To handle the US chapter better on a mobile device, it's now split according to operators.
T-Mobile USEditT-Mobile US is the rising star amongst the “Big 4” providers. In the last years it gained the most customers by a very agressive pricing and innovations surpassing Sprint at #3 in the US.
2G is on 850 and 1900 MHz up to EDGE speed, 3G on 1700 and 1900 MHz up to DC-HSPA and 4G/LTE mostly on 1700 MHz and new on 700 and 1900 MHz. See Basics chapter for specifics and compatibility.
Availability and start-upEdit
Their starter packs are called “activation kits” and consist of a SIM card and an explanation leaflet in English and Spanish. They are available online to be sent to an US postal address, at T-Mobile branded stores (locator) and other stores without ID. Note, that activation kits sold in T-Mobile stores need to be activated at time of purchase. You can not buy just the SIM card. Micro-, mini- and nano-SIMs are available.
The official price in stores has been raised in 2014 and again in 2016 to $20 (plus taxes) containing only about $3 credit. Some shops want to charge even higher prices or hefty fees for cutting. So it's a better idea to buy the SIM in advance by independent merchants on eBay (search for “T-Mobile Activation Kit”) that are also shipped overseas for a small fee to avoid being overcharged. They have often bought the activation kits at one of T-Mobile's many promotions for $1. But you can't rely on getting one for this start-up price in a T-Mobile shop and promo codes are only for online orders to be sent to an US postal address.
The activation kit comes only with an activation code and no number assigned to it. Activation is done by calling 877-778-2107 from any phone, *611 from T-Mobile phone or online HERE. This is where you can choose your number and plan too. Signing up can be done while you are in the US or before at home. You will get a text message for verification. This SMS used not to be forwarded abroad when roaming on a network other than T-Mobile US. Recently, first users succeeded in activating it through non-US roaming networks. So you might give it a try before leaving for the US.
In 2016 T-Mobile changed their policy and started to ship SIM cards already pre-activated on the $3 "pay as you go plan". This gives the advantage that you only have to change the plan, but the highly popular $30 plan (see below) becomes now only available to un-activated kits or at Walmart.
Recharges and validityEdit
Top-ups can be done online, but you seem to need mostly an US-issued credit card. Non-residents should use vouchers instead, called 'refill cards' available at T-Mobile stores, many supermarkets, gas stations, Walgreen’s and CVS drugstores, 7-Eleven and many other places. Minimum value is $10.
For refill cards, be aware that you are likely to pay more than the 'face value' of refills in stores due to the recently-introduced '911 Prepaid Wireless Emergency Service Fee', which for example in Los Angeles is around $5.80 on a $30 refill.
For refills with foreign credit cards the online site Callingmart is a great source. They charge a 2% fee, but no taxes and accept PayPal too. The SIM is valid for 90 days after the last refill. Beyond that, it will be terminated and the remaining credit is lost. Since 2014 T-Mobile has a $3 monthly minimum charge.
There is one exception to this termination rule and minimum charge. For iPads with LTE connectivity and other certified tablets too, T-Mobile offers a 200 MB per month free plan which doesn't expire after 90 days or charge a monthly fee. According to T-Mobile, these accounts expire after 365 consecutive days of no activity. Since free activity counts, you only have to use data once per year to keep this free plan alive.
It's now verified that you can re-activate old T-Mobile SIM cards that have been terminated before and shut off. You can buy an T-Mobile Activation Code (without the SIM card) on eBay for a few $ and activate it online on an old disused T-Mobile SIM. Thus, you will get a new number, but don't have to buy a new SIM card (at $20+) or obey expiry rules and waste money on useless monthly minimum charges.
Default rate: "Pay as you go"Edit
Their default rate for voice and data costs a $3 monthly fee. This includes 30 minutes voice (incoming or outgoing, domestic only) OR 30 text messages (domestic only). These two data packs can be added:
- $ 5: 500 MB for 1 day (based on one calendar day on Pacific Time)
- $ 10: 1 GB for 1 week
Activating one of the data packs can be done online at the "mobile" My-Account site ma.web2go.com, in person at a T-Mobile store, or by calling customer service. The $10 data pack can be renewed within the 7 days when the data is used up (or before, but you lose any remaining data for that pass).
