Phone (Mobile/Cell) Plans &

A phone plan is essential when you’re getting setup. It may seem like something that you can worry about later but you’ll realize quickly that having a local phone number opens the door to most of the tools and services you will need to setup your life. So get onto it early!

In the States, you may need to adjust your lingo. A “mobile” has become a “cell” and you’ll also hear the term “wireless” thrown around a lot when discussing plans and options. Just like anywhere there are lots of competing companies, and all have differing values making them hard to compare, so here’s my summary.

There are also lots of smaller deals that we may have missed but here are the big players:

Verizon

The big gun in the US, but some phones won’t work with their network so you will have to check. For all intents and purposes they’re very good, but you will pay a premium (think of it as the Telstra of the US).

Prepaid plans include $40 for 2GB of data up to $70 for 10GB of data that can all be found here.

AT&T

The second biggest player in the game and the one from this list with the WORST website.

However, after lots of digging and some help from the internet, I’ve found GoPhone – AT&T’s prepaid bring-you-own-phone service.

T-Mobile

Without a credit score, one of these prepaid deals should do you just fine. T-Mobile is the go-to for a lot of new arrivals because they are less demanding when it comes to showing who you are.

I used to personally recommend T-Mobile to every single person who visited or moved to the United States but after having all my accounts canceled without notice (and with no recourse except for writing letters to them, seriously, real letters through the post), I don’t anymore.

Finding the best plan

There is a great resource on Reddit’s /r/NoContract which can really help you with the latest and greatest deals as they do change and offer specials quite frequently.

Getting a Prepaid Cell

For prepaid, you really only need:

  1. A form of ID (preferably passport);
  2. Money;
  3. Your phone;
  4. Time.

Getting Prepaid phone before you arrive in America

One Australians in NYC user, Di H suggested also:

USA prepaid SIM card. Use them all the time. Get your sim whilst you’re still in Aust.