In this modern-day of travel, one of the first considerations for people visiting a new country is determining how they will stay connected on the road. Travelling to the USA is no different and being 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 SIM cards that ship the card to your home address to ensure you can be connected as soon as you land!
So are you wondering what the best SIM card for the USA is for your trip? Here’s a guide to what we think are the best-prepaid options on the market and things you need to consider before buying purchasing a SIM card for your USA adventure!
Best Prepaid SIM Card for USA Comparison
|T-Mobile Prepaid SIM Card||Data: Unlimited|
Expiry: 20/30 days
Hotspot Allowed?: Yes (3G Speed)
Canada/Mexico Use: 5GB Data
|Three Prepaid SIM Card||Data: 12GB|
Expiry: 30 days
Calls: Unlimited (UK/EU only)
SMS: Unlimited (UK/EU only)
Hotspot Allowed?: No
Canada/Mexico Use: No
|AT&T Prepaid SIM Card||Data: 22GB|
Expiry: 30 days
Hotspot Allowed?: No
Canada/Mexico Use: Yes
|Orange Holiday World SIM Card||Data: 10GB|
Expiry: 14 days
Hotspot Allowed?: Yes
Canada/Mexico Use: Yes
|LycaMobile Prepaid SIM Card||Data: 4GB|
Expiry: 30 days
Hotspot Allowed?: No
Canada/Mexico Use: Calls/Texts Only
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 USA tourists, 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 that 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 whether a prepaid SIM card for USA travel is right for you is whether or not your phone is unlocked. If you’ve purchased a mobile phone 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 SIM.
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 travellers 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!
The Best Prepaid SIM Card for USA Travel
There are some of the best prepaid SIM cards for USA travel to ensure you stay connected while exploring this great country!
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 PrePaid SIM Card with Unlimited Data in the USA. You are also able to use up to 5GB in Canada & Mexico if you’re planning to visit either of those two countries but at restricted 3G speed.
In addition, travellers are able to take advantage of unlimited calls and texts in the USA, Canada and Mexico while also having the ability to text internationally. Credit is valid for up to 20 days (or 30 days depending on which region you’re in) and travellers are even allowed to use this prepaid SIM card as a mobile hotspot, though speeds are restricted to the 3G network only.
The T-Mobile Prepaid SIM with unlimited data is undoubtedly one of the best prepaid SIMs for USA travel available on the market today, particularly if you are a heavy data and user and also want to the ability to make calls while in the USA.
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 Prepaid SIM Card with 12GB data (also available from SimOptions here) is available around the world and offers one of the best deals on prepaid SIM cards if travelling to the USA.
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 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 Card 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 Prepaid 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.
Similarly, to the T-Mobile Prepaid SIM, one of the USA’s other major phone carriers – AT&T – offers a prepaid SIM card 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 Prepaid SIM card 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.
Overall, the AT&T Prepaid SIM card with 22GB data is undoubtedly one of the best SIM cards for 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.
Another great SIM card option for travelling in the USA, the Orange Holiday World SIM Card includes 10GB data that can be used across the USA as well as 66 other countries including Canada and Mexico.
The credit on the Orange Holiday World SIM Card 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 Card 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.
If you don’t need a large data allowance but plan to text and call a lot while travelling then the LycaMobile Prepaid SIM Card 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 Prepaid SIM card 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!
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 looking for the best SIM card for USA travel? Which one do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below!