If you plan to travel to the.and want to avoid expensive roaming charges, getting a prepaid SIM Card for travelers and tourists is the way to go. As long as you own a phone that’s unlocked for international use and compatible with local networks such as T-Mobile and AT&T, getting a SIM card online or at a local retailer is both easy and affordable. These are some of the best prepaid SIM Cards for travelers and tourists to consider.
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Mint Mobile is one of the best MVNO carriers today and uses T-Mobile’s 4G LTE and 5G network, making it a great prepaid SIM card to get if you plan on staying in the U.S. for at least three months. As we found in our Mint Mobile review, Mint’s 5G connection is strong, and its phone compatibility is one of the best in the country.
If you’re a student on a study abroad exchange or your job has relocated you for a few months, Mint Mobile is guaranteed to give you great coverage at an affordable price. You also don’t need to worry about constantly topping up your data on a weekly or monthly basis.
With Mint, you need to purchase at least three months of service upfront. After that, the best deals are offered when you sign up for six months or 12. For three months on the unlimited plan, you’ll pay $90 and get unlimited talk, text, and data, 5GB of mobile hotspot, and free calls to Mexico and Canada.
Calling to other international locations is available at a per-minute rate but if you use an app to call your friends such as WhatsApp or Line, you’ll only need data.
Joining Mint Mobile is easy, and you can even sign up for a trial online to get a free Mint Mobile SIM card. It’s especially easy if your phone is eligible for an eSIM since you can then activate the SIM straight from your phone and later continue your service if you like it. You can also get a Mint SIM card from Target, Best Buy, Walmart, or Amazon.
Ultra Mobile is an MVNO on T-Mobile’s network, meaning that you’ll get great T-Mobile coverage at a lower price. Our Ultra Mobile review showed strong coverage and speeds. Though Ultra Mobile offers its own set of prepaid plans, the Ultra Mobile Tourist plan is a perfect fit for anyone visiting the U.S. for three weeks or less.
This is a more traditional travel SIM and after 21 days, this plan will expire, convenient for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of cancellation. On that same note, you won’t be able to recharge your Ultra Mobile SIM card, so make sure you’re not considering extending your stay.
For $30 with the SIM included, you’ll get unlimited talk, text, and up to 3GB of 4G LTE data. You’ll also have 100 minutes to use to 80+ international destinations, meaning you can call friends and family back home without having to use a third-party app.
To purchase an Ultra Mobile Tourist plan, you can either do so online or at a T-Mobile store. There’s also a store locator on Ultra Mobile’s website that you can use to find stores near you where Ultra is sold.
Known for its great coverage, AT&T is also an excellent carrier to consider getting a SIM card from when visiting the U.S. and one of the best prepaid phone plans. It tends to have better coverage in rural areas than other carriers, so it’s also a great option if you plan to be on the road a lot. For $30 (plus taxes and fees), AT&T Prepaid will get you 5GB of high-speed data, which is then throttled to 128Kbps. As always, you should check your device’s compatibility with AT&T online before signing up.
On this plan, you’re able to use your mobile hotspot, and you can text to more than 100 countries. You’ll also be able to talk, text, and use data in Mexico and Canada (though data speeds may be slow). And if you think you’ll need more than 5GB of data, you can always upgrade to a 15GB prepaid plan for $40, which is a great deal and definitely worth considering.
You can purchase an AT&T SIM card along with a prepaid plan online, or you can head to an AT&T store. Other retailers such as Target, Best Buy, and Walmart sell AT&T SIM cards for around $10, which is more than you would pay online but always an option.
|3 months (introductory price)||$15/mo. ($45)||$20/mo. ($60)||$25/mo. ($75)||$30/mo. ($90)|
|3 months||$25/mo. ($75)||$35/mo. ($105)||$45/mo. ($135)||$40/mo. ($120)|
|6 months||$20/mo. ($120)||$25/mo. ($150)||$35/mo. ($210)||$35/mo. ($210)|
|12 months||$15/mo. ($180)||$20/mo. ($240)||$25/mo. ($300)||$30/mo. ($360)|
T-Mobile not only offers some of the best cell phone plans you could get today, but it also has an excellent prepaid option that will suit most travelers and tourists needs when visiting the U.S. Because T-Mobile’s network has improved vastly over the past few years and its 5G network has some of the most expansive coverage and fastest speeds in the nation, you’ll likely get excellent service with T-Mobile when traveling to major cities during your stay.
There are four T-Mobile prepaid plans from which to choose, though the ideal plan for most visitors will be T-Mobile’s 10GB prepaid plan for $40 per month. This plan includes unlimited domestic talk and text, up to 10GB of high-speed data, free mobile hotspot data, and a music unlimited feature so that any music you stream won’t eat up your data.
If you want to add international calling, you can do so for $15 extra, or if you’re traveling to Mexico or Canada for a few days, you can add talk, text, and 5GB of data to use over there for an extra $5.
