You certainly identified where I am at. I celebrated my 75th birthday yesterday. Thus, all of what you have explained is a new language to me. My provider is Verizon in which my monthly fee is $75.00 and the $100.0 monthly international plan was added last month in anticipation of my move to BA. Therefore, I am actually paying $175.00 a month which is why I was hesitant to add more phone fees. What does PM you mean? Apologies, in addition to my age, when I worked I had staff that took care of all technology for me. I miss them dearly. It is important to know from a "disability culture" perspective, parents of disabled children did not have the benefit of our children showing us technology like many of our peers whose children and grandchildren assisted with their transition into technology.@JaneD here's my two cents. I want to preface it though by saying that I'm in my 30s and still fairly tech savvy, so I know that what may seem intuitive to me may be the complete opposite to others on this forum (I'm not asking and you don't have to say, lol). For example, it was only via this forum that I learned Vonage is apparently still a thing - for me that's a word that's about as quaint as hearing someone mention AOL or Y2K. I also say this knowing my parents (who are 60 and 70) would probably look at me like deer in headlights after reading this post.
Anyways, I understand that you have a disabled daughter who needs to reach you as easily as possible, and that's obviously more important than money, but....paying $100 a month just to keep a U.S. phone number is a really crazy concept for me to wrap my head around. I pay absolutely nothing, zero cents a month, and get all of my U.S. calls and texts here (including SMS and bank verification codes) with no issues whatsoever. Here's what I did:
Once this is all completed, you now have three ways people in the U.S. can call or message you for free:
- Signed up for a free Google Voice number before I started traveling. You'll receive a new U.S. phone number and can generally choose whatever area code you prefer. You need an existing U.S. phone number to initially register, which is why I did this before leaving the States, but you can do it from here as well. Once you've completed registration you can dump your current number and use Google Voice's number exclusively. Google Voice is my primary and I use it for 99% of any calls I need to make or receive to/from the States.
- Set up a backup account with a U.S. mobile app called "TextFree" - this will give you a second U.S. phone number. The cost is free and you don't lose your number as long as you use it at least once every 30 days. There are similar apps, but TextFree has worked very well for me.
- Visit a local Claro store and ask for a tourist SIM. You'll need your passport and a credit card. The initial cost should be less than $10 and your first month will be included, most likely with a 20 or 25gb data package. There are other providers besides Claro if you prefer. You'll then have a local number you can use to sign up with MercadoLibre, Rappi, PedidosYa, etc.
- After your first month with Claro, you can add "top-up" packages on their website. The cost for a monthly package is ridiculously cheap. For example, I just checked and it's 3.500 pesos for a monthly package which includes 15gb of data, unlimited Whatsapp and social media, and 1000 local minutes + 1000 local texts (which I never use because almost everyone here uses WhatsApp).
- If you're not already on WhatsApp, you can use your new local phone number to create a new WhatsApp account.
Since it sounds like you currently have an existing U.S. phone number with a traditional carrier, I don't see any reason why you can't get a new number with Google Voice and program it into your daughter's Alexa. As long as you are on WiFi or have a good mobile signal with Claro, your phone should ring like it would for any other phone call. You can also program Google Voice to send you an email alert any time you have a missed call, as well as send you emails with transcripts of your incoming text messages and voicemails.
- They can call you or text you at your U.S. phone number that you created via Google Voice. My phone rings here just the same as it would back home. Google Voice works best while you're connected to WiFi, but will also work while you're connected to Claro's mobile network assuming you're in the city and not in some remote area that only has 2G or 3G towers.
- Or they can call you or text you at your U.S. phone number that you created with TextFree.
- Or they can create a WhatsApp account and call you or message you for free via WhatsApp.
As far as banks and whatnot, I've had no issues getting verification codes from my various financial institutions. I bank with USAA, and have credit cards through Capital One, Citi, Discover, and a few others. I also get SMS verification codes just fine from other companies like Airbnb, Amazon, Uber, credit report providers, etc. I have all of my credit cards programmed to send me text alerts for every transaction attempt regardless of the amount, and those text alerts always come through on Google Voice within seconds of me making a purchase.
I get that you might be wary and cautious of trying anything new or different since already know your current set-up works for you and your daughter. But there shouldn't be any downside in exploring the alternatives and keeping your current U.S. number while you do so. Once everything's set up, you can try a few test calls and make sure you're happy with the call quality and everything. If everything works great, dump your current provider and you've got an extra $100 a month in your pocket. If not and you're not happy or satisfied with the alternatives, then keep your current setup for now and at most you've only lost $10 from the Claro SIM you purchased.
Feel free to PM me if you have any questions or if I can be of any other help!