Being in a busy place like New York without the ability to use your phone can make someone feel a little lost at sea. Fortunately, several U.S. phone providers are offering an array of options for travelers who don’t want to feel completely cut off. Whether you want to find an inexpensive way to use your smartphone on your trip or you want to use a global cell, there is a plan that will work for you!
There are a variety of plans, so you can decide what is best for you depending on what kind of usage you feel you need during your travels. All of the plans listed are for providers that sell SIM-only service that allows you to use your own phone. Phones must be unlocked to use a new SIM card for the USA.
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T-MOBILE TOURIST PLAN
For a flat rate of $30, this plan lets you live like a local for 3 weeks! Just bring your unlocked phone with you and you get a SIM card with all the features you would need as if you were at home! This is a great deal!
How to purchase: Pick up the kit at a T-Mobile store when you arrive in the U.S. If you prefer to order it online, it is a bit more complicated because Tourist Kits must be shipped to a U.S. address. You can check with your hotel to use their address, but it is much easier to find a T-Mobile store as they are all over the city. Find a location by visiting their website. (en Francais) (Espanol) Deutsch)
Network: AT&T (does not included international SMS)
Straight Talk’s “Bringing Your Own Phone” plan (BYOP) is perfect for travelers who plan to bring their own phone. (Espanol) Straight Talk can support most brands of phones, including iPhones and Androids. Compatible phones include: GSM Unlocked phones, AT&T Compatible phones, T-Mobile Compatible phones, Sprint Compatible Phones, and some other CDMA Technology Compatible phones. (You can see if your phone is compatible here).
How to purchase: Online or at any Walmart store (find a Walmart near you)
Global Service Add-On: If you need to call internationally, for $10 you can add-on Global Service and you will be able to call anywhere in the world (Check their website for rates to countries).
Network: T-Mobile (includes unlimited international SMS)
This is a plan for someone who wants to stay very connected. Maybe you want to call your loved ones from the top of the Empire State building, browse the internet to find a great restaurant in the East Village or text your friends from the Brooklyn Bridge! The Ultra Mobile plans offer very extensive coverage via their pre-paid SIM cards. Most of their plans include International Talk minutes to any of the 73 countries in their Ultra Zero network. (Check out their website to see a full list of countries and any restrictions.) (Espanol)
Note: Make sure you check in advance that your phone is supported by this SIM card.
How to purchase There are dozens of retailers in New York City that sell Ultra Mobile SIM cards. Search for locations on the Ultra Store Locator Tool
Features – all plans come with:
Plans (Each plan listed is for 30 days of use)
Because H2O Wireless is supported by AT& T’s network it is a good option for iPhone users in particular. (AT&T’s network supports higher speeds for iPhones). They offer some very low cost options and some that are a little pricier, but you can pick the plan that seems right for your intended phone usage.
How to purchase: Available at a number of retailers. For a list, check out H2O Wireless website.
Plans: (all good for 30 days)
Black Wireless can be used with any unlocked GSM phone and uses AT&T’s network, so it is another good option for iPhone users! While most of the Black Wireless plans do not include international phone minutes, unlimited international calling minutes (to over 100 countries in their network) can be added to any plan for $10. Check out the Black Wireless website to see a list of countries that are covered.
How to purchase: Go to the Black Wireless website to select your plan. Your SIM card will be mailed to you after you complete the online registration, so you won’t need to take time out of your trip to go pick up a SIM card once you hit NYC.
Plans: (Each plan listed is for 30 days of use).
Another plan that uses AT&T’s network, AirVoice offers some low cost plans that support many kinds of phones. Like many of the other SIM card options, this needs to be activated online at their website.