Monthly rates: "Pay by the month – Unlimited": Edit
|Rate||Dom. calls/txts||Mobile Data|
|Simply Prepaid Plans:|
|$ 30 *||100 min||5 GB *|
|$ 40||unlimited||3 GB|
|$ 50||unlimited||5 GB|
|$ 60||unlimited||10 GB|
|Simple Choice Prepaid Plans:|
|$ 50||unlimited||2 GB|
|$ 65||unlimited||6 GB &|
|$ 80||unlimited||10 GB &|
|$ 95||unlimited||unlimited @|
The difference between the plans: For a $5 add-on you get 4G data in Mexico and Canada included in your plan on Simply Prepaid Plans of $40 and more. On Simple Choice Prepaid plans this is included for free as well as unlimited internatl. texting from the US, on Simply Prepaid plans don't.
All prepaid customers are exempt from "unlimited worldwide roaming" to 140+ countries. This is only offered to postpaid clients after a credit check and generally throttled to 128 kbit/s.
& = on these plans unused data rolls over to the next month, what T-Mobile calls 'Data Stash' for a max. of 12 months and 20 GB.
@ = T-Mobile randomly throttles clients based on a unclear FUP. Some users report that speed de-priorization starts after having used around 28 GB of data, but this information is somewhat vague. The de-priorization consists in a soft-cap, where users have less traffic priority than others, until the billing cycle ends.
$30 'Walmart plan' Edit
* = the $30 plan is often dubbed 'Walmart plan' as it's offered by Walmart, the biggest retail chain in the US. It's not available in T-Mobile stores or by phone and can only be activated on new SIM cards, either online or in a Walmart store. The new shipment policy of already pre-activated SIM cards by T-Mobile (see activation above) makes it even harder to get this plan, as you need to get an un-activated T-Mobile SIM for this plan. When a different plan is loaded, you will never be able to change it back to the $30 plan; once you've moved away from it, it's gone forever and you'll need to buy a new SIM.
To get this plan, you will need to activate a new SIM card at Walmart. This not an option, if you visit e.g. New York City only, as all Walmarts are out of town. But you will surely hit a Walmart soon travelling by car through the country. The only alternative is to go to the nearest major retailer such as Best Buy or Walgreens, purchase an un-activated T-Mobile SIM there along with a refill card and then activate the SIM on T-Mobile's website. From there you have the option of choosing the $30 plan. Again, you won't get this plan in a T-Mobile store or on an already pre-activated SIM that is sent out by T-Mobile or other dealers.
The only other restriction is that the 'Walmart plan' only allows 100 MB of hotspot data or tethering. Effective 2015 T-Mobile has opened the unrestricted use of all plans through a hotspot, also called tethering, but only the 'Walmart plan' remains limited to 100 MB hotspot data.
IDD call add-on Edit
For calling abroad, you can have a special add-on called "Stateside International Talk". This can be added to all monthly prepaid plans costing $40 per month or higher, not the Walmart plan. There are two options:
- $ 10: unlimited calls for landline phones of over 70 countries (list, countries in bold)
- $ 15: like the $10 plan plus 1000 minutes for mobile phones of over 30 countries (list, all countries)
International Tourist PlanEdit
For $30, T-Mobile offers a new International Tourist Plan. This plan is aimed towards short term visitors to the US and only lasts for 3 weeks, is not renewable or expandable. It includes 1,000 domestic minutes, unlimited domestic and global texting to 140 countries, and 2 GB of 4G/LTE data along with a free SIM card. Beyond the given volume speed will be throttled to 2G speed (about 150 kbps). You can't add extra packages. Visitors to the United States wishing to activate this plan can just walk into any T-Mobile store and ask for it.
T-Mobile sells data-only packages too. They are called “Pay in Advance Mobile Internet” and don’t have voice or text. You can activate any un-activated starter pack to it, but once a SIM is activated to a phone, it's not eligible for data plans. These data plans are for non-telephony devices only - although the T-Mobile site is silent in this matter, store representatives indicate these plans are only for tablets and the like - not for phones.
For tablets T-Mobile now offers 200 MB per month free for iPads with LTE connectivity and certain other certified tablets as well. Once you sign up for this 200 MB/month plan, you can't use the same SIM in any other tablet or phone. But you can buy the on-demand packs below to expand beyond the 200 MB, and also the free renewing 200 MB plan keeps your SIM alive for 365 days without any activity.
- On demand rates
|$ 5||500 MB||1 day|
|$ 10||1 GB||7 days|
|$ 30||3 GB||30 days|
|$ 40||5 GB||30 days|
|$ 50||7 GB||30 days|
|$ 10||5 GB||150 days (see remarks below)|
If offered, a special promotional 5 GB for $10 pass lasts for 5 months and can only be purchased once. After any pass has been purchased, this special pass can not be bought again. So buy this special pass before any other passes. This special pass is not available to everyone, but often appears after activating the free 200 MB/month plan on LTE capable iPads and possibly other tablets.
