Nothing ruins a perfect holiday like coming home to a huge phone bill. Interest rates and roaming fees can mean that even a few calls or minutes using data can cost you a huge sum. However, there's an easy way to beat this — by using a prepaid SIM cards. Here is everything you need to know about the best prepaid SIM card for travel within the U.S and things you need to know when choosing one.
What Is A Prepaid SIM Card?
A prepaid SIM card essentially allows you to connect a phone to a working mobile network provided by the company that sells it. Since it's prepaid, the amount of total data that can be used is decided when you buy it.
It's pretty straightforward to set one up. You purchase a card and top it up with a defined amount of credit in advance. When you use the paying features on your phones, such as texts, calls, or data, the amount of credit on the card goes down. When you're out of credit, you can no longer use these paying features unless you choose to top it up with more credit.
Some SIM cards provide unlimited callling, texts, and data. Like a regular phone plan, you can pay for your usage in one go, rather than being charged each time you use a feature. The reason why you should buy a local SIM card in the U.S instead of a generic international one back home, is that reception is way better and even cheaper sometimes.
This is a great way to stay in control of your spending. With these cards, you know you won't be paying extra to use a phone, and you can easily budget. It's also ideal if you have children or teenagers with phones, and you're worried about them running up a huge bill.
Where Can You Buy A prepaid SIM card?
If you want to buy one to travel within the US, wether it's to visit popular places like Miami or spend time in St. Thomas, there are some great options available. Each telephone provider has different options, which suit different users based on their habits, such as how many calls they make and how often they use up data.
To help you decide which option is best for your situation, it's crucial to understand how they differ and which phone carriers offer the best plans. We've put together a list of six of the top prepaid SIM cards for you to consider. While there are different sizes, like nano SIM and micro SIM options, these are all standard prepaid SIM cards since the vast majority of the phones use them.
Top 5 Prepaid SIM Cards For USA Travel
If you're going for a holiday or short trip, the AT&T prepaid USA SIM card is a great option. The card is valid for thirty days from activation, making it ideal for tourists or vacationers. However, this does mean if you're staying in the USA for a long time, you might find this isn't the best option for you.
The AT&T Prepaid USA card is compatible with a vast range of phones. This includes iPhones, Samsung, and Huawei. However, it does not support contract phones, so you will need to choose another type if you have one of these phones.
As a bonus, the AT&T card works not only works if you're traveling within the U.S, but it also works in Mexico and Canada. This makes it perfect if you're traveling around the area and don't want to worry about constantly changing SIM cards.
One of the best features is that you have unlimited texts and calls — ideal for those who want to keep in constant contact with their loved ones. Overall this product suitable for people of all ages traveling in America and closeby countries.
However, this SIM doesn't have mobile hotspot capabilities, so if you want to share data with other devices such as cameras, laptops, or tablets, you’ll need to choose another one.
If you want to surf the internet and not worry about how much data you use up, the T-Mobile Prepaid SIM card is another great option. You don’t need to worry about buffering or slow connecting times since you get unlimited data through the 4G/LTE data network. Plus, fast downloads and communications.
Unlimited data isn't the only perk of this triple-cut SIM card. With unlimited free calls and unlimited SMS/texts, it's easy for you to stay in touch with family and friends.
If you like being prepared in advance, the T-Mobile prepaid card is a great option. It only needs to be activated within 90 days of purchase, meaning you can buy it well before your holiday. This helps reduce the need and stress of last-minute planning since you can buy it well ahead of time.
One thing to note is the activation can take up to 24 hours. This shouldn't be an issue, but it's something to remember when preparing for your holiday. So make sure you activate it with plenty of time to spare.
Ultimately, if you're looking for a USA SIM card and data is essential to you, the T-Mobile Prepaid option is a good choice. However, this one also doesn’t have any mobile hotspot capabilities.
The Lycamobile USA Prepaid SIM is one of the most affordable options on the market. The tri-cut SIM card is perfect for travelers on a budget.
The Lycamobile USA Prepaid card is also great if you intend to make a lot of international calls while you're in the USA. It offers unlimited free international calls and texts to over 60 countries, including the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy.
However, this SIM is less appealing if you tend to use your phone predominantly for data. This is because only 100 megabytes of data are included in the package. This should be enough data if you want to visit a website or check your emails, but if you’re going to stream music or watch videos online, you might want to choose a different one.
One hundred megabytes of data amounts to roughly 20 minutes of YouTube video streaming, so you'll quickly run out of data if you want to watch videos.
This SIM should work with any unlocked phone. However, it will also work with contract phones, provided they are on the T-Mobile network.
Overall, this is a great choice if you want to make unlimited calling, unlimited international texting and are on a tight budget.
With the T-Mobile Prepaid SIM card, you can surf the web all day long as it offers unlimited data including calls, texts, and high-speed 4G data for 30 days.
This card does require a 4G phone, so if you're using an older phone that doesn't have a 4G connection, this SIM won't work for you. Hotspot isn’t supported, so don't expect to be able to get access to the internet with your laptop or tablet.
International calls are also not covered by this service, so it's not the best option if you want to call your friends in other countries. The activation for it can take up to 48 hours, so be prepared to plan at least two days ahead when you want to start using your phone. Make sure to bring a secure bag to keep your phone safe.
This phone is excellent for data-lovers who want to stream music and watch videos on T-Mobile's network . However, if you're planning on making international calls or use an older phone that doesn't support 4G, this option won't work.
The TravSIM USA SIM card is another excellent choice if you intend to make a lot of international calls since it has unlimited free international calls and texts to over 75 countries.
The TravSIM USA SIM also boasts a substantial data limit of up to 15GB, which should give you plenty of capacity to stream music or watch your favorite videos on YouTube.
However, if you’re hoping to use your phone to tether to your laptop —to write emails or transfer files from cloud storage, you might have to reconsider.
Tethering and hot-spotting are not permitted with the use of this SIM, which means you can't share the data with any other devices, so your laptop, camera or tablet will have to stay offline. If you are bringing these electronic devices, get a travel backpack to keep them stored.
Overall, this option is ideal if you need to make lots of international calls. It's got a good data package, as long as you don't want to use your phone for a hotspot.
The AT&T SIM Card is the most affordable SIM option on the list. It's just a SIM card – it doesn't come with any calls, texts, or data included.
However, this card gives you maximum flexibility, as once you've bought the SIM, you can choose to apply any one of several different prepaid options from AT&T, based on your budget and how much you intend to use your phone. AT&T offers prepaid packages with unlimited calls and texts and 5, 8, or 15 gigabytes of high-speed data and hotspot.
Another advantage of this SIM card is it's compatible with both prepaid and postpaid services from AT&T. That means if your trip to the United States turns out to be longer than expected, you can switch from a prepaid to a postpaid contract using the same SIM to get better value for the money in the long term.
This SIM offers you the most flexibility than any other on this list, which is ideal if you want to adjust your mobile plan while traveling without having to get a new SIM.
As you can see, there are several great options on this list. Whether you're looking to use one for a long trip or a short holiday, you can find the right one to match your situation.