Maintaining US phone while in Brazil

Does anyone have a solution for texts and using a us cell phone while in Brazil? I ported to google voice but can't receive or make calls for some reason. Lots of banks and stuff use your phone number. I've found some work around via work voip software but it's not ideal. Thanks!
I Signed up for skype. Only use it occasionally. Also, WhatsApp has some features if you get a Brazilian chip.
My advice is to purchase a prepaid subscription to Magic Jack.  It works, granted you use a good broadband connection.   

I had on an off since 2012, and never lost my number since, even through times the paid subscription expired.  It also features a built in voice mail.

I originally had a computer connected RJ 45 dongle, but these days I have the app on my cell phone, or on my ipad.

They have various pre paid plans with just US/Canada coverage, or you can buy additional overseas prepaid calling plans, in case you need to dial India or any other place. 


I also use Whatsapp, but it comes with a forewarning. It hackeable. 
Does anyone have a solution for texts and using a us cell phone while in Brazil? I ported to google voice but can't receive or make calls for some reason. Lots of banks and stuff use your phone number. I've found some work around via work voip software but it's not ideal. Thanks!
- @rnbtg

I've tried bringing both Verizon and Ting Mobile phones to Brazil, but neither service worked anywhere.  So, I keep one phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note9 just for Brazil, using Claro, and another phone, a Galaxy Note10Plus, just for the USA, keeping my US SIM card in it. I bring both to Brazil with me as both work using the internet, in both countries. Like so many others, I use WhatsApp to communicate, even in Brazil, all of my friends use WhatsApp since Brazilian phone companies charge them to listen to phone messages. In doing this, I can keep and access my bank accounts with Itau on my Brazilian phone, anywhere in the world, even with having only the Claro SIM card in it.
Does anyone have a solution for texts and using a us cell phone while in Brazil? I ported to google voice but can't receive or make calls for some reason. Lots of banks and stuff use your phone number. I've found some work around via work voip software but it's not ideal. Thanks!
- @rnbtg

What kind of issues are you having with Google Voice?   

Remember, you need to use the Google Voice app when making calls or sending/receiving texts.  For example, I use a claro chip.   If I want to make a phone call to a brasilian number, I use the phone app, for text messages to a brazilian number, I use the messages app.  Brazilian numbers need to be made from whatever brazilian carrier you are using, i.e. Claro, TIM.  Google Voice calls and texts  to US numbers MUST be made from the Google Voice app.

I've been using it for  years and haven't had  any significant issues.  The only one I know about is concerning text messages from some businesses.  They use a special short code that isn't compatible with Google Voice - but the handful of companies that have this issue hasn't been an issue for me.  Regarding actual phone calls, I've placed and received phone calls from my phone using a Claro or TIM chip with wifi many times.  You do need to be on wifi though, you can't use brazil carrier internet (i.e. 4G).

The phone number I give out to everyone is my Google Voice number, and I use prepaid plans in the US and Brasil.  When in the US I pay for the T-Mobile plan, when in Brasil I pay for the Claro plan.  My Google Voice number though always works.  This way I don't pay for a plan I'm not using when in the US or Brazil. 
06/02/22  Our US cellphones from Consumer Cellular can send and receive texts when connected to the Internet (wifi).  I use mine all the time for two-step verification.   These phones are strictly for use when we're in the US, so they don't have international roaming on them.

We use Vonage or WhatsApp for international calling so I've never thought of making phone calls from Brazil before, but I just tried to use it to call the States for the first time and, to my surprise, that worked too over the Internet. 

@rnbtg  I maintain my US cell phone through ting. I don't have connectivity issues with it at all here in São Paulo. Only pay for what I use. International roaming, no data roaming. After getting a CPF number I got a pay as I go phone here in Brazil. Like many others, I use WhatsApp with this phone. It works great. I can still use my US cell phone for two-step verifications and If I need to call the US, I try to not to stay on too long. I don't  have to port my number. If I make no calls and use under 100 texts I pay $9/mo through Ting. R$30/mo for my cell phone in Brazil.

@duzzimenino



So, on Ting- you can make calls to the US like your bank and other things and there's no charges??
One other point, related, but a bit off the subject.  I've looked and have yet to find a phone plan as good as the T-Mobile Connect, prepaid $15 plan.  It currently gives 3GB of data and unlimited calls and texts.  The data will continue to increase 500mb / year until March 2025.  Also, it's truly month to month.  I can go to Brazil for months and then resume paying T-Mobile $15 /month when I return to the US.  If anyone knows of a better plan, I'd be interested in learning about it.

