Best prepaid SIM Cards for U.S. travelers and tourists 2022

Best prepaid SIM Cards for U.S. travelers and tourists 2022

If you plan to travel to the U.S. and want to avoid expensive roaming charges, getting a prepaid SIM Card for U.S. travelers and tourists is the way to go. As long as you own a GSM unlocked phone that's compatible with local networks such as T-Mobile and AT&T, getting a SIM card online or at a local retailer is both easy and affordable. These are some of the best prepaid SIM Cards for U.S. travelers and tourists to consider.

Best overall: Ultra Mobile Tourist


T-Mobile networkUnlimited talk and textUnlimited international text100 minutes to 80+ international destinationsUp to 3GB of 4G LTE dataCannot recharge planExpires after 21 daysCan only be purchased in stores

Ultra Mobile is an MVNO on T-Mobile's network, meaning that you'll get great T-Mobile coverage at a lower price. Though Ultra Mobile offers its own set of prepaid plans, the Ultra Mobile Tourist plan is a perfect fit for anyone visiting the U.S. for three weeks or less. This is a more traditional travel SIM and after 21 days, this plan will expire, convenient for anyone who doesn't want to deal with the hassle of cancellation. On that same note, you won't be able to recharge your Ultra Mobile SIM card, so make sure you're not considering extending your stay.

For $30 with the SIM included, you'll get unlimited talk, text, and up to 3GB of 4G LTE data. You'll also have 100 minutes to use to 80+ international destinations, meaning you can call friends and family back home without having to use a third-party app.

To purchase an Ultra Mobile Tourist plan, you can either do so online or at a T-Mobile store. There's also a store locator on Ultra Mobile's website that you can use to find stores near you where Ultra is sold.

Best prepaid data plan: T-Mobile Simply Prepaid

Nationwide coverage

T-Mobile 4G LTE and 5G networkUnlimited talk and text10GB of dataInternational add-ons availableFree mobile hotspotInternational calling is extraTaxes and fees aren't includedSpeeds throttled after data is consumedGreat coverage with the AT&T networkUnlimited talk and text5GB of dataUnlimited text to 100+ countriesTalk, text, and data in Mexico and CanadaTaxes and fees aren't includedSpeeds throttled after data is consumed

Known for its great coverage, AT&T is also an excellent carrier to consider getting a SIM card from when visiting the U.S. and one of the best prepaid phone plans. It tends to have better coverage in rural areas than other carriers, so it's also a great option if you plan to be on the road a lot. For $30 (plus taxes and fees), AT&T Prepaid will get you 5GB of high-speed data, which is then throttled to 128Kbps. As always, you should check your device's compatibility with AT&T online before signing up.

On this plan, you're able to use your mobile hotspot, and you can text to more than 100 countries. You'll also be able to talk, text, and use data in Mexico and Canada (though data speeds may be slow). And if you think you'll need more than 5GB of data, you can always upgrade to a 15GB prepaid plan for $40, which is a great deal and definitely worth considering.

You can purchase an AT&T SIM card along with a prepaid plan online, or you can head to an AT&T store. Other retailers such as Target, Best Buy, and Walmart sell AT&T SIM cards for around $10, which is more than you would pay online but always an option.

Best extended stay: Mint Mobile

Multiple month

T-Mobile 4G LTE and 5G networkUnlimited talk and textAffordable unlimited planFree trial availableFree mobile hotspotMust sign up for at least three monthsInternational calling is extraUnlimited data is throttled at 35GB

Best prepaid SIM Cards for U.S. travelers and tourists 2022

Mint Mobile is one of the best MVNO carriers today and uses T-Mobile's 4G LTE and 5G network, making it a great prepaid SIM card to get if you plan on staying in the U.S. for at least three months. It's you're a student on a study abroad exchange or your job has relocated you for a few months, Mint Mobile is guaranteed to give you great coverage at an affordable price.

With Mint, you need to purchase at least three months of service upfront. After that, the best deals are offered when you sign up for six months or 12. For three months on the unlimited plan, you'll pay $90 and get unlimited talk, text, and data, 5GB of mobile hotspot, and free calls to Mexico and Canada. Though you can add on additional international features such as calling and roaming, you'll have to pay extra. If this is a high priority for you, then another carrier that includes free international calling is a better fit.

3 months (introductory price)$15/mo. ($45)$20/mo. ($60)$25/mo. ($75)$30/mo. ($90)
3 months$25/mo. ($75)$35/mo. ($105)$45/mo. ($135)$40/mo. ($120)
6 months$20/mo. ($120)$25/mo. ($150)$35/mo. ($210)$35/mo. ($210)
12 months$15/mo. ($180)$20/mo. ($240)$25/mo. ($300)$30/mo. ($360)

Joining Mint Mobile is easy, and you can even sign up for a trial online to get a free Mint Mobile SIM card.. It's especially easy if your phone is eligible for an eSIM since you can then activate the SIM straight from your phone and later continue your service if you like it. You can also get a Mint SIM card from Target, Best Buy, Walmart, or Amazon.

