International Roaming & Rejecting Incoming Calls

  • 16 February 2018
  • 19 replies

If I'm out of the US traveling and someone calls me and I don't answer the call will I be charged? If that person leaves a voicemail and I don't call to check my voicemail would I be charged?


If so, if I disable voicemail would it avoid me getting this charge? Or do I have to disable voicemail and remove call forwarding? There seems to be a lot of conflicting information about this. I spoke to a few T-mobile reps and some say I won't get charged and others are saying I will get charged regardless. So I honestly do not know who/what to believe! Any tips would be appreciated.

19 replies

Yes to both questions. If you get a lot of incoming calls that you don't want to receive while you are abroad*, the best way to handle it is to forward all your incoming calls to voicemail (i.e. Unconditional Call Forward). In Free Data Roaming countries you can check your Visual Voicemail for free (I think). You can text your reply or wait until you're in WiFi coverage to call. I'd also, change my voicemail greeting requesting that people text or e-mail you, rather than leaving voicemail. There's a recent thread on this subject. Overseas Travel: How can I avoid incoming call costs but still use free text/data roaming while abroad?

*Imagine you're in Japan where there's a 13 hour time difference, someone calls you at 2:00 pm in the US, but your phone rings at 3 am in Japan.

Thanks for your reply. I think one of the options will still allow for you to receive calls if you want to answer and the other option will not let you see calls coming in on your phone. From my understanding these are the ways to not get charged:

1. Call to disable Voicemail and turn off call forwarding (you will still get phone calls)

2. Disable Voicemail and set up Call Forwarding to Google Voice or Voicemail (you will get voicemails but calls won't show up on phone).

Correct me if i'm wrong? Both of these options should not incur a fee/charge when someone calls and I don't answer.


Please help as I plan to travel soon.

Userlevel 4

Hey @magenta4141059

Just looking to clarify things here. Are you wanting to be able to get calls but not let the callers leave you a voicemail while you are roaming? If so, there is not really an easy way to do this as disabling voicemail altogether is not something we are typically able to do. If you want to have full control over what you are charged for while roaming, I would recommend following the steps I outlined in the thread that @drnewcomb2  linked and changing your voicemail greeting to ask callers to send you a text message if they want to speak with you. If you feel that after getting the text from them it would be better to speak with them on the phone, you can utilize Wi-Fi calling (when in a Wi-Fi area) and call them back and it will be $0.00/min if they are in the U.S. Enabling Wi-Fi calling is a bit different depending on the device you have but if you search "Wi-Fi calling (your device)" in our search bar, it will take you right to the steps.

Hi Chris,

Thanks for getting back to me! Yes, ideally I still want to be able to get calls so that's why I thought the disabling the voicemail option may be the best method for me as it will still allow me to get calls I want to answer and ignore calls I do not want to answer (telemarketing calls) and not get charged for them. A t-mobile rep that was following up with me about this just called and said it can be done (disabling the voicemail) and that in turn will avoid any charges hitting the account if you ignore calls. So there seems to be some conflicting info. about all of this..

The villain in this story is DCF (Default Conditional Forwarding) this is a feature in the switch that prevents the customer from turning off conditional forwarding, which normally how calls get sent to voicemail. At one time, T-Mobile didn't have default forwarding to voicemail, like they have now. Even for years after they instituted DCF I was able to get Tech Support to turn it off on my account. That was then. Today, they won't even try to turn it off. This forces the customers to  either pay for incoming calls they don't want or go through all sorts of work-around to avoid it.

I've given you some options that I know of. Not sure what else you can do.

Userlevel 4

We don't typically disable voicemail as it involves us deleting your voicemail feature from your account which in turn deletes all your saved voice mails and greetings. If the rep you spoke with said it was possible, just be aware that it is essentially going to reset your voicemail to defaults.

I have a smiliar question ... The situation is I'm added 2 lines to my T-Mobile ONE plan, specifically so my 87 year old grandmother can video chat with her sister in Germany since there would be unlimited data. If I don't set up the voice mail for the line I send to Germany, would blocking all calls or blocking calls other than the contacts list still prevent charges? I'm just concerned the line I send to Germany will have a recycled phone number and someone else's bill collectors will be calling. Do you think that forwarding all calls say to my line or to Google voice or something similar would work better?

Thanks so much for your help!!

Forwarding all calls to Google Voice would work but you'll probably face another problem. T-Mobile won't let a line roam permanently. They'll cut it off after a certain time. It's not automatic, rather it's a manual review after the line is flagged. You might get around this by swapping the two SIMs every 6 months.

Would mailing the sim back from Germany to the states and using it for a few days or a week then sending it back work?

That should work because then they see that you're back in the states and could use that as a reason to keep the account open as you're not presumably permanently abroad.

A few months should be OK.

Userlevel 6
Badge +15

Looks like you got some great help here. Just curious if you had any other questions or needed further assistance.

Thanks for checking in! I think the best thing for me to avoid the charges of people calling me is deactivating the voicemail so that way I can still get my calls and answer the ones I want to and not answer / not get charge for the calls I don't answer.

I will report back after my trip to let everyone know how it goes. Hoping that deactivating the voicemail will do the trick!

I was thinking about this after my last comment .... in December I went on a cruise in the Caribbean. When I got off the boat in Mexico I got a text message reminding me my calls, texts, and data were covered. In every other port or said text and data were still free but calls were 20 cents per minute. At one point was calling to change my reservation. Anyway, I didn't answer my phone, I sent the call to voice mail. I did not listen to the voice mail until I got back to Florida. I did not get charged anything for the phone calls I did not answer. There is NO reason that there should be a charge for unanswered calls, even ones that go to voice mail just because the phone is roaming. Which it was when I was in the Caribbean. Therefore, as long as you do not answer the phone, there should be no charge.

Userlevel 6
Badge +15

Okay. I understand. I'd just make sure that's what you want to do before you make the trip. As Chris mentioned, that's not typically something that's done, but if they do, you could lose existing messages.

Voicemail to text international usage

VTT works internationally when the account is set up properly:

  • Voicemail will be received as a text message as long as message blocking is not active.
  • VM converted to text while roaming:
    • Saves customer money because SMS is a lower cost than a received voicemail only if the customer has voicemail delivery turned off.
    • Turning off delivery is for the SMS associated with the VTT feature. If customers have the device on when the call comes through, or turns the device on after the vm was left, but while still roaming internationally, they will be charged for the VM deposit.
    • To turn off, access the VVM app settings, then turn off Send as SMS.
  • VTT with the VVM Client: As long as data is on (#RON#), voicemail messages will be received in the VVM Client as a text message.

I’m feeling a bit confused.  I don’t want to turn off my phone while traveling internationally so I can get texts, but the TMobile site clearly says I’ll get charged for voicemails if my phone is turned on when someone calls, whether I answer or not.

I have an old Google voice mail account.  From this thread, it’s my understanding that I can forward there and not be charged.  Is that correct? 

If so, my next question is - how do I forward my regular number to that Google Voice number? 

Thank you so much for your help!

Unfortunately, this thread is gone:   Overseas Travel: How can I avoid incoming call costs but still use free text/data roaming while abroad?

I am out of country, active my international roaming which is free, that’s include free messages and free data.