Rest assured, your refurbished phone will work perfectly, but there are some things to remember when using any cell phone overseas.
Why does my carrier matter?
To understand the answer, we first need to brush up on why your reception differs depending on cellphone carrier.
Carriers use networks that allow you to get service. They’ve historically used two wireless frequency standards, GSM (Global System for Mobiles) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) — you might know them better as 2G and 3G.
AT&T and T-Mobile have always used GSM, which is also the main standard used by most countries outside of the United States. Very few countries use CDMA, which was previously used by Verizon and Sprint.
Fortunately, as phones and carriers have evolved to use 4G and 5G, this issue has become less relevant except in moments where 4G and 5G coverage is unavailable during your travels. That said, if your smartphone has 4G or uses GSM, it’s likely to work in just about any country. This information is displayed under the specs of each device on Back Market.
To be sure, you can check with your carrier — most offer easy international trip planners that’ll tell you how your phone will work abroad.
When will I incur international roaming charges?
When you connect to a foreign network because your usual one is unavailable, your carrier has to pay the foreign network back for covering you. So, your carrier will charge you international roaming fees.
You can receive these for using data, making calls, and sending texts.
It’s best to get in touch with your carrier before you leave. Find out about their roaming charges and temporary international plans, wherever you're going.
Should I just buy a local SIM card?
That depends — if you bought a refurbished phone that’s unlocked, then it’ll probably work. Before purchasing a prepaid SIM card, it's best to check with the carrier you plan to purchase the SIM card from to ensure its compatibility with your device.
Often, if you buy from an official store of a local carrier, they can test a SIM card on your phone prior to you buying one to make sure that it works.
Got any more tips?
You might want to turn your data off when you land — and use the Wi-Fi at your hotel instead.
Depending on where you're going, data speeds will vary, along with the availability of certain data features.
You should also check with your carrier about international charges and coverage.
Remember to use the correct country code when making a call or sending a text. For the US, that would be +1. For example: +1 (XXX) XXX-XXXX.