@MA22 No I pay around $1 per minute, so I've kept my conversations short, but my main reason to keep my US cell phone here in Brazil is for two-step verifications with financial institutions in the US.

well, then in that case, you need to keep a bill on your US wireless.   I remember Verizon had decent plans for overseas. 
@mikehunter



Hi Mike-  Looking at this option now. I have a regular Tmobile monthly plan and don't know anything about this Tmobile Connect, pre-paid plan.  Thanks! Is this only good in the US? or can you use this in Brazil too. Let's say until- I get a local plan with Vivo or Tim? When. I was in Joao Pessoa for 3 weeks in January, I just kept my Tmobile service.
@mikehunter



Hi Mike-  Looking at this option now. I have a regular Tmobile monthly plan and don't know anything about this Tmobile Connect, pre-paid plan.  Thanks! Is this only good in the US? or can you use this in Brazil too. Let's say until- I get a local plan with Vivo or Tim? When. I was in Joao Pessoa for 3 weeks in January, I just kept my Tmobile service.
- @MA22

Hi, the plan is kind of under the radar.  T-Mobile doesn't hide it, but they don't actively promote it either.  You have to know it exists and then seek it out.  It came about as part of the proactive concessions T-Mobile did to get the Sprint merger deal approved.  If you have residency in Nevada and go to a T-Mobile store you can get more storage every year, I think it's 1Gb instead of  500Mb.  That was a special side deal that the state of Nevada required of T-Mobile. 

It's only for US, no international, but you can do as I do and use Google Voice when in Brazil. 

What I do is when I'm on a plane to Brazil, I just switch to my Claro SIM, and when I'm returning to the US I swap in my T-Mobile SIM.  What is good about this T-Mobile plan as I mentioned earlier is it is a true month-by-month plan.  Other carriers (such as MINT) require you to pay for at least 3 months at a time.  With T-Mobile, it's truly month to month.

My pre-paid plan with Claro is 12Gb (6Gb with 6Gb bonus) month for R$30 (about $6).  So it doesn't really make sense at this time to pay for a US based plan with international service when you can just use Google Voice for free and get a Claro plan while you're there. 


Not sure about posting links here, but if you do a Google search on T-Mobile Connect you should find it.  They have the current plans available:
All Domestic usage only:

$10 / month:  1000 Voice Minutes, 1000 Text Minutes, 1Gb Data (Fixed no annual increase)

The remainder:  Unlimited Voice Minutes, Unlimited Texts

$15 / month:  3Gb with 500 Gb yearly increase until March 2025*

$25 / month:  6Gb with 500 Gb yearly increase until March 2025*

$35 / month:  12Gb (no yearly increase)

* More storage if you are a Nevada resident
@duzzimenino



So, on Ting- you can make calls to the US like your bank and other things and there's no charges??
- @MA22

I am on Ting, from the USA, my apartment is in downtown SP, and I cannot use it in Brazil at all, anywhere, only the internet. I tried it in Rio, to Buzios, nd am now pretty far up in Goias state, and no, nothing on Ting. Internet everywhere has been fine, but I also use Claro on my other phone and it works everywhere. 
So you can use the same phone and just switch out the sim cards? I wondered about that because I'd like to get a newer iphone and use it both places. Thanks!

Sara
06/02/22 So you can use the same phone and just switch out the sim cards? I wondered about that because I'd like to get a newer iphone and use it both places. Thanks!

Sara
- @sjpetzold

For most modern, unlocked, top of the line phones that's all it takes.  Some older phones (5+ years old), especially if obtained from a carrier, may have compatibility issues with the frequencies that Brazil uses.  An Internet search on compatibility of your specific phone model with Brazil should identify any potential problems and workarounds.

@rraypo That is really strange I'm in Zona Norte and I haven't had any problems at all making calls to the US. But really I'm only retaining my Ting account for two reasons: 1) I'm returning to the US in a few months for a few months, and 2) I read that Google Voice had issues with two-step verification texts. I do frequent business with several institutions that use this verification process so for $9/mo and up to 100 sms texts for free, I just kept my Ting account. When I return with my wife later this year I may use strategies similar to yours.

For people looking for cheap US plans, mint mobile can be less than 15$/mo if you pay annually.


