Use Cell phone in the USA: How much does it cost? (Guide for travelers)

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The United States is one of the most visited countries around the world. So if you are going to travel to this North American country very soon, and you need to know if you will be able to use your cell phone in the USA, through this article we will be telling you much more about everything you need. 

Besides helping find out if you can use your cell phone in the USA, we will be telling you about all the alternatives you will have to stay connected during your trip. We will also help you to know the costs of each of these alternatives. So if you are interested, keep reading!

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Can I use my cell phone in the USA?

Something you should know when traveling to any country is that the cellular operators in each country will have a specific network frequency. So if you are going to travel, we recommend that you verify that your cellphone is compatible with the US operator to which you will be connected. 

Below you will find a table with which you can check the USA network frequencies. So, it will be much easier for you to verify whether your cell phone is compatible or not:

TechnologyBands
5G Bandsn2 (1900 PCS), n5 (850), n12 (700), n41 (2500), n66 (1700), n71 (600), n260 mmWave (39GHz), n261 mmWave (28GHz)
4G BandsB2 (1900), B4 (1700/2100 AWS 1), B5 (850), B12 (700), B13 (700), B14 (700), B17 (700), B20 (800), B25 (1900+), B26 (850), B29 (700), B30 (2300), B41 (TDD 2500), B66 (1700/2100), B71 (600)
3G BandsB2 (1900), B4 (1700/2100 AWS A-F), B5 (850), B12 (700), B13 (700)
2G BandsB2 (1900), B5 (850), B8 (900), CDMA B5 (850), CDMA BC0 (800), CDMA BC1 (1900), CDMA BC10 (800 Secondary)
Table 1. Network frequencies in the USA
Resource: Kimovil

On the other hand, in order to use your cell phone in the United States, it must be unlocked. If it is locked, it will not be able to connect to the network of any other operator than the one it was manufactured for. 

So If you have already verified the network frequency and if your cell phone is unlocked, then the last thing you should verify is that the network you will be connected to, has coverage in the USA. Among the most famous operators in this country, we find AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, among many others. 

What are the options for using a cell phone in the USA?

If you are already certain that you will be able to use your cell phone in the USA, then now it’s time to talk about the alternatives to remain connected to the internet during your trip. Among the options, the favorites of many travelers are eSIM and SIM cards, due to their ease of use and purchase. 

On the other hand, we also have the options of international roaming for the USA, pocket wifi, local operators, and even free wifi. So if you continue reading you will know more of each of these options in-depth. 

eSIM for traveling abroad

As a first option, we bring the eSIM USA, which are virtual SIM cards with which you can have an internet connection on your trip. One of the most recommended places to purchase one during your trip is through the online store Holafly, due to its good quality services. Here are all the internet plans that you can use in the USA: 

Days of useAmount of mobile dataPrice (USD)
5 daysUnlimited data$19 USD
10 daysUnlimited data$34 USD
15 daysUnlimited data$47 USD
20 daysUnlimited data$54 USD
30 daysUnlimited data$64 USD
60 daysUnlimited data$84 USD
90 daysUnlimited data$99 USD
Table 2: price comparison for eSIMs offered by Holafly in the USA.

As you can see, you will have many options to choose from to stay connected to the internet with Holafly. However, we will discuss some advantages and disadvantages of their eSIMs.

Advantages

The eSIM you find in the Holafly online shop allows you to connect to the internet in the USA with advantages such as:

  • The eSIM is very easy to activate, through a QR code. 
  • You will have customer support available 24 hours a day and in different languages, in case you need support. 
  • You will be connected to one of the best carriers in the country, such as AT&T. 
  • With the eSIM your phone becomes a dual SIM phone, so you can continue to use your domestic SIM card. 
  • You will have Unlimited data

Disadvantages

The eSIM offered by Holafly also has some disadvantages that could affect your internet connection needs in the USA. 

  • The eSIM plans only include the possibility of having data, so you will not be able to make calls or send or receive text messages. 
  • Not all cell phones are compatible with eSIM. Here is a list of those that are compatible with: 

Apple iPhone SE (2020), XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro and Pro 11 Pro Max,12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 12 Pro Max, 12 Mini. Samsung S20, Galaxy Z Flip, Note 20 Ultra, Fold LTE. Huawei P40, P40 Pro. Google Pixel 3, 3a, 4, 4a. Motorola Razr 2019. iPad Pro 11 & 12.9 inches 3rd generation, iPad Air 3rd generation, iPad 7th generation, and iPad Mini 5th generation.

International SIM Card for the USA

We know that phone compatibility with eSIMs can be tricky. So if you want another option, with Holafly you can also purchase traditional SIM cards and stay connected to the internet. As for Holafly’s SIM card costs and plans, you have the following options: 

Days of useAmount of mobile dataPrice (USD)
5 daysUnlimited data$30.63 USD
10 daysUnlimited data$41.19 USD
15 daysUnlimited data$51.75 USD
20 daysUnlimited data$62.31 USD
30 daysUnlimited data$91.88 USD
60 daysUnlimited data$178.48 USD
90 daysUnlimited data$252.41 USD
Table 3: Holafly rates for the use of various types of SIM cards in the USA.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about the advantages and disadvantages you will have with Holafly’s USA SIM card. 

SIM card advantages

So that you can connect to the internet in the USA with all the assurances you need, take a look at the advantages of the Holafly SIM card:

  • You will have unlimited data. 
  • Free shipping in 72 hours, but in case of emergencies, you can get it in 48 hours. 
  • Holafly offers 24-hour technical support.  
  • This Holafly product also works in destinations such as Puerto Rico, Miami, and the Florida Key Islands.

SIM card negative aspects

Although this SIM card has many benefits, as well as any product, it also has disadvantages, such as: 

  • It does not include SMS, received or sent.
  • No incoming or outgoing calls.
  • You’ll not be able to share data. 

Pocket Wifi for the USA

Another option you can have to stay connected to the internet is Pocket WiFi. This is a small device whose function is to share the internet with the devices connected to it. Using this pocket WiFi provides the advantage that you can share the internet with several cellular devices. However, these tend to be more expensive and uncomfortable to use, as you must always have them at your side. 

Free Wifi

In the United States, you will find plenty of places where you can connect for free to WiFi. So, you can also have this option to stay connected. However, we do not highly recommend it as it could be unsafe and is a very unstable connection. 

Can I use my phone service in the USA?

If you want to continue using your cell phone in the USA, but with your domestic operator, this is possible. Depending on the carrier you have your service with, you may be able to activate the international roaming option. Some operators include this option in their plans without any extra cost, however, most of them tend to have extra costs, and these are usually very high. 

Here we will talk about how you can use your cell phone with carriers such as Telstra and Vodafone

Using my cell phone in the USA with Telstra 

If you are a Telstra user and want to activate your services in the USA with them, then you will have two options. Firstly, there is the International Roaming Day Pass, which allows you to use your Telstra cellphone service while abroad. However, this plan is only compatible with Telstra cellular services on a postpaid plan.

On the other hand, the company also allows you to use its data services with a pay-as-you-go plan, the price of this service for the USA is around $3 USD per MB.  

Using my cell phone in the USA with Vodafone

With this European operator, you’ll be able to use international roaming in the USA. Vodafone currently charges from 7 to 15 USD per megabyte used (including VAT), which is very expensive, so if you don’t use this service we recommend you keep it turned off, so you don’t get a surprise bill.

Local cellular operators in the USA

The last option we bring you to stay connected to the internet during your trip to the USA is to purchase services from local operators. When you arrive at your destination city in the USA, you will be able to find at the airport different physical stores of American carriers. Among the best ones in this country are AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. 

However, something you should consider when using this option is that when you arrive in the country you will not have internet, so you will have to wait to make your purchase to connect. 

How much does it cost to use my cell phone in the USA?

Finally, we will summarize the costs that you will have with each of the alternatives when traveling to the USA, we recommend you to evaluate them well and choose the best one for you.

Service Internet tariff in the USA
eSIM card in the USAUnlimited data until 90 days for 99 USD
SIM card in the USAUnlimited data until 90 days for $252.41 USD
Telstra USA carrier roaming$3/MB
Vodafone Roaming $7 /MB
Pocket WiFi$80 to $130 USD for 7 days
Public WiFiFree
Table 4. Rates of the different options to connect to the internet in the USA

After evaluating each of the options, we think that the best option you could have to use your cell phone in the USA and stay connected is with Holafly’s eSIM and SIM card. These offer you many advantages, and you can choose between different plans with unlimited data. 

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