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US Prepaid GSM Voice, Text and Data Options For International Visitors

I get a lot of questions about what options visitors to the US have for using a local SIM to avoid exorbitant international roaming charges. Here's a breakdown of the easiest and best value options for visitors.

This post is about prepaid mobile options for phones and only includes plans that allow voice calls and texts as well as data.

For information about mobile broadband packages for connection cards, USB mobile data adapters and MiFis see this post: US Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plans Compared

For plans for iPads and other tablets see Prepaid Tablet Data Plans Compared.

As it's difficult for travelers to order online and have a SIM shipped internationally, I've limited this post to SIM-only offers that are widely available at US retail outlets.

In order to use your phone in the US with a local SIM it must be unlocked and support the US frequency bands, which are different from those used in most of the world.

The two national US operators are T-Mobile and AT&T. T-Mobile has lower prices, AT&T covers a bit more of the country than T-Mobile.

T-Mobile (coverage mapcurrent offers) uses the 1900 mHz band for 2G GPRS/Edge and the 1700 AWS band for 3G/4G UTMS/HPSA/HPSA+. Very few non-US phones support the AWS band.

In 2012, T-Mobile began deploying 4G HSPA+ on the 1900 Mhz band that most non-US phones, including all iPhones do support. As of Dec 23, 2013, HSPA+ on 1900 Mhz is deployed in: Anaheim. CA; Ann Arbor, MI; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Cambridge, MA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Fort Worth, TX; Fresno, CA; Houston, TX; Kansas City, KS/MO; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Modesto, CA; Napa, CA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Oakland, CA; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Providence, RI; Reno, NV; Richmond, VA; Sacramento, CA; Salinas, CA; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Santa Ana, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; Santa Rosa, CA; Seattle, WA; Springfield, MA; St. Cloud, MN; Stockton, CA; Tampa, FL; Tucson, AZ; Vallejo, CA; Virginia Beach, VA; Warren, MI; Washington, DC.

In 2013 T-Mobile started adding 4G LTE on the 1700 Mhz band. As of Nov, 2013 T-Mobile has deployed LTE in 255 markets (list). LTE data is available to prepaid users with on any plan that includes data.

To get started with T-Mobile you need a T-Mobile Prepaid SIM Card Activation Kit which includes a SIM and a single use activation code. The code is required to activate a prepaid account. Do not buy an un-activated T-Mobile USA SIM on Ebay, etc. unless it includes a prepaid plan activation code. Without an activation code the SIM can not be activated on prepaid.

The easiest way to get on line with T-Mobile is at one of the thousands of company owned stores (store locator) thoughout the country. A SIM costs $10 and includes 10 minutes of starter airtime. The SIM is free if you activate on a $30/month or higher monthly plan.

The SIM kits are also available at independent mobile phone shops at prices ranging from free with airtime purchase to as much as $20. Unlike in much of the world, SIMs are not generally available at US drugstores, airports or newstands.

T-Mobile Pay As You Go Plan:
Texts: 10¢ each (incoming and outgoing)
MMS: 25¢ each
Cost per voice minute on T-Mobile Pay As you Go varies with refill denomination:

Cost Minutes Cost per Minute Validity
$10 30 $0.33 90 days1
$30 160 1 $0.19 90 days 1
$50 400 $0.12 90 days 1
$100 1000 $0.10 1 year
1 After $100 in airtime purchases pay as you go users are automatically enrolled in T-Mobile's "Gold Rewards" plan and starting with the next airtime purchase all refill denominations have a one year validity. The $10, $25, $30 and $50 refills give Gold Rewards members more minutes: $10 - 35 min, $25 - 150 min, $30 - 185 min, $50 - 460 min.

T-Mobile airtime refill PINs are readily available and can be purchased at T-Mobile and independent phone shops, "big box" retailers like Target and Walmart, Office Depot stores, 7-11 convenience stores, chain drugstores such as Walgreens, CVS and Publix and at electronic retailers including BestBuy and RadioShack.

A problem with T-Mobile Pay As Yo Go is that no data is included and there is no way purchase data access. T-Mobile data is only available with a $2 or $3 Day plan or a $30 or higher Monthly plan.

T-Mobile Daily Plans:
PriceTalk MinutesTextsIncluded Data 1
$2/day 1unlimitedunlimitedunlimited (throttled to 120 Kbps)
$3/day 1unlimitedunlimitedunlimited (throttled after 200 MB/day)
1 The daily fee is only charged on days when the phone makes or receives a call or text or uses data. Incoming texts trigger the daily fee even if the phone is turned off all day.

The daily plans automatically renew at midnight provided your T-Mobile account has sufficient funds. You can switch between daily and pay as you go plans by calling 1-877-778-2106 on any phone or 611 on your T-Mobile phone or by using T-Mobile's mobile (m.web2go.com) or desktop (my.t-mobile.com) web sites. Plan changes between daily and pay as you go plans go into effect immediately.

T-Mobile Monthly Plans:
PriceTalk MinutesTextsIncluded Data
$30/mo 1500 (combined minutes and texts) overage 10¢/min 1500 (combined minutes and texts) overage 10¢/text 30 MB 2
$30/mo 3 100 (overage 10¢/min)unlimited unlimited (throttled 1 after 5 GB/month)
$50/mo 4 unlimited unlimited Unlimited (throttled 1 after 500 MB/month) 5
$60/mo 4 unlimited unlimited Unlimited (throttled 1 after 2.5 GB/month)
$70/mo 4 unlimited unlimited Unlimited, Un-throttled
1 maximum throttled data speed is approximately 120 Kbps
2 $30/month 1500 minutes/texts plan is only available in T-Mobile stores, not online.
3 $30/month 5GB plan is available only when activating a SIM or phone purchased at Walmart or when activating a new SIM at www.t-mobile.com/PrepaidActivation. If you switch to another plan you can't switch back to the $30/month unlimited data plan.
4 For BlackBerry users there's a BIS add-on available at no extra charge on $50/month and higher plans.
5 Tethering is permitted on $50 and higher plans. It's limited to 500 MB on the $50 plan and 2.5 GB on the $60 and $70 plans

The best deal for most visitors is probably the $30/mo 5GB, 100 minute, unlimited text plan. It's also the hardest to get as it's only available for online activations or with SIMs or phones purchased at Walmarticon. Unfortunately T-Mobile stores are prohibited from selling the un-activated SIM kit needed to activate online. You can get around that by buying a SIM kit before your trip from an eBay seller who will ship internationally or at a Walmart store (Find this item at a Walmart store)

The monthly plans automatically renew every 30 days providing you have sufficient funds in your T-Mobile account. You can switch between monthly, daily and pay as you go plans (except for the $30 unlimited data plan) by calling 1-877-778-2106 on any phone or 611 on your T-Mobile phone or by using T-Mobile's mobile (m.web2go.com) or desktop (my.t-mobile.com) web sites. Plan changes from or between monthly plans go into effect at the end of the plan period.

Domestic Roaming: T-Mobile allows voice and text roaming at no extra cost on a number of regional operator's networks (areas in gray labeled as "partner web" on Data tab of the coverage map). There's limited data roaming on monthly plans $50/mo and higher. Roaming on the $50 plan is limited to $10MB/month, $60 and $70 plan users get 50MB/month of data roaming. On other plans data roaming is not available

International calling and messaging: International calls are expensive on T-Mobile. Sample rates per minute: Canada 49¢, Mexico 69¢, Western Europe, Japan, India, China, Philippines $1.99. Most other countries (full list) are even more expensive. On pay per minute plans these rates are in addition to the basic per minute rate of 10-33 cents.

I recommend that you use a calling card or international call-back service for international calls. Or if you are using a monthly plan you can add unlimited calls to 50 countries and unlimited texting to 220 countries for $10/month. Full list of countries covered (PDF).

International texts are 10¢ each, MMS are 25¢ each

T-Mobile's data settings:

APN: epc.tmobile.com or fast.t-mobile.com (for LTE devices)
MMSC:  http://mms.msg.eng.t-mobile.com/mms/wapenc
MMSC proxy: not set
MMSC port: not set
MMS protocol: WAP 2.0
MCC: 210
MNC: 260

T-Mobile Support: 1-877-778-2106 ( 611 from handset) Web Site: prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com

AT&T (coverage mapcurrent offers) uses the 850 and 1900 mHZ bands for both GPRS/Edge and 3G UTMS and 4G HSPA+. Most areas have both 850 and 1900 coverage but some are 1900 only (map). LTE data is available to prepaid users. AT&T mainly uses band 17 (700 Mhz) for LTE but also uses on band 4 (1700 Mhz) in a few areas

Pay As You Go Plans: AT&T's basic pay as you plan charges 10 cents/minute for calls and 20 cents each for SMS and MMS. SMS/MMS bundles are available at 200 texts for $4.99, 1000 for $9.99 and unlimited for $19.99.

Daily Plan: Unlimited voice and texting is available at $2/day (only charged on days when you make or receive a call or send a text).

Data is automatically enabled on the pay as you go and $2/day plans for non-smartphones only at the exorbitant rate of $0.002/KB ($2/MB).

Monthly Plans: AT&T has several prepaid monthly plans ranging in price from $25 to $60. Details of all the AT&T prepaid plans are listed in the table below.

Name Monthly Price  Voice Text/MMS Data Limitations
Monthly Plan $25 250 minutes, overage 10¢/min unlimited domestic and international 1¢ per 5 KB ($2/MB)  or
50 MB for $5
1¢ per 5 KB non-smartphones only.
50 MB for $5 OK for all phones
Monthly Plan $35 500 Minutes, overage 10¢/min unlimited domestic and international unlimited non-smartphones only
Monthly Plan $40 500 Minutes, overage 10¢/min unlimited domestic and international 200 MB, Add 100 MB for $5 smartphones only
Monthly Unlimited Plan $50 unlimited unlimited domestic and international unlimited on non-smartphones No data for smartphones
Smartphone Monthly Plan with Data $60 unlimited unlimited domestic and international 2 GB, Add 1GB for $10 smartphones only

AT&T charges $10 for a SIM although this is generally waived if combined with an airtime purchase. There is a 0.20 to $1.50 monthly 911 fee charged in some states in addition to applicable state sales taxes.

AT&T's international voice rates are better than T-Mobile's but are still high. Calls to the UK and most Western European countries cost $0.49 per minute, for India, Australia and Japan the surcharge is $1.09/min. A $5/month International Long Distance Feature Package is available that provides 250 minutes of calling to over 50 countries (list of countries).

There's also a $10/month Mexico Long Distance Plus package can be added to $50 and $60 monthly plans only. It includes 1000 minutes of calling to cell phones and landlines in Mexico, Canada, India, China and several other countries and to landlines in over 50 countries  (list of countries).

Unlimited international texts to 100 countries (list) are included with the monthly and $2 daily plans. On pay as you go international texts are 25¢ each to send and 20¢ to receive.