Best value: Lycamobile

International plans

Multiple plans to choose fromSold at several retailersUnlimited international talking and textingAffordableT-Mobile networkExpensive unlimited plan5 percent tax on plan purchases online

Lycamobile is unique because it's a global MVNO, and in the U.S., it's an MVNO on T-Mobile's network. To check whether your phone is compatible, the easiest thing to do is type in your IMEI number on Lycamobile's website, but most GSM unlocked devices should work.

Lycamobile offers several plans to pick from and really caters to those who need unlimited nationwide talk and text and international calling and texting to 75+ countries. Each plan includes these features at no additional charge, making this the perfect plan if you're someone who wants to be able to call abroad whenever you want.

When it comes to data, you have multiple options starting at 2GB and going up to 60GB. The cheapest 2GB plan costs $19, while the top unlimited data plan costs $50. The 2GB plan is only available to new customers so if you're already signed up, this plan will come with 1GB of data. Each plan includes slightly different bonus features, so you'll have to pick what makes the most sense for you.

Fortunately, Lycamobile SIM cards are pretty easy to get a hold of. They're sold online on Lycamobile's website and Amazon, but you'll also find Lycamobile SIM cards in several retailers, including 7-Eleven, pharmacies, local convenience stores, etc. When in doubt, you can also use the online store locator to find the nearest retailer near you.

Best data only: Cricket Wireless

Stream what you want

At least 20GB of high-speed dataGreat AT&T coverageMexico and Canada usageSIM cards sold at several retailersNo minutes

If you don't think you'll need minutes during your stay in the U.S. and really just want data, you could consider a data-only plan from Cricket Wireless, which is an MVNO on AT&T's network. For $35, you'll get 20GB to use during the month, or for $55, you'll get 100GB.

Again, this plan doesn't come with any minutes, so you'll have to be sure you're fine using apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Skype to connect with family or friends. It does come with text and picture messages across the U.S., as well as usage in Mexico and Canada if you plan on visiting those countries as well. It's the perfect plan for anyone who will be spending lots of time on the road and wants to be able to stream, download, and do some high-speed browsing.

You can get a Cricket SIM card by going into a Cricket Wireless authorized retailer, which you can locate with Cricket's online store locator. Other popular retailers such as Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and Walmart will also sell Universal SIM card activation kits for Cricket Wireless. The good news is that if you do end up wanting minutes, you can always switch to another one of Cricket's plans with the same SIM card.

Bottom line

You really can't go wrong with a prepaid SIM card on T-Mobile or AT&T's network while visiting the U.S., and the right fit for you depends on the length of your stay and whether you need features like being able to call back home. If you're traveling for only three weeks or less, the Ultra Mobile Tourist plan is the best choice and offers just enough talk, text, and data to stay connected. On the other hand, if you'll be in the U.S. for a few months, Mint Mobile will give you the best multiple-month value. And if you're somewhere in between, a prepaid plan from either T-Mobile or AT&T is easy, reliable, and guaranteed to give you great coverage.

Carrier add-ons and eSIMs

Many carriers have partnerships with international carriers to offer greater service to their own customers. Luckily, this often goes both directions and means there may be a plan add-on that can give you plenty of data without needing to set up and activate a new SIM. While these travel add-ons can be quite pricey, the simplicity of this option will make it worth it to many people. It also gives you the chance to have a connection if you're waiting for a connecting flight in another country.

Another emerging option is eSIM apps. These apps can use your phone's built-in eSIM slot to quickly activate and pay for a phone plan without needing to remove your old SIM or worry about shipping a physical SIM in the first place. If you have an iPhone, there's even an official T-Mobile Prepaid eSIM app that accepts credit card payments from a number of countries. Regrettably, this app isn't available on Android though there are still other eSIM providers on the platform. Just be sure to confirm compatibility before taking off.

Still, there are other apps available on Android offering solid deals on data without contacts or phsycial SIMs necessary.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Olivia Lipski is a freelance writer for Android Central and loves testing out the latest kitchen tech and discovering the best cell phone plans. When she's not busy running around NYC trying to find great food or coffee, she's in her kitchen trying to make it herself.

Image placeholder

George Washington

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Ducimus itaque, autem necessitatibus voluptate quod mollitia delectus aut, sunt placeat nam vero culpa sapiente consectetur similique, inventore eos fugit cupiditate numquam!