I've been an expat for 10+ years and let me tell you one thing, having critical accounts like your email, brokerage accounts and credit cards tied to some stupid foreign phone number is the worst. Like an idiot, I tied my old Voyager account (now bankrupt) to my then-current Vietnamese phone number.
Guess what happened when I went back to America and tried to log into Voyager? Right, it sent the verification to log in to my Vietnamese phone number which I could not get because it didn't work in America.
This is also become an issue when you travel.
You think my current Thai phone number works when I visited Malaysia or Indonesia for a few weeks? Nope. You need a dedicated American number to tie all your critical accounts to.
At the time, I didn't have an American phone number because I didn't know how it work.
Now I know so here's what you need: Google FI.
Pay as you go monthly plan starting at $20 a month. Can turn it off and not pay for it when abroad and easily turn it on again when you need it.
I pause my service when abroad and only turn it on when I need to receive an SMS or some type of verification when logging into an account.
The rest of the time, I use my local sim card while abroad which are cheaper and better than any goofy international plan American phone companies offer. I suggest you do the same as it's cost effective.
In this case, I use Dtac in Thailand where I have an unlimited 1 year plan. When visiting a country for a short period of time, like my 2 weeks in Jakarta, just get a local sim card and data plan at the airport.
Then, upon returning to the United States to visit family for a few months, you can turn back on Google Fi and you now have both data and phone number while state side.
You need to be physically located in the US to activate Google FI
Google FI is for Americans only and you need to be in the United States to activate your plan. I was in Vietnam when I signed up and they would not send the sim card to me there, they also said it's not possible to activate the sim abroad.
So sign up to Google FI before you head abroad, otherwise you'll have to wait untill you return to the United States. There is no way around this, you can only get Google FI in America and can only activate it in America.
You need an American phone number as an expat American
Your an American and should have an American phone number. There is no reason to be spending $100+ a month just to keep a US phone number. Get Google Fi.
With Google FI you now have a dedicated US number, limited data in any country you visit and can receive SMS messages while abroad.
Please note however they will suspend your data if you use it too much abroad. Google FI data is meant for use in the United States. So you will need to get a local sim card for data. However, like I said, you can turn it off and not pay for it if you're not using it.
But if you're not an expat reading this, then understand that with Google FI you now have a data plan that can be used anywhere in the world for short 1 month or less trips.
Also, you can always reiceve SMS and phone verifications without issue.
Google FI is a must for expat Americans
Google FI finally allows us Americans to have a dedicated phone number that works abroad. It allows you to secure your accounts and for you to to sign up for products and services that are for Americans only like M1 Finance as an example.
Turn it on and off as need, and have a data plan on demand when you return to the United States. I'm quite happy with Google FI, sign up now and get a 20$ credit below.