These packs can be booked online on demand through your account and don’t renew themselves. One day is based on 0.00am-11.59pm in Pacific Time.
- Monthly packs
Furthermore there are monthly packages (for 30 days) which renew automatically:
- $ 20: 2 GB
- $ 35: 6 GB
- $ 50: 10 GB
- $ 65: 14 GB
- $ 80: 18 GB
- $ 95: 22 GB
Settings and infoEdit
- APN: epc.t-mobile.com
- APN for LTE devices: fast.t-mobile.com
- Customer Support Line: 877-453-1304
- Website: www.t-mobile.com
MetroPCS used to be an own CDMA provider until it was acquired by T-Mobile in 2013. The parent company then moved customers from CDMA to its own GSM network. In June 2015 CDMA was closed, but MetroPCS remains a seperate brand reselling T-Mobile's GSM network in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (for coverage and frequencies see T-Mobile). Since 2014 MetroPCS supports BYOP (Bring your own phone) of any T-Mobile capable, unlocked devices.
Start up Edit
Recharge and Balance Edit
MetroPCS offers a number of ways to pay without surcharges: Online using a credit/debit card or a MetroPCS payment card sold at Walmart, BestBuy and other retailers. For a fee of $2 you can use a 24-hour payment machine at a MetroPCS store. For $3 you can top-up over the counter at a MetroPCS store or authorized dealer.
Check your balance and expiration date in the MyAccount section of the MetroPCS website, using the MyMetro app on the phone or by calling *611 from your MetroPCS phone, or 888-863-8768 from any phone.
Data packages Edit
MetroPCS offers only monthly combo packages for data and voice for BYOP:
- $ 30: unlimited domestic talk and text, 3 GB data - not available online, only in stores, no BYOP
- $ 40: unlimited domestic talk and text, 3 GB data
- $ 50: unlimited domestic talk and text, 4 GB data
- $ 60: unlimited domestic talk, text and data (hotspot use/tethering limited to 6 GB)
Beyond the included data quota, speed will be throttled to 128 Kbit/s.
You can activate monthly packages online, at a MetroPCS store or an authorized dealer. The $30 and the tablet plans are not available for BYOP. For these plans you'll have to buy the device at MetroPCS.
- for a $ 5 surcharge, you are offered unlimited talk, text and data in and to Mexico or Canada too
Settings and info Edit
- APN: fast.metropcs.com
- Customer support: *611 from a MetroPCS phone or 888-863-8768 from any phone
- Website: http://www.metropcs.com
GoSmart mobile EditGoSmart is a subsidiary of T-Mobile on their US network in 2G and 3G (check frequencies in Basics and T-Mobile section). It has opened 4G/LTE only for Facebook and Facebook Messenger so far, other speeds stick to 3G of 1-20 Mbps, but no 4G/LTE.
The SIM is sold as a Mobile SIM Kit online or offline at various independent shops (locator) and Target branches, but not at T-Mobile stores, for $ 8, where refills can be found too. SIM come either in mini and micro size or in nano.
They have these monthly packages on offer. All packs include unlimited domestic calls, internatl. SMS and unlimited Facebook and Facebook Messenger in 4G/LTE, all other data is in max. 3G:
- $ 25: unlimited 4G/LTE Facebook only
- $ 35: 4 GB, beyond throttled to 128 kbps ($30 with auto-pay / linked to a credit card)
- $ 45: 12 GB, beyond throttled to 128 kbps
- $ 55: 20 GB, beyond throttled to 128 kbps
All data except Facebook remain in 3G speeds. All packages will auto-renew, if there is credit. If not, service will be suspended. There is no roaming abroad, tethering is allowed without surcharges.
Settings and infoEdit
- APN: multibrand
- Customer support: 877-582-7788
- Website: www.gosmartmobile.com
NET10 and Straight TalkEdit
These are two MVNOs of América Móvil by Mexican Tycoon Carlos Slim with similar rates and setups. Both brands can be used on AT&T and T-Mobile network in 2G (T-Mobile only), 3G and 4G/LTE, but you must choose one network, when buying a SIM card and then there is no switching or roaming between AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
Straight Talk EditThe SIM card-only with “bring your own phone” is sold exclusively at Walmart (Store finder), including the two monthly combo plans with unlimited domestic calls and texts and a data allowance included:
- 5 GB: $ 45
- 10 GB: $ 55
When data is used up, speed will be reduced to 64 Kbps. For more data, you can only reset your plan ahead of time. Tethering is allowed and without surcharges.