The issue with google voice is that al incoming calls go straight to voicemail without being sent over wifi when I'm home. When I try to make calls via the app it for some reason tries via my claro plan. In settings it's on wifi only so I figured it's some limitation? When I use my work voip everything works fine. I highly recommend porting to google voice instead of paying and using something like Skype. Google voice port is a one time 10$ fee. I get and send texts without issue. When I go back to the us I'll use a short term chip. Thanks!
@rnbtg Regarding being sent directly to vmail....  There is a Voice privacy setting that will send calls directly to vmail.  You might want to double check and insure that you don't have that turned on.  As for trying to use Claro instead of Wifi, if the wifi connection isn't strong, it will do that.  A quick workaround when you want to place a call is to just go into settings and turn off mobile 4G internet if that happens.  Then when the call is over, turn it back on.  Also, if your Wifi isn't strong that is another reason it could go directly to vmail.

There are many things that can interfere with a WIFI signal, and depending on your phone and how it handles switching between the different bands, etc. it may cause issues.  When I'm using Google Voice I make sure that I'm in a location with a strong, stable signal - and then I don't walk around.  I stay seated. 

Google Voice is by no means 100% perfect, but considering the cost (free), the benefits IMO far outweigh any small inconveniences. 
@rnbtg I have both a brazilian and a US number on my cell phone, with 2 instances of whatsapp for each.  Fortunately my cell phone allows for 2 sim cards.  I have T-mobile in the US and Claro here in Brazil.  I asked T-mobile to lower my account to the cheapest one while I will be 'traveling' in and around Brazil.   They don't like if the user is out of the country more than 3 to 6 months but have been working with me so far and it's been 6 months...definitely not the cheapest method and I will be looking for a better way, but it allows me to keep the number I have associated with all my banks and everything else in the US many of which I can't use a foreign number.

Hope this is helpful,  and I'll continue to check back and see if anyone has a better system to keep numbers in both countries.
Some updates. Google voice started working intermittently over wifi (yay spam calls).

I also saw that Mint mobile allows now for e-sim so you can sign up online from afar so I'm all set. Thanks!

@abthree Thanks so much, Very helpful!

I may make a suggestion here,



Google fi - why , because you get unlimited no cost data roaming. and you immediately default to the best networks for data. calls are exactly the same, on wifi calling you able to use googles proprietary vpn which sets you in USA, easy to order a sim, google support will walk you through the rest.



I currently use this service myself so super reliable as when local internet goes down  I default to that service for my backup
google fi works in tandem with google voice.
@Mikeflanagan I had used Google Fi for about a year.  It is a good service, my problem with it however was the cost and the inconvenience for my Brazilian friends.  The lowest cost plan on Google Fi is $17 / month for unlimited voice and text... however, data costs $10 / Gb - which IMO is way over priced (basically $27 /month).  You can get 3Gb of data and unlimited voice and text from T-Mobile currently for $15 / month (and that data allowance will increase 500Mb / year until March 2025.  Yes, I understand that Google will refund you for data you don't use, but even with no data used, that is $2 / month more than what T-Mobile charges with 3Gb+ data. 

When in Brazil, you can simply not pay T-Mobile and get a pre-paid Claro plan which gives you unlimited talk and text and 12Gb of data for R$30  / month.  Google voice continues to work in Brazil.  Brazilians can call you on Claro without paying long distance to the US (for your Google Fi number) and you can continue to receive US calls on Google Voice.  Additionally, when calling a Brazilian number on Fi it's long distance and you're paying 20 cents / minute. 

Plus there is the TOS of  Google Fi.  Google keeps it vague (of course) but Google Fi isn't intended for extended international use... and "...if your usage outside our network is excessive, abnormally high, or cause us to incur too much cost, we may, at our option and sole discretion, suspend your Google Fi account, terminate your service, or limit your use of roaming." 

There are two solutions I been using. Most people here in Brazil use WhatsApp to call or text. I have T Mobile there is a selection called WiFi calling. If your on the internet you can use this to call the US and Canada without cost. So if you own your phone my cost is 70 dollars a month. I can get text without any cost from the US. Check with your mobile company to see if they have wifi calling. Here a interesting fact I asked the local mobile company  here in Brazil if they had wificalling available. They said no but when I use my US company I get wificalling. I had to ask my internet company to make a adjustment at there office. When we upgraded to a fast speed. I lost my wificalling but they were able to make the adjustments to get it to work again. Hope this help
06/13/22  I accidentally discovered this month that, like NewBrazil, I can also make WiFi calls to the US on our US phones from Consumer Cellular, which uses the ATT and T-Mobile networks.  We pay Consumer Cellular $45.40 a month for a stripped down plan for two people.

