International MiFi Rental – Six of The Best Wireless Hotspot Plans 2017

What is a MiFi/Pocket WiFi?

international mifi rental comparison

 

The rise of the ‘digital nomad’ has led to a growing number of location independent entrepreneurs traveling the world to wherever they can find a decent internet connection. This means International MiFi rental services have risen in popularity.

Staying connected is arguably one of the greatest challenges when you are traveling internationally. How many times have you purchased an overpriced coffee to access coveted wifi, only to find it is sluggish or inaccessible by some technical glitch? For those who rely on the internet for their work, this can create constant connectivity concerns, which isn’t exactly productive.

That is where the MiFi comes in. AKA the portable wireless hotspot, the pocket WiFi, the cellular modem etc.

This product gives users the ability to tap into a 3G network and distribute it to other devices over WiFi.  It is a small device, usually about the size of a small smartphone, that you can carry with you wherever you go in your pocket or luggage.

This is useful for many people. Not just digital nomads, but backpackers, businessmen, and families on holiday.

When problems arise, as they inevitably do, it is nice to know that you have a steady and reliable connection. Letting you translate, navigate, and communicate with those back home.

 

Do You Really Need a Hotspot?

Sure, a hotspot is useful. But why bother? Why not just use your smartphone to share internet?

Battery life: Using your smartphone as a hotspot will drain your battery life faster than you can say 4G. Hotspots on the other side, usually have enough juice to keep you going all day long. the products that I have looked at range between 5-8 hours battery life.

Sure, some people might prefer to just use their phone and take a portable battery but hotspots will free up that battery life for other things like distracting yourself from the infinite richness of everyday life 😉

Number of devices: Whilst some phones can share a connection with up to five devices, hotspots can usually support around ten. They will also allow you greater control over technicalities like parental controls and port forwarding, and support for setting up VPNs. This makes them far more suited for families sharing a connection, and for mobile office work. Families might find carrying the wifi hotspot is a good way to ensure that children remain within a 10ft radius!

Roaming fees: Using your phone abroad can rack up costly fees, and using data can be equally costly. It can be helpful to isolate that cost by using a global MiFi data plan. This can help save costly roaming fees as data is often offered at a flat fee regardless of the country you are in.  

With a pocket WiFi device, you might not even need a local SIM card or a world-compatible phone, as you can use Skype or another VOIP service over the hotspot. This means no time wasted shopping around for local SIM cards every time you cross an international border.

Security: Certain countries, like Vietnam for instance, are notorious for having high levels of cyber crime. Add to this insecure local WiFi networks and you open up the possibilities of having all your details fished out by some gangster.

A password-protected hotspot doesn’t make it impossible for your sensitive data to leak, but it does make it less likely.

How does it Work?

Details differ by provider, but generally, they will deliver the device to your door with everything you need, including a prepaid envelope to send it back at the end of your trip. Otherwise, you can collect it from the office, the airport, or specify to have it delivered to your hotel or accommodation. The MiFi will usually come in a package with world plug adapters, a case, and instructions for those who like to read them.

When you arrive at your destination, turn on the MiFi, and input the password, which is usually printed somewhere on the device itself.

Related: Unlocked MiFi Comparison

Limitations

Despite their benefits, portable wireless hotspots are just not at the same level as your home broadband.

Price: it costs far more to use than a home setup, which is to be expected I suppose.

Data Limits: Although many hotspots are advertised with big headlines offering ‘unlimited data’, this isn’t actually the case. The truth is that they will usually have a data cap, typically of a few hundred megabytes a day. After this is reached your service will slow to snail speeds like 256k. This makes most hotspot rentals unsuitable for data hungry activities like downloading or streaming movies.

What to Consider

On this page I have looked at the most popular worldwide rental options, which you might consider in terms of:

Cost: Prices vary quite widely – being generally more expensive for 4G speeds and massive data amounts. They typically vary between 5-12USD a day.

Speed: Some devices still only offer 3G, and even if you have a 4G device not all countries support it. So when you are selecting a device keep this in mind. 

Size: most are slim and pocket-sized but you will find the bulkier options.

Coverage: It goes without saying that you should check the device you are renting offers service in your destination. If you traveling through multiple countries then some rentals offer a package for the whole continent at reduced rates.

To buy or rent? Over the long term, with repeated use, it is usually cheaper to buy the device. Otherwise, you will pay a daily charge for rental on top of the data fee. Why not rent the device first to try it out, and then buy if you intend to use that service exclusively long term. Bear in mind the hotspot will probably be locked to that provider. So you cannot change network at the drop of a hat.

If you don’t travel often, or are looking for a global connection for just one trip, then renting might be better for you. Also, If the company goes bust them you won’t be left with a useless brick. If you want to buy one to put your own SIM Card in – read my unlocked mifi comparison here.

How much data will you use? If you are prepared to ration data use carefully, and will stay in only one country, then it might be worthwhile using a local SIM for data instead. The less data you use on a local SIM card, the less you pay. Rather than on most hotspots where you pay a blanket fee per day to use as much as you want (within reason). An exception is the Karma Go.

Will there be mobile reception? If you are traveling to remote regions, use Open Signal to check coverage in your destination. You may need to check which provider your hotspot rental is working with in that location. Some providers, Like TEP, will allow you to cancel the rental if you end up having no coverage.

How many countries are you visiting? If you will be staying in one country for a long period, then it would make financial sense to buy a local SIM card and use that for data. However, if you will be moving between countries, then it could be costly and inconvenient to buy local SIMs in each place.