Activation is done online or by calling 877-430-2355 from any phone except the one you are trying to activate. Top-up cards can be bought at some convenience stores and at Walmart only.
Customer support can be reached on 877 430 2355 or online at www.straightalk.com
Net10 WirelessEditThe SIM card-only can be bought for $6.99 at certain retailers like Radio Shack, BestBuy and Walgreens and others: NET10 store locator where refill cards can be purchased as well. They have monthly packs with unlimited domestic calls and texts and a data allowance in 3G and 4G:
|Price||$ 35||$ 40||$ 50||$ 60||$ 70|
|Data||500 MB||1.5 GB||5 GB||7 GB||10 GB|
When all data are used up, speeds will be reduced to 64 Kbps. Activation can be done here. Tehtering is allowed and free. It's not possible to send many internatl. SMS. Customer support is 877 836 2368 or online www.net10.com
Settings and more info Edit
For both Straight Talk and Net10:
- on T-Mobile network: APN: wap.tracfone Port: 8080
- Websites: http://www.straighttalk.com and http://www.net10wireless.com/
TracFone is another MVNO of the América Móvil family (see above) on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile networks. But you will have to choose one network and can't switch or roam. Starting in 2015 TracFone allowed "BYOP" (= Bring your own phone) GSM devices for their AT&T based SIM cards, but not for other networks. AT&T's 4G/LTE is supported too.
Start up Edit
You can buy the SIM card in stores or the activation kit online for $6.99. Shops include major retailers like Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Costco. GSM phones should activate automatically when the phone is turned on with a Tracfone SIM in it. Tracfone requires to buy an airtime card for at least $19.99 as a base plan. This is valid for 90 days and contains 60 domestic minutes.
Reload cards or codes are available at convenience stores, supermarkets, chain drugstores and big box retailers like Target or online by credit card.
Data feature packages Edit
To the airtime card of at least $19.99 (for 3 months), you can add these plans for data:
- $ 10: 1 GB for the running time of the base plan
- $ 15: 200 MB, 200 mins, 200 SMS for 30 days
- $ 25: 500 MB, 500 mins, 1000 SMS for 60 days
- $ 35: 1 GB, 750 mins, 1000 SMS for 60 days
- $ 125: 1.5 GB, 1500 mins, 1500 SMS for 365 days
All these packages need to be purchased online on http://www.tracfone.com/
Settings and info Edit
Tracfone users can make calls to 60 countries including Canada, Mexico, China and most Western European countries (list) for the same price as a domestic call. To make an international call you first dial 1-800-706-3839. You will then prompted to select your language (1 for English) and then to dial 011 plus the country code and number. It's not possible to call other countries besides the 60 supported ones and Tracfone doesn't support sending international text messages either.
- you can check your balance at http://www.fastactportal.com/static/balance
- APN (for T-Mobile): wap.tracfone
- Customer Support: 800-867-7183
- Website: http://www.tracfone.com/
Simple Mobile Edit
Simple Mobile started as MVNO, was taken over in 2012 by TracFone and now belongs to the América Móvil family. It uses T-Mobile US in up to 4G/LTE and gives good roaming rates down in Mexico too.
Start up Edit
You can buy the SIM card online , on eBay.com or in small independent stores (locator) for $0.99. Shops are mostly small telco outlets and the SIM card only is refered as BYOP (= bring your own phone). Mini and micro SIM sizes are available.
You need to activate you SIM card online or by calling 877-878-7908 from another phone.
Reload PINs are available from their outlets. The PIN code has to be texted to 848484 like this: REUP#<PIN Code>. Alternatively, you can top-up online by debit or credit card. To this card, you can link auto-pay, but don't forget to cancel later. Thus, you will receive a 10% discount on every top-up.
Data feature packages Edit
You can add these combo plans valid for 30 days. All contain unlimited domestic calls, domestic and international SMS, calls to some internal. countries and this domestic data allowance:
- 2 GB (4 GB): $ 40
- 4 GB (8 GB): $ 50
- 10 GB (20 GB): $ 55
- unlimited: $ 60
The allowances in () are a promotion until the end of 2016. The unlimited plan is really unlimited, but requires auto-pay. The other plans will be throttled to 64 Kbps having reached the quota. The limited plans include data roaming in Mexico on Telcel (debited from the bundle) and calls to 50+ countries (list).