Unfortunately, taxes and fees aren’t included in this plan, and a SIM card could cost an extra $10 at activation, so you might end up paying more than $50 for this plan. But it’s still an amazing choice if you need unlimited talk, text, and solid data speeds.
If you don’t need quite so much data during your stay, you could also opt for T-Mobile Connect for $15 per month. Though you won’t have the same international add-on features as with the Simply Prepaid plan, you’ll still get unlimited talk and text as well as 2.5 GB of data (or 5.5GB for $10 more). If you think you’ll be using your data a lot, you can upgrade to T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid Unlimited or Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus plan for $50 and $60 per month, respectively.
If you’re ready to sign up, you can do so very easily online, but you’ll need a U.S. shipping address. Of course, the easiest option is to pop into a T-Mobile store upon arrival and purchase a SIM card there, but you’ll likely find T-Mobile SIM kits at many popular retailers as well.
If you don’t think you’ll need minutes during your stay in the U.S. and really just want data, you could consider a data-only plan from Cricket Wireless, which is an MVNO on AT&T’s network. For $35, you’ll get 20GB to use during the month, or for $55, you’ll get 100GB.
Again, this plan doesn’t come with any minutes, so you’ll have to be sure you’re fine using apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Skype to connect with family or friends. It does come with text and picture messages across the U.S., as well as usage in Mexico and Canada if you plan on visiting those countries as well. It’s the perfect plan for anyone who will be spending lots of time on the road and wants to be able to stream, download, and do some high-speed browsing.
You can get a Cricket SIM card by going into a Cricket Wireless authorized retailer, which you can locate with Cricket’s online store locator. Other popular retailers such as Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and Walmart will also sell Universal SIM card activation kits for Cricket Wireless. The good news is that if you do end up wanting minutes, you can always switch to another one of Cricket’s plans with the same SIM card.
Lycamobile is unique because it’s a global MVNO, and in the U.S., it’s an MVNO on T-Mobile’s network. To check whether your phone is compatible, the easiest thing to do is type in your IMEI number on Lycamobile’s website, but most GSM unlocked devices should work.
Lycamobile offers several plans to pick from and really caters to those who need unlimited nationwide talk and text and international calling and texting to 75+ countries. Each plan includes these features at no additional charge, making this the perfect plan if you’re someone who wants to be able to call abroad whenever you want.
When it comes to data, you have multiple options starting at 2GB and going up to 60GB. The cheapest 2GB plan costs $19, while the top unlimited data plan costs $50. The 2GB plan is only available to new customers so if you’re already signed up, this plan will come with 1GB of data. Each plan includes slightly different bonus features, so you’ll have to pick what makes the most sense for you.
Fortunately, Lycamobile SIM cards are pretty easy to get a hold of. They’re sold online on Lycamobile’s website and Amazon, but you’ll also find Lycamobile SIM cards in several retailers, including 7-Eleven, pharmacies, local convenience stores, etc. When in doubt, you can also use the online store locator to find the nearest retailer near you.
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The right SIM depends on how long you’re staying and how much data you need
You really can’t go wrong with a prepaid SIM card on T-Mobile or AT&T’s network while visiting the U.S., and the right fit for you depends on the length of your stay and whether you need features like being able to call back home. If you’re traveling for only three weeks or less, the Ultra Mobile Tourist plan is the best choice and offers just enough talk, text, and data to stay connected.
On the other hand, if you’ll be in the U.S. for a few months, Mint Mobile will give you the best multiple-month value. And if you’re somewhere in between, a prepaid plan from either T-Mobile or AT&T is easy, reliable, and guaranteed to give you great coverage.
Carrier add-ons and eSIMs
Many carriers have partnerships with international carriers to offer greater service to their own customers. Luckily, this often goes both directions and means there may be a plan add-on that can give you plenty of data without needing to set up and activate a new SIM. While these travel add-ons can be quite pricey, the simplicity of this option will make it worth it to many people. It also gives you the chance to have a connection if you’re waiting for a connecting flight in another country.
Another emerging option is eSIM apps. These apps can use your phone’s built-in eSIM slot to quickly activate and pay for a phone plan without needing to remove your old SIM or worry about shipping a physical SIM in the first place. Airalo(opens in new tab), for example, allows customers to buy as little as 1GB for a week. If you just need enough data to get around in a new city, this is a good option. It works with Google Pay, credit card, PayPay, and even Alipay.
If you have an iPhone, there’s even an official T-Mobile Prepaid eSIM app(opens in new tab) that accepts credit card payments from a number of countries. Regrettably, this app isn’t available on Android though there are still other eSIM providers on the platform.
Just be sure to confirm compatibility before taking off. Still, there are other apps available on Android that offer solid deals on data without contacts or physical SIMs necessary.
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