Author Topic: US cell phone for travellers  (Read 1963 times)


  • Bristles
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US cell phone for travellers
« on: April 17, 2016, 07:31:27 PM »
Any tips for us? We'll likely be in the states for about 1-2 weeks and it would be very useful to have a phone and some data to book campgrounds or hotels. Find parks along our route for the kids.

We will have an iPhone without a plan, but will likely need to get it unlocked before we go, so tips to do that as well would be great.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: US cell phone for travellers
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2016, 08:41:34 PM »
Unlocking needs to be done through the carrier you purchased your phone from. Contact them.

As for providers...

1) The cheapest data you can use is the data you pre-load to your phone before you travel. For maps, use the offline feature of the current GPS app you're using (if available), or switch to an alternative app that provides offline map access. There's no shortage of free and paid offline maps available for iOS.

2) Is this a one-shot deal, or will there be more international travel in the future? If the latter, look into KnowRoaming (which overlays your current SIM card) or Truphone SIM (which replaces your SIM card) - both providers have roaming agreements with both AT&T and T-Mobile. If it's a one-shot deal, it helps to know where you're travelling, because every GSM network in the US has some... holes. AT&T has the significantly better coverage between them and T-Mobile, but AT&T data is more expensive. For AT&T coverage, Airvoice Wireless or H2O Wireless would probably be your best priced options depending on your anticipated usage load, with H2O Wireless SIM cards available at most Best Buy locations.

If you want to learn more about US prepaid MVNO options, check out the guide linked in my sigline.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: US cell phone for travellers
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2016, 08:46:52 PM »
T-mobile prepaid is probably the easiest/cheapest, but coverage can be bad outside of the cities. So if your trip is mostly urban, I 100% recommend T-Mobile (there are lots of stores) but if you're going to be mostly visiting, say, national parks, it might be a less good option. I have T-Mobile, but a lot of my family has Verizon; when we went to Glacier National Park I could really only use my phone with wifi, while they had service near town (but not in the park itself). It's really a matter of degree, though; obviously no carrier will work everywhere, and there are plenty of places in the US with no service at all.