How to get SMS verifications for banks while traveling?


FYI, my google voice number actually works for most of these. The picky ones that don’t all have email options for 2 factor codes (Bank of America seems to be the main offender that I recall). I did port my old cell number to google voice (and it had been used everywhere prior to porting) which may make a difference…Three years and no issues yet. So, fortunately I’ve found no need to keep a $$$ us cell line active or resort to anything exotic to make this work.


It’s worth remembering why banks are actually performing SMS verification, as not many people know all of the use-cases, and coming up with a solution to keeping your number while traveling may break one or more of these - Which is more likely to get your payments flagged for suspicious traffic.

The obvious one:

2FA - Banks want to perform some kind of two factor authentication, so they send the one time password via an SMS, which you enter back on a portal.

However more often these days banks are also using this to perform:

Location Checks - When a bank sends you an SMS they’re generally able to do it in a way that gives them a current location for that Phone/SIM, I’m not talking about an accurate GPS location, but they’re able to see which mobile network and country you’re currently roaming on.

As you can guess, if they see your card getting used in the USA, but your mobile number is currently roaming in the UK, they’re more likely to block that transaction as it simply looks strange.

SIM Swap Identification - Similar to the location one, part of the process for sending an SMS provides some basic SIM information back to the sender. So if you’ve sent an SMS before, you can compare the SIM information and see if the SIM card has physically changed. This would be a clear suggestion of SIM cloning, man in the middle attacks or social engineering if this got triggered, especially with an odd location match as well.

The above can be one of the reasons why virtual numbers from someone like Twilio can be problematic, personally I would use real pre-pay SIM from your home country (or where the bank account is located) and have it in a cheap phone for this kind of SMS, just top up with a few £/$ every 3-4 months to keep it active.


I have a business line that I had with Verizon for a long time (US). I ported that number to Google Voice ($20 for a 1 time port charge) then bought a 3 month number from Skype ($20 - this is extendable for $20 every 3 months). I will never sign up with a US provider again. Total cost for 3 months is $40. And the 3 months after that is only $20 + the cost of a cheap sim card.

I forward all calls to my original number (now with Google) to my skype number.

Works like a charm and the best part is that I can buy a local SIM card and get skype over a data plan if I am not in WiFi range.

In this way I was able to keep my original business number and no one is the wiser. I can receive calls on Skype and make calls out if I have to. I use google voice for free texting and when in other countries I often use What’s App because that’s what locals are using.

I have used it for verification purposes no problem.


I found HUSHED to work flawlessly. Cost about $30 a year and you get a lot of minutes and SMS. Never missed a bank or paypal code yet.


I’ve been in Vietnam for 2 years now. I run a business which relies on text messages being sent out / we have a one time password feature, so I’m pretty familiar with Twilio, telephony, and text messaging systems.

I ported my number to Google Voice in October 2016 and it’s worked great since then. I also have a US Skype Number. I usually give out my Google Voice number to US people / US banks and park myself in front of the computer when I need to take a call (this is free, Skype costs money to receive calls). I could have Google Voice forward to Skype and then have Skype forward to my local Vietnam number when I absolutely can’t be in front of the computer, but that seems like too much “forwarding” to me and it could take a long time to connect.

When I know I’ll be out and about or when I need someone to potentially wake me in the middle of the night, I give out my Skype Number which will forward to my Vietnam Number. Google Voice cannot forward to anything but a US number.

This setup works well for all my OTP needs - I’ve successfully used it for banking, stripe, etc. I definitely suggest you port your number to Google Voice ahead of time because it can take up to 3 days, and that may make things confused if you’re also traveling at that time.


I use ‘Cloud SIM’ which is an iOS app. You can use it to create a phone number for the UK, US, Canada or, weirdly, Poland.

Subscriptions in GBP at 99p/1 mo, 3.99/6 mos, 6.99/1 year - so in USD I guess like $10 a year.

It’ provides me with a legit UK number, so whenever I need to verify anything (banks etc), they text, I just open the app and the text is there (you can also use it for making/receiving calls, sending texts etc).

The only issue I’ve had with it is that it doesn’t reliably notify you - so because of this, I don’t use it as a way for people to contact me (as I could miss calls or texts) - however, when you open the app, texts have been there 100% of the time so far, always received (unlike some other cloud services I’ve used) - so it’s been perfect for banks, whatsapp, whatever else because I just open it when I know I’m expecting a verification text and it’s been received 100% of the time.

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