Good information. Anyone know any specifics about Brazilian plans? Which is the best and cheapest? Also, will a Brazilian plan work in the US?

09/07/22 @jasonlovesdogs. Expat.com's article on using phones in Brazil is pretty good, if you haven't read it yet:

https://www.expat.com/en/guide/south-am … razil.html


For eight years now I've just been using a prepaid chip from TIM, no contract. I throw R$50 on it every 4-6 weeks. Like most Brazilians, I never answer my phone unless I recognize the number -- most calls here are spam -- use WhatsApp rather than SMS for texting because the companies charge for SMS here but not for WhatsApp, and never open voicemail, for the same reason.


TIM stinks, but it's no worse than any of the others.

Yea. TIM isnt the best. in comparison to being accosted by claro constantly. tim just sticks to the sms which i can just block. claro kept sending sales agents to my house constantly. annoying

09/07/22 Yea. TIM isnt the best. in comparison to being accosted by claro constantly. tim just sticks to the sms which i can just block. claro kept sending sales agents to my house constantly. annoying
[email protected]


Oh, TIM barrages me with SMSs, and with (unanswered) phone calls, too.  They've even learned the bogus number thing that spammers use in the US:  usually the calls seem to emanate from São Paulo or Amazonas, but sometimes they pretend that they're from Rio, or Santa Catarina, or name your state.  🤯

Folks, just want to share my experience.  I have been using my American phone in my apartment and in other places through wifi calling.  This allows me to call and receive calls and text messages.  I don't get 100% of the texts, I keep the phone on airplane mode with cellular turned off because they will charge a day pass automatically to use data.  You have to call to get this turned on which was probably already mentioned.


Just last week I upgraded my American plan with ATT to include free roaming in all of Latin America...Brasil included.  I can make crystal clear calls to the states with this phone now and I don't get charged anything. 


Verizon also has this, it is worth looking in to if you want to have access to American phone calls while in Brazil.

@mikehunter So do you cancel your Tmobile plan while you are out of the USA and reactivate it when you return? If so, how does that work? Thanks.

@jasonlovesdogs You can suspend a t-mobile (and Verizon) line twice every 12 months for 3 month periods. I used to do this when I lived in Europe but now that iPhones have enabled dual sim support and I'm going back to the US frequently I just keep my line active. It's well worth the cost being able to receive security codes, etc as Google Voice has apparently finally caught on to it and at least speaking for myself I can no longer receive messages from shortcodes using their service.

@Bpm917 Great information. How do you suspend a line?

You can find the step-by-step for T-mobile here - https://www.t-mobile.com/support/accoun … -your-line

@Bpm917 Awesome! Great info.

@rnbtg I have both a brazilian and a US number on my cell phone, with 2 instances of whatsapp for each. Fortunately my cell phone allows for 2 sim cards. I have T-mobile in the US and Claro here in Brazil. I asked T-mobile to lower my account to the cheapest one while I will be 'traveling' in and around Brazil.  They don't like if the user is out of the country more than 3 to 6 months but have been working with me so far and it's been 6 months...definitely not the cheapest method and I will be looking for a better way, but it allows me to keep the number I have associated with all my banks and everything else in the US many of which I can't use a foreign number.
Hope this is helpful, and I'll continue to check back and see if anyone has a better system to keep numbers in both countries.
[email protected] de Mello


Wouldn't that work just as well if you had a prepaid number in the US? I don't know if that is possible in the US, but I asked my provider to cancel my subscription and make it a prepaid number instead. They obliged happily, but even if they hadn't, I would just have cancelled my subscription and gotten a new prepaid SIM card. Sure it could probably expire, but so far it never has, and I think as long as I recharge it every few months (on the Internet) and make a call from time to time, it should be fine.

Of course, if I didn't return home for years, it might expire eventually, but then I wouldn't still need a number there.

Anyone know how easy it is to return a cellphone to the store after a purchase? I bought one from Lojas Americas. They say I can return it within 7 days. But I'm not sure if that is if it is defective or because it doesn't have the features I want.

@rnbtg


Hello!


My number one problem has been calling the US from Brazil.  Our family in and out of Brazil use "What's App". That works great as long as both parties have it. A lot of American companies though are not built for phone or website access from outside the U.S. I could not pay bills, visit websites etc. or get customer service. When I worked for Consumer Cellular, you had to get a special sim card BEFORE you left the U.S., My suggestion is just go Brazilian.  My company is VIVO.


Roddie