Best Prepaid SIM Card For USA Tourists with Data

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by Michael Rozenblit


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One of the first considerations for people visiting a new country is determining how they will stay connected on the road. Tourists travelling to the USA are no different and given it is one of the most expensive countries for phone coverage, it is imperative to find the best prepaid SIM card for USA travel with data to ensure you’re not stuck with a hefty bill when you arrive back home.

Regardless of which country you’re travelling to the US from, there are a number of great options for buying international SIM cards that ship the card to your home address to ensure you can be connected as soon as you land!

Here’s a guide to what we think are the best-prepaid options on the market and things you need to consider before purchasing a travel SIM card for your USA adventure!

Want a quick answer? – My choice for the best SIM card for USA travel is the T-Mobile Prepaid SIM Card with UNLIMITED data.

Prepaid SIM Card for USA Comparison

SIM CardDescriptionPrices
T-Mobile Prepaid SIM Card
T-Mobile Prepaid SIM Card Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data in USA for 30 Days
Data: Unlimited
Expiry: 30 days
Calls: Unlimited
SMS: Unlimited
Hotspot Allowed?: Yes (3G Speed)
Canada/Mexico Use: No
Recharagable?: Yes
Check Prices
Three Prepaid SIM Card
PrePaid Europe (UK THREE) sim card 12GB data+3000 minutes+3000 texts for 30 days with FREE ROAMING / USE in 71 destinations including all European countries
Data: 12GB
Expiry: 30 days
Calls: 3000 min (UK/EU only)
SMS: 3000 (UK/EU only)
Hotspot Allowed?: No
Canada/Mexico Use: No
Recharagable?: Yes
Check Prices
AT&T Prepaid SIM Card
AT&T Prepaid USA Sim Card-Unlimited Talk, Text, and 22GB 4G LTE Data in USA Canada Mexico 1 Month
Data: 22GB
Expiry: 30 days
Calls: Unlimited
SMS: Unlimited
Hotspot Allowed?: No
Canada/Mexico Use: Yes
Recharagable?: Yes
Check Prices
Orange Holiday World SIM Card
Orange Holiday Worldwide Prepaid SIM Card Combo Deal Official Authorized Internet Data in 4G/LTE (Data tethering Allowed) + 1 Sim Card Holder + 1 Pin (Asia America Europe)
Data: 10GB
Expiry: 14 days
Calls: No
SMS: No
Hotspot Allowed?: Yes
Canada/Mexico Use: Yes
Recharagable?: Yes
Check Prices
LycaMobile Prepaid SIM Card
Lycamobile $29 Plan 1st Month Included SIM Card is Triple Cut Unlimited Natl Talk & Text to US and 65+ Countries 4GB Of 4G LTE
Data: 4GB
Expiry: 30 days
Calls: Unlimited
SMS: Unlimited
Hotspot Allowed?: No
Canada/Mexico Use: Calls/Texts Only
Recharagable?: Yes
Check Prices


Should You Buy a Prepaid SIM for the USA?

Before delving into more details about what we think are some of the best prepaid SIM cards for tourists are, it’s worth considering a few factors to ensure that making this purchase is right for you.

The first thing you might be wondering is whether you even need to buy a SIM card for the USA. After all, many local carriers around the world claim to have great coverage overseas. Unfortunately for many unsuspecting travellers who believe the marketing of their mobile phone company, they get stuck with a huge phone bill when they return home.

This is because roaming fees are outrageously expensive and while countries in the European Union have abolished roaming fees if you’re visiting from another EU country, they very much still exist in the USA. This means that roaming costs can add a huge unnecessary expense to your trip cost in the USA.

The next factor you need to consider when deciding on which SIM card is right for you is whether or not your phone is unlocked. If you’ve purchased a mobile phone or data plan, then chances are your phone might be locked to a specific carrier. You need to ensure that before you travel overseas, you unlock your phone if you want to use a prepaid SIM card abroad.

In order to unlock your phone, contact your mobile phone carrier and ask what is required. If your contract has expired, then they are typically required to unlock your phone at no extra cost.

If you’re still under contract, then there might be a fee associated with unlocking your phone, however, that might still save you money in the long run – particularly, if you’re going to be in the USA for a while and using roaming. If unlocking your phone isn’t possible then another option is to buy an affordable unlocked phone online and then purchase one of the SIM cards on this list.

