Buy a sim card: Buy eSIM or Physical SIM Cards Online Today

Buying a SIM Card in the United States

There’s nothing quite like traveling in the United States. It’s a massive, incredibly diverse country. The non-stop action of New York City. The wide-open plains of Montana. Bubbling springs at Yellowstone, muscle-bound beaches in Miami, and much, much more.

For a country that leads the world in technology, though, the prepaid SIM card market for international visitors has long been surprisingly confusing, limited, and expensive. With locked phones and post-paid plans the norm for locals, tourists have been poorly catered for.

Things have improved slightly in the last few years, but it’s still a far cry from regions like Southeast Asia or even Western Europe. All carriers have also started restricting which phones they’ll activate on their networks (more below), so the situation looks likely to get worse rather than better in the near term.

Given those challenges, if you’re traveling to the United States and only need data, we’d suggest also taking a look at prepaid international eSIMs if your phone supports them. iPhones released in the last few years do, along with some Android devices.

Using an international eSIM technically counts as roaming, so you don’t have the same issues with device activation as you would with a physical local SIM.

You can pay a lot for this kind of thing with some companies, but not all: Airalo and aloSIM offer up to 20GB of data per month at competitive prices. You’ll also get 5% off your first aloSIM purchase with the discount code TMA.

If you need a local phone number or your phone doesn’t support eSIM, however, read on for all the details on buying physical prepaid SIM cards in the United States.

  • Need travel insurance for your time in United States? We currently use HeyMondo, thanks to its comprehensive coverage options, competitive pricing, and the ability to buy or renew a policy while outside your home country. It only takes a couple of minutes to sign up, and you’ll get a discount by using this link.