What is the cheapest way to use the Internet on my phone in the U.S.?

The mobile phone is quickly becoming an indispensable tool for travellers.

Each country has its own particularities when it comes to accessing the Internet with a mobile phone, and the United States is no exception.

Here are some tips for using your smartphone while on a road trip in the USA

#1. Two options for accessing the Internet on your mobile phone

cheapest internet plan travel USA
Sim cards are often the option that is the less expensive

To access the Internet using your mobile phone in the U.S., you have 2 options:

  1. Contact your local service provider about their data roaming packages for the United States.
  2. Purchase a prepaid SIM card.

The second option is almost always more economical.

What is a SIM card?

The cheapest way to have Internet access on your mobile phone while in the U.S. is to purchase a SIM card.

A SIM card is a prepaid card that provides, among other things, a data package you can use to access the Internet.

This card must be installed inside your telephone, replacing your regular carrier.

After your trip, you can keep it as a souvenir from the U.S! :;): emoji

Which SIM card should I choose?

According toTiti from Titi.me, the best prepaid SIM card for the United States comes from T-Mobile.

You can have 10 GB of data for 40 US $, or go unlimited for 50 US $.

These packages include unlimited calling and texting, and are valid for 30 days.

And the best part is that you can order your SIM card at home before leaving. That way you won't have to waste precious vacation time searching for a SIM card once you get there.

Otherwise, the T-Mobile "Simply Prepaid" card is available in Walmart stores across the U.S.

If you only require internet and no phone line, you can get prepaid internet by bundle of 5G for 5 US $.

The later can also be used on a tablet, which is good if you will be bringing the entire family on a USA vacation!

How do you install a SIM card?

To use your SIM card, you need to know how to install it in your telephone.

For an iPhone, you will need a small extraction key (supplied with the SIM card) in order to eject the SIM tray on the right side of the device and change the card.

For other types of devices, you need to turn off the phone, then remove the back cover and battery in order to change the SIM card.

Other ways to access the Internet on your mobile phone

Of course, it is always possible to access the Internet using free Wi-Fi networks. You will find these everywhere in the U.S., in hotels, cafes, restaurants, etc.

Most of the time, the passwords are going to be visible on a wall sign. If not, do not hesitate to ask your waiter, cashier or front desk agent if free wifi is available. 

#2. Two things to check before leaving

USA travel phone plan
Things to check on your phone before leaving

I know. There are a lot of things to keep you busy before leaving on a trip, like finding the cheapest flight to the U.S. or getting your ESTA.

The good news is that the things to check on your phone will not be as time-consuming

Here is what you have to look out for:

  1. To use your phone in the U.S., it must be a tri-band or quad-band phone. Your best bet is to check with your carrier whether your model of phone can be used in the United States. However, most smart phones can be used in the U.S. and you should not worry too much about it. 
  2. Nowadays, the "International" option is activated automatically. If you phone is older, 5 years plus, you will have to call your carrier to have this feature activated, at least 48 hours in advance. The service is free.


#3. Practical information

calling abroad from the USA
Practical information about phone usage in the U.S.

How do you call the U.S. from Europe?

00 (wait for the tone + 1 + 3-digit area code + 7-digit phone number

How do you call overseas from the U.S.?

USA to the UK: 011 + 44 + phone number (remove initial 0)

USA to Ireland: 011 + 353 + phone number (remove initial 0)

USA to Germany: 011 + 49 + phone number (remove initial 0)

USA to Australia: 011 + 61 + phone number (remove initial 0)

Toll-free numbers

:fleche: emoji All numbers beginning with 1-800, 1-855, 1-866, 1-877 and 1-888 are toll-free numbers.


If you have any other tips for using your mobile phone in the U.S, don't hesitate to share them in the comments below.

Have a great trip!

Karolane Lessard

An enthusiast of both our vibrant cities & great oudoors, my life revolves around travel & adventure. It's a no brainer that I have to share the wonders & secrets of my neck of the woods with other travelling souls. Enjoy the journey!


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Steve October 4, 2022, 04h00
Thanks for your tips. Really helpful. Is this up to date as I am going in March 2023
Karolane Lessard October 11, 2022, 18h16
Hi Steve,
All tips are up to date, however, prices may vary until March '23. Your best bet would be to look for the prices online just before you leave so that you know for sure.
Enjoy your trip !
Stu September 25, 2022, 08h08
Deadly thank you for the information
Karolane Lessard September 28, 2022, 10h24
Hi Stu,
Thank you for your kind words, glad it could help!
Have a nice day :)
Stephen August 14, 2022, 10h46
Very useful, thank you
Karolane Lessard August 22, 2022, 16h45
Glad it could be helpful to you Stephen.
Have a great day !
slick ukdeals May 10, 2022, 11h15
I love reading through your blog, I wanted to leave a little comment to support you and wish you a good continuation. Wish you best of luck for all your best efforts.
Karolane Lessard August 22, 2022, 16h43
Thank you for your kind words Slick !
Mal February 16, 2022, 11h33
I only want data for a USA trip ,you referred to it in your article but gave no link for a cheap USA sim with data..can you email please
Jeff April 13, 2022, 08h00
You have to go to a T-mobil store when you get to the USA often it costs more then stated and you have to get everything working before you leave the store, Wait time at the stores is 3 to 4 hrs, once you leave if anything is not working you have another 3 or 4 hrs wait time for any service. Last time I used them it took a week for them to get it working. Generally the USA is very bad for internet access it is not at all as modern as most other countries in the world.
Karolane Lessard February 18, 2022, 18h21
Hi Mal,
You can find this type of sim card with T-mobile.
I hope this helps !