T-Mobile Travel Study Reveals Up to 80% of Carrier Customers Underestimate International Roaming Costs

Spring is here, and millions of Americans are ready to get away this travel season—with their families, friends and, of course, smartphones. Results of a recent survey by T-Mobile (NASDAQ: TMUS) and research firm GfK reveal how critical smartphones have become for international travel—and how potentially costly that could be for some who don’t understand the costs of international roaming.

“Mobile’s changing everything—especially travel. And, when you’re exploring new places, you shouldn’t be stressing about going home to bill shock,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “That’s why T-Mobile ONE is perfect for travelers—because everything’s included. Mexico and Canada—included. Data and texting worldwide—included. Wi-Fi and texting on domestic Gogo flights—included. If you like to travel, you’re going to love T-Mobile ONE!”

The findings are from a T-Mobile-sponsored poll conducted online via GfK’s KnowledgePanel. The study consisted of 1,005 nationally representative interviews among adults aged 18+. The margin of error is +/-3 percentage points.

Smartphones are THE Critical Travel Tool
Smartphones have become indispensable travel tools to most Americans – especially for global travelers.

Over two-thirds (69%) of survey respondents who’d been abroad in the past year took their smartphone with them when they traveled. Over half (55%) of respondents said they’d rather lose their luggage than their phone and roughly two-thirds (66%) of us would give up our preferred seat on our flight before giving up our phones.

The No.1 reason respondents said they want their smartphone in hand is to stay connected with family and friends back home—particularly in an emergency. We also want those smartphones nearby because 58% of us are worried about not knowing the language in a foreign country and 66% are worried about getting lost.

Staying connected is such a concern that 1 in 5 (21%) smartphone users report going to extreme measures to get connected, including eating at a restaurant they didn’t like just to use the Wi-Fi, or even illegally pirating strangers’ Wi-Fi connections!

Coming Home to Bill Shock
Yet, ironically, 6 in 10 survey respondents (59%) said they had zero idea what it costs to use their smartphone outside the country. And, among those who said they were aware of the costs, up to 80% of carrier customers vastly underestimated the actual tab for a week of international travel. If you’re with one of the old carriers, that can put you at risk of paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary charges.

For example, a week for a family of four on AT&T would have to pay more than $7,000 EXTRA per week if they used their phones normally abroad. And, even if they remember ahead of time to sign everyone up for the carriers’ supplemental international plans, it’ll still run them and extra $280 a week. Which is bad news for the over half (53%) of people who admitted to waiting, at times, until they were already on their way before checking into information about their travel destination.

And then there’s the Un-carrier. With international data and text included in T-Mobile plans, the cost for your entire family surf and text abroad is exactly zero. And, of course, with T-Mobile, overages are a thing of the past.

A Nation of Un-carrier Pioneers!
Finally, Americans still have that pioneer spirit – 64% said they want to go someplace they’ve never been before for their vacation this year.

But, Un-carrier customers – not surprisingly – are a little more adventuresome. Nearly twice as many T-Mobile customers (28%) said they would like to take their next vacation in someplace more exotic – Asia/India, Central/South America, Middle East or Africa – compared to carrier customers (just 15%).

That’s probably because T-Mobile customers can roam the globe without worrying about additional charges on their bill when they come home. Since T-Mobile launched Simple Global, giving customers free data and texting in 140+ countries and destinations, global data usage by T-Mobile customers is up a staggering 75,355%! And, since T-Mobile included free roaming and calling to and from Mexico and Canada in 2015, data usage has jumped 2155%! Millions of happy T-Mobile customers roaming the planet and not a single one worried about overages or bill shock.

To learn more about T-Mobile’s travel options check out: https://www.t-mobile.com/optional-services/roaming.html

OMNIWEB using the KnowledgePanel ™ is a national online omnibus service of GfK Custom Research North America. The KnowledgePanel™ is the only commercially available online probability panel in the marketplace; making the sample truly projectable to the US population, which sets it apart from traditional “opt-in” or “convenience” panels. The T-Mobile/GfK study was conducted from January 27-29, 2017.

Qualifying plan required. Standard int’l data speeds approx. 128 kbps except in Mexico/Canada, unless you have ONE Plus (~256 Kbps). Not for extended int’l use; you must reside in the U.S. and primary usage must occur on our U.S. network.