Many American expats find themselves needing a US phone number while living abroad. A US number is often required for banking, credit cards, and other services that use two-factor authentication. However, it can be challenging to get a working US number outside of the country. This guide will walk through the best options to get a US phone based on Redditor experiences.
Why You Need a US Number Abroad
As an American living overseas, you likely still have financial and other ties back in the US. Many banks, credit card companies, and other services now require two-factor authentication for login and transactions. This means that after your password, you need to input a one-time code sent via text message or automated phone call.
Without a US number, it becomes very difficult to access these services. Banks especially tend to block non-US numbers from receiving verification codes.
As one Redditor in r/expats explains:
“Currently living in Japan, but dealing with US banks, credit cards, double verification stuff is getting incredibly obnoxious without a US phone number.”
Challenges Getting a US Number Abroad
Most virtual phone services require you to already have a US number to verify your account. As one Redditor notes:
“Google Voice requires you to have a US (or maybe Canada) number to forward to when you make an account, so it just recreates the same problem.”
In addition, many banks block non-US IPs or virtual phone services from receiving verification codes. So getting a VOIP number does not always solve the problem.
One expat explains his experience:
“You can try Google Voice, but many banks are not sending SMS to virtual/VOIP numbers. Otherwise you will have to get service from a US provider.”
Solutions for Getting a US Number Overseas
Here are some options that redditors have found to work for getting a verification US number abroad:
1. Port Your Existing Number to a VOIP Service
If you already have a US cell number, look into porting it to a VOIP provider that provides SMS/calling over wifi like Google Voice or OpenPhone. Some users have success keeping banks numbers whitelisted this way.
2. Use a Friend or Family Member’s Number
As a short-term solution, you can have a trusted contact forward you verification texts and calls. But this can be inconvenient for both parties.
3. Purchase a US SIM Card
4. Get US Number VOIP App
Apps like OpenPhone and TextNow provide US numbers and wifi calling/SMS. OpenPhone works for receiving verification calls. But text verification is hit or miss.
5. Travel Back to the US
As a last resort, some expats plan a trip back to the US to solve account verification issues in bulk. Then they can update and whitelist their foreign number after.
|OpenPhone||$10/month||Medium (works for calls)|
Getting US Phone Number While Abroad
Getting a US phone number while overseas takes some creativity. For optimal verification success, a real US SIM card or ported number is best. VOIP numbers work for some but are blocked by many services.
Consider combining options like a trip home to update your foreign number, using a friend’s number temporarily, and signing up for a minimal cell plan. With some effort, you can maintain access to essential US accounts from abroad.