Carrier Prepaid Data SIM For US Trip?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by bushido, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. bushido Suspended

    bushido

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    Germany
    #1
    Hi,

    i am going to San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego and NYC in November and i will be in need for a data sim to navigate myself really BADLY. i am the worst when it comes to finding anything without googlemaps. i am like "Dory" when it comes down to it. i also heard the punlic transport system is worse than in some 3rd world country on the west coast.

    anyway, is it as easy as over here to get a simcard? just walk in with my passpord and they set it up? what price am i looking at for lets say 1 or 2 GB of data. i dont need text, calls or
     
  2. timeconsumer, Aug 24, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015

    timeconsumer macrumors 65816

    timeconsumer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Portland
    #2
    Since you're mostly going to be in major cities, you could go with t-mobile. T-mobile offers a plan for $30/month that has 100 minutes, unlimited texts, and 5GB data (after 5GB it is throttled). This plan is only available online or at Walmart. You can use root metrics to see how t-mobile is in those cities. The other option would be AT&T but I'm not familiar with their prepaid options.

    Edit: Yes, the public transportation is pretty bad on the west coast in comparison to the east coast. But in the west coast things are typically more spread out as the states are generally larger than the east coast states.
     
  3. BrianBaughn macrumors 603

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #3
    We have to assume your phone is unlocked. Also, I assume your phone is GSM so you have to make sure you get a compatible SIM.

    You should check to see if your arrival airport has anything inside. Don't count on it, though. I see a lot more SIM-handling stores and kiosks in other countries.

    You might have better luck finding a store near where you're staying. timeconsumer mentioned Walmart and they'd probably have a few choices. A Best Buy store might be easier to find.
     
  4. bushido thread starter Suspended

    bushido

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    Germany
    #4
    yeah no locked phones in Germany. i always buy sim cards at some random store run by pakis when i am all over europe but i dont have any experience with the US. i will look into T-Mobile. it wont be a problem that i am not a US citizen? Like i show them my passpord, sign something and thats it? oh and i am arriving at the San Fran Int
     
  5. timeconsumer macrumors 65816

    timeconsumer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Portland
    #5
    With prepaid a credit check isn't required so it wouldn't matter that you're not a U.S. citizen. But they would still likely need to see your passport to place the account in your name.
     
  6. Longkeg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    Location:
    S. Florida
    #6
    The only credentials you'll need is $$$. You can get a prepaid SIM and some "Top Up cards" to pay for what you use. You'll need to call to activate your SIM but as long as you keep putting money towards the number the phone will continue to work. One thing to mention that you may not be aware of; there's no such thing as a true "data" SIM for an iPhone here in the US. If the SIM is going into a phone you'll be getting voice and text (whether you want it or not) along with data. There are SIMs that are data only for iPad but I don't think they will work in an iPhone whether it be unlocked or not.
    If you feel like taking a chance you can try eBay for a prepaid SIM and top up cards. I did a similar thing on a trip to Ireland and my iPhone was on the local network before the plane reached the gate.
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #7
    I spend a fair amount of time at SFO and can't remember seeing anywhere there one could get a T-Mobile or AT&T SIM card.

    The good news is that of all the places on the West Coast, San Francisco is the exception to the rule about public transportation. BART is actually quite decent, and SF itself is rather walkable.

    Consider picking up your SIM at a T-Mobile or AT&T store away from the airport.

    Since it sounds like you want coverage between the cities you are visiting (for directions) I'd probably stick with AT&T for slightly better coverage.

    B
     
  8. Longkeg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    Location:
    S. Florida
    #8
    Agreed. NY and SF have good public transportation, although I think it's worth renting a car just to be able to drive it down Lombard Street (in SF). Vegas has plenty of taxis, which is all you would need unless you wanted to get out into the desert. They have tours for that sort of thing. LA and San Diego were both designed around the automobile. There's no way around it. You'll need to rent a car.
     
  9. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #9
    Depends where in LA you need to get to! There was a recent thread here that suggested that the subway in LA is now pretty useful.

    B
     

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