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How Exchange Students Benefit From Prepaid Phones

Hosting an exchange student is a rewarding opportunity, both for you and the student. You can introduce someone to American culture and food, and you’ll learn so much from the exchange student as well.

One question you’ll want to answer is, how can your student keep in touch with family and friends at home? They may bring their own phone, but it might not work. Find out how a prepaid phone with options like an AT&T refill can be the perfect solution.

Why Won’t an Overseas Phone Work?

To protect their market share, many cell phone companies will lock their user’s cell phones. This happens all over the world. A locked phone won’t work on other networks in other countries.

Your exchange student may not understand the difference between a locked and unlocked phone. Even if they are sure the phone is unlocked, it may still not work when they arrive in the U.S.

Even if an overseas phone does work, the exchange student may end up with an extremely high bill if they call home with it. International roaming and fees are serious business, as are international data rates. These are additional good reasons to go with a local option.

Why Choose a Prepaid Phone?

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Prepaid phones have a lot of advantages for exchange students. First of all, they end up with a local number. This will make it easier for them to stay in touch with friends they make in the U.S. since many of those friends won’t be able to call or text an international number.

With a U.S. phone, they will have access to U.S. data rates and speeds. Be sure that both you and your student understand any limitations that the exchange program has on internet use. It’s possible that in order to encourage integration, your exchange student shouldn’t use the internet regularly.

So how do you meet these needs in an affordable way? The good news is that a prepaid phone is a very budget-friendly option, and is perfect for the temporary use of an exchange student. Ten months is long enough to need a local option, but not long enough for a major phone investment.

Instead, choose a prepaid cell phone that’s inexpensive with easy-to-use refills. You or your student will only pay for minutes and data used. Or, you can buy a monthly plan with unlimited minutes and texting.

Be sure that your student understands how much data is available with the plan. An exchange student who is used to constant phone use may blow through data quickly. Going three weeks without data may be a good learning experience for being more moderate in the future!

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Ways a Student Can Contact Home

Your exchange student may want to know how they will be able to connect with friends and family at home with a U.S. phone. Remind them that the U.S. phone is a temporary option to help them while they are here. Also, it may be helpful for them to remember that they should be focused on integrating in the U.S. rather than focusing on the folks they know at home.

Still, they will need to connect with their families. WhatsApp can be used if the data is available, as can FaceTime or other messaging and video programs. Using wired internet at the host home may be the best way to keep this affordable.

Also, many prepaid phone plans have limited calling and texting available to other nations. Find a plan that gives maximum access to your student’s home country if you want to make it easy for them to stay in touch back home.

Make Sure Guidelines Are Clear

Other countries handle cell phone usage differently than the U.S. A student may expect to be able to be on the phone during dinner when your family has different rules. You may need to set boundaries around what time at night phones have to be put away, or if chores have to be done before internet time.

Additionally, students may expect to be able to use their phone without restriction at school or in other places. There may be school rules or host family expectations that conflict with that. Be clear on the rules and expectations in the U.S., and take the opportunity to learn more about your student’s culture!

Hosting an exchange student is an exciting time, and with the right preparation, the experience can be amazing for everyone. Having a prepaid cell phone with an AT&T refill or other plan is essential!

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