As with T-Mobile the easiest way to get a SIM and pay for service is at an AT&T corporate store (store locator). AT&T's prepaid data coverage area (map) is larger than T-Mobile's but the voice coverage is about the same because AT&T doesn't allow voice, text or data roaming on prepaid plans. Refill PIN cards are widely available at AT&T and independent phone shops, "big box" retailers like Target and Walmart, Office Depot stores, 7-11 convenience stores, chain drugstores such as Walgreens, CVS and Publix and at electronic retailers including BestBuy and RadioShack. Refill denominations are $15, $25, $50, $75 and $100.

AT&T data settings:

APN - Phone  (no user id, password or proxy needed)
MMSC:  mmsc.mobile.att.net
MMS proxy: proxy.mobile.att.net
MMS Port: 80
MCC: 310
MNC: 410
Authentication type: Not set

Tethering: Tethering is prohibited on AT&T. People do it anyway and generally get away with it in moderation. If you are using an iPhone, tethering is blocked by iOS whenever an AT&Tbased SIM is detected.

AT&T Support: 1-800-901-9878 Web Site: wireless.att.com

MVNO Alternatives. There are dozens of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) in the US that resell service from AT&T or T-Mobile. MVNO SIMs are sold online and by independent mobile dealers. MVNOs have lower rates than T-Mobile or AT&T but SIMS can be hard to find.

Here's a sampling of some of the better MVNO deals.

T-Mobile MVNOs:
  • Ptel Pay As You Go: 5¢/min, 2¢/SMS including international, 10¢/MB, 10$ minimum top up, low international calling rates. Dealer locator
  • Lycamobile Pay As You Go: 2¢/min, 4¢/SMS (free incoming)  6¢/MB, 10$ minimum top up, low international calling rates. Dealer locator
  • Ultra Mobile $29 Monthly Plan: unlimited minutes, 1000 international minutes, unlimited texts including international, 100 MB, Dealer Locator
  • Go Smart Mobile (owned by T-Mobile) $45 monthly plan, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 5GB (throttled to 910 KBps) Dealer Locator

AT&T MVNOs: 
  • Air Voice $10 Plan Pay As You Go:  4¢/min, 2¢/SMS, 6.6¢/MB, 10$ minimum top up, low international calling rates. no dealer locator
  • H2O Unlimited $30 Monthly Plan: unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 500 MB, low international calling rates. no dealer locator
  • Aio (owned by AT&T) $55 Monthly Plan: unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2GB. Dealer locator
See AT&T and AT&T MVNO Prepaid Plans Compared for more choices.

Recommendations I consider T-Mobile to be the best choice for most visitors, especially for stays of 20 days or less. $25 at a T-Mobile store buys you a SIM and $15 in call credit. Activate on the $2 or $3 per day plan for 5-7 days of unlimited talk, text and data. T-Mobile works well in all major cities and provides at least 2G coverage along most highways.

If you demand the best possible coverage with 3G and 4G data speeds in the most places, AT&T is the best choice, but it's not cheap. The least costly option that includes data is the $25 Monthly Plan with a $5 - 50 MB data package. The $60/month unlimited plan with 2 GB of data is a better choice for serious data users

Buying a SIM and service at an AT&T and T-Mobile store near your hotel is the quickest and most convenient way to get mobile service in the US. However it's not the least expensive. It's possible to save money with an MVNO if you are able to buy SIMs online or are willing to spend some time to finding a dealer.

Another easy, relatively cost effective option, especially for short visits, is Ready SIM, a T-Mobile MVNO that sells SIMs preloaded with a 3 day, 7 day, 14 day or 30 day plan. Ready SIM's Amazon storefront offers worldwide shipping for about $10. All plans include unlimited talk and text, including international texting. Plans with or without data are available.  A 7 day ReadySIM with unlimited talk and text and 500 MB of data costs $25. For more about ReadySIM see: Good For International Visitors - Ready SIM's Disposable Self Activating SIM with a Built-in Plan.

Updated 24-Dec-2013 - Completely rewritten.

Related Posts:
How to Get The Best Deal on Prepaid Mobile Data
How To Find The Best Prepaid Voice and Text Plan

New York City Montage image by Bleff (compilation) some rights reseverd [CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

211 comments:

Comment Page :
  1. Great! Thank you!! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great artice, thank you!

    Could you just help me out with a few doubts?
    I'm going to the US in a few weeks and I want to use my Motorola Milestone (the non-US version of Droid) with a pay on the go GSM SIM card, mainly for using data with services like social networks, mail and location. Would the best option be t-mobile day pass?

    One more thing, I'm going to New York and then Las Vegas. Is it ok to use the same SIM Card? As I've seen t-mobile covers both areas, but are there any roaming carges from using a State's number in another? (here in Brazil the carriers charges roaming for voice calls from another states).

    Thanks a lot! Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  3. AT&T recently reduced their prepaid data bundle prices. It's now 200 MB for $15 and 500MB for $25. I just updated the post with the new rates. I still think T-Mobile is a better deal for most people. But if you use data every day for at least 10 days and don't use very much data AT&T could be cheaper.

    There are no extra charges for roaming or domestic long distance on T-Mobile or AT&T so you only need one SIM. It will work in both New York and Vegas with no price difference.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had At&T last time i was in US and Tampa, and it works good, but i paid $75 for that preepaid card including 200Mb data.

    I will be in US in 17 days next time i go to US and what i can see the AT&T Unlimited Daily Talk and Text with $15 data must be one of the best solutions for me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi, Yeswap! I'll be visiting the US for a week this September and I plan to use my Motorola Milestone 2 (Quad-Band GSM/EDGE and 850/1900/2100 3G) Android phone there. My primary uses will be web surfing, GPS navigation and Android apps like TripAdvisor and, of course, calling Brazil, my home country. Can I use the T-Mobile "monthly" plan for only one week? Because the $50 unlimited plan plus the $10 unlimited int'l calls seems to be perfect for me. I know I'm not getting any 3G speeds. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, using the monthly plan for a week will work.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi, is it possible to use the monthly plan without purchasing a smartphone, cuz i wanna use the one i own. or do i have to buy a special one for this plan. website says : Phone Puchase required. Does that mean i have to buy a new one?
    Ty@all for answers

    ReplyDelete
  8. blubblub, All the plans on this page work with any unlocked GSM phone. Which website says "Phone Puchase required"?

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is the Site : http://www.phonetvinternet.com/phone-service/mobile/prepaid-cellular.php Look under T-Mobile.

    ReplyDelete
  10. That's not an official AT&T or T-Mobile site, I wouldn't trust what it says. Any T-Mobile or AT&T shop will sell you a prepaid SIM.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi, AT&T enforced their iPhone and BBerry's blockage.. I followed your advice but when putting the SIM into my iPhone it set the network settings unable to share your connection (tethering) and you cannot use data. I called the shop where I bought the SIM card as in ATT you cannot reach any human being. I ask if they could transfer to data plans I bought to an iPad prepaid plan. The guy told me NO and after my explainations he told me it was my fault as I didn't declare I wanted to buy a SIM card for an iPhone. He told me ATT doesn't provide data plans fro iPhones and BBs. After that he hang up the phone rudely.. I think when you put an ATT's SIM card into your iPhone or BB it sends the IMEI number to ATT to figure out which device you're using in order to set if you can get data plan or not. For my USD 70.- lost into AT&T plans I can tell you they enforced their non data business with some devices. It's really bad as in Europe any body can buy a prepaid SIM card and as long as you pay get any service.It's mandatory to declare your identity in case you would use it for illegal activities...
    For me ATT are really poor in business mind. For ATT: " There is a worls outside USA "
    Best, C@

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yeswap, thanks a lot

    ReplyDelete
  13. I don't think AT&T is a good option for int'l visitors who want to call their home countries, since their int'l calling rates are very high (0.36 cents per minute to Brazil, in addition to the airtime). The good thing about AT&T is the $25 plan for 500 MB of data, which makes AT&T awesome for people who wants to stay connected and don't call home much. If you really want to stick with AT&T and you want to call your home country, you have to consider buying an int'l calling card to escape their expensive int'l rates. AT&T uses the 850/1900 band for UMTS, used in other countries and there are many foreign smartphones compatible with these bands.

    On the other hand, T-Mobile has an interesting $10 addon for unlimited int'l calls to many countries (check which in their website). The catch is their AWS 3G band, incompatible to the rest of the world. Only $60 and you're unlimited to call home and use your smartphone, but unfortunately only at EDGE speeds. If AT&T had a plan like this, it'd be the perfect choice for int'l 3G heavy users.

    Another interesting option is H2O Wireless, which allows free int'l calls (only the int'l dialing rate is free, airtime charges still apply, of course) on their minute plans. Unfortunately, data is only available to the $50 unlimited monthly plan (limited to 250 MB). In this plan, you have $20 worth of int'l calls and the rates are not high ($0.03 to landlines in Brazil) plus unlimited int'l text. H2O wireless is a AT&T MVNO, so it will get 3G speeds if you have a 850/1900 capable UMTS phone.

    ReplyDelete
  14. hi guys,

    Im heading to miami for 10 days soon. Looking for a strong or unlimited talk text and surf plan. Not really expensive, hopefully at or less than 40$... anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Assuming you have an unlocked GSM phone, either T-Mobile or AT&T's $50 unlimited monthly plan should work. Any T-Mobile or AT&T store should be able to set you up.

    I don't now of anything that's cheaper and doesn't require having a SIM mailed to you which isn't very practical for a traveler.

    ReplyDelete
  16. hi, all the info presented here are just great but i ask your opinion on which would be the best way of using skype or other VOIP app.
    I'm interested in a prepaid plan for 2 weeks.
    I'll use Voip frequently so i need something that should satisfy this need.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi

    I haven't found out the pest preepaid option.

    I will go to US in Nov, and i can chose what kind of phone i can use in US

    I have those options

    1. Iphone 4 Jailbreaked IOS 4 (IOS 5)
    2. SE xperia Mini pro (Android 1.6)
    3. Se Vivaz Pro (Symbian)

    So my question is, what do you recomend??

    I think that i can use T-Mobile preepaid with SE xperia Mini Pro

    And can use the dataplan for 1.49/day

    ReplyDelete
  18. Provided they are unlocked, any of the phones you mention will work on T-Mobile although none with get 3G data speeds. Bring which ever one you like best.

    ReplyDelete
  19. So if i want 3G data what is the best solution??
    AT&T and pay as you go??
    I had that last year with my iPhone and it worked good
    But what I have read here it can be a problem with iPhone and data traffic

    ReplyDelete
  20. The iPhone 4 will give you 3G on AT&T prepaid. Provided you use the correct settings it should work:


    APN: wap.cingular
    Proxy: none
    Port: none
    Username and password are blank
    Server: none
    Mmsc: http://mmsc.cingular.com
    Mms proxy: wireless.cingular.com
    Mms port: 80
    Mcc: 310
    Mnc: 410
    Authentication type: none
    APN type: default

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have an unlocked Xperia X10a.

    GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900
    UMTS: 850, 1900, 2100
    Data: EDGE
    UMTS: Yes
    HSPA: Yes (HSDPA 10.2 Mbit/s)
    HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s

    If I go with T-Mobile, how bad would data transfer rates be? I understand it would not be 3G based on the information posted above, but I don't know what type of difference that provides versus Edge. Can someone translate this into a max MB/s?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Mostly, I want to know that Google Navigation will work and that I would be able to check emails, calendar, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  23. T-Mobile EDGE averages about 150 kbits/sec down and 70 up. Real world 3G averages about 1000 kbits/sec down and 250 up. So 3G is 4-6 times faster.

    On EDGE, email and calendar synchronization will work just about as well as with 3G. Text emails should still open almost instantly. Opening HTML emails and large attachments will be noticeably slower. Navigation should work, although pulling up a map can take 30 secs to a minute.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I need to trade my Xperia X10a for an X10i. Either that, or deal with the slow T-Mobile EDGE. I could just go with AT&T, but they seem pricey in two way. (1) No gold plan (2) The $5 data is ok in that it lasts 30 days, but working against it in a big way is that 10 MB might get eaten quickly by Google Navigation. What to do, what to do.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I went on a road trip this past weekend driving from Vancouver, Canada to Portland. I stopped by and AT&T store after crossing the boarder spent $25. The sales told me SIM card was free if I put $25 in the account. So that's what I did. I used it for my Xepria X8. I chose the $0.10/min plan. And then I went online to sign in to my account and use $15 to buy 100MB data for 30 days. It was perfect for the weekend trip. I used about 15MB of data for way finding when walking in downtown Portland, and I had voice services for emergency use on the road. The only thing to be cautious about is that incoming texts are $0.20 each. Thanks for having this post!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I´ve bouth a AT&T prepaid chip but it did not work on my Brazilian originally unlocked iPhone 3GS (from Vivo); it did not even work for voice (it only displayed NO SERVICE). I used a Motorola Android instead and added the APN wap.cingular and after that it worked (by the way, the service of AT&T is terrible; they don´t know about that and just say they cannot guarantee anything).

    ReplyDelete
  27. An excellent site you have here, Yeswap: thank you for taking the time and trouble.

    Our family is planning to visit Florida (Miami and Orlando) in Jan 2012 and my wife and I both have (Australian)Blackberry 9700s. From reading all of the above and browsing your provided links, it would appear that a SimpleMobile Blackerry BIS plan for $50 each (plus SIM for $12.99 ea) would give us unlimited EDGE BIS for the month: we plan to use the BBs for navigation, email and of course Disney wait times ("undercover tourist"Disney and Univ Studio wait times are BIS apps).

    Am I reading it right?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Yes SimpleMobile would work as you have described. A $50 T-Mobile Monthly 4G plan with the $10 Blackberry Add-On would give you the same thing. With T-Mobile the SIM is free and T-Mobile stores are a lot easier to find than SimpleMobile dealers.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Ok, thanks for the prompt reply (I had missed the BIS bolt-on in "Additional Services" down the bottom of the t-mobile plans page).

    That'll be perfect for us.

    Thanks again for your help.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi,
    First of all thanks for a very informative post.
    I am from India and will be travelling for a couple of months in the US. I have a Samsung Galaxy S2 which has the following bands:
    2G Network GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
    3G Network HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100

    I guess the T-Mobile 3g wont work on this but they seem like such a good option. However, that said, every month here, I manage with less than 200 MB of data usage on 3G and 200 minutes of talk time and under 100 texts! I probably will need a little more talk time in the US due to incoming call costs- about 400-500 minutes. I would need internet mostly for checking mails, restaurants, shopping, listings, maps etc. Do I really need 3g for that (I am pretty used to the speeds though)? 50-100 texts seem acceptable to me.
    What would be the best/cost-effective option? AT&T?

    ReplyDelete
  31. You are correct you will only get 3G with AT&T.

    2G will work for everything,it will just be slower. Email will be fine, browsing too if you use a proxy browser like Opera Mini.

    If you use Symbian, download the maps for the states you will visit before you leave home and it will be super fast, even with no connection. Google maps on Android or Java is very usable on 2G.

    The cheapest prepaid offers that will meet your needs for 500 minutes, 200 MB and 100 texts per month would be:

    Simple Mobile Unlimited $40/month + $12.95 for a SIM
    T-Mobile $50 Monthly 4G $50/month (SIM is free)
    AT&T Monthly Ulimited $65/monith ($50/month, alternate between $25 and $5 data packages) SIM is $20 but often free if you buy a top-up

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thanks Yeswap, that was superbly helpful. I wonder why T-mobile still wants those two bands in the phones for 3G to work...I probably will take the T-MObile plan (debating between 30 & 50) as I need at least 150kbps speed for data! I am generally very frugal so I think I will be able to manage..do you think, we can use Google Voice service on my Android to make calls on this 2G connection? That would solve a bit of the number of calls issue!
    Thanks again for this extremely useful post to travelers like me.

    ReplyDelete
  33. It's not that T-Mobile wanted to use 1700/2100 for 3G. They had no choice as all the available 850/1900 spectrum was allocated long ago to AT&T, Verizon and others.

    Google Voice is not by itself a VOIP app. Calls made with Google Voice use minutes.

    To call using only data you need a SIP/VOIP app, some of which integrate with Google Voice. People who've tried SIP over 2G (actually 2.5 Edge, which is what T-Mobile 2G almost everywhere) and say it works with some lag and/or voice quality issues. I haven't tried it myself but it sounds like it might be OK for personal use with patient friends and family but not for business.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Strange, I use Google Voice (via Gchat on the pc) to call the US @ 0.01/min so didn't think that it would take up my call minutes on the phone! Hmmm...I guess I will just stick to the networks rather than deal with VOIP on 2G/2.5 Edge. Do you know if the nights & weekend free minutes are applicable to these T-Mobile plans? ($30/50)? I am just trying to keep my costs low while I travel there.

    ReplyDelete
  35. There are no night or weekend minutes on the $30 T-Mobile plan. The $50 plan has unlimited anytime minutes.

    Google's product names are a confusing mess. "Google Chat" on the PC uses "Google Talk" for voice not "Google Voice". "Talk" is VOIP, however the Talk client on phones is IM only.

    Google Voice gives you free visual voicemail, voicemail transcription and can route calls up to 6 different phone numbers including your Google Talk number on a PC.

    ReplyDelete
  36. That does sound like a mess!!- aren't they simplifying & streamlining all this anytime soon?! I guess the $50 T-Mobile plan is for me then! Thanks, this was super helpful..& educational!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hello Yeswap,

    I am considering buying an unlocked Samsung Nexus S (I live in the USA, and this is a USA phone). Do you think that I can get the Tmobile $30 unlimited web? I have a Tmobile sim card that I can activate. My concern is that Tmobile won't let me activate since it's an unlocked phone. What do you think?
    Maria

    ReplyDelete
  38. T-Mobile doesn't care what phone you use. Unlocked phones are fine but the only Nexus S that supports T-Mobile's oddball 3G/4G band (AWS-1 aka UMTS band IV, 1700 Uplink/2100 downlink) is the T-Mobile branded Nexus S 4G. Anything else will only get 2.5 G Edge data speeds.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hello Yeswap,

    You can add at least Nokia N900 and Nokia N9 to the list of phones that support T-mobile 3G.

    I just learned about the Web Guard: Will this also prevent using SIP over packet data? If so, and if I called to cancel it, will it also remove the blocking for SIP ports/protocol? I know that SIP calling does work on T-mobile 3G unlimited data plan that I have used several years. (Tested SIP just couple days ago.) The prepaid/monthly data traffic likely goes through a proxy that most likely will block SIP ports. (Please prove me mistaken... :-)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thanks for reminding me about the N9 and N900. I've added them and a couple of other phones that support 1700 MHz.

    I don't know if Web Guard would block SIP or not. I've heard of people using SIP on T-Mobile prepaid so it may be possible. Never tried it myself though.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hi Yeswap,
    Perhaps you can help...please..!
    I am moving to NYC in a few weeks but wanted to get a number before i arrive - can i order one online anywhere and post it to a friends house?
    I have an unlocked blackberry phone. In the UK you can get a pay as you go simcard, top up whatever you want per month but add a 'bolt-on' for £10 each month which gets you full blackberry functioning of browsing, emails into your phone, bbm etc up to 500mb each month. Is there something which is equivelant with no contract to sign?
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  42. The only US prepaid options that include full BlackBerry BIS support are T-Mobile's $50 and up Monthly plans with a $10 BB add-on and SIMple Mobile's $50 monthl BlackBerrry plan. Neither requires a contract. Links to both are in the post above,

    You can have a SIM sent to your friend's house but it won't get a phone number assigned until it's activated.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hi, i'm visiting the us for the CES 2012 and i'm from germany.
    I will be in las vegas for one week and i need a data only plan with many included mb. i thought the h2o broadband plan is the best for me, but some pages say that in the 50$ plan are included 5gb, some sites say there's only 1gb included.

    to you have another good suggestion for me?


    thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  44. I'm sure the H20 plan is capped, probably at 1 or 2 GB like their $60 unlimited smartphone plan (longer offered). I really can't recommend H2O anymore, there are too many people reporting problems like data outages, long hold times for support, rude and ineffectual support reps and getting cut off for "abusing" unlimited data or voice. See:
    Stay away from h2o-!

    H20 WIRELESS IPHONE 4 (WATCH THIS VIDEO FIRST)

    H2O Wireless does not provide unlimited service

    It sounds like this is a business trip. If you need truly reliable data for demoing devices or apps or you are a journalist, etc., I recommend that you go with one of the major US operators, AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile that offer prepaid broadband.

    They are more expensive but they have superior service and support and have local retail stores where you can get a SIM or modem and get help with issues. See my post US Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plans Compared for details and rates.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thank you for your answer! but H2O is on the AT&T network, isn't it? But i think i have to rethink from the german system of carriers. here you have discounters which use the same infrastructure like the big 4 carriers without any resctrictions....

    ok, so my problem is that i already have GSM-Hardware (SGS2 and Huawei E8530 mobile hotspot) so my only choice would bei the AT&T network and their mobile broadband plan with 1gb for 50$, right?

    i want to buy the sim-card before my trip to the USA, so i can buy one on ebay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/ATT-AT-T-No-Commitment-No-Contract-cancel-anytime-New-gsm-sim-card-/280793762746?pt=SIM_Cards&hash=item41609ccbba#ht_527wt_1372), buy a local refill card and then select my plan? theres's no need of an american debit card?

    thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  46. H2O is on the AT&T network but billing and support are provided by H2O.

    Yes, your devices would need to be on the AT&T network to get 3G.

    You can by AT&T top-up cards at drugstores and convenience stores and AT&T shops using cash and most non-US debit/credit cards

    The SIM you linked to would work, as would any unactivated AT&T SIM.

