Travel Tech: XCom Global MiFi Wireless Hotspot + BONUS

Bonus at the bottom of the post!

We just got back from Madrid and I definitely wanted to share this.

While preparing for our trip to Madrid, I was trying to figure out how we’d stay connected abroad. We’re so technology-driven these days (who isn’t?!) that we both agreed we wanted to have data access in Madrid.

In the hotel would be no problem. We’re both Starwood Gold (thanks to each of our Amex Platinum cards) and, as a Gold welcome gift, we’re entitled to complimentary in-room Internet.

Our issue was having data on the go when we were exploring the city. We love Foursquare and Instagram for sharing the places that we visit.

After extensive research, I stumbled upon XCom Global, a company that make two products – a USB modem and a wireless hotspot (“MiFi”). For our intents and purposes, we would opt for the wireless hotspot.

xcom-global

XCom Global boasts service in 175 countries. They also boast unlimited 3G data, which is very key because data can really add up, especially when you break out data-hungry apps like Google Maps.

The per day fee for the MiFi is $14.95, and two-way shipping will cost you $29.90.

Here is a breakdown of what I found to be the key points:

PROS

  • Easier than having to track down a local SIM card in the country you’re visiting
  • Eliminates the need to have a Global phone
  • Flat rate ($14.95) for unlimited 3G data usage
  • Eliminates need to purchase hotel WiFi
  • Up to 5 devices can connect
  • Decent 3G speeds
  • Delivered to you before you depart; ready to drop off for shipping back to XCom Global when you return
3G speed test outdoors

3G speed test outdoors

CONS

  • Relative to buying a local SIM and not needing unlimited data –  expensive pricing
  • Unit does not display how much battery is left
  • It is another device to carry while traveling
  • Battery life is relatively short – I’d say we averaged 3-5 hours of battery life.
    • I’d recommend renting an extra battery through XCom for an extra $1/day.
    • I used my portable battery pack so we were powered all day.
  • Overpriced ‘replacement cost’ of unit if insurance isn’t purchased – $800

Overall

We had a great experience with the XCom Global MiFi wireless hotspot! It kept us connected throughout our trip to Madrid (even the layover in Rome).

The ease of use and multi-device connectivity far outweighed the price premium. As a solo traveler, I might consider other options, but as a couple with a total of 4 devices, this was a no-brainer for us.

I highly recommend this as an option for your international travels, but definitely don’t overlook buying a local SIM card at your destination. It may be far cheaper. As always, do your own research!

Joann and I will definitely be using XCom Global again, probably to our trip to Buenos Aires in April.

BONUS!

Since I was so pleased with our service, I contacted XCom Global about their affiliate program.

They were more than willing to work with me so I’m proud to say I can offer my readers a 5% discount on the XCom Global service! By clicking on this link, you can save 5% on either the MiFi or USB device.

Disclaimer: I do receive a small commission from XCom Global if you purchase services through my link. 

 

How To: Pay the Argentina Reciprocity Fee

UPDATE 7/22/2015: A commenter just informed me that there is a new web site you can use to pay for the Reciprocity Fee – https://www.argentinareciprocity.org/. It seems very straight forward & a much better experience than the previous one! Use it from now on!

If you are a US citizen and traveling to Argentina, you will have to pay a Reciprocity Fee. This is because the US levies this fee on citizens of Argentina (among other countries) who want to visit the US.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • The reciprocity fee costs $160.
  • It is valid for 10 years from the date of payment and for multiple entries.
  • Once paid online, you must print out the confirmation and bring it with you to present to the Argentine immigration officer.

I was slightly confused about where to start on the reciprocity fee website, but once I got past registration, everything was straightforward.

Hopefully, this walkthrough helps anyone who needs it.

1. Sign up for the website

Navigate here – https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/Registro.aspx

Create a username. Enter your info. Click Sign Up.

2. Add Form

After the Sign Up screen, you’ll see the screen below to add a form.

Note: You’ll need your passport number.

argentina reciprocity fee

Enter your info & click Add

argentina reciprocity fee

Now you see that the form has been added to your profile

3. Click Pay

Clicking Pay will bring you here:

argentina reciprocity fee

Choose your payment method and agree to terms

4. Click Continue

A new window will pop up where you can enter your credit card information.

NOTE: This will be paid in Argentine Pesos so make sure you use a credit card that has no foreign exchange fees.

argentina reciprocity fee

Enter your CC info and click Send

5. Transaction Confirmed!

Confirmation

You should also receive an email to the address you supplied.

Also, you can check your profile and access this “ticket”.

Print it out (make sure the bar code is legible) and keep it in a safe place until you travel to Argentina! You’ll present it to the immigration officer upon your arrival.

You can always come back to the website if you need to print it out again.

argentina reciprocity fee

Your Reciprocity Fee Ticket