Be sure to secure your iPhone or Android Smartphone whenever you travel. Precautions will help prevent disaster.
The iPhone or any Android Smartphone is an essential tool when traveling to the USA, for tourists of any country. Google maps, travel guides, language translation, and many other apps are extremely useful. We used them all the time. Using an international iPhone in USA was tricky. We have done the research on our last trip and are sharing the findings with you.
Travel Tips for USA
Restaurant, Store Reviews – Yelp
We also have articles on using prepaid SIM cards in other countries:
Be sure to read our restaurant reviews for USA:
Here are some tips on using your iPhone in the USA
You can only use foreign SIM cards in an unlocked iPhone or Android Smartphone. A locked smartphone only works on the original cell phone carrier. You can alternately purchase an unlocked Smartphone from Amazon, eBay, etc.
If you prefer to unlock your iPhone, you can try jailbreaking it. Jailbreaking and unlocking iPhones are not easy tasks. One slip and you may have bricked your expensive smartphone. You can buy a unlocked used iPhone from eBay or Craigslist. iPhone 5’s typically cost around $200.
This article also applies to using prepaid SIM Cards in the iPhone 6, 5s, 5c, 5, 4s, 4, and iPad with 4G or LTE. Android Smartphones utilizing GSM technology are also supported.
Different Smartphones use different sized SIM cards. Most foreign cell phone carriers sell smaller micro-SIM (iPhone 4, 4S, iPad) and nano-SIM (iPhone 6, 5, 5s, 5c, iPad mini and Air) for use in a variety of Smartphones. You should remove the SIM card from your phone before you attempt to purchase a prepaid SIM card in another country.
Main cellphone carriers in USA
There are really only 4 major wireless companies in the USA:
The two with the best signal coverage are AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless. Verizon and Sprint utilize CDMA/LTE networks that are not compatible with most International phones. T-Mobile is compatible with GSM/LTE phones but uses a special 1700Mhz frequency not present in very many phones.
AT&T Wireless or a Carrier that uses their network, is the safest one.
Look for these specification in your device:
- Unlocked Multi-band GSM, (850/1900 MHz)
- UMTS (850/1900 MHz),
- LTE (Band 2 1900 MHz/ Band 4 1700 MHz/Band 5 800 MHz/Band 17 700 MHz).
Where to Buy a SIM Card in the USA
Most people will want to purchase a prepaid SIM Card from a store once they arrive. If you are staying for months, check out the article Find the Best No Contract Cell Phone Plan.
- AT&T Wireless – They have stores throughout the USA. An AT&T Gophone Prepaid SIM Card costs $9.99. You can get them Unlimited Talk, Text & Data with 1.5GB of high speed data for $45/month. Monthly plans include unlimited text to Mexico, Canada and over 100 countries. If you just want Unlimited Talk/Text, you can pay $2/day.
- Walmart – If you are near a Walmart, you can purchase a Straighttalk prepaid SIM Card from them.
- Target – If you are near a Target Store, you can purchase a Straighttalk prepaid SIM Card from them.
- Best Buy – If you are near a Best Buy Store, you can purchase a Straighttalk prepaid SIM Card from them.
Using the SIM Card
Always have the store activate the phone and load the card before you leave.
Turn your iPhone off and on again to get the new settings to load.
These instructions should work for other smartphones including Android smartphones that support American GSM networks from AT&T and T-Mobile.