Aimed at tablets, routers and modems, they sell data-only plans that are called Wireless Broadband Data Plans. These plans valid for 30 days are offered:
- 1.5 GB: $ 20
- 4 GB: $ 40
For more data, you can renew your plan at anytime.
Settings and info Edit
Plans will auto-renew every 30 days (or 7 days depending on plan). If you do not have sufficient funds in your account your service will be suspended. If you do not renew within 90 days after your account is suspended you will lose your phone number.
You can check your cash balance, change plans, add PINs and make a payments using a credit or debit card using the My Account option online (free registration required) or by calling ADD (233) from your Simple Mobile phone.
- APN: simple
- Customer Support: 611 from your Simple Mobile phone or 877.878.7908 or 877.441.4844 from another phone. Support hours are 8am - midnight (EST) every day.
- Website: http://www.simplemobile.com
Red Pocket Mobile and Mango Mobile EditRed Pocket Mobile is a MVNO on AT&T while T-Mobile was dropped in 2015 and rejoined again in February 2016. 2G with T-Mobile, 3G and 4G/LTE of both networks are supported, but you have to decide which network to use and there is no roaming between them.
Start up Edit
The SIM cards are available for $9.99 online to be sent to an US postal address or offline at Red Pocket outlets. Take care which network you choose. Unfortunately they don’t have a retail outlet list, but on eBay vendors sell them as low as 99c plus postage with international shipping. Reload cards can be found in their stores, supermarkets or at callingmart.com without surcharges. Available top-ups are: $10 for 30 days, $25 for 90 days, $50 for 180 days, $100 for 365 days. If not topped up, account will be terminated and credit is lost. The SIMs can be activated online or by calling 888-993-3888 from another phone.
T-Mobile Plans Edit
Their reintroduced T-Mobile plans include unlimited domestic talk, text and MMS for one month:
|Value||$ 19.99||$ 24.99||$ 29.99||$ 34.99||$ 39.99||$ 49.99||$ 59.99|
|Data||100 MB||500 MB||1 GB||2 GB||1 GB||2 GB||100 MB|
The $19.99 and $29.99 are hard-capped. That means data is shut of having reached the quota. The other plans are soft-capped and will be throttled to 64-128 Kbps for the rest of the month.
Aimed a tablets and modems, they now sell two Mobile Internet plans with data-only and free tethering in 4G/LTE too:
- $ 25: 2 GB for 30 days
- $ 50: 5 GB for 30 days
Mango Mobile Edit
In 2016 Red Pocket started a new brand called Mango Mobile on the T-Mobile network in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE. SIM card is available online or from some local dealers (store locator) for $10. To top-up go online and pay with credit card or visit the dealer again. Auto-pay is available too.
The following monthly combo plans are available:
- $ 19 Fresh Mango - unlimited dom. talk and global text, 100 MB of data and $5 internatl. credit
- $ 19 Ripe Mango - 250 dom. minutes, unlimited global text, 1 GB of data and $5 internatl credit
- $ 25 Sweet Mango - unlimited dom. talk and global text, 1 GB of data and $10 internatl credit
Additional data can be added to any plan at: $2/100 MB, $5/400 MB, $10/1 GB, $25/2.5 GB or $50/5 GB. For slow data, you can add an unlimited add-on in 2G-only at $5.
Settings and infoEdit
- APN for T-Mobile: wholesale
LycamobileEditLycamobile USA started 2013 as MVNO on the T-Mobile network in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (see Basics and T-Mobile section).
Start up Edit
Lycamobile SIM cards can be found in stores (locator) or on Lycamobile website with shipping to the United States only at $7 (free shipping if bought in combination with a plan) or for free, if you buy $10 or more in airtime.
In the US you can activate a new SIM by by calling 845-301-1612 from another phone, but abroad you need to activate on their website instead.
You can buy refills on lycamobile.us (even with a non-US credit card). Refill cards are available from local Lycmobile dealers. Some local and online dealers including callingmart.com offer instant PIN-less refills direct to your phone.
Lycamobile offers data only on the following data on monthly plans. The default rate outside packages is $0.06 per MB. All monthly packages include unlimited domestic voice, domestic and international text, free incoming text, a data quota up to 4G/LTE speed and an international call credit for international calls.
|Value||Data (in up to 4G/LTE)||Internatl. Call Credit|
|$ 19||100 MB|
|$ 23||100 MB||$ 1.50|
|$ 29||500 MB||$ 2.50|
|$ 35||2 GB|
|$ 45||4 GB||-----|
|$ 49||1 GB||$ 12.50|
|$ 55||10 GB|
All packages include "unlimited" data, domestic texts and voice and "unlimited" free calls among Lycamobile worldwide.