    One thing to watch out for is that AT&T SIMs labeled for Prepaid "GoPhone" service will lock themselves to the phone they are activated in. The generic SIMs don't. The seller's picture appears to show a generic SIM but the description refers prepaid service so its not clear which it is. If you do get a locked SIM, AT&T stores will replace it with an unlocked one on request

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thank you! but i need a prepaid sim, don't i?

    and if i only use my galaxy s2 with ethering the type of simcard "gophone" or "generic" doesn't matter? and if i want to use my mobile hotspot i can go to an at&t store and exchange the simcard? Thank you, you helped me really much!

    ReplyDelete
  48. AT&T prepaid accounts can be activated with any unused AT&T SIM including the generic or postpaid ones.

    Locked SIMs will work in the device they are activated in with no issues. AT&T stores will exchange a locked SIM for an unlocked one.

    You aren't supposed to use "phone" plans with "mobile broadband" devices and vice/versa so you they might give you some grief with that.

    Personally, I'd go to an AT&T store (the're pretty much everywhere, use the store locator linked to in post) with a device appropriate to the type of service you want to use. Let them give you a SIM and activate it. The SIMs the stores sell aren't locked so you can move it to the other device as needed.

    ReplyDelete
  49. thanks a lot! very good advices!

    julian

    ReplyDelete
  50. I have galaxy Sii the international version unlocked i-9100

    I got T-mobile prepaid but as u said I get only edge
    so there is way to get the 4G? does At&t SUPPORT THE I-9100?

    THANK YOU

    ReplyDelete
  51. The international Galaxy S II upports AT&T's 3G bands but not T-Mobile's. So yes you would get 3G in AT&T 3G areas but not on T-Mobile USA.

    ReplyDelete
  52. I'm heading to NYC tomorrow for a week and won't have time to run around to shop.

    I have a blackberry and mainly need voice and text to Canada...(maybe 50-100 minutes US) as well as BBM and GPS...won't use more than 50-100 MB of Data...
    The thing is I am going back to the US in June (California this time) for a wedding and will need the same services again.

    The $50 T-Mobile plan has that reduced $10 intl plan but the $50 itself to get that plan seems like a waste because I won't be using even half that amount of usage for US....mainly calling back to Canada as well as texting and BBMing is what I need.

    I'm super last minute but any advice would be great!!!

    ReplyDelete
  53. Unfortunately, with a BlackBerry you are limited to T-Mobile and SIMple Mobile, a T-Mobile MVNO, as they are the only US operators that offer BIS on prepaid accounts. SIMple is $10/month less but the SIM is $12.99 and SIMple dealers can be hard to find.

    You pratical real option is to visit a T-mobile store (store locator) and get a SIM and active with the $50 plan + $10 for the BIS add-on + $10 for the international calling package.

    ReplyDelete
  54. if i were to not use bbm and maximize my international text and calling what would you suggest?

    ReplyDelete
  55. Either the T-Mobile $30/month plan with the $10 International add on or AT&T pay as you with a messaging add on ($4.99 to $19.99) and $10 International add-on.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I'll be in NY, Boston etc for 8days. From what I'm reading, I will be barred from any data usage should I be using an iphone4? However I have seen on other forums where iphone users are on the $50/monthly prepaid plan and they are able to work data on their iphones...

    Can this be verified? Thank you so much and this website is absolutely fabulous for international travellers like us!

    ReplyDelete
  57. An unlocked iPhone (any model) will work with AT&T's $50 plan but you won't get data unless you add a $25 500 MB Feature Pack.

    Unlocked iPhones also work with any of T-Mobile and SIMple Mobile's unlimited plan. Data works but will be Edge/GPRS only, no 3G.

    ReplyDelete
  58. In that case, should I be looking to utilize the pay on the go $3 plan for 8days, I'm better off using it on a nokia n86 right? I'm mainly keen to whatsapp along the way, perhaps a couple of calls...

    thanks for your help!

    ReplyDelete
  59. You mean the T-Mobile $3/plan? Yes that would work with the iPhone or the N86. However neither would get 3G.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Hi, really enjoyed reading all of this. Here's my situation. I have an unlocked iphone 4s from canada and i'm going to nyc for three months. I need to be able to make calls within the US and use up to 1-2GB of data a month on my iphone. Which AT&T option would you recommend for me. Thanks for your help in advance.

    ReplyDelete
  61. That depends on how many voice minutes you need. Use either pay as you go 10¢ minute, Daily Unlimited or Monthly Unlimited and then add $25 500 MB data feature packs as needed.

    ReplyDelete
  62. what is a good pay as you go internet stick for my laptop that will give 2 GB a month? I only need to use for 2 hours a day.

    ReplyDelete
  63. For 2 GB/month the least expensive are Virgin Mobile (2.5 GB) and T-Mobile (3 GB) at $50/month. T-Mobile has much faster data. Neither has good coverage in rural areas. If you need coverage in the boonies I recomend Verizon's 5 GB for $80/month plan.

    See US Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plans Compared for a comprehensive listing of all US prepaid broadband plans.

    ReplyDelete
  64. sorry, another European noob here, I am also heading over to the US in like 6 weeks time, will be travelling around for 8 weeks, and would like to use my European version of the Nexus S with T-Mobile ... pay as you go, with data, from the product specs, the Nexus S (I-9023) should support 1700 / 2100 ... ok, it didnt say anything about AWS ... I find references that my phone should work with 3G about as frequently as it will only get EDGE, maybe you can shed some light on this? it would be wildly appreciated ... as for data, I have the option of that daily thing? or can I also buy a pack of like 500MB? once again, thanx for the help, it will be greatly appreciated

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Galaxy Nexus supports T-Mobile's AWS 3G as well as AT&T's 850 and 1900 Mhz bands. So you could use T-Mobile's Unlimited Daily or Monthly plans or AT&T's PAYGO with $25 for 500/MB Data Feature Packs.

      Delete
  65. I work on a cruise ship and 3 times a week I am back to US and for the internet I am using my laptop with the “Virgin Mobile” usb with the prepaid $40 monthly , now I just bought a nokia E7 which has a nice screen for the web and I would like also use it for the internet ……………so at this point I am thinking to have a prepaid sim which give me unlimited internet + US phone calls for my Nokia E7 and share the internet connection with my laptop when need .
    What do you suggest ? maybe AT&T ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your E7 will work with either T-Mobile or AT&T, As you don't use the phone every day T-Mobile's $2 or $3 day plans would probably be your best bet

      Delete
  66. thank you for your prompt help...also i would ask you if AT&T has a prepaid as the Virgin USB and if yes which one is better .

    thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes they do though it's more expensive: $15/1 day/100 MB, $30/7 days/300 MB, $50/month/1 GB. Details on all US operators prepaid USB modem and MiFi offers are here: US Prepaid Mobile Broadband Plans Compared

      Delete
  67. Just a quick note and thank-you.

    We are homeward-bound after three weeks in Florida. I took your advice (back in Nov) and purchased the $50+10 Blackberry unlimited T-mobile plan, my wife the monthly 1G iPad data plan and one of the kids' phones was kitted out with the $10 plan. The BB was up and running within 5 minutes receiving emails with no extra configuration at all; T-mobile (South Miami) staff cut, installed and configured the microsim in my wife's iPad in a matter of minutes.

    My BB Bold kept saying "3G" although as an AU BB it should have only said "EDGE". It was certainly much faster than my Australian Optus 3G sim (for example Google Maps in AU can't keep up on my BB at 110km/h on a freeway, whereas there was no such difficulty in FL at higher speeds on I-4). My wife's iPad performed faultlessly everywhere from Key West to Orlando and all points between and we all used it for email, web browsing, GPS navigation etc.

    After the BB's first 100MB at "4G" expired (t-mobile sent me a text to advise), my phone continued to say 3G and I could discern no slowdown in data received.
    As for the t-mobile $10 plan: well, two short phone calls from Palm Beach to Orlando blew out the phone allowance but texting continued to work brilliantly (text was actually more useful than phone in the theme parks).

    Thank you very much for your advice - you significantly enhanced our communications and hence our enjoyment of our trip.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Glad to hear T-Mobile worked out so well for you.

    Interesting that you apparently got 3G on the Bold. T-Mobile is reportedly starting to test deploying HSPA+ 3G-4G on 1900 Mhz in some areas. See: T-Mobile already using 1900 band in 84Mbps HSPA+ deployment?.

    ReplyDelete
  69. hi my friend gifted me Samsung Glaxy S2 please suggest me can i use Samsung Glaxy s 2 in India

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice friend! There are many versions of the Galaxy S II. Provided it's an unlocked GSM model it should work with an Indian SIM for voice, messaging and at least 2G data. Depending on the version it may or may not get 3G data

      Delete
  70. Excellent article!!

    ReplyDelete
  71. Hi,
    I want to go with t-mobile $30/month plan (unlimited text and web + 100 min talk).
    My question is:
    I may need to have unlimited international calls for some particular month (for example, say in march, then in june etc). I have seen that t-mobile has a $10/month unlimited international call facility. Can I use this additional plan occasionally? If I can, will I be able to make unlimited international calls for that particular month?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can turn on the $10/month International calling feature in months when you need it and turn it off in months when you don't. It provides unlimited free calls to 50 countries (List of countries covered). The add on is only available with prepaid monthly plans priced at $50/month or more.

      Delete
  72. Hello! Nice blog you have, thanks for the info.

    I just have a couple of questions.

    My wife and i are visiting the US in 20 days. I have a Samsung Galaxy Mini (european version), and she has a Blackberry Gemini. What plan should we pay for if we want to use one sim card for the both phones, and we want to use our smartphones as GPS, and maybe have 2gb?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Among US operators with prepaid only T-Mobile and (Simple Mobile which runs on the T-Mobile network) offer BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS).

      Without BIS only voice and texting will work on the BlackBerry. No BBM, email, Web or Maps.

      BIS is a $10 add on to T-Mobile prepaid monthly plans priced at $50 and higher. SIMple Mobile is $10 cheaper ($40 + $10 for BIS) but SIMple dealers can be hard to find.

      BTW, your phones need to be unlocked to accept foreign SIMs

      If you can live without BIS PAYGO or Daily plans from either AT&T or T-Mobile could be a less expensive option particular if your visit is a short one.

      The Galaxy Mini doesn't support any US 3G bands and the BB Gemini 8520 isn't a 3G phone so you will be limited to EDGE data speeds of both phones regardless of which US operator you choose.

      Delete
  73. Hi there,

    My friends are planning a backpacking trip to the states, we are using samsung galaxy s2, iphone 4s, etc phones.

    We plan to use google maps for navigation, light data usage etc. we plan to use data over cellphone calls/text for communications as much as possible.

    but from what I see from your website,

    T-mobile offers
    $30/mo** unlimited (throttled after 5 GB/month)

    versus

    at&t

    T-Mobile Monthly4G "Walmart" plan
    $30/mo**
    unlimited (throttled after 5 GB/month)

    just want to clarify this will fit my needs and are there anything else that I have overlooked? Your advice will be appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A couple of things to consider.