The final thing that travellers need to consider when travelling abroad, regardless of whether they’re looking to buy a SIM card for Europe, the USA or any country is if it makes more sense to buy a local SIM when you land rather than a prepaid card before your departure.

Unlike many places in the world, there doesn’t seem to be many airports in the USA where you can buy local SIM cards. This means that if you want data to either use a taxi app to get to your hotel or you are renting a car and want driving directions, you’ll need to have pre-purchased a SIM card.

Furthermore, one of the main reasons why I think tourists should avoid buying a SIM card in the USA travel before they leave is because you don’t want precious time abroad hunting for a mobile phone shop and waiting in line!

Having a prepaid SIM for USA travel is useful for driving
Having data is extremely handy when driving in the US

The Best Prepaid SIM Card for USA Tourists

These are some of the SIM cards for tourists in the USA to ensure you stay connected while exploring this great country!

T-Mobile SIM with Unlimited Data

T-Mobile, one of the leading carriers in the USA, offers a number of great prepaid SIM cards for USA travel. The best type of offer that we found is this T-Mobile SIM with Unlimited Data in the USA.

In addition, travellers are able to take advantage of unlimited calls and texts in the USA.

Credit is valid for up to 30 days and travellers are even allowed to use the SIM as a mobile hotspot, though data speeds are restricted to the 3G network only.

If you also require data in Canada & Mexico then choose this similar SIM card which gives 10GB of data in the USA as well as 5GB that can be used in Canada & Mexico. This SIM is also valid for 30 days.

The prepaid SIM card from T-Mobile is one of the best options for USA travel available on the market today, particularly if you are a heavy data user and also want the ability to make calls while in the USA.

Please keep in mind that the SIM card must be activated within 90 days of purchase so make sure to purchase within a couple of months of travel only.

T-Mobile Prepaid SIM Card Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data in USA for 30 Days

Three SIM with 12GB Data

Surprisingly, one of the best SIM cards for USA travel is also one we recommend if you’re planning to travel to Europe.

The Three SIM with 12GB data is available around the world and offers one of the best deals on SIMs if travelling to the USA. If your phone is eSIM compatible, you can also buy a similar eSIM card here.

While it is operated by a UK-based company, this SIM card can be activated anywhere in the world and you can use the 12GB of data in up to 71 countries including the USA.

This means that if you’re from one of these countries, you can actually test the SIM card before you depart for your trip to give yourself some extra peace of mind.

This SIM card advertises that they offer calls and texts but the fine print reads that these are only available in the UK and Europe so you won’t be able to use them in the USA.

The data is valid for 30 days after activating the card and you can only recharge if you have a UK credit card so this SIM card is also best for travellers that are only going to be in the USA for a short trip. It is also worth noting that you are not able to use this SIM card as a mobile hotspot.

If you are going on a longer trip to the US, it’s possible to purchase a Three SIM with 12GB data and 1-year validity here. However, there are no calls or SMS credits available with these SIM cards.

While there are a few limitations of the Three SIM Card, it is a great deal if you are only travelling to the USA for a short trip and are looking for a data SIM card for the USA.

PrePaid Europe (UK THREE) sim card 12GB data+3000 minutes+3000 texts for 30 days with FREE ROAMING / USE in 71 destinations including all European countries

AT&T SIM with 22GB Data

Similarly, to the T-Mobile SIM, one of the USA’s other major phone carriers – AT&T – offers a prepaid SIM with 22GB data that can be used in the USA, Canada & Mexico.

Unlike the T-Mobile card, AT&T allows the whole data allowance to be used in Canada & Mexico which makes it ideal if you’re not travelling exclusively in the USA. The data in these countries also utilise the 4G network ensuring faster speed.

In addition to the high data allowance, the AT&T SIM with 22GB data provides unlimited texts and calls in the USA, Canada & Mexico with the allowance being valid for 30 days.

One limitation of this SIM card is that you can not use it as a personal hotspot which the T-Mobile SIM card allows. You must also activate it at least 3 days before travelling.

Overall, the AT&T SIM with 22GB data is undoubtedly one of the best SIM cards for the USA with data, particularly if you’re also visiting Canada & Mexico and don’t need to use the card as a hotspot. It is, however, not available in all regions.

AT&T Prepaid USA Sim Card-Unlimited Talk, Text, and 22GB 4G LTE Data in USA Canada Mexico 1 Month

Orange Holiday World SIM with 10GB Data

Another great SIM card option for travelling in the USA, the Orange Holiday World SIM (also available from Simoptions here) includes 10GB of data that can be used across the USA as well as 66 other countries including Canada and Mexico.

The credit on this SIM is valid for 14 days, however, you can register your SIM card online and then top up your SIM card as needed. This SIM card can also be used as a mobile hotspot and for WiFI tethering.

One of the major drawbacks of this SIM card is that it doesn’t support any calls or texts so it’s best for travellers who are looking purely for data and want the ability to recharge over a longer trip.

It’s worth also noting that this SIM card can in fact be used in essentially every country in the world but there is a sliding scale of data for other places. So for example, they offer 5GB in ‘Zone 2’ countries, 1GB in ‘Zone 3’ countries and 50MB anywhere else in the world.

The Orange Holiday World SIM is a great option for travellers not looking for any calls or texts and simply want the ability to use data across devices and be able to recharge easily if they use up their credit.

Orange Holiday Worldwide Prepaid SIM Card Combo Deal Official Authorized Internet Data in 4G/LTE (Data tethering Allowed) + 1 Sim Card Holder + 1 Pin (Asia America Europe)

LycaMobile SIM with 4GB Data

If you don’t need a large data allowance but plan to text and call a lot while travelling then the LycaMobile SIM with 4GB data might be the best SIM card for USA travel for you.

Also utilising the T-Mobile network, they offer 4GB of 4G data and unlimited calls and texts to over 65+ countries. It cannot be used as a mobile hotspot.

The LycaMobile SIM shouldn’t be your top choice if you’re primarily concerned about having a large data allowance, however, it is a great option for old-school travellers who prefer to call and text rather than use the internet on their phones!

Lycamobile $29 Plan 1st Month Included SIM Card is Triple Cut Unlimited Natl Talk & Text to US and 65+ Countries 4GB Of 4G LTE

If you’re on the hunt for the best prepaid SIM for USA travel, you’ll be happy to know that there are a number of great options available on the market. Whether you’re looking for a large data allowance or the ability to make unlimited phone calls, there is something available for you!

Are you a tourist looking to buy a prepaid SIM card for travel in the USA? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!

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Michael is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Both solo and with his partner, Maggie, he has travelled to over 50 countries across the globe and has a particular affinity for the Balkans and Eastern Europe. He’s lived in numerous countries worldwide but currently resides in his hometown of Melbourne, Australia. Read more about Michael

Comments

  1. Hi Michael,

    I will travel to California in December 2022 and need a data sim for a mobile WIFI unit (TP-Link M7450). I want to share the data between the family (4 people)

    – First do you know if I can use the mobile router on the network. As far as I can see it is capable of working on the US carriers frequencies band?
    – secondly it seems like the T-Mobile unlimited plan is the best option?

    Appreciate if you have time to comments…Thank you

    Best regards,
    Tim Jensen

    Reply
  2. I’m travelling to USA from uk in about 3 weeks. Can I use a SIM only card in my iPhone 12 if I can get O2 to unlock my phone?

    Reply
  3. Hello,
    I need a Spain’s sim (phone #) that will work in US, just need sms (receive a verification sms) and may be calls. Duration as long as possible. Any idea? Thank you

    Reply
  4. Hi, I’m travelling to New York next month for a week’s holiday.
    My phone doesn’t support the LTE service. Can you suggest a pre-paid sim card that would be suitable for me??
    Hope you can help

    Reply
  5. What difference does the AT&T (and later other network’s) removal of 3G next year make for any of these services? Or will there be little interruption?
    Thanks for your article

    Reply
  6. Hello Michael.
    We are Canadian snowbirds whom are finally travelling once again to Florida. We normally stay 3-4 months. Data is not much used but talk and text between Canada/US is very much needed. What SIM card that can be reloaded do you suggest. We had a Canadian Roaming company that we used previously but unfortunately they have gone out of business due to the pandemic. Thank you

    Reply
  7. i am looking for a sim that’s good for use in Florida for 14-21 days. mainly used for google maps, streaming Netflix etc and for use at theme parks. Calls and texts not so important but still required. what would you recommend

    Reply
  8. Hi Michael,
    My husband and I will be spending several months each winter in the USA and I’m planning to purchase prepaid SIM cards for our unlocked cell phones. Most have a 30 day credit expiry. Do I need to purchase new SIM cards every 30 days or can I reload the first card somehow?
    TIA

    Reply
  9. Hi Michael,

    I’m going travelling to the USA at the end of feb 22 for around 70 days, coming from Europe. My phone is unlocked and I’m wondering what the best sim would be for this trip. I’ll be going from east to west coast and back again, so i presume I’d need a decent amount of data. I was considering the T-mobile one you have in the article. any suggestions on my best course of action?

    Thanks,
    Luke

    Reply
  10. Hi Michael,

    I have been leaving in different parts of Asia and the UK all my life.
    Now I planning to move to the US cause of my work and my family is residing in the US hence I will be joining them and will be staying for a longer period in the North America (Canada & US).

    Probably once in a year or two I will be visiting Asia, Middle-East, and parts of Europe and Africa as part of my mission work job.

    Hence would you recommend me one prepaid sim that I will be able to permanently use (especially in the US), so I don’t have to keep changing, cause then I just have to stick with one number and is more convenient in remembering the number, rather than just switching the sim/number and trying to remember the number every two-three years.

    I would like to have a prepaid with more data with an option of mobile tethering or hotspot compatible so it will enable me to connect my tablet or laptop. And do few calls (pretty rarely, but definitely will have to where or when the internet can be an issue instead of totally relying on Socialmedia communication platforms like Skype, WhatsApp, FB messenger and zoom) for International and local calls.

    Secondly in the long-run will it be beneficial, as in recharging every month if it’s a 3 prepaid provider or recharge fortnightly if opting for the Orange global.

    Finally will I be able to purchase either of the sim in US Airports mainly in O’hare (Chicago) or at DallasFortWorth (TX), cause I haven’t yet decided on my final iternary but will definitely be landing in one of these airports.

    Thanks and Kind Regards
    Jean GT

    Reply
    • Hi Jean, If you plan on being in the US long term, you’re probably better off getting a plan rather than relying on prepaid SIMs, though buying a prepaid SIM before arriving in the US might be helpful as a temporary measure as you can’t typically buy SIM cards at airports in the US. When travelling abroad, some of the US plans will have roaming options though it might be cheaper to buy a prepaid or local SIM in some countries.

      Reply
  11. I am Aslam Shahzad, from Pakistan, I am coming to United States of America in the month of November 2020 for pleasure visit. During my stay in the USA I need a Mobile Sim Card, What documents needs for buying a Sim Card. How much it cost. How to buy?

    Reply
    • Hi Aslam, You can buy prepaid SIM cards online from the links in this article. If it’s not possible to ship to your area then you can buy in T-Mobile or AT&T shops when you arrive in the USA. You shouldn’t need any specific documents (maybe just your ID) and prices will vary depending on the amount of data/calls you require.

      Reply
  12. Hello,

    I would like some information. I am a Canadian and I go to the United States for many trips. Each trip may be 2 days or 5 days or other. The duration is variable and the travel dates are random.

    I would like to buy a SIM card with unlimited sms, calls permitted, 1GB of data and recharagable, without having a consecutive days or without expiry date. I would like to take the same SIM card from each trips, anywhere in the United States.

    which sim card do you recommend me?

    Gilles Blais

    Reply
    • Hi Gilles, I don’t think you’re going to be able to find a SIM card like you’ve described in the US. Investigating roaming plans in Canada might be your best option though probably more expensive than just buying a new prepaid SIM every time you go to the US.

      Reply
  13. Hi
    About Prepaid USA Travel SIM Card for Tourists,
    at the above lines you mention that “…..A limitation of the WorldSIM prepaid SIM card is that you can’t use it as a mobile hotspot….”
    However, I had a conversation with a WorldSim agent and he was positive that I can insert the sim at my phone and use mobile hotspot option to serve data to another person phone….

    Reply
    • Hi Anna, I reached out to WorldSim again and they told me that this SIM won’t work as a mobile hotspot. There is also nothing on their website that suggests it does. If this is an important feature for you, I suggest going with one of the other options listed in this article. Have a great trip!

      Reply

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