US Tourist SIM card: $30 for a 3-week plan including 3GB of LTE

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Ultra Mobile offers a mobile phone plan that is perfect for travelers visiting the United States. $30 plus taxes will get you 3 weeks of unlimited texting, unlimited domestic talk, and 3 GB of LTE data. You can even use 100 minutes to call 80 countries, incl. most European countries.

You can purchase the Ultra Mobile Tourist Plan in every T-Mobile shop in the USA and activate your card right away.

Unfortunately, you can’t buy additional data, once you hit the 2 GB. But since you will get ‘unlimited’ data with the plan, you can keep going online, even if it’s only with 2G speed (~50 kbit/s).

The most exciting part of the deal is definitely the data that is included. If you’re using a dual SIM phone, you can use the card for data only. That way, people can still call your European number. Alternatives would be a WiFi Hotpot or an old Smartphone that you convert into a hotspot.

Experience with T-Mobile’s offer

Johannes, the founder of Travel-Dealz, was able to test the Tourist Plan during a stay in San Francisco. Here’s what he says:

I was able to check the Tourist Plan offer during a visit to San Francisco in early 2018. Shops near various sights heavily promoted the deal. The staff knew exactly what to do and helped me by removing my SIM card from my iPhone and replacing it with the new one. They also activated the plan for me. I paid $36 (~€29) including taxes.

t mobile USA Tourist Plan
T-Mobile advertisement for the USA Tourist Plan

Coverage was great in and around San Francisco. I used a lot of data during my 5-day trip but still had 500 MB left before I got on the plane back to Germany.

A tip that might come in handy: Send “BAL” to 6700 to see how much high-speed data you’ve got left.

Alternatives

Ultra Mobile is the only service provider we know that promotes plans in the USA explicitly for tourists. Of course, there are competitors that also offer prepaid SIM cards that can be used during your trip through the United States. One option would be travSIM (10% discount), a provider that sells SIM cards for multiple countries. Another easy way to talk on the phone like a local is Freedompop. Actually, the provider will only send a SIM card to a US address. But luckily they also sell on Amazon.

In many cases, it could be better to get a card before you leave home. That way, you’ll be prepared and can use the new card as soon as you got off the airplane.

But be aware of the fact that not all smartphones will be compatible with US carriers. The frequency for 2G, 3G, and LTE can be different in the United States. So if you’re not sure if your phone will work, it’s better to ask a salesman or do some research online. Also, check when and where you have to activate your SIM card.

Bottom line

In theory, there is a vast variety of prepaid SIM cards that you can get in the USA. But sometimes it can be tricky to buy them since only certain shops will sell them. Or the activation of your card turns out to be rather complicated and/or linked to extra fees you’ll have to pay. Considering these facts, the Ultra Mobile Tourist Plan sounds like a nice and easy way to stay connected during your vacation. The data is sufficient for three weeks, and the price is right.

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