      1. You will not get 3G on T-Mobile with either the iPhone 4S or the any Galaxy S II except the T-Mobie branded one that T-Mobile USA sells. Neither phone supports T-Mobile's rather uncommon AWS 3G band so you will be stuck with 2.5G EDGE data speeds.

      2. The $30 5GB plan is a Web only promotion. That means you need to order a SIM activation kit online and have it shipped to a US address. Then you have to activate it online. T-Mobile stores won't sell you an unactivated SIM and activation code and they can't activate SIMs on the 5 GB, $30 plan. An alternative is to buy a cheap T-Mobile prepaid phone at drugstore or big box store and activate the included the SIM and activation card online.

      Delete
  74. Hi Yeswap, thanks for the reply. Does that mean for point 2, I can go for the cheapest prepaid phone from T-mobile?

    and what about AT&T plans?

    and are there iPad plans available from any carrierS?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can use the SIM and activation code from any T-Mobile prepaid phone. You will need to cut the SIM to use it in the iPhone 4S.

      Available AT&T prepaid plans for phones are listed in the post

      AT&T offers prepaid iPad plans: 14.95/month for 250 MB, $30/month for 3 GB and $50/month for 5 GB. The SIM must be activated in an iPad or an AT&T branded Android tablet to get these prices. The iPad plans are data only, their is no voice or SMS support.

      Delete
  75. Hi Yeswap, sorry for the brief question about AT&T. Here is the more specific and detailed question: Do I need to purchase a cheap mobile phone from AT&T in order to get the sim card and activation? Because from what I saw on your list above, it says "featured smart phones only" So I am guessing it is the same policy as T-mobile. Just wanna ascertain that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You do not need to buy an AT&T prepaid phone to get a SIM. You can get the SIM at any AT&T store, usually for free if you buy a top up at the same time.

      The AT&T $50/month unlimited plan includes unlimited data for feature phones only. AT&T detects most smartphone by their IMEIs and requires you to add a data package (5 MB - $5, 200 MB - $15, 500MB - $25) to use data with detected smartphones. Some non-AT&T smartphones aren't detected but iPhones always are. Activating with a feature phone and switching the SIM to a smartphone won't work, the IMEI seems to be checked whenever a data connection is initiated.

      The same data packages work on PAYGO which is generally less expensive than unlimited unless you are a heavy voice and SMS user.

      Delete
  76. Alright, just to clarify, we will not be able to use the AT&T $50 unlimited because it is for featured phones only.

    If we go by your recommended 10cents/min plan with a data package, we will be able to get 3G speeds and we won't need a featured AT&T phone in order to use this 10cents/min plan. We can use it with any unlocked android phones. only setback is it gets quite complicated with unlocked iPhones?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can use the $50 plan with any phone.
      With feature phones the plan includes unlimited voice, messaging and data.
      With smartphones it includes unlimited voice and messaging, but no data. You can add smartphone data to this plan by purchasing a data ad-on (5 MB - $5, 200 MB - $15, 500MB - $25).

      Delete
  77. we are all using unlocked smartphones. ok, that means 50 dollars + data package which may amount more.

    on the website it says, "Smartphone users must purchase a data package to use data services with any plan.Pay-per-use is not available with smartphones." so that means for the $2/day and the 10cents/min plan, smartphone users can't use the voice/text services?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know where you are seeing that. I see "Pay-per-use data is not available on smartphones.

      Smartphones can be used on the daily plan and 10¢/minute plan and optionally data packages can be added to those plans.

      I've used the 10¢/minute plan with smartphones and it works fine for voice and messaging and for data if I add a data bundle

      Delete
  78. Hi, first of all, congratulations for this great review, itś very usefull.

    I'ḿ planning on doing the route66 this summer (20 days) and for what I've read my best option its the AT&T daily unlimited plan with the 500Mb data plan, since I'm only using data and a few calls.what do you think?

    I have an european unlocked Galaxy S (i9000),Will I have 3g?.

    I've seen on ebay unnused AT&T simcards and I was thinking of buying it there so I could activate it when I arrived.

    Thanks for all, and sorry for my english.

    Jon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Galaxy S i9000 supports 3G on 1900 Mhz, which is one of AT&Ts two 3G bands (the other is 850 Mhz). You would get 3G in many areas (mostly cities) but not everywhere.

      AT&T With a data bundle on top of either the $2/day plan or the 10¢ minute PAYGO plan sounds like you best choice. T-Mobile would not give you any 3G and has no data coverage of any kind along much of Route 66.

      Any unused AT&T SIM can be activated on AT&T prepaid so buying on on eBay should work.

      Delete
    2. Thank you very much for the quick and great respose.

      Delete
  79. Hi there,

    Thanks for all your great articles.

    I will be visiting the US for 2 weeks in September and I will need a prepaid phone service with around 250MB of data and reasonable rates for the occasional call home to Australia.

    I like to get things right - so I've carefully read all the information and taken notes. This is what will be most appropriate for me:

    AT&T GoPhone 10c/min Plan
    + International Long Distance Package for $10
    + 500MB Data Package for $25

    Before I get to the US, I will buy a non-activated AT&T SIM off eBay for around $4.50 (including shipping to Australia) - for use in my unlocked 3G Android Smartphone.

    Below are some questions I have:

    1. Is there any problem with me activating the SIM and purchasing the two add-ons here in Australia, one day before I leave i.e. does the activation process require me to be in the US and have an AT&T signal?

    2. Does this plan charge for incoming international calls (from Australia)? The AT&T website does not answer this question.

    3. When I use the International Long Distance Package – do I also get charged the normal $0.10/min fee? The AT&T website does not specifically address this issue.

    4. Can non-residents sign up for a 10c/min plan? As this is effectively a post-paid scenario – I thought perhaps non US residents cannot have this type of plan?

    5. I have another AT&T SIM from a previous trip which has been cancelled by AT&T due to a period of non-use. Can I reactivate this SIM (thereby avoiding buying another)?

    I look forward to your response.

    Thanks,

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
  80. You've done you research well. AT&T prepaid with the add ons you mentioned should work well. Answers to your questions are below.

    1. I've heard mixed reports from people trying to activate an AT&T prepaid SIM online from outside the US. Some say it works, others say it failed with various unhelpful error messages.

    Even if you get it activated you won't be able to add funds or purchase the add ons. 611 won't work as their is no international roaming and you need to get a PIN code by SMS to confirm setting up an online account.

    2. 10¢/minute is charged for all incoming calls including international ones.

    3. There is no 10¢ charge when making an international call with the international add on provided you are calling a covered number Only landlines in Australia are covered, calling a mobile will cost $1.09/min.

    4. The 10¢/minute plan is available to anyone, visitors included. It is not a post paid plan. You must have prepaid funds in your account to make calls.

    5. Expired SIMs can't be reactivated.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Hi Yeswap,

    Thanks for your very fast reply.

    It sounds like I will have to activate the SIM when I get to the US. Can you tell me whether there is free Wi-Fi in LAX? As stated I will have my Android Smartphone (plus a laptop) but no personal Internet connection to get online and activate my AT&T SIM.

    In regards to question 4: I was imagining that I would just use the service at $0.10/min and get a bill for whatever I use at the end of the month. As you've clarified that I must have prepaid funds in my account:

    A. Do I elect how much to put in my account during the activation process or do I have to pay for a default amount set by AT&T?

    B. Do I choose from set amounts eg. $5, $10, $20 etc? Can you tell me what the set amounts are or can I load any amount I like?

    C. If I use up all of my credit, can I top-up later? During top-up do I choose from set amounts eg. $5, $10, $20 etc? Can you tell me what the set amounts are or can I top-up any amount I like?

    I look forward to your response.

    Thanks,

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WiFi at LAX is paid, not free: LAX Airport Information - Internet Services - WiFi.

      A, B: You can add funds at the time of activation in the amounts of $15, $25, $50, $75 or $100.

      C: You can top up anytime with the same amounts.

      Take a look at: Prepaid Operator Profile: AT&T GoPhone which is my detailed explanation of AT&T prepaid services, pricing and procedures.

      Delete
  82. Hi Yeswap,

    I have read through all the information on the link which you sent – thanks!

    Questions regarding the $2 Daily Unlimited Plan:
    1. Would I get charged $2 on a day that I received a text message from overseas but there was no other activity on my account?
    2. Using the International Long Distance Package add on – do I still get charged 10¢/min when I receive an international LANDLINE call or is this charge waived due to my having unlimited nationwide calls?

    Questions regarding the 10¢/min Plan:
    A. Using the 10¢/min Plan – is there any discounted rate when calling another AT&T GoPhone prepaid user?
    B. Using the International Long Distance Package add on – do I still get charged 10¢/min when I receive an international LANDLINE call?

    I have read what you have written regarding activation and I think I have understood correctly. To make sure, I have written my plan below:

    * Buy any unused inactive 3G/4G AT&T SIM off eBay
    (not a “GoPhone” labelled SIM as they become locked to one device for 6 months)
    * Using the SIM in my Smartphone, activate on US soil by dialling 611
    * Add funds during the same 611 phonecall, using an Australian MasterCard
    * Purchase the International Long Distance Package and the 500MB Data Package during the same 611 phonecall, using an Australian MasterCard

    Could you please advise whether there is any problem with my plan above. Also, will I have any trouble paying over the phone with an Australian MasterCard i.e. it does not have a US billing address. Last time I bought a data package from the AT&T website, I had to enter my LA hotel address, as my billing address. The website would not process the transaction, with my Australian billing address.

    I look forward to your response.

    Thanks,

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Questions regarding the $2 Daily Unlimited Plan:
      1. Would I get charged $2 on a day that I received a text message from overseas but there was no other activity on my account?"

      - No

      "2. Using the International Long Distance Package add on – do I still get charged 10¢/min when I receive an international LANDLINE call or is this charge waived due to my having unlimited nationwide calls?"

      - There is no charge for any incoming call on the daily plan (other than the $2 daily fee),

      "Questions regarding the 10¢/min Plan:
      A. Using the 10¢/min Plan – is there any discounted rate when calling another AT&T GoPhone prepaid user?"

      - No

      "B. Using the International Long Distance Package add on – do I still get charged 10¢/min when I receive an international LANDLINE call?:"

      - Yes, 10¢/min for all incoming calls. The international add-on only applies to outgoing calls.

      "I have read what you have written regarding activation and I think I have understood correctly. To make sure, I have written my plan below:

      * Buy any unused inactive 3G/4G AT&T SIM off eBay
      (not a “GoPhone” labelled SIM as they become locked to one device for 6 months)
      * Using the SIM in my Smartphone, activate on US soil by dialling 611
      * Add funds during the same 611 phonecall, using an Australian MasterCard
      * Purchase the International Long Distance Package and the 500MB Data Package during the same 611 phonecall, using an Australian MasterCard

      Could you please advise whether there is any problem with my plan above. Also, will I have any trouble paying over the phone with an Australian MasterCard i.e. it does not have a US billing address. Last time I bought a data package from the AT&T website, I had to enter my LA hotel address, as my billing address. The website would not process the transaction, with my Australian billing address."

