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USA ROAMING for FOREIGN TRAVELERS
The guide for travelers coming to the United States from a foreign country.




Using Your Own Phone in the USA:
  • Your Phone Must Be Compatible with USA Networks
    Your phone is most likely to be a GSM model and there are several GSM networks in the USA. You must make sure your phone uses the proper frequency bands: 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. There are other frequency bands used, but most of them are not available in foreign phones. Check your phone's owner's manual for your operating frequencies. Your phone may be "locked" to your home carrier. If so, your carrier may be able to unlock it without having to go to the store. If not you may need a Travel Phone.

  • Roaming on USA Networks with Your Current Plan
    If your phone is compatible, your plan needs to include roaming in the USA and your account may need to be activated to operate internationally. It may be able to operate but then you need to know the cost. Check with your current carrier, especially for Data Roaming charges.

  • You Can Purchase a SIM that Operates in the USA
    If you purchase a Prepaid SIM from a USA supplier, it will work throughout most of the country. SIM's are available from the major GSM operators and many re-sellers. You may be able to find a SIM at a USA airport or you can Order Them Online and have it ready to use when you arrive.
Buy a USA "Travel Phone":
  • Buying a Travel Phone for the USA
    A "Travel Phone" is one you acquire to use in one or more foreign countries. In the USA, short-term mobile phones are normally "Prepaid" and are available from all of the major carriers and several prepaid-only companies. You can choose the phone with the best price and be assured that it will operate in most areas of the USA. In some cases you need to activate your USA Travel Phone after you have arrived in the United States. It would be helpful to know the postal code, or ZIP Code of the city where you will base your travels. The carrier will assign a mobile number that is "Local" to that postal code. As an example, the ZIP Code for New York City is 10001, and Los Angeles is 90001.

  • Where to Buy a Travel Phone
    You may find a store with a few phone models at major USA airports but cellular phone stores are usually located at in-town shopping areas. Prepaid phones can be found at pharmacies, grocery stores and discount store such as Wal-Mart.
    You Can Shop for Phones Online.


USA Cellular Networks:
AT&T Discounts AT&T:
AT&T uses GSM technology which is compatible with most foreign wireless phones. The AT&T network covers most of the USA. AT&T offers both phones without contracts and prepaid service as GoPhone. They offer Talk, Text and Data services.
SPRINT:
Sprint uses CDMA technology and covers a large part of urban areas in the USA. They are the least popular network for travelers coming to the USA because they have few advantages for nationwide use.
T-MOBILE:
T-Mobile uses GSM technology which is compatible with most foreign wireless phones. Their network operates in most populated areas of the country. Their prepaid phones are mostly limited to their own network which is somewhat smaller than AT&T, primarily based on having less coverage in rural areas. Buying a T-Mobile prepaid phone is a good value for Talk, Text and Data services..
Verizon Wireless VERIZON WIRELESS:
Verizon Wireless has the largest geographic coverage area of all US carriers and uses CDMA technology. Their prepaid phones will not roam on to other networks and rarely need to do so. Verizon offers the largest 4G LTE coverage of all carriers. Overall, Verizon is the most expensive operator in the country but does provide the widest and most reliable coverage for Talk, Text and Data.
PREPAID CARRIERS:
There is a large number of Prepaid-Only carriers in the USA and most of them use one of the networks listed above. They offer phones and SIM's but normally do not have retail stores of their own. Some may be available in a kiosk, sales counter or vending machine in major USA airports but are universally available online. We have reviewed the most popular Prepaid-Only Carriers.

OUR RECOMMENDATIONS:
  • For the Best Price:
    T-Mobile Prepaid offers the best value and reasonably priced Prepaid phones. They can also provide a SIM for your own GSM phone.

  • For the Best Coverage:
    Verizon Wireless phones offer the best coverage and the most availability of high speed (4G LTE) Data.

    AT&T Prepaid also offers mobile phones that work in most of the USA.


  • For the Best SIM:
    T-Mobile can send you a SIM for little or no money. You can then choose from a wide variety of plans for several levels of Talk, Text and Data for short or longer periods of time.

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