pre-Paid (no contract) SIM for the USA - which one

Discussion in 'Travel Technology' started by Gaucho, May 31, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Over the past couple of years Ive always bought a prepaid SIM from AT&T because they had a very good pay a fixed sum by the day and offered unlimited talk & texting inside the USA. I don't need data while Im on vacation (I get by with WiFi) so this AT&T plan was great for me.

    However, AT&T discontinued this plan a while back, so what say the experts is my best current choice. If at all possible, I would prefer one of the "large" carriers that has a good retail store coverage so that I can go and buy the SIM card as soon as I land in MIA. I will be in the State of Florida for 15 days and need to make two phones operative with local numbers.

    Im not against getting something with data, just think that anything pre-paid with data will be expensive so unless there is a great deal out there I just want talk and text messages.

    Thanks very much for any tips & advice you all can offer....

    Cheers,
    Alex / Gaucho
     
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  2. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Update.... Go-Phones basic unlimited talk & text is now only $30 per month.... I think I will go with this option unless any resident expert tell me to do otherwise. The only question I have and have not been able to find answers for on the AT&T website are....

    a) if I walk in to an official AT&T store to buy the SIM card, do they charge extra for the SIM card itself...?
    b) is there any sort of activation fee...?
    c) I realize that ordering online is what these companies want, but this option doesn't work for me as I want to fire up a couple of phones as soon as I hit the ground in MIA and cant bother with ordering online and having this delivered to our hotel, etc.

    Thanks !!
    Alex
     
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  3. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Insisting on a big carrier with a storefront limits you pretty severely, especially if you consider that two of our big carriers use CDMA. (Although they're rolling out LTE, so if you have a sufficiently modern phone...)

    Don't rule out MVNOs just because they don't have their own storefronts. I've seen MVNO SIMs for sale in retail outlets in the US, just as you'll see them all over the rest of the world (albeit perhaps less common). Drugstores (CVS, Walgreens) might be good places to look, as might big-box discount stores (Wal-Mart, Target). Or little money transfer businesses - these often cater to the international community, and they often stock SIMs for Lycamobile and other good-value MVNOs. Wal-Mart has its own MVNO called StraightTalk. I think you can get a SIM with a month of service for $40-45.

    Another option: if you have or obtain a Sprint-compatible CDMA phone, which doesn't use SIMs, you could even activate it in advance of landing. Perhaps you could obtain a secondhand Sprint phone from some expat? Then activate it on any of the great Sprint MVNOs, like Ting.
     
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  4. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    There are a couple of Tech Stores in MIA that may have the sim cards. And even WalMart has TracPhones that could be of use. Pay for a limited number of minutes and a phone number at a cheap price. Throw-away phones.
     
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  5. bigx0

    bigx0 Gold Member

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    Consumer Cellular has pretty inexpensive plans and they use AT&T towers. There is a $10 plan that's rather limited, but for $15/month (and up) you get a decent number of minutes and/or texts. Data plans available too for very little if you don't need much data. No contracts or commitments, you turn it off and on as you wish though I'm not sure how long your number stays around if your service isn't active. AARP gives a 5% discount.

    You can pick up a SIM at Target for $10 and are credited the $10 credit when you sign.
     
  6. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    This is just a guess, but here is what I think you will encounter
    1. If the AT&T store has the SIM cards they probably will charge you a few dollars ($10 or more), however I'd be worried they don't have those SIM cards (I use freedompop.com a MVNO and people need a specific model of Sprint SIM, many stores don't have them, and they charge for the SIM, the only reliable place to get the SIMs are the Apples Stores.)
    2. Activation fee - likely not, you will just need to add some time
    3. I believe that delivery would be the most reliable method, I'd order what you need online and deal with getting to the pickup point: http://www.att.com/cellphones/prepaidphones/sim-card-kit-phone-prepaid.html if you need it ASAP find a Mailbox Ect or other retail postal store near the airport that you can have it shipped to. It looks like there are a few near the Orlando Airport https://goo.gl/maps/wNykR I'm sure its similar if you are flying into another airport.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
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  7. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Wow.... amazing !!! Tons of useful information and tips. I need to activate three phones, all of them are factory unlocked. There is an Iphone 6, and Iphone 5 and a Samsung (need to check model). All are LTE enabled, although Im not really looking for data plans, just want talk & text, unlimited for mine and could be capped for the other two phones.

    I will review all the above info and surely have some follow-up questions.

    Thanks again.

    Cheers,
    Alex
     
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  8. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    So I've never actually looked for or even seen SIM cards at the store (I just assumed everything was either a throwaway phone or a refill pack), so well in the store I looked at CVS (pharmacy/retailer) today to see what they have. There were lots of refill packs with minutes, but only four with SIM cards:
    * T-Mobile $40 unlimited = http://explore.t-mobile.com/unlimited-prepaid-plans (T-Mobile)
    * Lycamobile - http://www.lycamobile.us/en/ (T-Mobile)
    * Ultra - http://ultra.me/ (seems to have free international calling) (T-Mobile)
    * Red pocket - https://goredpocket.com/ (AT&T) or (T-Mobile (for LTE))
    Of course the inventory could be completely different in FL and they might have more options since its a global tourism area.

    Also you might want to make a list of the vendors that are on cdma networks (sprint or Verizon) since its VERY likely that you would have problems bringing your own phone to those networks, Sprint especially.

    Also you might just check your phone's radio frequencies to make sure the vendors will support them. The good news is that Argentina uses the same networks as the US per this map: http://www.worldtimezone.com/gsm.html

    See my issues in Ireland with different frequencies: https://milepoint.com/forums/thread...4g-hspa-versus-irelands-three-network.123598/

    Update
    Added the network to each based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_mobile_virtual_network_operators
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
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  9. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    I have US sourced Iphones so Im sure they will work..... don't have/want to deal with CDMA issues so Sprint is out of the question for me....
     
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  10. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    This one (that doesn't come with much data) comes with free international shipping on orders over $50 (see banner ad in page):
    http://www.readysim.com/shop.html (T-Mobile)
    prices are high but if you are only in the US for 14 days it would be similar priced to other month plans.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
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