"Unlimited" means that data volume is soft-capped meaning throttled to 120 Kbps when exhausted. All packages will renew automatically if there is credit. If you do not have sufficient funds in your account to renew your service will be suspended. Unused call credits rollover provided you top up on time before the account is deactivated for inactivity.
Pay-as-you-go plan Edit
Their pay-as-you-go rate outside of monthly packages doesn't offer data or MMS. Current Lycamobile monthly plan users can switch to the pay-as-you-go plan only by adding a $10 top-up and letting their plan expire. It's the least expensive way to park a phone number as regular top-ups aren't needed. This plan is not mentioned on their website. Funds added to a Lycamobile pay-as-you-go account never expire as long as a non-toll-free call is made or received or a text is sent at least every 90 days. That means, it can cost less than 20¢ a year to keep a SIM alive.
Settings and more infoEdit
- a T-Mobile US locked phone does work on Lycamobile US using the newer 4G SIM cards
- there are reports that certain VoIP programs like Google Voice don't work
- APN: data.lycamobile.us (old) /or/ data.lycamobile.com (new)
- Username: lmus (that's not capital I, but lowercase L)
- Password: plus
- Customer Support: 866-277-3221 (toll-free)
- Website: www.lycamobile.us
ZIP SIM (formerly Ready SIM)Edit
ZIP SIM by Ozono Networks, rebranded from Ready SIM in 2016. It's a MVNO on the T-Mobile network in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (see Basics and T-Mobile section) and aimed at short-time users and visitors.
The SIM card can be bought a shops in the US and Canada (locator) or online on their website. It comes as a tri-cut SIM. As a special service, they also ship overseas in 7-20 business days, which is very rare for an operator. The SIM card is supposed to be self-activating. You only need to text your US ZIP (= postal) code and your SIM ID number for activation.
They have a very rigid top-up scheme: To be eligible for a top-up, your ZIP SIM must either have an active plan, or your plan expired within the last 72 hours.
Data and combo packagesEdit
- Data only
|Data Volume||500 MB||1 GB||2 GB|
|Validity||14 days||14 days||30 days|
|Value||$ 15||$ 25||$ 40|
For more data you need to a another package within the rigid top-up period or the card will be discontinued.
- Voice, text and data
|Data volume||500 MB||1 GB||1.5 GB||2 GB|
|Validity||7 days||14 days||21 days||30 days|
|Value||$ 25||$ 35||$ 45||$ 55|
These packs include unlimited domestic calls, domestic and international text and a data quota. You can add airtime for international calls at purchase.
Settings and more infoEdit
- Tethering is allowed
- APN: wholesale
- Customer Support: 611 from ZIP SIM phone
- Website: www.zipsim.us
Ultra Mobile Edit
Ultra Mobile is another MVNO that started in 2012 using the T-Mobile network in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (see T-Mobile section and Basics for details).
Start up Edit
SIM cards cost $9.99 with free shipping within the US sold on their website or through their dealers (locator). Regular and micro SIMs are available. SIMs are also available from Amazon and eBay for as little as 1¢ with free shipping in the US or for a surcharge abroad. Retailers like CVS have a starter kit for $34 which includes $29 credit which can be applied towards any of their plans (the packaging may have outdated information). SIM size is regular and nano. Activate online or by calling 888-777-0446. Activation is free, you can change plans at any point.
Top-ups can be made by credit card online or over the phone or by vouchers with PIN codes sold at their outlets or online with a discount. Ultra adds a "cost recovery fee" to all recharges made at retail locations. The fee is 50¢ on loads of $10 or less and $1 on loads of $10.01 or more.
Data plans Edit
These monthly combo plans are offered. They all contain unlimited domestic talk and unlimited domestic and international SMS. They differ in domestic data and internatl. call allowances:
- $ 19: 100 MB data, $1.25 call credit and unlimited international talk to 60 countries
- $ 24: 500 MB data, $7 call credit and unlimited international talk to 30+ countries
- $ 29: 1 GB 4G data, 1 GB 3G data, $2.50 call credit and unlimited internatl. talk to 60 countries
- $ 34: 2 GB 4G data, 2 GB 3G data and unlimited internatl. talk to 60 countries
- $ 39: 2 GB 4G data, 2 GB 3G data, $2.50 call credit, unlimited internatl. talk to 60 countries
- $ 45: 5 GB 4G data, 2 GB 3G data, unlimited internatl. talk to 60 countries
- $ 49: 5 GB 4G data, 2 GB 3G data, $20 call credit, unlimited internatl. talk to 30+ countries
After the plan limits are reached data speeds are reduced to 128 Kbps or less for the rest on the month and completely shut off at the first two plans.