      - That all sounds correct although I can't say with any certainly that your Australian credit card will be accepted by 611. Non-US credit cards are generally accepted at retail point of sale locations but not always over the phone or online.

      If the credit card doesn't work with 611, GoPhone PINs are widely available at convenience stores, supermarkets, chain drugstores, and AT&T and independent mobile phone shops.

      Delete
  83. Hi Yeswap,

    Thanks for your reply.

    My US trip will be broken by a trip to Israel in the middle. i.e. I will be in the US for 10-14 days, then Israel for 10 days, then back in the US for another 2-3 days. I will remove my AT&T SIM while I'm in Israel.

    Regarding the $2 Daily Unlimited Plan - if someone texts/calls me while I'm in Israel - will I get hit with the $2 charge for that day? Do I need to turn voice mail off to avoid this?

    I look forward to your response.

    Thanks,

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Calls that go to voicemail do not trigger the daily fee unless you call in to listen to the message using the the mobile phone.

      The AT&T SIM won't register on any network while you are in Israel. It's not necessary to remove the SIM while outside the US.

      Delete
  84. Is it a problem if someone texts me while I'm in Israel?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You won't get the text until you return to US coverage, if ever.

      Delete
    2. So I wouldn't get charged the $2 charge?

      Delete
    3. Of course not. Incoming texts never trigger the daily charge.

      Delete
    4. One final question regarding the $2 Daily Unlimited Plan:
      Using the International Long Distance Package add on – would I get charged $2 on a day that I made a LANDLINE call to Australia but there was no other activity on my account?

      I'm asking this as even the 10¢/min Plan does not charge for this kind of call.

      Delete
    5. If you have the international add-on, making a call to an Australian land line will not trigger the $2 daily charge.

      Did you hear about AT&T's message to customers yesterday that data packages will no longer be available on the 10¢/min and $2/day plans starting April 18th? I hope you are arriving before then.

      Delete
  85. Hi Yeswap,

    Thanks for tipping me off regarding the changes starting 18 April - that throws a spanner in the works, as I won't be in the US until August.

    I was leaning towards the $2 Daily Unlimited Plan but I will most likely be forced to go with the $25 Monthly Plan
    + International Long Distance Package for $10
    + 500MB Data Package for $25

    On the $25 Monthly Plan:

    1. Is there any charge for receiving an international text?
    2. Is there any charge for an incoming international call?

    Thanks,

    Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On the $25 plan:
      1. There's no charge for receiving any text, domestic or international.
      2. Receiving international calls is billed the same as domestic. No extra charge for the first 250 minutes, 10¢/minute thereafter.

      Delete
  86. Hi got question.
    Trip to california in may, from LA to SF and some parks.
    We will stay 10 days, we got Iphones and IPad (from italy) and need first DATA plans. At least two data plans, because we are 2 couples. We also would need some BASIC voice plan, just to contact each other and also our friend that is located in SF.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the iPad, I recommend the AT&T $30 for 3 GB and $50 for 5 GB iPad plan.

      Data for the iPhones will be expensive, $25/month for 250 minutes of voice plus $25 for 500 MB of data. You may want to rely on the iPad for data and use the phones for voice only on AT&T 10¢/min pay as you go.

      Delete
  87. Thanks so much for quich reply!
    so we need on SIM (prepaid) for voice and one SIM (prepaid too) for data to plug into iPad. Can i tether to iPhone for data??? It will be fantastic!

    And most imposrtant question, any chance to Get online the SIM shipped o italy before may?

    Thanks again

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could tether your iPad to your phone but because data is 5 times more expensive on the phone SIM, it wouldn't make much sense.

      AT&T doesn't sell SIMs online but Amazon does. I don't know if they will ship to Italy. If not there are Ebay sellers who have SIMs and ship worldwide. You can use any unactivated AT&T SIM. Avoid the ones labeled for "GoPhone" as they become locted to the phone they are first used in.

      It would probably be easier and cheaper to get the SIMs at an AT&T shop after you arrive in the US. Use the store locator link in the post to find one near your hotel.

      Delete
  88. Simply fantastic!!! Thanks you so much.

    Greetings

    Marco

    ReplyDelete
  89. We have 2 old unlocked GSM phones that my hubby and I want to use in New York & DC next month, to coordinate meeting up etc.

    1. Samsung GT-S5830 (he'll carry for local calls, texts & minimal web surfing & a couple of calls to India)
    2. Nokia 7230 (I'll carry for local calls & texts)
    Both phones work on GSM frequencies 850, 900, 1800, 1900.

    Would it make sense to order 2 of these T-Mobile SIM Card Activation Kits for $0.99 (reduced from $6.99)? Are these SIM cards that could work in our unlocked phone or are there some technical restrictions?

    http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-phone/T-Mobile-Prepaid-SIM-Activation-Kit

    I assume if these SIM cards are appropriate for our use, and we order them and they are waiting for us when we get there (we're meeting our friends on arrival)... Then I will then need to get 2 prepaid plans from T-Mobile. For him $2 per day and for me $1 per day. Am I on the right track? Thanks a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. T-Mobile should work well for you purposes and thoese SIM Activation Kits will work. You might want to use an International calling card for those calls to India though. The $1 and $2 day plans don't include international calls, which are charged at $1.60/minute.

      Delete
  90. Thanks for the help :)

    ReplyDelete
  91. how to activate my prepaid At&t sim for blackberry services BBM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i use unlock BB 9800. now im at LA for 1 month.. i just bought At&t prepaid sim card. i want to activate my BBM, anyone can help

      Delete
    2. You can't. BlackBerry BIS, which BBM requires, is not available with AT&T prepaid.

      Delete
    3. so what sim card i can use? so i can play BBM

      Delete
    4. Like it says in the post. Either the:
      SIMPLE Mobile $40 plan with the $10 BIS add.on
      or the:
      T-Mobile $50 or higher plan with the $10 BIS add-on

      Delete
  92. Dear Yeswap,
    Your site remains a fantastic resource. Just a quick question: on the T-Mobile Monthly4G $30 'Walmart' plan which sound actually like a great deal): do you have any tips on how can one make sure that the plan actually gets cancelled after one month (we will be in the States for one month)? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You don't have to worry about that. The plan won't renew unless you set up auto refill.

      Setting up auto refill is a separate multi-step process and is impossible to do by accident.

      Delete
  93. Dear Yeswap,

    Do I read the T-Mobile website correctly and would we have to buy a T-Mobile 4g smart-phone in order to get this plan? In other words, would I wouldn't be able to purchase this for my European (SIM-unlocked) HTC One-S or not? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The $30 Unlimited Web & Text with 100 min talk plan works only with T-Mobile Phones purchased from a Walmart store or from Walmart.com." - see http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tmobile-30-Wireless-Airtime-Card/15443357

      Delete
    2. The $30 Unlimited Web, 100 minutes plan is also available by purchasing a T-Mobile SIM Card Activation Kit from prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-phone/T-Mobile-Prepaid-SIM-Activation-Kit and activating it online at www.t-mobile.com/PrepaidActivation.

      See prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans: where it says "New activations only. Available exclusively in-store at Walmart, on Walmart.com, and T-Mobile.com."

      Delete
    3. Just wanted to let you know that everything worked according to plan: got two T-Mobile SIM-card activation kits, put them in our European (unlocked) gsms, activated them online, added the $30 Unlimited Web and bingo! Plus automatic cancellation after a month, so no surprises at the end. Everything worked like a charm - thanks a lot Yeswap.

      Delete
    4. I'm glad to hear it worked well for you. Thanks for letting me know.

      Delete
  94. Thanks! I just order two of those kits. Fingers crossed. Wrt the online activation - I see they also ask for the IMEI - will they not see then that that phone is NOT a t-mobile phone? Or don't they check? Or is there maybe another way around this?

    ReplyDelete
  95. Dear yeswap...I'm based in nigeria and I will in thee states in 3days.I have a blackberry 9780 and would want to use it over there just for bbm,twitter and facebook nn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's going to be expensive for just 3 days.
      BBM and the BlackBerry browser require BIS. Among US GSM operators, only T-Mobile and Simple Mobile offer BIS on prepaid plans and both require a prepaid monthly plan.
      T-Mobile: $50/month + $10 for BIS
      Simole Mobile: $40/month + $10 for BIS

      Details about both are in the post.

      Delete
  96. Not planning on make any calls just d above listed app I would lyk to use..imy fone has bands 1,4,8 pls wat do I get

    ReplyDelete
  97. Visiting the USA from Australia in Jan/Feb 2013. I will be bringing my Motorola Defy + Android along. Can i pre purchase a sim card now and activate it before i leave?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's possible but difficult. You would need to find a reputable seller willing to ship the SIM internationally. AT&T, Simple Mobile, Amazon, T-Mobile and Straight Talk/Net 10 won't ship SIMs outside the US so eBay is probably the only way.

      Assuming you had the SIM you should be able to activate it online. Funding the plan with a non-US credit card will be tricky though.

      Personally I wouldn't do it. Buying SIMs on eBay has a significant risk factor and shipping will add to the cost. Use the AT&T dealer locator link in the post above to find an AT&T store near your first hotel. Chances are there's one with in waking distance. You will want to use AT&T rather than T-Mobile or Simple Mobile as the Australian market Defy will only get 3G data on AT&T.

      Delete
  98. Hi, Yeswap,

    it seems that you know what you are talking about. I'm European and I plan to visit 3 weeks NYC next month. I'm looking for a plan with "unlimited" data (at least 1 or 2Gb) to use with my European SGS II. I don't need voice or text (mostly if it supposes an a additional cost), I only want data. What is the best plan that suits me?

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In order to get 3G data with a European SGS II you need to use the AT&T network. Your best bet is probably to visit an AT&T store and pick up a SIM, activate it on the $25/month plan and then add a $25 1GB data package. That would give you 1 GB and a month's service for $50. If you run out of data you can add another data package.

      I know you said you didn't need voice or messaging but AT&T's data only mobile broadband plan is also $50/month for 1GB so there's no savings.

      The phone plan gives you the same 1 GB plus 250 minutes of domestic voice and unlimited domestic and international texts at no extra cost.

      Delete
  99. Yeswap, I'm sorry about asking this question, but I'm really confused about all the information above. I just need help with what I believe is so simple for you to answer me, but, of course, I can't do by my own: I'm traveling to Las Vegas and San Diego next month, for two weeks, and I need a prepaid data plan to access emails and social networks only. So which is the best option for me in terms of price and quality, if it's possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I forgot to mention: I've got a GSM cell phone (Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Pro).

      Delete
    2. I recommend AT&T using the $25 Monthly plan with a $25 1 GB data package. The SIM is free so the total cost would be $50.

      T-Mobile using the $2/day plan would be $10 cheaper ($30 refill + $10 SIM = $40) but you would only get 2G speeds.

      You phone needs to be unlocked to use either, of course.

