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Mobile internet in the USA: What is the best option?

If you are traveling soon to the USA, one thing you can't miss is the mobile internet in the USA during your trip.

Leoneska Ruiz

January 23, 2023

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The USA is well known for being one of the most touristy countries in the world. From Disneyland to Time Square, there are many popular American touristic hotspots that many travelers want to visit. So if you are traveling to this country soon, one thing you can’t miss is the cellular internet in the USA. 

And most probably, you will find yourself searching online for ways to stay connected to the internet once you are in the USA. But don’t worry. We will bring you all the answers on how to get a cellular internet connection in the USA. Read on to discover the many alternatives you will have. 

eSIM for the USA

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Mobile internet in the USA

Currently, thanks to the continued development of new technologies, there are plenty of ways for us to maintain an internet connection on our phones from anywhere in the world. This way, you will not lose contact with your family, friends, or even work. 

mobile internet USA
Tourist testing mobile internet speed. Source: Unsplash.

So among the alternatives to having cellular internet in the USA, we can find the famous international roaming service, as well as devices such as Pocket WiFi. In addition, you can also count on SIM cards and eSIMs for International roaming that you can buy through different alternatives, either before traveling or upon arrival in the USA. And, of course, free WiFi will always be an option. 

Mobile Internet providers for the United States

It is very important that you know the nitty-gritty details of each of the above-mentioned alternatives to have cellular internet in the USA. So, we will start talking about each of these internet providers, along with their advantages, disadvantages, and costs. This way you will be able to compare options and make the best decision for your trip. 

(You may also be interested in how to have mobile internet in Jamaica)

Prepaid SIM Card for the USA

The international data SIM cards are smart-chips that you can install on your cellphone and will let you connect to a cellular network, so you will be able to surf the internet and even make calls and send messages for any occasion. If you are thinking of getting a SIM card during your trip to the United States, then you should know that there are two main routes to get a chip for your cellphone. 

First, you can purchase a SIM card in the USA through physical stores, airports, and even supermarkets. On the other hand, if you prefer to purchase a SIM card before traveling, you can do so from home through online stores.

Mobile internet companies in the USA

AT&T USA 

AT&T is one of the best operator companies in the USA. They have two types of prepaid SIM cards, one with data, calls, and SMS, and another SIM with data-only, ideal for tablets and modems. Some plans can last up to one year.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile sells prepaid SIM cards in the USA, they only have a credit of 3 USD for you to use data but you can increase the credit in authorized stores or supermarkets like Walmart, and Target.

Verizon

On the other hand, Verizon offers you coverage on different generation connection (2G, 3G, and 4G). Like the previous option (T-Mobile), you have to buy the card and then top it up at authorized stores like Walmart and Best Buy or authorized resellers.

International eSIM for traveling to the USA

One option that stands out for its quality when it comes to allowing access to your data plan is the one offered by an eSIM. These are basically the digital version of the common SIM card chip. The eSIMs are nano sims that are built into cellphones, and you can buy one and activate it virtually. 

eSIM USA by Holafly

Holafly eSIM home
Holafly home website.

Holafly is the best example of quality after-sales service and coverage with its unlimited eSIM USA. With this product, you will be able to have an unlimited internet connection in the USA whenever you need because you can buy plans with only the days you need. You can choose any number of days between 1 and 90, some reference rates are as follows:

Days of useAmount of cellular dataPrice (USD)
1 dayUnlimited$6
5 daysUnlimited$21
10 daysUnlimited$37
15 daysUnlimited$51
20 daysUnlimited$62
30 daysUnlimited$75
60 daysUnlimited$107
90 daysUnlimited$139
Table N°1 price comparison for eSIMs offered by Holafly in the US.

On the other hand, when buying an eSIM from this provider, you should consider its advantages and disadvantages:

Some advantages of the Holafly prepaid eSIM for the USA

  • It’s very easy to activate; just scan a QR code that arrives at your email. As a result, you’ll be connected to the internet instantly!
  • You have unlimited data in any of the available plans.
  • Customize and choose the number of days you need
  • You can use top-ups to recharge your service and extend your days of use.
  • It is backed by AT&T and T-Mobile coverage, perhaps the best US carriers.
  • This eSIM is easy to use, but if you have any questions or problems, you can contact them by chat, email, and phone 24 hours a day.
  • If you are in the middle of your trip or you are already on a flight, Holafly will send it to you by email once you have completed your purchase. 
  • With eSIM activation, you will have a dual SIM phone with your local card, should you need it.

Some disadvantages of the eSIM to having mobile internet in the USA

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

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.

Roaming in the USA with your local operator

If you are traveling to the United States, it is likely that your local cellular operator will offer international roaming so that you can continue to use your data plan. However, despite the contract agreements these operators have to use US networks, this service is often very expensive, affecting your travel budget.

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 cellular service while abroad.  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. 

O2

With O2, an operator UK, those who are customers of this provider will only have to pay around 6 USD per day for the USA roaming service. It is not a lot, and it will give users access to their local data allowance, which can be extended, and unlimited text messages and phone calls as well.

Vodafone

With this European operator, you’ll be able to use international roaming services in the USA. With this cellular carrier, you’ll be charged from 7 to 15 USD per megabyte consumed, 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.

Pocket WiFi for Internet in the USA

A Pocket Wi-Fi is a device that allows you to get internet wherever you go. It works just like any internet connection device, only that it is very small and portable. We will now tell you about two Pocket WiFi providers that offer their services in the United States. 

The first option is Travelers WiFi, a European-based company. The rental price for a whole week is around  $75 to $113.13 USD. The delivery fee starts at $10, but can go up to $21.10 USD depending on the distance. You should also note that this provider has an extra penalty for those who lose their equipment. 

My Webspot is another European cellular service provider company. The price of the service offered by them in the USA is $83.85 USD per week. The downside of the company is that the service they offer is limited. As for deliveries, the rates range from $5.60 to $11.32 USD. The last thing to mention is that travelers, in case of losing equipment, will have to pay between $102.90 to $205.80 USD to the provider.

(You may be interested in how to have mobile internet in Los Angeles)

Free WiFi in the USA

Last but not least, there is the option to stay connected to the internet through free WiFi spots. In a country as developed as the United States, you can find free WiFi in numerous places. From a restaurant, shopping mall, and even on several transportation services. 

However, we recommend that if you stay in a hotel, ask if they have free WiFi and take advantage of that. Connecting to free WiFi in unfamiliar places tends to be unsafe, as many people can connect to it at the same time. It is also important to know that through the Facebook WiFi search engine, or the Instabridge app you can find places that have free WiFi.