 

Skyroam

 

best portable hotspots - skyroam

 

Skyroam offer a personal Mifi device that works off a virtual SIM card. You can either buy the mifi for 80USD,  and pay a charge of 8 USD a day for international data, or you can rent it, and pay a daily rental charge of 2 USD. Making a total daily cost of 10 USD. The charge is only activated when you use the device, so thrifty users might keep it as a backup and only use occasionally.

Data is 4G wherever possible, and is advertised as ‘unlimited’, which is not false. But if you use more than 500mb within 24 hours your usage will be curtailed to a slower 2G speed. This is a recipe for frustration unless you are doing nothing more than checking e-mails and viewing light webpages. But you probably won’t reach 500mb unless you’re streaming or downloading videos or lots of music. The faster speed will then return when the next global day pass begins 24 hours later.

Pros

  • 4G data
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Good battery life
  • Flat rate for date regardless of the country

Cons

  • Expensive if used daily. 500MB data cap before speed slows to 2G.
  • No 24/7 customer support

Verdict

Great battery life, solid design, and reliable reputation make the Skyroam a decent option for international travellers.

Specs

 8 hours

 100+ countries

From 8USD a day

 

 

My Web Spot

best portable hotspots - my web spot

My Webspot currently supply a hotspot that provides data at a minimum cost of 5.4 euros a day. They have an office in Paris, but regardless of where you land, you can get the hotspot delivered to your hotel within France for 7 euros or 30 euros there and back for destinations outside France.

Although they only ship within Europe, the service is available in 100+ countries already, and plans are in place to send the device beyond.

At 1GB of 4GB speed per day, My Web Spot offers more data than Skyroam, but they still throttle the speed after 1GB is used up. The reduced speed is currently 256kbps.

The battery will last up to 8 hours on 4G, so charging overnight is feasible, but you may also need to carry an additional battery. The hotspot itself is a (Huawei E5878), to which you can add an extra battery on the booking page for 6 euros, or carry your own powerbank.

Pros

  • Reasonable pricing and decent hardware
  • Elegant design – one of the slimmest on the market
  • Can take up to 10 devices

Cons

  • Average battery life

Verdict

Well suited to a euro trip, especially if you are starting in France.

Specs

 8 hours

100+

 from 5.4 euros a day

 

TEP Wireless

best portable hotspots -TEP

TEP are a UK based rental service and again advertise unlimited data. Which in practice means 300MB per day rented in Europe, or 400MB per day rented in other countries. Once you have used 300mb it is throttled to 512kbps, which is quite slow. The full speed will then return the next day. You shouldn’t get close to this limit through normal use. Just avoid videos, software updates, films etc.

This provider is good for longer trips as Tep gives daily discounts as your rental period gets longer, making trips over two weeks much more economical. Rates start at 9.5 GBP per day for rental.

The device has a 50ft wireless hotspot radius and can connect with up to five devices. You can order one in as little as three days before your trip. It will be delivered worldwide to your hotel, home, or you can even pick it up from Heathrow airport.  The package includes a prepaid return envelope for you to send it back once you have finished, and plug adapters for Europe and the UK.

Pros

  • 24/7 customer support – communicate via phone, email, or even facebook chat

Cons

  • Low battery life

 

Verdict

One of the oldest and most reputable providers, with decent rates. Worth a look.

Specs

 6 hours

80+ Countries

From 9.5 GBP per day

 

Karma GO!

Best portable hotspots - karma go

Karma offer an interesting proposition: Pay as You Go data, that is freely accessible by anyone else in the vicinity. The idea being that you get free karma by sharing the internet!

But don’t worry, if somebody else uses it, then you will get free data added to your plan, and they will also get 100mb free data if they sign up to their own plan. Although the smartphone app will show you who is connected, it does not allow you to block people or add a password if you want to restrict usage.

However, the pay as you go aspect still lets you retain more control over your usage, and means that if you don’t use it, you won’t pay for it. Unlike the others where you might end up paying the full daily charge just for one quick e-mail check. 

The device itself is small, stylish, and pocket-size at 3-inch square.

Pros

  • No contract, so you don’t pay for anything you don’t use
  • Earn data by letting others use your hotspot

Cons

  • Low average speeds
  • Expensive

Verdict

As it can be stowed away in a backpack without incurring fees, it is a great option for someone who wants the internet available incase of emergency, but not for heavy usage.

Specs

 5 hours

 Only in the USA

1GB for $15, 5GB for $75 or 10GB for $150

 

X Com Global

international mifi rental xcom

 

X Com Globals offering has received good reviews. Their standard pricing is from 7. 75 USD a day, but this will rise if you are going to more than one country.

For this price you get 24/7 customer service and data that claims to be actually unlimited.

 

Pros

high data limits

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Poor battery life
  • only caters to one or two countries at a time

Verdict

  • WIth higher data limits than most, this option might be good for a group looking to share a connection.

Specs

 6 hours

175 countries

 From  7.75 USD per day

 

Goodspeed Uros

goodspeed uros international mifi rental

The main difference between Goodspeed and its competitors is that it has a larger battery which allows for up to 12 hours continuous use, or 7 days on standby, that it can connect up to 15 mobile devices, and that it has quite fast download speeds of up to 150mbps
Pros
  • Large 3200 mAh battery for 2 hours continuous use
  • Faster download speed
Cons
  • Expensive

Verdict

Well worth considering

Specs

 12 hours

 85 countries

 6.95 GBP per day pass

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