Pre-paid GSM sim for trip to USA?

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by Nam Pla, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Nam Pla macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Location:
    Thailand
    #1
    I have a factory unlocked iPhone 4s for use with GSM sim cards here in Thailand. I'll be making a short trip to the US soon, and I'm wondering if there is a cheap and easy way to have use of my phone while I'm there using a pre-paid US GSM sim card. I figure as long as I have an unlocked phone, I may as well take advantage of that if it doesn't cost me an arm/leg.

    I would be looking to have use of all the iPhone functions, and avoid having to change any settings on the phone to accommodate the US sim, as that kind of stuff confuses the hell outta me! :confused: Especially when I'd have to change them back again.

    So I'm essentially looking for a situation where I can just pop out my Thai sim, and pop in a US sim, and be good to go. Then pop out the US sim and go back to my Thai sim when I return.

    Ideally, having a US sim card I can keep active for a longer time, and switch from my Thai sim for any time I'm in the States, would be great. But as I only travel there appx once a year, I don't know if that's feasible money-wise. And I don't want to enter into any long-term contracts.

    Any help with providers and approximate costs would be appreciated also.

    Thanks for any information. :)
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #2
    Yep... you can get a prepaid SIM from ATT or T-Mobile that will work with your GSM iPhone. Here is a recent article with more info for you.
     
  3. bohbot16 macrumors 6502a

    bohbot16

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2009
    #3
    If you get an AT&T prepaid (GoPhone) SIM then you will still need to change your APN settings by going to http://unlockit.co.nz
     
  4. dictoresno macrumors 601

    dictoresno

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2012
    Location:
    NJ
    #4
    i was up until recently, a long time att customer. i also used to have tmobile years ago. i would suggest att as i think you will be happier with their network vs tmobile.
     
  5. Nam Pla thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Location:
    Thailand
    #5
    Great link, thank you. Just the info I needed. I haven't gone through it thoroughly yet, but I saved it to read again later.
     
  6. Fatt Kidd macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Location:
    APO, Germany
    #6
    when i went home for a month this past summer i used t-mobile 50 bucks unlimited everything 4g it worked well... popped my german sim out popped the new one in and was good to go
     
  7. jdaniel macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    #7
    I Was just there, get a AT&T sim although they won't cut it for you, at the store if you don't let them know what phone you want to use it on 50 bucks on prepaid gets u unlimited everything, I suggest finding a reseller type store, corporate stores ask too many questions trying to be too helpful, or I would get a sim cutter where u live, and go into a AT&T store ask for a sim say u r using a non smart phone get the sim get the plan go away n cut it.

    I used iPhone 5 with a cut sim no issues, question is does Thailand lock phones, I have no idea.
     
  8. Nam Pla thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Location:
    Thailand
    #8
    Sounds good, but as I'll only be there for 2 weeks, $50 is a bit steep. Is the sim only good for limited time, or can it be refilled (recharged?) say on your next visit?
     
  9. Nam Pla thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Location:
    Thailand
    #9
    I have a 4s JD. That's not the smallest sim like the iP 5, but smaller than the original sized sims. AT&T doesn't offer the sim size for whatever phone you have? Seems odd.

    My phone is factory unlocked. I bought it in the US that way - sort of. Long story, but I originally bought it in the US, had tons of problems with it, then was lucky to get a free under-warranty replacement for it here in Thailand, which works like a charm.

    And yes phones here are unlocked. I can buy a sim from any of the main phone providers or even at the 7-Eleven (cheap here, maybe $2), and interchange them in my phone at will. And you can get pre-paid refills for them at any 7-Eleven. You buy a phone card for whatever you need, usually from ฿50 up to ฿500 (appx $1.50 to $15), and enter the code numbers on that card which adds money to your account. Every call, text, or whatever subtracts from your balance.

    Bad thing is that there's no real (i.e. reliable) 3G or 4G networks here that are reasonably cheap for data. Good thing is that there's millions of places with free wifi if I need online access.

    But I digress, sorry for derailing my thread... :eek:
     
  10. jdaniel macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    #10
    AT&T has very weird rules on what phones can use what plans, iPhone 5 uses nano SIM card and only iphone5 uses nano sim if you ask for that sim they know you use a smartphone and will not allow you to go on the 50 dollar unlimited everything plan. That plan is for non smartphones and I think all phones that use a micro sim would stand to reason to be smartphones (as far as I know) you see what I am saying? Lol just go online n compare the plans u will see what I mean.

    If you want to pay say 50 n get unlimited everything u can use on your iphone u cannot let them know you are using an iPhone. If you manage to do that, I managed to use the non smart phone unlimited plan on my iphone and even tether my laptop (I didn't download files) without issues. That way I saved on hotel Internet etc
     
  11. Nam Pla thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Location:
    Thailand
    #11
    Okay, now I understand why you needed to cut down the sim. Makes sense, at least from AT&T's (greedy) point of view.

    The ideal thing for me would be to have a US sim card I could use whenever I was back in the country. Then switch back to my Thai sim when I return, like I say. Would come in handy even as I was traveling thru the airports. As it is now, I have no way to contact anyone while I'm en route which kinda sucks. Especially if there was a delay or my arrival time would change or whatever.

    But I would guess that the sim would expire after a period of time, making it useless, say a year later. One thing I like here in Thailand is that as you buy time on your sim, your expiration date extends. Plus, you can buy and extend that time on the sim for really cheap. I recently extended my expire date by one year for a whopping ฿24, about 80¢!
     
  12. jdaniel macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    #12
    Yeah u can do that but not for a tiny amount the amt extends goes with the amount u add
     
  13. quietstormSD macrumors 6502a

    quietstormSD

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #13
    I'd get a T-mobile sim and get a day to day account. So you just pay for the days you use it. I think if you want data it's 3 dollars a day.
     
  14. Nam Pla thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Location:
    Thailand
    #14
    I've been to a couple of websites, like T-Mobile, and they're a bit confusing to me, at least for trying to find answers to all the questions I'd have. But it's a good start for now. Appreciate the advice and links guys. Got me pointed in some right directions, thanks.

    I guess once I'm there I'll have to go to T-Mobile and AT&T (at least for starters) and see what they can do for me. It's only a 2 week trip, and having a phone is not imperative. But if I can come up with a sim I can keep and use on any future trips back to the US, that will be nice. I'll just have to wait till I get there to get all the details and see if it's worth it to me or not.
     
  15. Fatt Kidd macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Location:
    APO, Germany
    #15
    you can recharge it as far as i know.

    ----------

    just go to the mall.......... i checked all the providers when i was there. at&t and t-mobile are your best bets. i understand 50 is steep for 2 weeks but you'll get your money out of it.
     

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