      Delete
  100. i just got the Lenovo A790.Frequency: GSM850/900/1800/1900MHZ WCDMA2100MHZ. placed a air voice sim in it. the signal is terrible, and the only network it shows is cingular and ATT 2 barely or nothing. It's not the phone, the wifi works great. I'm in good AT&T coverage area (zip code 13029).
    should i try another carrier?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you having trouble with calls or data? With only WCDMA 2100 you won't get 3G so data will be slow.

      If you are having trouble with voice calls it's likely that you are either in a dead spot (there can be pockets of bad coverage anywhere) or the phone is bad. If you have or can borrow another AT&T based phone see if it works well in the same location. If it does try swapping SIMs to verify whether it's the phone or SIM that's bad.

      Delete
  101. Guys, if you are looking to buy prepaid wireless PIN and Sim, visit our website. We have great deals on every carriers. www.prepaidwise.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you ship SIMs internationally? How much is international shipping?

      Delete
  102. Hello Yeswap,
    I've been trying to research the best plan for our upcoming trip and found you are the most knowledgeable and easy to understand resource I've found. Thank you!

    We will be taking a 12-day road trip from Vancouver to Yellowstone National Park in September 2012 and I would like to have use of my unlocked Sony Experia X10 for emergency use and keeping in touch back home in Canada. I wouldn't expect to need more than 150-200 minutes for the duration of the trip - most of that would be to Canada. It would be handy to be able to use text, as well. Planning on using wifi to check emails when we stop for the night.

    Before reading your advise I have purchased an H2O sim card (low minimum & free calls to Canada) to use which seemed perfect. I've used them in years gone by without issues, but concerned now that we might be left high & dry in a remote area, as we will be on motorcycles and taking back roads.

    So, like others, my question is what would you advise for minimal use for 12 days of calls to Canada & maybe the odd text that would give us the best chance of cell coverage in eastern Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming (Yellowstone) at a reasonable cost? Fortunately I have access to a US shipping address.

    Looking forward to your invaluable advice, and thank you in advance!
    Virginia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For a GSM phone like the Xperia, H20 which uses AT&T, will give you coverage about as good as anything else that will work with that phone.

      I've seen claims that a Straight BYOD SIM will give you slightly more coverage than other AT&T based operators but ST's lack of detailed coverage maps makes that hard to confirm.

      If you want extra security for emergencies in the back country get an inexpensive CDMA Tracfone. There's generally more CDMA than GSM coverage in remote areas and Tracfone roams on virtually every CDMA carrier, so it will work just about anywhere there is any mobile phone service at all. There's no extra charge for calls to Canada on Tracfone although you do have to dial an 11 digit access number first.

      You might find this post: Coverage Maps For All Prepaid Carriers helpful for comparing coverage in specific areas

      Delete
  103. Hello Yeswap,

    First of all, I have read your post and all the comments and answers. All of them are very helpful. Thank you for your attention to the people who needs to be informed clearly.

    I need to ask it to have refreshed information.

    I have an Iphone 4 (unlocked GSM) and I will be in Miami for 5 weeks.
    I know that if I chose T-Mobile I wont be able to use 3G, and If I chose AT&T I won't be able to use it in Iphone (because you said it is forbidden for Iphone).

    So what should I do? Is there any change on AT&T's policy about Iphone-Data-For-Prepaid-Users?

    After I read all this things, I feel It is only way to have data is choosing Tmobile unfortunately. (just 2g speed but it is better than nothing.)
    Because I am not sure about how I can purchase AT&T but fake them that I am not an Iphone user and use data?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can use an iPhone on AT&T, the post above tells you how to activate the SIM and get data working.

      Delete
  104. So are these steps I'll follow?

    1) I will go to AT&T Store and I will buy a micro simcard with 50$Unlimited Plan and 25$ 1G data package.
    2) I will not say that I am using Iphone?
    3) I will go home and put the card to phone and I will activate it online.
    4) I'll follow the link you gave to take the APN settings.
    5) I will be able to talk unlimited in U.S and have 1 Gb data with 3G speed for a month.

    Is there a mistake or something I missed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes that will work.

      AT&T no longer seems to have a policy against iPhones on prepaid. So it's probably OK to tell the AT&T store clerks that you are using an iPhone and let them activate the SIM for you in the store. They will tell you that prepaid data doesn't work on iPhones but it actually does once you set the proper APN.

      Delete
  105. Dear Yeswap and bsumru7,

    "4) I'll follow the link you gave to take the APN settings." - please help: where can I find these? I read all the above posts and replies re:iPhones but didn't see it...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Using a WiFi connnection go to the above URL with Safari on your iPhone and select "AT&T (wap.cingular)" from the dropdown. This will enable data.

      Delete
  106. Hey, I think I found the message about APN settings. Is this up-to-date?

    "The iPhone 4 will give you 3G on AT&T prepaid. Provided you use the correct settings it should work:


    APN: wap.cingular
    Proxy: none
    Port: none
    Username and password are blank
    Server: none
    Mmsc: http://mmsc.cingular.com
    Mms proxy: wireless.cingular.com
    Mms port: 80
    Mcc: 310
    Mnc: 410
    Authentication type: none
    APN type: default "...please confirm!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, those are the current GoPhone APN settings.

      Delete
  107. I have a blackberry of t mobile given by a friend of mine and tried to unlock it in India but could not. Now I am bringing it with me to US. Is there any possibility of using it with t mobile if i purchase a sim card? please let me know. thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it's a T-Mobile USA phone you can use it on any T-Mobile USA prepaid plan. Voice and texting will work with any plan. For BBM and email to work you need to use a $30 or higher monthly prepaid plan plus the $10/month BlackBerry add-on.

      Delete
  108. Hi Yeswap,
    which blackberry-capable bis carrier/plan would you recommend in terms of call quality/reception/reliability/web performance in the SF Bay area? Is boost any good? what about simple/tmobile?

    Thanks in advanced.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use Boost and T-Mobile in San Francisco, mostly in the City but on the peninsula fairly often and occasionally in Marin and the East Bay. Both have good coverage everywhere I've used them except West Marin and the northern fringes of San Raphael. Maximum data speeds are better on T-Mobile (I've seen 10 Mbps), but Boost is completely usable (typicality about 300 Kbps down) for browsing and audio (not video) streaming. I'd recommend either and suggest you choose on the basis of lowest cost for your usage.

      Delete
  109. Hi Yeswap,

    Thanks for the great info.
    I will be travelling to SF, LA and LV. I will be using BB 9790 and Samsung Galaxy Tab (both unlocked). I will get T-mobile plan of $50 + $10 (BIS). Will I be able to use the same sim card for BB in Samsung? Will I be able to use tethering in samsung so my BB will also be active on wifi? If I could do both with 1 SIM card it would be great.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to be sure but you will probably be able to use your Tab with the T-Mobile phone SIM. T-Mobile blocks at least some their own non-phone devices from connecting to the web with SIM activated on phone plans. But as long as you Tab is not a T-Mobile USA branded one it's likely to work.

      If the Tab works and tethering works with it on your home network it should also work on T-Mobile

      Delete
  110. Hey Yeswap.
    I found this prepaid carrier last year, and i can't remember the name. Can you please help? Its a beta international mobile carrier running on tmobile in the us. they offer unlimited incoming and 1000 outgoing texts a month for free. They charge taxes and 7 cents a minute in the us. There was a one time membership fee for 20 bucks which included a sim.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry I can help you with that. 1000 free outgoing texts per month and unlimited incoming texts for a one time $20 fee sounds too good to be true. I'm sure I'remember that offer if I ever saw it.

      Delete
  111. Hi
    What's the best plan for an iPhone that I would like to use while in the theme parks for wait times and maps .
    Also I would like to receive my emails as well

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's no one best plan for everyone. It depends your level of use and, the number of days you will be in the US and whether cost matters or now. If you have an unlocked GSM iPhone you can use any of the AT&T, T-Mobile or Simple Mobile plans listed above.

      Delete
  112. Hi , Im from singapore. I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. I will be going to New Jersey for a week in January. I would like to know which plan fits me the best. My main concern is to have unlimited data plan access. Also, do I need to unlock my phone in order to use the US Sim card?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. use simple mobile. best option for u.

      Delete
  113. For a week, T-Mobile's $3/day plan would be the most cost effective. Your phone needs to be unlocked to use a SIM from any operator other than the one it's locked too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is the $3/day plan still limited to 200mb, at least at full speed?

      Delete
  114. Yes, first 200 MB at full speed then throttled to 128 kbps.

    ReplyDelete
  115. how can i get the tmobile sim? coz the last time when i was in NYC they could only sell me the sim for 30 bucks?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was probably a 3rd party T-Mobile dealer, not a company owned store.

      T-Mobile SIMs are supposed to be $10 or free if you activate on a prepaid monthly plan $30 or higher. Use the T-Mobile store locator to find a T-Mobile owned store near your hotel.

      Delete
  116. Hi Yeswap,

    great page you put together!
    I am living in the US for 4 weeks, got a US address, but european iphone 3GS and cc. I need little voice, no text and little data. Pay as you go would be great and I would love to use PTel Real PAYGO. They have 1cent calls to europe, cheap data and seem to fit my needs perfectly.
    But they dont take my european cc online. I checked on the website and the two stores that seem to sell sims are closed all the time! Went there 3 times :(
    What other plans do you suggest?

    thanks
    hank!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No one has as good pay as you go data rates as PTel. Next best would AT&T MVNOs Airvoice, H20, Jolt and Red Pocket at 30-33¢/MB. I don't know if any of them take non-US cards though.

      If you have Paypal, PTel SIMs are available from many eBay sellers for 99¢ with free shipping. Callinmart.com sells PTel top up PINs at a discount and also takes Paypal.

      Or you may be able to use a prepaid debit card with PTel.

      Delete
  117. thanks a lot, I will try ebay and callingmart!

    ReplyDelete
  118. Hi Yeswap,
    A very nice writeup...my wife and I will be travelling around USA for 3 weeks. Reading through your article and seems like T-mobile prepaid $30 unlimited data plan works best. Got a few questions. Please bear with me.

    I'm a bit confused on the new sim activation part. The plan is only for new activation?

    A) Do I get an activation code if I purchase a Walmart(Email Delivery) New T-Mobile Monthly4G $30 Unlimited Web & Text with 100 min of talk?

    B)If I get the sim pack from ebay(without activation code) before we get into USA, where can I get the activation code for the plan?

    C)At the T-mobile activation page, it requires 3 things...activation code, sim code and IMEI. Can use IMEI from my phone?

    D)Or can I just walk in to a T-mobile store and get the plan outright without all these hoops?

    I will be using it with my Samsung S3

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Answers inline below:

      I'm a bit confused on the new sim activation part. The plan is only for new activation? - Yes a new activation with anew phone number

      A) Do I get an activation code if I purchase a Walmart(Email Delivery) New T-Mobile Monthly4G $30 Unlimited Web & Text with 100 min of talk? - No that's just a refill PIN

      B)If I get the sim pack from ebay(without activation code) before we get into USA, where can I get the activation code for the plan? - No as it says in the post you must buy a T-Mobile Prepaid SIM Card Activation Kit. They are available on eBay.

