A prepaid SIM Card is an essential item while travelling. Then what are the best prepaid SIM cards in the USA? What are their services, and how can you buy them?
Surprisingly, the SIM cards market for visitors to the US is a far cry from Europe or other countries. There are only three to four networks; everything is costly and confusing.
Don’t worry. Here we will give you a list of recommended SIM Cards for travellers and how you should use them. So pack your bags and prepare to start your journey to the States.
List of the best prepaid SIM Cards in the USA
T-Mobile Prepaid SIM Card
You can buy T-mobile SIM Cards easily in convenience stores or retail shops. Photo from T-mobile official website
Estimated Cost: ~$40-60
- Unlimited calls and text in the USA
- From 10GB to unlimited DATA in 5G Speed
- Unlimited Music
- Expiry is up to 30 days.
T-mobile is a popular telecom operator in the USA for being the fastest Data Network in the country. Its prepaid SIM plans are suitable for tourists due to the wide coverage over the nation, allowing you to be online no matter what city you visit.
You can get a SIM Card at their official store for around $10. But if you sign up for their prepaid plans, this fee might be waived. According to the official website of T-mobile, they are currently offering three prepaid SIM plan options with a budget of $40, $50, and $60/month.
With these SIM Card options, you will have unlimited access to their 5G Data Network along with unlimited phone calls and texts within the country. You can also listen to music freely without losing any of your Data.
The only difference between these three options is the Data speed for hotspots. So consider sharing with your family to go for the most suitable one.
Keep in mind that taxes aren’t included in these prices. And there will be extra fees to use the Data in Canada or Mexico as well as for international calls.
AT&T Prepaid SIM Card
AT&T SIM Cards are also popular in the USA and can be bought in many stores.
Estimated Cost: ~$30-65
- Unlimited calls in the USA
- Unlimited texts worldwide
- From 5GB to unlimited DATA in 5G Speed.
Another equally famous prepaid SIM Card in the USA is AT&T Prepaid SIM Card. This operator is known for its wide coverage of the rural areas of the country as well as the available services in Mexico and Canada.
You can get a SIM Card from this brand for around $5 (plus a $15 of activation fee). However, if you sign up for their prepaid plans, these fees won’t be charged.
According to the official website of AT&T, they are offering two prepaid SIM options. One is $30/month with 5GB of Data, and one is $65/month with unlimited Data. For other services, you will get almost the same in 2 plans, with unlimited texts and calls.
When checking the web, you will see the price of the $65 deal is only $50. However, that is under the circumstances that you auto-renew every month. So for travellers, that doesn’t actually helpful.
And if you are counting on the Data available in Canada or Mexico, then don’t. The speed will only be 2G, which means you can barely check your emails, not to mention use other apps. Just because they say, it can doesn’t mean you should. It can only be considered in emergency cases.
Ultra Mobile Tourist
Ultra Mobile Tourist SIM Card only works for 21 days and can not be recharged afterwards.
Estimated Cost: ~$30
- Unlimited calls in the USA
- Unlimited text worldwide
- 100 minutes of international calls available
- 3GB of highspeed 4G Data.
Ultra Mobile Tourist is the perfect prepaid SIM Card option for tourists visiting the States in less than three weeks. This is an MVNO using the network from T-mobile, so you can be assured of the network quality.
This prepaid SIM Card is valid for 21 days. After that, the number will be expired. This is helpful because you won’t have to worry about cancelling the services after the trip. But make sure that you aren’t going to extend your trip because you will not be able to recharge the services.
What’s best about this SIM Card is 100 minutes of international calls to over 80 destinations without having to use any other apps. However, if you are the type of person who surfs the Internet a lot, this might not be the best option. It only offers 3GB, which equals around one hour of watching HD1080p videos.
You can sign up for a free trial from the Cricket Wireless app.
Estimated Cost: ~$30-60
- Unlimited texts and calls in the USA
- From 5GB to 20GB of 4G Data
- Mexico and Canada usage are available.
