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BANGKOK 23 July 2019 18:31
Bubbha

Receiving SMS from USA in Thailand

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I am looking for advice & experience for receiving SMS messages from the USA for two step verification for banking, etc.

 

My idea is to use a prepaid US based SIM card in Thailand. I have checked with AT&T and their prepaid SIM card does not allow for connections to international networks. I am in the process of checking with T-Mobile and others.

 

Any advice would be appreciated, thank you.

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Lots of solutions for that:

 

A Google Voice number works fine for most bank purposes, except supposedly for Wells Fargo for  some reason. But you need some kind of other U.S. number to connect with/authenticate the Google Voice account. And setting it up new is a bit more complicated when outside the U.S., if you don't already have a GV account.

 

T-Mobile's $3 a month prepaid plan, I believe, will work for receiving SMS from the U.S. here. There's a per SMS charge for them, but as long as you're not receiving many, it should fall within your allotted monthly plan amount.

 

MagicJack service for $36 or so per year gives you a regular U.S. phone number with unlimited calling to and from other U.S. numbers over the internet, and access to an Android or IOS app that provides unlimited calling and SMSing to and from any U.S. numbers.

 

Lately, I've also been using the free TextNow app, which also provides a U.S. number and wifi calling to U.S. numbers and SMS messaging. But I haven't tested using that one specifically with U.S. banking services.

 

FreedomPop is a regular mobile service provider with its own SIMs providing a U.S. phone number that you can basically use for almost free, including a budgeted amount of voice call minutes and SIM messages to and from the U.S. per month. You can't roam on FP's mobile network in Thailand, but its smartphone app used in a phone with the FP SIM works fine via wifi for both calling and SMSing even when abroad.

 

Of all those, the one I've used the most with banking services has been the Google Voice number and service.

 

The others I've used just for general calling and SMSing, and only sporadically for banking. But the T-Mobile prepaid plan almost certainly would work fine for banking, and I'd imagine the FP service would as well, since they're both traditional mobile number services.

 

Edited by TallGuyJohninBKK

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SMS can be tricky when it comes to banking.

Google voice works most of the time, although there are exceptions. BoA would never work for me, and I ended up getting one of their SafePass cards, since it would never authenticate my Google Voice number.

Since I'm back in the US now, and only come back to Thailand for a few months of the year, I maintain a US phone. I use Cricket, since it's really AT&T but half the price. When I come to Thailand I downgrade the plan to 'Talk & Text', at $25/month. Then when I'm here I use the WiFi calling feature, which makes it identical to me still being in the US, even though I'm not on a mobile network

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I obtained a Google voice number when USAA Savings Bank suddenly required a text enabled cell phone number in your profile for certain banking functions.  Has worked flawlessly, with the extra benefit of the back up email of the SMS

 

For SMS going the opposite direction, 12 Baht to DTAC for International Roaming gets me the OTOPS from Thai banks when I am in the US 

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Are you having a problem because your bank or merchant will NOT send a SMS overseas?   When I have encountered that, they offered an alternative.

 

Will they use email?  I have successfully received the two step code by email in some cases.

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Thanks for all of the very helpful suggestions. I will give the T-Mobile prepaid SIM card a try. I also like the idea of asking my bank if they can send the two step verification code by email. That might be a good option.

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Does T-Mobile prepaid support international roaming, most prepaid don't. Or are you planning to use WiFi calling, if TM supports it?

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I am in the US now for the Songkran holiday. I called T-Mobile and they do allow international connections (roaming) with prepaid SIM cards (unlike AT&T). So I will try this option. 

 

Using the internet for SMS/text seems to be problematic in some cases so I think I will try T-Mobile as a (hopefully) more reliable way to do this.

 

I also want a US based number for my visits to the US so this will accomplish that objective as well.

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1 hour ago, GinBoy2 said:

Does T-Mobile prepaid support international roaming, most prepaid don't. Or are you planning to use WiFi calling, if TM supports it?

I believe they do allow international roaming on the prepaid plan. But the prices for receiving or making roaming calls in Thailand via T-Mobile are extortionate, something like $2.50+ per minute. However, the per SMS message rates are not nearly as bad, something like 50 cents one way and 10 cents going the other way.

 

As for Wifi calling with TM, AFAIK, it's pretty much limited to only phone models sold by TM and a fairly small range of high end models bought elsewhere. Also, AFAIK, wifi calling is not available thru their $3 a month prepaid plan, and instead, only thru their regular and much more expensive monthly recurring charge service plans.