      C)At the T-mobile activation page, it requires 3 things...activation code, sim code and IMEI. Can use IMEI from my phone?

      D)Or can I just walk in to a T-mobile store and get the plan outright without all these hoops? - No, the $30 plan is online only. T-Mobile stores can't a activate a SIM onit and don't sell the Prepaid SIM Card Activation Kit.

      Delete
  119. Sorry...forgot my S3 is not 4G ready but can it still be used for the T-mobile plan? or can you recommend another plan...prefer only data. thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. T-Mobile's "4G" is just HSPA+. Their primary HSPA band is AWS (1700 Mhz, UTMS Band IV) which is only supported by the S3 model SGH-T999. However T-Mobile is in the process of deploying HSPA+ on PCS (1900 Mhz, UTMS band II) which is supported by all S3 GSM models. You can view a crowd sourced map of 1900 Mhz sightings at airportal.de.

      For wider HSPA+ availability and better overall coverage you would need to use AT&T or an AT&T MVNO but it's much more expensive, $50/month for 1 GB. See AT&T and AT&T MVNOs Compared for details.

      Delete
  120. Hi, I have a question about the Monthly4G T-Mobile 30$ (5GB) plan.

    Excerpt:
    "If you have not redeemed sufficient refills to cover your Monthly4G plan, the features included with your plan will no longer be available. This will restrict you from using voice and text services. You can continue to use your remaining refills for downloads. (...) You have 60 days to apply enough funds to renew your monthly rate plan."
    source: http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/monthly-4g-plans-faqs#more

    Does it mean that you can pay the 30$ once in two months and actually use the data, but have other services blocked during the second month?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. Downloads usually refers to ringtones and wallpaper.
      Besides, the language is referring to what you can do with partial refills; e.g., you refilled $10 instead of $30.
      There is no rate that I can find for data used with an expired 4G monthly plan. So, how would you use a partial refill of $10 for data? At what rate would Tmobile subtract from your balance when you used, say, 1mb?

      Delete
    2. You could probably also use the Play Store for downloads and apps. When you search Tmobile website for 'downloads' you get hits like this one:
      http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-3523#Table_of_Contents_

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    3. You don't get any data with an expired monthly plan.

      I think that line in the plan terms means that if you still have some money in you account after the plan expires you can use it to buy T-Mobile's overpriced ringtones, wallpapers and games for non-smartphones.

      With an Android phone you cal always download games etc. using WiFi even if your cellular account is expired.

      Delete
    4. Tmobile used to let you charge paid Android apps and Mobile TV to your phone balance, at least through their app store.

      Delete
  121. Hi Yeswap,

    Next month we will visit California and Hawaii for a total of 15 days.
    We will need around 500 international voice minutes, 50 international texts and some basic data (2G is OK).
    We have an unlocked iPhone 4.

    1) What plan would you recommend?
    I was thinking about T-Mobile $50 monthly plan + $10 international add-on.

    2) Will this eBay micro SIM work? http://www.ebay.com/itm/T-Mobile-Prepaid-MICRO-Sim-ACTIVATION-Kit-FOR-IPHONE-4-NOT-ACTIVATED-/251240292252?pt=SIM_Cards&hash=item3a7f169f9c#shId

    3) Is it possible to activate it online, in order to be able to make the first call few minutes after landing in the U.S.?

    4) Is there any additional fee when we are in Hawaii because it's outside the Continental U.S.?

    Thank you very much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1) The T-Mobile $50 plan with the international add-on is a good choice. There are less expensive options (see Best Prepaid Mobile International Voice & Text Deals) but it's hard to find a seller who will ship the SIM internationally.
      2) The eBay item is inexactly what you need for T-Mobile prepaid and an iPhone.
      3) You should be able to activate online at prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-activate
      4) There are no extra fees when using T-Mobile prepaid in Hawaii.

      Delete
  122. Hi...

    From Canada.
    Will possibly be taking a cycling trek into NY state this summer.
    Not entirely sure, but will likely be in the US for a couple of weeks.
    As such, was hoping to obtain and use a pay as you go microSIM (for Note2) that would be primarily used for data - ie maps software, etc. Am also looking for the cheapest option. Any suggestions? Is there anything similar to what speakout offers here in Canada, ie where you can use autoproxy to bypass port locking?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheapest option would be T-Mobile's $30 5 GB, 100 minutes, unlimited texts for 30 days. This is an online only offer meaning you need to get a SIM from anywhere except a T-Mobile store (eBay is probably the easiest if you want the SIM shipped to Canada) and activate it online at www.t-mobile.com/PrepaidActivation.

      T-Mobile doesn't block any ports so a proxy shouldn't be necesary

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    2. Thanks for the input! I have a friend in the US who has been kind enough to receive ebay bike gear items (which he will bring up to Canada when he visits) that I have ordered, so I could do the same with the SIM. I think he is a T-Mobile customer. What would he have to do to obtain the SIM kit?

      I assume the 100 minutes and unlimited texts would apply to US only #'s, right? Won't really need this, but I guess this would be the only way to gain access to data?

      Once I obtain the SIM, would I be able to re-use it in the future? Let's say I return to the US in half a year - would I be able to pay $$ and re-activate the SIM (obviously, with a new tel #, and 0 credit from last time)?

      Delete
    3. Have your friend order a micro-SIM and Prepaid Activation Kit from prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com for you. SIms are 99¢ and shipping is free.

      The 100 minutes and unlimited messaging is US only. Use Google Voice for free text messaging and calls to Canada using the 100 minutes or Talkatone for free calls to Canada using data.

      60 days after the monthly plan expires your account will convert to pay as you go. Once that happens you will need a new SIM to reactivate the $30 5 GB plan as it's for "new customers only".

      90 days after the account switches to pay as you the account will be closed and you will lose the phone number and the SIM will be permanently deactivated.

      For more about T-Mobile prepaid see: Prepaid Operator Profile: T-Mobile

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    4. If you do not need fast data, there is a slightly cheaper option. Activate the Tmob $2/day plan, and get unlimited calling, texting and unlimited 2G web x 14 days for $28. Your balance will be good for 90 days, then you have another 60 days to top up at least $10 before losing your number.

      Delete
  123. It seems that AT&T is the best solution if you have an Iphone and want to have a dataplan included in the payasyougo

    Or do you have any other advice,

    ReplyDelete
  124. i have a sony xperia go and an old nokia. Will be in usa for 2 weeks and need sim card to communicate with each other in new york and vegas. What do you suggest?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For voice and text only, the most convenient and least expensive options would be AT&T or T-Mobile PAYGO.

      AT&T: free SIM, $15 topup, 10¢/minute, 20¢/text
      T-Mobile: $10 SIM, $10 topup, 33¢/minute, 10¢/text

      When arrive, pick up SIMs at an AT&T or T-Mobile store and activate on the basic pay by the minute plan

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    2. 1. Tmobile $2/day unlimited talk, text and 2G data SIM activation kit. $28x2. Includes free talk and text roaming on AT&T in areas where there are no Tmobile towers.
      2. Lycamobile free SIM for PayGo: 2c/min; 4c/test, free to receive; 6c/mb for mobile data. Tmobile network only. Check coverage map.
      3. Ptel unlimited talk, text and data for half price; $20 vs $40 special with SIM. $20x2. Tmobile network only.
      4. AT&T SIM with $2/day unlimited talk and text. Turn off phone data ($2/mb).

      Delete
  125. Planning a trip to Florida this summer from Montreal, and I want to have a Data plan for my iPhone 4S. I want 3G as much as possible, so T-Mobile is out of the question.

    AT&T just came out with their latest prices, and I just wanted to make sure of the steps required to activate the AT&T SIM.

    I think that the best option for me right now would be the $25 voice/text + $25 data plan. I remember having the $2/day + data plan 2 years ago, but I guess they don't offer it anymore.

    1- If I get the SIM card from Ebay, is there anything special I should be on the lookout for (maybe expiration dates ?).
    2- Can I activate my plan from my home in Canada on the web ? I just went through the first two pages of the activation process (with a SIM number from an ebay listing), and at one point they ask you the zip code, is this something that needs to be known when I purchase the SIM on ebay ? I also imagine that at one point I have to pay with a credit card, can I pay with my canadian VISA ? Is there anything else I should know about the activation process ?
    3- I'm not sure if the new GoPhone service still bans iPhones ? Do I still have to use a different APN setting or will it work right off the bat ?

    Thanks !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any unactivated AT&T SIM card can be activated on prepaid.

      I don't think you can fully activate online when in Canada. The zip code shouldn't be a problem as it just determines the phone number's area code and prefix. As long as you use a US zip code you be OK.

      It's been a while since I activated an AT&T SIM on prepaid. The last time I did activation and funding were separate steps. You could activate online with no money, just a SIM. The problem is that to complete online account registration you have to enter a code that AT&T sends in a text. I don't know if you can receive the text while roaming in Canada.

      Buying airtime directly from AT&T online requires a credit card with a US address. But you can buy airtime PINs from Callingmart, eBay, etc. with Paypal. So if you manage to get registered online, adding funds online should be possible.

      Depending where and how you are traveling it might be easier to buy a SIM and activate at an AT&T store after you arrive.

      Delete
  126. I can have an Android or an Iphone when i go over to Florida next week.

    It seems that T-Mobile is cheaper than AT&T with dataplan

    What is your recomendation, i think that i just need around 200 Mb data for 3 weeks ( I have WIFI on the hotel)

    /Markus

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How much will you use your phone to make voice calls or send sms?
      Do you need fast data, or will slower EDGE 2.5G data work OK?
      Do you plan to buy the SIM in Florida?

      Delete
    2. Provided you are buying the SIM in a store after you arrive in the US and just need 200 MB of data and 250 minutes or less of domestic voice, AT&T would be cheaper.

      AT&T: free SIM, + $25 Monthly Plan + $15 200 MB data add-on = $40
      T-Mobile: $10 SIM + $50 Unlimited Plan = $60

      T-Mobile's $30 plan + $10 SIM would match AT&T's $40 price but that plan is only available when activating online with a SIM activation kit which generally is only sold online.

      AT&T's $25 plan also includes unlimited international SMS, none of of T-Mobile's plans do.

      Delete
    3. Dennis gave you the easiest, most convenient way to get your service. You can also get unlimited talk, text and data (250mb high-speed) for the same $40 via Ptel. If you are near Miami or West Palm Beach in FL, visit these stores to get your SIM and plan:

      Mobile 1
      8882 NW 7th Ave
      Miami FL 33150
      Phone: (305) 696-0002

      • Any Computer Repair and Sales
      • 5910 South Dixie Highway
      • West Palm Beach FL 33405
      • Phone:
(561) 582-2228

      You can find stores yourself on the Ptel website by searching for stores that sell phones within 'X' miles from the city in FL you visit. http://www.platinumtel.com/gmap/map

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