Cricket Wireless is an MVNO using AT&T Network. Though it also offers prepaid SIM Cards with minutes and texts, the best plans from this brand are actually Data Only Plans.
From $35, you will get at least 20GB of 5G Data a month, available nationwide along with Mexico and Canada. For bigger packages, you can get a bonus of up to 50GB of 5G Data!
These plans are perfect for those who mainly contact through social media or prioritise browsing speed. With the development of different communication apps like Whatsapp, Viber, Messengers, etc., you can still easily contact your family worldwide.
Moreover, if you change your mind and decide to make some calls, you can switch to other prepaid plans without having to change the SIM Card.
LycaMobile Prepaid SIM Card
LycaMobile is a popular worldwide MVNO that offers prepaid SIM in many countries.
Estimated Cost: From $15
- Unlimited international calls and texts
- Unlimited local calls and texts
- From 250 MB to unlimited high-speed Data.
LycaMobile is actually a worldwide popular option for SIM cards, also recommended for Europe travellers. It’s a global MVNO with many infrastructures throughout the world. In the USA, LycaMobile uses a T-mobile network.
What’s best about LycaMobile is that they have various prepaid options for you to choose from, with competitive prices and services. The differences between these options are mostly calling credit and Data capacity.
They also sell separate Data add-ons for the price of $5, so you can adapt easily to your needs.
H3. TravSIM USA SIM Card
TravSIM is a perfect option for those who use a lot of data on their trip
Estimated Cost: ~$23-92
- Unlimited calls and texts in the USA
- Unlimited international calls and texts
- 50GB of 4G/5G Data.
TravSIM is an international SIM card brand that offers many prepaid options worldwide. This is a perfect choice for those who need huge Data capacity and usually make worldwide calls.
Their prices vary based on domestic or international calls, along with the expiry time of the SIM. You can choose between 7 days to a maximum of 60 days for both local SIM cards and International SIM cards.
They also have a developed shipping network, so you can get your SIM off your checklist before getting on the trip!
What To Know About Prepaid SIM Cards In the USA?
Do you just insert the SIM card and go? Let’s find out. Photo by BullRun - stock.adobe.com
Using a prepaid SIM Card can help you keep your telecommunication within budget and avoid getting a huge bill later. When the budget runs out, the services will be stopped unless you deposit more money into it.
Many domestic telecom operators are active overseas. You can check your current SIM operator whether it works in the USA. However, the roaming fee can be costly. So buying a temporary SIM Card to use while you are travelling in the USA is the best option.
Many people have heard of Verizon and Sprint, popular telecom operators in the USA. However, they use different technologies that your phone won’t be compatible with unless you buy their phones.
That leaves only two operators that will provide prepaid SIM cards for tourists. Yes, only TWO, which are AT&T and T-mobile.
But don’t worry. This doesn’t mean you have poor options for prepaid SIM Cards. You can always go for mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) SIM Cards.
They can simply be identified as resellers of telecom operators who offer different SIM Cards options using the same infrastructure of telecom operators.
Where To Buy Prepaid SIM Cards In The USA?
To ensure your phone will work immediately after you arrive in the USA, you can prebuy them online. American airports don’t usually sell SIM cards, so this is not an option you should consider.
If you want to buy SIM cards in the USA, you can visit retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, etc. Another way is to visit the showrooms of the network operators. You can search for the address beforehand or ask your taxi driver for the closest store.
There are official stores where you can buy SIM Cards in the USA. Photo by Van Tay Media on Unsplash
How To Activate Your Prepaid SIM Cards In the USA?
The first and most important thing before activating your prepaid SIM card in the USA is to make sure your phone is unlocked. Some phone producers only accept specific telecom operators in a contracted time, so you should make sure your phone is available for other operators to avoid losing an unexpected budget.
Another thing to check is the frequency band. To explain this definition fully is quite complicated. To be short, the Americas use different frequencies that phones in other parts of the world might not be compatible with. This means you might only be able to use slower networks like 2G or 3G when travelling to the USA.
