Is it possible to use both T-Mobile (eSim) and a local carrier (physical SIM) when traveling abroad?

  • 11 April 2022
  • 2 replies


We have a two-week trip planned to the Azores and mainland Portugal for this September. As repeatedly grandfathered Simple Choice customers of 20-years standing, that is, before T-Mobile was T-Mobile, I understand that, if we do nothing, we’ll have unlimited texting, telephone calls at  $0.25 / minute, and unlimited 2G data. I also understand that for $50 we can buy a 30-day International Pass providing 15GB at 5G, together with unlimited calling and texting.

My question concerns the impact on our existing T-Mobile service of buying a local, physical SIM card on arrival in Portugal. Our Pixel 5s use eSIMs. Vodaphone, for example, has a 30-day Travelers SIM card for 20 Euros (c. $22.20). It comes with 30GB of 5G data, 500 minutes / SMS within Portugal, and 30 minutes / SMS to the U.S.

Can our T-Mobile eSIMs  and, say, Vodaphone physical SIMs operate at the same time? For example, can we use Vodaphone for the internet and to make and receive calls within Portugal, while using T-Mobile for texting? In this connection, does it matter that, to avoid being charged for voicemail messages to our T-Mobile numbers, we need, I believe, to turn off local roaming?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

2 replies

My son is in Iceland today. We have Simple Choice plan. Sort of exact opposite of what you want.

Unlocked iPhone 13 mini, physical Tmob sim, local high speed data eSim. Both working OK. Tmob SC has unlimited texting, slow 2g data and $0.25 minute voice. Got Airalo 5gb of high speed data for 30 days, $13.

When you have multiple cell plans on iPhone, you pick data line, then pick default voice line. Can be same or different. I don’t know how your Pixel 5s does it. 

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@RebDovid , while my phones don’t (as far as I know) support E-SIMs, so I have no personal experience, many people on Reddit suggest doing exactly what you describe. Altho this is most commonly mentioned with the iPhone. I think your phone needs to be unlocked.

Re: Voicemail, I have read that T-Mobile no longer charges for calls that auto-forward to voicemail while roaming. Again, no personal experience since I use unconditional forward to send all incoming calls to voicemail when roaming. Use Visual Voicemail to check messages as I believe you are charged if you call voicemail to retrieve messages.

I used a 10-day data pass in Greece last October and it worked great. The “2G data” is not too bad if you temper your expectations and preload Google Maps. It’s not really “2G” rather it’s whatever data is available but throttled to ~128 kbps.