Additional 'UpData' high-speed data packages priced at 500 MB for $5, 1 GB for $10 or 2 GB for $20 can be added to any plan. To activate, text 'BUYDATA' to 6700. Add-on data expires at the end of the current plan month.
Plans renew every 30 days. If you don't have sufficient funds in your account to renew, your service will be suspended. If you don't renew within 30 days after your account is suspended, you may lose your phone number. To check balance and validity, text 'BALANCE' to 6700; to check data consumption, 'DATA' to 6700.
Settings and info Edit
- Tethering is prohibited in their Terms of Service
- APN: wholesale
- Customer Support: Call 611 from an Ultra Mobile phone or 888-777-0446 from another phone
- Website: http://ultra.me/
Roam Mobility Edit
Roam Mobility is a Canada-based MVNO that offers SIM cards for the US (and Mexico) sold in Canada. So this is only a possibility, if you live in Canada or travel from Canada to the US. They use the network of T-Mobile US for roaming in 2G, 3G and 4G. For frequencies and coverage see T-Mobile above. Note that the SIM doesn't work in Canada.
Start up Edit
Their roaming SIM card can be bought in Canada only at their authorized dealers (shop locator) or online on their website for CAD 9.95. You can activate and top-up the SIM as well as choose a plan on their there using AmEx, Visa or Mastercard.
Data packs Edit
These US data-only packs are available and can be activated on their website:
- 300 MB for 3 days, CAD 9.95
- 500 MB for 7 days, CAD 16.95
- 1 GB for 7 days, CAD 21.95
- 2 GB for 30 days, CAD 29.95
- 5 GB for 30 days, CAD 59.95
To these data packs more data can be added by data bolt-ons: 300 MB for CAD 5.95, 500 MB for CAD 9.95 and 1 GB for CAD 14.95, vaild each for the rest of the running time of the existing data pack. They also sell voice & data plans that can be checked here.
Settings and more info Edit
- APN: WHOLESALE
- Data roaming must be enabled
- Website: http://www.roammobility.com
Ting EditTing is a pretty new operator. It started in 2012 on the Sprint network and spread to T-Mobile in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE. As Sprint is CDMA and doesn't allow to bring your own device, only the T-Mobile plans are shown below.
Start up Edit
Their SIM card for T-Mobile is sold online on their website for $9 or other online dealers like Amazon or eBay for less. They are not regulary sold in shops which makes it inconvenient for travellers. You need to activate your SIM on their website.
You need to allow auto-pay on your credit card which makes this SIM a hybrid pre-postpaid offer.
Data rates Edit
Ting has an unusual pricing model: users are charged for separate packs (which Ting calls tiers) of voice minutes, texts and data. If you use up all the allowances in one of your buckets, Ting will automatically upgrade you to the next larger pack for the current month only. You can block these automatic upgrades by setting usage and/or spending limits that cut off your service for the rest of the month when the limit is reached.
- XS: 0 - $ 0
- S: 100 MB - $ 3
- M: 500 MB - $ 10
- L: 1 GB - $ 16
- XL: 2 GB - $ 20
- beyond XL: $ 10 per GB
The same scheme applies to domestic voice and SMS allowances. Ting also charges a $6 per month service fee regardless of usage. Data, voice and SMS tiers can be shared across multiple phones or users on the same account. Tethering is allowed without surcharge.
Settings and info Edit
- APN: wholesale
- Customer support: 855 846 4389 only Mon-Fri
- Website: http://ting.com/
FreedomPop launched as a Sprint MVNO in 2012 and claims to have added over one million customers since launch. Sprint is not accessible with a GSM or a device brought in from another network. That's why this offer is not shown in this list.
In January 2016 FreedomPop began offering FreedomPop Global GSM service to their US customers. They use a Three UK based SIM that roams at no additional cost in 25 countries including the US, where FreedomPop Global uses both the T-Mobile and AT&T networks, in 2G (T-Mobile only) and 3G and no 4G/LTE for data, but seems to prefer AT&T.
Business model Edit
FreedomPop uses a business model called 'Freemium' that provides users with a limited amount of free data and phone service and makes money by selling devices and extra features like voice mail and faster data and by charging overage rates for data, texts and minutes after the free allotment is used up. More than half of all their US customers buy add-ons for pay that are not so cheap after all.
