Planning to visit the United States soon? Be sure to know what to expect when shopping US SIM card.

When traveling to the US, one of the first things you should do is buy a SIM card for your phone. This allows you to make calls and use the Internet while in the country.

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There are several different providers to choose from, each with their own plans and pricing structures. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about buying a SIM card in the US.

We explain where to buy a SIM card in the United States in person and online.

Before you start reading this guide, you might be wondering if you really need a US SIM card. If you don’t mind not having internet, you’ll likely find free Wi-Fi in restaurants, shopping malls, and hotels.

That said, if you want to drive, call Uber and always have access to the internet – you can get a SIM card for your trips in the US.

A woman takes a selfie in New York

The best SIM cards in the United States

The United States is a large country and there are several cell phone providers. The two biggest are T-Mobile and Verizon.

You’ll find other popular networks like AT&T, Google Fi, and more.

We recommend using a SIM card from T-Mobile or Verizon. Alternatively, you can get an eSIM for your travels in America. I will come back to this later, so keep reading to learn more.

A woman inserts a SIM card into her mobile phone

How to buy a SIM card in the United States

You can buy a US prepaid SIM card in person at some international airports, at mobile service provider stores, at a convenience store, or on Amazon.

You can usually expect high costs and low data offers at the airport, so we don’t recommend buying a SIM card at the airport. That said, some airports don’t sell SIM cards, so if you need data quickly, you may be disappointed.

I recommend that you buy the SIM card directly from the mobile provider’s store. Remember that you need a passport to buy one. It should also be noted that SIM cards in the United States are not among the cheapest. Most providers offer long-term plans, and if you’re only there for a few weeks or months, it’s not worth it to you.

Alternatively, you can buy a US SIM card online at Amazon. You can get unlimited data for 30 days for around $45. You can See your options on Amazon. We will discuss more options for buying SIM cards online below.

If you’re looking for a larger data plan that’s affordable, I recommend using an eSIM instead. (For more information about Airalo and Holafly, go to the eSIM card section.)

A woman in Las Vegas with a cell phone in her hand

How to buy a prepaid US SIM card online

If you want to have your SIM card ready for your arrival, you can buy it on websites like Amazon.

For example, you can get a SIM card for North America like North America TravSIM from T-Mobile.

This SIM card offers 50GB for use in the United States, but adds 5GB in Canada and Mexico. So, if you are planning to visit Canada and Mexico, it can be a great option for you.

The cost is about $45 and the card is valid for 30 days. Alternatively, you can get T-Mobile Prepaid Card for USA alone

Alternatively, you can purchase an eSIM card for the US. I believe this is one of the easiest options.

How to buy an eSIM card for the US

eSIM is a new concept that allows you to have a virtual SIM card inside your phone. If your cell phone supports eSIM cards – this is definitely the best option for getting data in the United States.

curious? Learn more about eSIM for travelers.

I started using eSIM as soon as my mobile phone supported it. And I tried it for the first time while visiting my family in Canada. To buy an eSIM, I use both Holafly and Airalo (depending on my destination). Both websites offer many eSIM cards worldwide.

Here is an overview of the available options Holafly:

  • Unlimited data, valid for 5 days for $19
  • Unlimited data, valid for 10 days for $34
  • Unlimited data, valid for 15 days for $47
  • Unlimited data, valid for 20 days for $54
  • Unlimited data, valid for 30 days for $64
  • Unlimited data, valid for 60 days for $84
  • Unlimited data, valid for 90 days for $99

You can get 5% off your first purchase with my discount code: ABROKENBACKPACK

As you can see, longer is cheaper. If you are traveling for two or three months, you can get a great deal with Holafly.

esim usa holafly card plans

Here is an overview of the available options Airalo:

  • 1GB, valid for 7 days at $4.50
  • 3 GB, valid for 30 days for $11
  • 5 GB valid for 30 days for $16
  • 10 GB, valid for 30 days for $26

Airalo Usa Esim card plans

As you can see, these are the most affordable prices for SIM cards we’ve seen so far. An eSIM card also means you get data as soon as it arrives, which is very convenient.

Obviously, it also depends on your data needs. Do you only need a SIM card for emergencies? If so, you probably don’t need a big data plan.

Final thoughts on US SIM cards

I believe the United States needs to get a lot going on SIM cards and prepaid data plans for travelers. In many countries, you can easily get a SIM card for cheaper prices – but the United States makes it more difficult for tourists.

I believe an eSIM card is the best way to get data in North America so you don’t have to commit to an expensive or long-term plan.

Traveling to the United States soon? Read one of the following blog posts: