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Going to US for a Week - CELL PHONES

bombardierbombardier mr. mullyVancouver, BCSuper Moderator, Moderator mod
edited April 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Ok here's the deal. I'm going to be flying through Western USA soon and I'll be there for about a week. I have an iphone 4 with Rogers in Canada right now. What are my options for getting either a temporary cellphone or sim card to stick in my phone while I travel the states? I'll need to be making a lot of phone calls and probably text messages too. Data is less important but would be extremely useful so I could check aviation weather online from anywhere.

I've been told it's as easy as buying prepaid or pay as you go sim cards from basically anywhere. I understand it's probably not going to be terribly cheap, but it might be better than doing a roaming plan with Rogers, right?

Edit: I'll be flying a little cessna down through small airports, I mean. Wi-fi might not be totally available at all of them, but american general aviation airports are infinitely nicer than canada's.

bombardier on

Posts

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    If the cell plan isn't too bad, you can find wireless hotspots around everywhere, re: all Starbucks.

    Obviously you wouldn't want to do banking or anything, but weather, tourist stuff should be OK.

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    You can buy a Verizon pre paid phone for 20$ US at any Walmart, Target, grocery store, etc. It comes with a few minutes already at that price point, I'm not positive about the plans. This is for a basic flip phone without a qwerty keyboard. I would get that for texting and calling and use the iPhone only when you have WiFi. And be really careful about it, I seem to remember that Cardboard Tube got stuck with a phone bill of several hundred pounds from roaming in the US.

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  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Elin wrote: »
    You can buy a Verizon pre paid phone for 20$ US at any Walmart, Target, grocery store, etc. It comes with a few minutes already at that price point, I'm not positive about the plans. This is for a basic flip phone without a qwerty keyboard. I would get that for texting and calling and use the iPhone only when you have WiFi. And be really careful about it, I seem to remember that Cardboard Tube got stuck with a phone bill of several hundred pounds from roaming in the US.

    Similarly, you can get a cheap Virgin Mobile USA prepaid phone for about that price in many of the same stores, which should come with about a $10 credit on it, which is good for a month, last I remember. Looks like, at the moment, their default plan is $.20/minute, and I think it's $.10 to send or receive a text? I've been in Canada on Virgin Mobile Canada, so I haven't really kept up on what I would be paying if I were actually using the phone right now. No contracts required, and you can activate your phone very quickly. Anyway, Virgin Mobile is usually cheaper than any other provider from what I've heard. Their cheap phones aren't that great, but if you just need something for people to be able to call/text that's easily covered. I honestly don't know a thing about their data plans, since I bought one of their cheapie phones, but I know they have better phones that are useable for data. They seem to have good coverage from my experience, unless maybe you're up in the mountains somewhere, or outside the US for a while (there's no roaming at all, your phone just won't work). They use Sprint's network, which is pretty good. Go take a look on their site for more info, although they likely have cheaper options (such as the pay-as-you-go plan that I use and described above) than it shows there.

  • mehmehmehmehmehmeh Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I think t-mobile prepaid will be cheaper than other prepaid phones (verizon boost etc), but that might only be after you put in $100 dollars (can be done over time, sim is 10 cent a minute after that.) (removable sim > cdma anyway)

    re the iphone 4, it might me locked to rodgers and even if you have it unlocked, you can't buy prepaid/pay as you go micro sim cards readily in the states. So you would have to trim down a sim card to work in your phone which seems like a lot of trouble.

  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I don't think any of the pre-paid plans down here have a reasonable data option. And I'd guess the international roaming data fee is in the $/MB range...

    Your best bet is probably going to be to go to Wal-mart or something and buy a pre-paid bundle - you can usually get a phone+20-30 minutes of talk time for $10-$20. After that you just buy cards and add minutes when you need them.

  • LaPuzzaLaPuzza Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    When my wife went to Canada from the US for a week, she discovered that calls would be a billion dollars a second if she kept her normal plan. When she changed to an international roming plan, it cost her about $20 extra bucks for one month, and they refunded the 3 weeks she paid for and didn't use. I'd suggest calling your carrier and figuring out what it will cost to use your phone, so you have something to compare.

    It looks like Walmart will give you a phone for as cheap as $20 bucks prepaid according to their website, and you can buy cards from there.

    If I didn't know LaPuzza wasn't a spambot I would think that was a spambot post.
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Yeah, I forgot to add that in my post.

    Don't know if it goes both ways (Canada -> US), but we did the same thing, and it was $25 or so for the month and calls.

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
  • Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Captain East CoastRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Is Rogers a GSM or CDMA phone? I assume GSM, so you could use T-Mobile if you like. Just need to unlock your phone and pick up a SIM with no contract. I just did so with my Nexus S, no problems.



  • Durandal InfinityDurandal Infinity Registered User
    edited April 2011
    Is Rogers a GSM or CDMA phone? I assume GSM, so you could use T-Mobile if you like. Just need to unlock your phone and pick up a SIM with no contract. I just did so with my Nexus S, no problems.

    IMHO I would chose ATT especially if you want to use Prepaid data. T-Mobile USA uses a proprietary 3G band so you would be stuck on edge. That being said the two big GSM (actually 1 big now) carriers in the US are AT&T and T-Mobile. either one will give you good phone service ATT will give a much better data experience though.

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