 

But I do believe the minimum $3 a month prepaid TM service could viably be used to receive bank SMS messages from the U.S. here. I've used it for that sporadically in the past.

 

Over time, though, in my case, I found the Google Voice service and using the Google Voice app on my smartphones to be a free and very usable solution with no charges at all. But I still keep the TM prepaid service mainly for trips back to the States.

 

 

Edited by TallGuyJohninBKK

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21 minutes ago, TallGuyJohninBKK said:

 

As for Wifi calling with TM, AFAIK, it's pretty much limited to only phone models sold by TM and a fairly small range of high end models bought elsewhere. Also, AFAIK, wifi calling is not available thru their $3 a month prepaid plan, and instead, only thru their regular and much more expensive monthly recurring charge service plans.

 

 

 

 

I had the same issue with Cricket & WiFi calling.

 

My existing Galaxy S8 supports WiFi calling, but Cricket only allows it on their branded phones. 

 

So I picked up the cheapest Cricket phone, the Samsung Amp for $70. Curiously for such a cheap phone it works great. The screen maybe isn’t as pretty as my S8, but I leave it on in the house and it sends and receives calls/text flawlessly just as if I was back in the US. The battery lasts a helluva lot better than the S8 too....probably due to that less pretty screen!

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I understand the Bank in question need you arrange the verification processes by a local phone.  You got a friend or relative back in the USA ?  Buy her/him a cheap smartphone or if they agree, use their US stateside number for the verification. Mind the time zone before you start the onlinebanking.  Communicate with said person via Whatsapp or Skype or a normal SMS between your Thai smartphone and them.  He or She will receive the TAN numbers and just has to pass the numbers on to you.  There will be enough time - about a minute or two - until the TAN becomes worthless and must be requested again. Should be sufficient.

 

Hand your partner a Dinner Voucher for his/her support from time to time 

 

Of course this needs a bit of communication between you and the partner, and the adaequate time-of-day choice . . . i reckon it's worth a try.  I do the same when Onlinebanking with my German bank account in Thailand - the Mobile TAN is being send to my brother and he forwards it to me immediately.

 

In the future the Mobile TAN verifications will time out. Next is an APP called TAN2-Go and the PhotoTAN. All done by any Smartphone with respective Apps, regardless of the country you are residing and the SIM card you are using . .all you need is being connected to the internet.

Edited by crazygreg44

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I just came across this topic and briefly scanned the replies, so I apologize if I repeat what others have already said.

 

Google Voice has never worked for me with Bank of America - after a lot of testing and conversation with, to be charitable, BofA 'technical support' and additional research, it boils down to the fact that GV doesn't have an e-mail-to-SMS gateway.

 

What that means is that when BofA sends the verification code as an e-mail to a 'real' cellular carrier's (Verizon, AT&T, etc.) e-mail-to-SMS gateway, the e-mail is converted to an SMS and sent on to one's phone. Because GV is not a cell phone company and doesn't have the gateway, when BofA sends the verification code (as an e-mail), there is no gateway to convert it to SMS and pass it on - it just dies.

 

If one considers a text app that offers a phone number for texting and calling, such as NextPlus, that definitely won't work because those companies aren't cell companies either and don't have e-mail-to-SMS gateways. As well, the phone numbers are 'virtual' and, unless one pays a nominal fee to keep the number, companies such as NextPlus 'recycle' numbers that aren't used regularly.

 

In my opinion, if one is outside one's home country, it's a poor idea to rely solely on a bank that offers only SMS verification as a means of two-factor authentication, which is what verification codes are, due to differences and incompatibilities among different countries cellular systems - SMS verification codes are generally time-limited so, even if a verification code arrives, it may arrive after it has expired.

 

One way that will definitely work, assuming one is using an Android phone, is to use an app like PushBullet or AirDroid which will forward all notifications received by a phone.

 

Basically, one leaves an (inexpensive) Android phone (running PB or AD) with, for example, an inexpensive T-Mobile pre-paid voice and text plan (data not required) at home under the care of a trusted friend or family member and plugged in and connected to their wi-fi. 

 

When a verification SMS is received by the phone through (cellular) T-Mobile, PB or AD will forward it, using wi-fi, to the respective PB or AD server where one can then see it by being logged into the website - it's been my experience that as soon as the phone gets it, I see it on the website.

 

And AD, and PB to a lesser extent, have a lot of uses beyond just forwarding SMS verification codes.

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1 hour ago, gentlemanjackdarby said:

One way that will definitely work, assuming one is using an Android phone, is to use an app like PushBullet or AirDroid which will forward all notifications received by a phone.

 

Basically, one leaves an (inexpensive) Android phone (running PB or AD) with, for example, an inexpensive T-Mobile pre-paid voice and text plan (data not required) at home under the care of a trusted friend or family member and plugged in and connected to their wi-fi. 

 

When a verification SMS is received by the phone through (cellular) T-Mobile, PB or AD will forward it, using wi-fi, to the respective PB or AD server where one can then see it by being logged into the website - it's been my experience that as soon as the phone gets it, I see it on the website.

 

 

That's a pretty convoluted, complicated attempted solution to a problem that can be solved much more simply. IMHO, it's never ideal to rely on attempted solutions that rely on other people in other countries having to do and maintain things that you need to keep operational.

 

The $3 a month T-Mobile prepaid service will roam for phone calls and SMS messages in Thailand via the DTAC and or AIS network. So SMS messages sent from the U.S. to a phone in Thailand using a TM SIM on the $3 a month plan will receive the SMS as normal without any complicated settings or fiddling. But the cost of each SMS received will be deducted from your prepaid account balance as an international roaming SMS.

 

I tested it today with my T-Mobile SIM phone, and the SMS message from a different U.S. phone arrived almost instantaneously. Call and SMS roaming is allowed on the $3 a month prepaid plan, but data roaming is not. I believe the SMS rate is 10 cents to receive and 50 cents to send while roaming.

 

https://support.t-mobile.com/thread/139628#600586

 

https://www.t-mobile.com/pdfs/IntlCallingRates

 

 

Edited by TallGuyJohninBKK

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On 4/10/2018 at 3:37 AM, GinBoy2 said:

I had the same issue with Cricket & WiFi calling.

 

My existing Galaxy S8 supports WiFi calling, but Cricket only allows it on their branded phones. 

 

So I picked up the cheapest Cricket phone, the Samsung Amp for $70. Curiously for such a cheap phone it works great. The screen maybe isn’t as pretty as my S8, but I leave it on in the house and it sends and receives calls/text flawlessly just as if I was back in the US. The battery lasts a helluva lot better than the S8 too....probably due to that less pretty screen!

 

Just have to question the economy/value of that approach using Cricket. Wifi calling outside the U.S. is nice, but apart from the phone purchase, what's the least costly monthly service plan they offer, $25 a month? $300+ a year?

 

With the T-Mobile $3 a month prepaid plan, you're getting your own real U.S. mobile number with international SMS functionality for $36+ per year. (Plus regular phone calling and SMSes when back in the U.S.).

 

And if you want wifi calling, the MagicJack service gives you your own U.S. phone number with unlimited wifi calling to and from any U.S. number for about $36 per year. Can use any regular house phone that plugs into the little MJ dongle that then plugs into your wifi router or PC at home. Or, Android and IOS smartphone apps for when away from home that provide the same calling functionality, plus sending and receiving U.S. SMS messages.

 

Overall, the TM service should be great for any U.S.-Thai SMSing, including banking SMSes, and of course works fine as a mobile provider when back in the U.S. But you don't want to use the TM $3 a month prepaid service for roaming phone calls in Thailand, because the minute rate is something like $2.39 per whether making or receiving the call.

 

On the flip side, the MJ service works great and is very reliable for wifi phone calling to and from the U.S. And on its smartphone app, the service will function on both wifi and 3/4G data connections. The SMS feature with MJ's smartphone apps works, but I haven't found it to be always reliable and/or prompt, and it may not work well with banking SMSes, since it's providing a kind of virtual phone number vs. a traditional mobile service provider number. But for straight calling, it's hard to beat.

 

However, you can put the two services together for $72+ per year, cover all your bases, and still come out miles ahead in cost savings vs a $25 a month/$300-a-year Cricket service. At least, that's the way I see it.

 

I should also add, I've got probably a half dozen different financial institutions that send me SMS messages for log-ins and related stuff, and every single one of them works fine with Google Voice. Same with Amazon and other major online retailers, in my experience. However, I'm not doing business with either Wells Fargo or BofA, two mega-banks that folks here have said don't work with GV SMSing.

 

 

 

Edited by TallGuyJohninBKK

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