As a freemium provider FreedomPop needs users to sign up for add-on services. They make it easy to add extra cost plans and services, but quite hard to remove them. When you activate a device, by default you get signed up for multiple offers and add-ons which are advertised as 'free trials'. However they are only free for the first month, if you don't cancel them before the month is up they will automatically renew and you will be charged for subsequent months. It's possible to decline some of the add-ons and trials during the initial sign-up, but you have to read the sign-up pages carefully to find the link to opt-out of each one. To disable extra cost services you don't want: Go to My Account > Services and click the Deactivate link next to the services name. Note, that free customers don't get any customer support whatsoever.
'Free' Global plan Edit
The free GSM plan called FreedomPop Global includes 200 MB data per month for free. Data on the GSM service is limited to 3G/HSPA+, LTE is not available. Data traffic is routed through a server in the UK which is responsible for the high pings of 300ms.
For voice calls and SMS 200 domestic voice minutes and 500 domestic texts per month are additionally available when using the FreedomPop 'Messaging' VoIP and messaging app for iOS and Android. The app offers reasonable call quality when used with a good WiFi or 4G signal. There's a bit of lag but volume and clarity are good. Call quality is degraded, but still usable with a strong 3G signal. But with a weak signal or only 2G data calls break up so badly, that it's impossible to carry on a conversation.
FreedomPop offers a free international plan which includes 100 minutes of VoIP calls to over 50 countries, including calls to mobile numbers in 14 countries. International text messaging is not available.
FreedomPop roams at no extra cost in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
WhatsApp SIM Edit
In August 2016 FreedomPop launched its WhatsApp SIM in the US. The WhatsApp SIM is a version of the Global service that works in the same countries and includes unlimited zero-rated WhatsApp calling and texting, that doesn't count against the included 200 MB of free data. Note, that the WhatsApp plan only includes 100 minutes and 100 texts while the Global plan includes 200 minutes and 500 texts.
The FreedomPop SIM is available for free on their website. It's not sold in stores and there is may be a long waiting period involved. You'll need to give a postal address in one of the countries where they operate: USA, UK, Spain and soon in Mexico. A credit card must be linked to the SIM even for using only free services. You'll need to give these information when ordering. Internatl. credit card (Visa, MasterCard) are normally accepted. This makes it inconvenient for travellers, but a good backup option if you have an address in one of these countries. They provide an online account management portal with detailed call, messaging and data use records. Unused account balances expire after 90 days.
Auto-pay can be enabled or disabled. If Auto Pay is enabled your card will be charged $15 whenever your remaining data goes below 100 MB and you have a cash balance under $2. The $15 is added to your balance to cover potential overages. If Auto Pay is disabled and your account balance is greater than $0, when you have used all of your plan's allotted data you will be charged 2.5¢ per MB overage rate until you account balance reaches $0. You must have at least $5 in your account to turn off auto-top up. If you don't you will see a warning advising you that if you turn Auto-top up off you will be charged $5 which will be added to you balance.
Paid services Edit
These data packages are sold for pay beyond the free 100 or 200 MB allowance. Default rate is 2.5¢ per MB:
- 1 GB: $ 13.99
- 2 GB: $ 24.99
- 3 GB: $ 31.99
- 4 GB: $ 39.99
Data include tethering / hotspot use. Plans automatically renew every month with plan and usage fees charged to your credit or debit card. If the charges are declined service will be suspended.
There are lots of add-on services for pay like data rollover ($3.99/month), usage alerts ($1.99/month), a special support ($3.99/month) and many more that you may have to decline or disable.
Freedom Friends Edit
FreedomPop allows users to earn up to 500 MB per month by connecting with FreedomPop friends. You can invite anyone to join FreedomPop and if they do, you both get an extra 50 MB per month from each friend up to a maximum of 500 MB per month. On social media users share their email addresses so that other users can add them as Freedom Friends. It only takes a few minutes to gather up 10 email addresses and enter on the Freedom Friends page on the FreedomPop site for a quick 500 MB per month boost. It's a good idea to use a dedicated or disposable email address as your FreedomPop account email to avoid exposing your primary email to the world.
Another benefit of Freedom Friends is that you share data with them, up to 100 MB per friend with a maximum of 500 MB shared per month. If you are running out of data you can ask a friend to give you some using a link on the FreedomPop site.
Settings and more info Edit
- APN: freedompop.foggmobile.com
- Turn on data roaming as it's a UK-based SIM card
- Customer support: 888-701-1353, long waiting times, no support for free customers!
- Website: https://www.freedompop.com/