepared (is this joke getting old? Nope. Never.) to be amazed that your data goes way further than on a normal phone plan, cause every time you are near a WiFi hotspot your phone will switch all of its calls/texts to coming in/out over WiFi.

So, summing up. Republic Wireless lets you, a digital nomad, make and receive calls via WiFi anywhere in the world with an American phone number. It is also only 15USD a month and comes with a solid selection of phones including the super value Moto E4.

 

Comments

  1. Hi there, nice post but I´m Austrian and looking for a prepaid sim card with good data in the US - for only 3 months, then I´m back in Chiang Mai. I appreciate your answer in advance... Peace, love & loco
    Tobias

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tobias! My first question is, what type of phone do you have, and is it unlocked? Second, where do you live, and where do you plan on visiting?

      Many phone carriers can give you a sim card in a monthly payment plan (no contract). However, you need an unlocked phone, and Republic Wireless doesn’t work with all of them. Additionally, some providers are really bad in some parts of the country.

      Enjoy the US!

      Delete
    2. Hi NormalNomads :-)

      Thanks for the quick reply...

      I have an unlocked Galaxy S8+ Duos - so the first thing is no problem... I go to Orgeon (Salem, Portland), Seattle - then Vancouver and finally I´m visiting my cousin in Anchorage AK.

      I already saw that https://www.mintsim.com/plans/ doesn´t cover AK but has a pretty good 3 months deal - I stay exactly that 90 days...

      Thanks, I will - and I will write about it on my blog... ckeck it out ;-)

      All the best,
      Peace, Love and Loco
      Tobias

      Delete
    3. Hi again Tobias! Would you set up that plan in person? I’d also check the major carriers (Verizon and AT&T) for their monthly plans which will cover US/Canada, including Alaska. I’d go in person to their stores, though, since they can test it in person!

      Delete
    4. Hi again, thanks - I´ll do that when I get out of the airport in Seattle... I´ll see how that goes... I´ll let you know... thanks!!

      Delete

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