While purchasing the SIM Card, you will have to provide your personal documents for registration. They will take a copy of your passport and a photo of you to process the procedure.
After getting the SIM, you can dial the numbers according to the user manual given or ask the staff for help. Usually, the activation process is simple and will take less than 24 hours to process.
Do International Sim Cards Work In The Us?
Different from local SIM Cards, international ones can operate in many countries over the world. And the answer is yes. There are international SIM Cards that work in the US.
Of course, international SIM is more convenient if you usually travel abroad and visit various countries on a trip. Therefore, the price is also higher than local SIM cards. Thus, we always recommend buying a SIM card at the destination whenever you are travelling to Europe or the US.
Some brands offer travel SIM such as TravSIM, as we mentioned above. Some other international SIM Cards that are recommend for the US are Orange Holiday World and Three UK.
The Orange Holiday World international SIM Cards have reasonable prices and are common in many countries. However, with this SIM, you can not receive calls and texts. It can only offer you data, and you can easily top up online.
The Three UK International SIM, on the other hand, do offer texts and calls, along with data to surf the internet. But this SIM Card can only be top-up with a registered UK credit card, so if you don’t have one, consider the time you stay in the US before buying it.
Which Is the Best Sim Card In the USA?
To be honest, the most secure prepaid SIM Card option in the USA is the T-mobile. It has modern infrastructure around the entire country, along with a wide distribution network to ensure the service is always-on. You can easily find a shop or a retailer of T-mobile in almost every city in the USA.
AT&T is also a reliable telecom operator in the USA you can consider. However, the prepaid options are a little more expensive, and the available services are not as good of a deal compared to the T-mobile.
Can I Transfer My Original Phone Number To The New SIM Card?
The answer is probably. There are some SIM Card providers that offer this service. You can contact their hotline to ask for details. However, if you only travel in the USA for a short amount of time, we would recommend buying a new SIM Card instead.
Stay connected and share every moment with your loved ones at home. Photo by PR Image Factory - stock.adobe.com
Are There Other Options Rather Than A SIM Card?
If you don’t want to buy a new SIM Card, there are other options that you can consider, like eSIMs. These are like online versions of normal SIM Cards. You can purchase them online, enter a code in your phone to activate your eSIM and then you are good to go!
You can also use WIFI in your hotels or places you visit instead. However, this way is inconvenient during the trip because you won’t be able to search for Google Maps or use other auxiliary services while needed.
How Can You Top-Up The SIM Cards?
When you run out of Data or credits and want to recharge the SIM Cards, you can always visit the convenience stores to buy top-up cards. Another way is to top-up online through their websites or apps.
Though, keep in mind that some SIM Cards are only used for a specified amount of time and can not be top-up. So remember to check and choose the suitable option for your time in the States.
How Much Does It Cost For The Roaming Charges?
Data roaming is a phrase to indicate that your phone disconnects from the original SIM network and switches to a different network. This happens when you make calls, texts, or use Data in other countries outside of your carrier’s network.
Generally speaking, you can still use your current SIM Card once you arrive in the United States. Because many telecom operators nowadays have cooperated in providing throughout services. However, this also means extra fees.
Based on your current carrier, the fees may vary. But in most cases, these fees are incredibly high. They are calculated based on minutes!
Using another SIM Card is the best option while travelling. Photo by Andrey Matveev on Unsplash
Stay Connected Across The States
Despite the massive development of technology nowadays with available free WIFI in many public destinations, having a reliable SIM with enough Data is a must while travelling. The best prepaid SIM Card in the USA will accompany you on the trip to the American dream.
Choosing which one is the most suitable for you might be hard, with so many options on the table. But don’t worry. Do some research and plan your journey ahead. Then you will surely get a glimpse of the best option. And don’t forget you can always contact the providers for more information!
Hope that our list of the best prepaid SIM cards in the USA has helped you a bit with your upcoming decision.