Firsty vs. International Plans—A Comparison

June 14, 2024

Choices: International Plans vs. Firsty eSim


International wireless data usage has come a long way in the last decade or so. Oh, the days when you’d go on a weeklong vacation and come home to a cell phone bill that could amount to hundreds of dollars in extracharges over your monthly rates! Not exactly the nicest coming-home present.

As time has gone by, carriers have worked to improve their international offerings—but given just how much travelers use their phones while on vacation, many consumers feel they’re still paying too much. From social media and maps to ride shares and public transportation apps, today’s globetrotters feel a strong need to remain connected at their convenience, and they don’t want their access being gate kept and overpriced by their carriers. 

Enter the disruptors: the global eSim industry. Users can download an app, select the plan that works for them, install, and they’re ready when they hit the ground in their new country. With the flip of a switch, their phone connects to a local carrier, and the world is their oyster.


Note: For most eSims, including Firsty, a user will need to have an unlocked mobile phone with global capabilities; not all phones are created equal, so be sure to check your specs here.


eSim or International Plan?

What makes an eSim so much better than the typical US carrier’s international plan? For starters, there’s the sheer physical convenience factor—you don’t have to go to a store to pick up a physical SIM card, or order one online and wait. Firsty’s app is available on the Apple App Store as well as the Google Play store; it’s free to download and takes less than a minute to create an account for yourself.


Then there’s the cost. Let’s look at some of the most popular carriers in the US and their international plan options.


How The US Majors Stack Up

AT&T InternationalDay Pass – $12 a day (this recently increased from $10) for the primary phone line and $6 for any additional phone lines, for ten days. After 10 days you aren’t charged further for that month. You do have to add the Day Pass to your existing phone plan. This gives you unlimited texting and calls, and data usage according to your existing phone plan. Go over your plan limits, and you’ll likely find that your speed is slowed. Your speed will also be at the mercy of the local carriers in your destination country; while AT&T partners with carriers in over 200 countries, not all of them have 5G networks.


Verizon TravelPass – Currently $10 per day in over 200 countries, $5 in Canada and Mexico. If there’s a day you don’t use your phone at all, you don’t pay for theTravelPass that day. The fine print says you get unlimited text, calls, and data—but the finer print lets you know that after 2 GB—total, not per day—you’ll get throttled to 3G service speeds.


T-Mobile – T-Mobile has specific plans called Go5G plans that include international service as part of your contract; it’s ready to go as soon as you land, no need to call ahead or make a special activation. The more basic Go5G plans give youup to 5GB of high-speed data in 11 European countries; higher level plans expand that reach to over 200 countries. That’s not 5GB per day, though—that’s total, across your trip. Exceed the limit, and as with other carriers, you get throttled back to lower speeds; in T-Mobile’s case, 256MB.


Mint Mobile– Mint offers Minternational Pass packages for one, three, and ten days of international usage, and you get one, three, or ten GB of high-speed data, with unlimited data available at lower speeds once you exceed the purchased limit. Since Mint is a low-cost carrier, it’s no surprise that they keep their prices fairly low; the packages are priced at $5, $10, and $20. The service covers fewer than 200 countries, but the ones they do cover are many of the more popular vacation destinations.


USCellular – This stalwart of American wireless services offers a simple plan; likeT-Mobile, with no need to call ahead or go through special activations, you can have international data as soon as you land. The Daily Travel Pass will set you back $15 per day ($5 for Canada and Mexico) for speeds that cap out at 1.5Mbps.You won’t be charged for days that you don’t use any data, but that $15 a day still adds up pretty quickly.


Firsty: Fair, Flexible, and Foolproof

In comparison to these major carriers, Firsty keeps things simple, flexible, and affordable. While you still need to have your global phone unlocked, it’s a snap to download the Firsty app and follow the instructions to install your eSim; as a bonus, at the time of publication, this activation comes with 100MB of free Firsty Fast data!

Once you’ve got your eSim installed, you need a plan for it.Firsty keeps things manageable with only two plans: Firsty Free and Firsty Fast.

Note: Firsty is currently available in 70+ of the most popular vacation destination countries, and the roster is growing all the time! Check here for the full list.


Firsty Free

With Firsty Free, it’s a breeze to have the basic data you need, at the time that you need it. When you’re out and about and need to access public transit apps, message a friend, utilize maps, or book a ride share, just watch an ad in the Firsty app. That earns you a full hour of unlimited, basic data. Don’t need the whole hour right then? No problem. When you’ve got the info you need, simply pause your data usage in the app. The rest of your data will be available when you need to use it, without having to watch another ad until the data runs out.


Firsty Fast 

Firsty Free’s premium older sibling, Firsty Fast, operates like the major US carriers, but at a fraction of the cost. Per day costs start at €1.98 and are based on fair local rates. For this, you get 2GB of high-speed data for a full 24 hours. You’ll be able to get some remote work done, use photo and video social media apps, stream the media of your choice, or make video calls. If you use up your 2GB, you’ll still have data available at lower speeds for the rest of the day with Firsty Free.


With Firsty Fast, you can pause your data and resume it later.


Why Not Both? 

A traveler may find themselves in a situation where they’d like to have access to both Firsty Free and Firsty Fast as needed. Maybe you’re booking a vacation with some sort of outdoorsy segment, where data access is a bit more limited. If you’ve purchased Firsty Fast for the initial portion of your trip, simply pause it and snag a Free allotment to use for navigation and messaging during your more remote travels. It’s easy to switch between the two plans in the app, and as always, any unused data is saved for you to use later, either on this trip or a future one.


In Our No Expiration Dates Era

If you’ve used other eSims in the past, you may have noticed that your data has a time limit. Worse, it doesn’t roll over! If you purchased a data package that was bigger than you needed—an easy mistake to make—then your remaining data just fizzles off into the ether, and that’s a waste of your hard-earned money. And remember, the point of breaking up with your carrier’s international plan is to save money—right?

Firsty lets you save your remaining data and use it later. It doesn’t matter when your next trip is or if it’s in another Firsty country.The leftover data is yours, for you to use when and where you need it. No expiration dates.


Work Smarter, Not Harder: Choose Firsty

With an app that couldn’t be simpler to use, full data access with no expiration dates, and a growing roster of available countries, Firsty takes all of the stress and worry about your data plan out of your next vacation. You’ll be able to book your train tickets when you need them, only download offline maps if you want to, and take your social media followers along with you on your travels—all for far less than you’d pay to your US domestic wireless carrier, and with no wasting any leftover data. No more data headaches, no more surprise bills when you get home!

The new generation of international data is here; fair, flexible, and all yours. Choose wisely; choose Firsty.

app storegoogle play