Previous 1 2 Next 18 Replies Latest reply: Jul 16, 2015 1:42 PM by john vorey
UPLO Level 1 (0 points)

I'm visiting the USA in August (from New Zealand) for about a month and am wanting to still have full use of my iPhone/iPad (without incurring huge roaming costs!).  Am I able to buy a prepaid sim card in America for my iPhone 4?  Has anyone done something similar or able to point me in the right direction?


The main issue is data - most hotels etc will have wifi however this isn't usually cheap and would be good to have cell data when wifi isn't available.  I think AT&T's "Go Phone" may be my best option but I'm not clear on whether I can just get a sim card to use with the iPhone 4, as they show a bunch of phones you can buy but iPhone isn't one of them.

iPhone 4, iOS 5.0.1
  • Meg St._Clair Level 9 (50,963 points)

    No U.S. carrier offers a prepaid SIM for the iPhone. Month-to-month plans, which are an option, generally require a credit check and valid U.S. ID.

  • wjosten Level 10 (94,210 points)

    Your choices are poor. AT&T is not very friendly to travelers using an iPhone. They have disabled data on all of their pre-paid sims for use in an iPhone. They will want you to sign up for month-to-month service...can only be done at an AT&T store...called a post paid plan. Other than that, your only other choice is T-Mobile. They sell pre-paid micro sims, but their 3G network is not compatible with the iPhone, so you're stuck on Edge. Like I said, your choices are all poor.

  • wjosten Level 10 (94,210 points)

    Meg St._Clair wrote:

    No U.S. carrier offers a prepaid SIM for the iPhone.


    Not true, T-Mobile does.

  • Meg St._Clair Level 9 (50,963 points)

    Good to know. I was unaware of that. I'm assuming, though, that it has the same limitations that using a iPhone on post-paid TMobile does?

  • wjosten Level 10 (94,210 points)

    Last quarter, T-Mobile lost over 800,000 contract customers. Currently, they have over 1 million iPhone customers using their network. Fact is, the only growth area they have is iPhone customers. That's why they started selling micro sims in the first place.

  • Julian Wright Level 7 (34,860 points)

    Do you have any insight as to why AT&T are so unfriendly towards travellers? Have you ever heard their reasoning for this?


    The number of people who visit the US with their unlocked smartphone (from Europe and elsewhere) must be worthy of attention and rising all the time. As the only nationwide GSM network, surely catering for these customers would be good for business and their image? Even if they sold pre-paid one-month "traveller only" SIMs at airports with a set amount of data, at slightly inflated rates they could make money...


    Over here in Europe, travellers can get suitable Pay-As-You-Go SIMs for next to nothing, from virtually any network store, newsagent, or supermarket, at the same prices as residents.

  • wjosten Level 10 (94,210 points)

    I'd rather not discuss in a public forum owned & run by Apple.

  • Meg St._Clair Level 9 (50,963 points)

    Verizon doesn't do much prepaid for any smartphones, either, not just iPhones. Obviously, the situation is a bit different with a CDMA phone. In the U.S., prepaid tends to be marketed more toward people who don't have good credit. Carriers just don't make as much money with prepaid service, as I understand it.


    Some of the smaller, budget carriers (e.g. Crickett, MetroPCS) offer more prepaid smartphone options. However, they have much smaller networks.

  • UPLO Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for this.  Not quite the outcome I was hoping for though :-p.  How do you like my chances of either AT&T providing iPhone compatible prepaid sim cards, or T-mobile having an iPhone compatible 3G network?


    As Julian said about Europe, here in NZ you don't get sim cards locked to phones and it's easy for travelers to pick up a prepaid sim card with minutes and data loaded, so it's just strange to me that it's seemling so difficult in America.  


    Prepaid sim cards have been quite popular here, mainly for students and people who dont like being committed to post-pay contracts. It's only really recently that they've started including a reasonable amount of minutes, texts and data on post-pay plans. 


    If roaming didn't cost me $10/MB for data use I'd just settle with that while on holiday.  I'll keep my fingers crossed for better service from AT&T/T-mobile though.

  • Fita Level 1 (0 points)

    Does it mean that with T-Mobile I can't do with cellular data? means that I can't check my email, FB, etc? I am using iPhone 4s.


    I am planning to go to east coast in the next few days, and still looking for prepaid sim card that can do call, text message, maps, and internet (data).

  • Fita Level 1 (0 points)

    According to my experienced back in US one month ago, with my iPhone 4S bought in Saudi, my friend bought me the prepaid T-Mobile number worth $50. And do you know what I get, free national calls, free national short message, and free 4G internet until some capacity (I forget) - but after reached the maximum capacity I still can use the internet with lower speed.


    So, my account still more than $30 when I get back home, it was only use for called our parents in Indonesia, if not, my account will still remained $50...! Really worth it!

  • FSTmedic Level 1 (0 points)

    I just came into LAX in LA from Asia, I bought my Iphone 4S in Hong Kong unlocked and have used prepaid through out Asia without difficulty. Then came back to the States. I texted my provider to do roaming in the US as the suggested, but the phone went directly to AT&T's network and they will not let you use it without a plan from them. I have to use roaming then long distance numbers just to call out of country still and in the US. I know that there is a card cutter to resize regular sims to micro sims can this help? Or is it just the monoply of AT&T.

  • Scott from Asia Level 1 (5 points)
  • Super Cereal Level 1 (0 points)

    I use a Straight Talk SIM with my iPhone 4S. The SIM cost is $14.99 USD with nationwide service at $45.00 per month for unlimited everything. It works beautifully (they use the AT&T network) with excellent service.


    You'll be prompted for the Zip Code where you plan to use the phone. Any major city's Zip should work; 90010 will do if you're unsure. 



    Enjoy your visit!

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