Free US Sim cards

Please use this link when requesting SIMs.

And pay it forward! If you get a SIM, please help pick up more SIMs while you’re there. Demand necessitates supply, people. Here’s a guide on how to order new SIMs. 

The Idea

  • For trips to the US, Simple Mobile and H20 wireless offer you the best value unlimited everything (even international calling) plans for US$40-50
  • Buy the sim cards from Amazon for about 1 cent apiece and have them shipped to your hotel
  • Buy the top ups from CallingMart, register the sims on the mobile provider’s website and top up the sim cards online

The Details

A common issue everyone faces when travelling overseas is how they can get cheap, affordable data and calls. Since most of my travel is to the US, I’ve extensively researched the options available and believe I’ve come upon the best solution-VMNOs

VMNOs are virtual mobile network operators. They don’t own any of the physical infrastructure that a telco uses- instead they buy airtime and bandwidth in bulk from established network operators and resell that to customers in the form of their own service plans. For a period there was such an arrangement in Singapore- anyone remember Virgin Mobile? Their business model was to buy airtime from Singtel and then resell it. They folded in 2002 after barely a year of operations.

Fortunately in the USA VMNOs are alive and well, and offering much, much more competitive packages than the traditional incumbents like T-Mobile and AT&T.

Simple Mobile

I’ve used Simple Mobile numerous times in the past. Look at these plans and tell me that’s not ridiculously good value

simcard1

Yes, for US$40 I can get 2 GB of local 4G data, unlimited local calls and texts and unlimited international texts. It gets better. For a US$10 supplement, I get unlimited international calling. I can call back home to Singapore as much as I like, for 30 days, for US$10!

H20 Wireless

However, Simple Mobile runs on the T-Mobile network and has some coverage gaps, especially around the Big Sur Highway 1 area. Therefore I started looking for an alternative provider using the AT&T network, which has stronger coverage in that area. My new favourite is H20 wireless, which has plans which are just as good value. US$40 gets you 1GB of data, unlimited local calls and texts and unlimited calling to Singapore (versus Simple Mobile where you get 2GB of data but need to top up US$10 for international calling)

simcard2

Lyca Mobile

Lyca is another possible VMNO for you to use. They utilize T-Mobile’s service in the USA. Plans are good value, with the cheapest unlimited data plan starting at $23 a month (100MB at 4G speeds after which the speed drops to 2G). For $29 you can get 1GB at 4G speeds. All the plans have unlimited calling to Singapore too.

How to buy and load these cards

The actual sim cards are sold on Amazon for 1 cent each, very often with free domestic shipping (however, with some merchants, if you order more than 1 they start charging you for shipping. Weird, but there are many different merchants so just order 1 from each). Why so cheap? The entire industry is extremely low margin- they sell you the sim card cheap and hope that you buy top up cards from them, which at least allows them to make some small margin.

simcard3

You can get the cards delivered to the hotel you’ll be staying at. Just let them know beforehand

Alternatively, I buy these in bulk every time I head to the states, so let me know if you need one and I’ll see whether I have any spares in my inventory. Always nice to have a sim card from the moment you step off the plane.

IMG_20150418_090453

Loading these cards can be an issue, as the official websites only accept US-issued credit cards, for anti fraud reasons

You have 2 options to overcome this

  1. Get a UOB Virtual AMEX
    • UOB Virtual Amex works like a US issued credit card and comes with a US billing address. US websites will recognize this card- you just pay you balance at the end of the month like you would any other card
    • EDIT: I’ve just been informed that UOB is currently not accepting new signups for this card. I’ll keep you informed if this changes
    • EDIT EDIT: Apparently it’s alive! As per Bing on the comments

Happy to announce that I just successfully applied for the UOB Virtualpay card (received yesterday, 2 June 2016)

Did so by submitting a hard copy application with the necessary documents. Turns out UOB still has the form online for download athttp://uob.com.sg/assets/pdfs/personal/cards/VirtualPay_Acceptance_Form.pdf

I think the only requirement is that you must already be an existing UOB card holder.

2. Buy from a 3rd party like Callingmart

Some people have asked about Singtel’s Dataroam. Dataroam is still much more expensive than getting a local sim card.For the USA, Dataroam will be S$30 per day, and only includes data, no calls, no texts.

I love how Singtel created the term “Roamaphobe” to use in their marketing campaign and tries to light heartedly poke fun at people who are paranoid about finding Wifi and not consuming any data when travelling. Well Singtel, the reason people are “Roamaphobes” is because telcos like you charge us ridiculous rates for overseas data. People are right to be scared.

Get these sim cards and you won’t need to bother with Singtel when overseas.

81 thoughts on “Free US Sim cards”

  1. Hi… im travelling to US this March for 2 weeks. I want to get a sim card with data because we might be driving and will need GPS. So… I think H20 looks good! Do you have spares still?

  2. Greetings Aaron,

    Your post is most helpful.
    May I check if you have any spare Nano SIM card left?
    I’m traveling to Texas on 14 Feb 2016.
    Many thanks in advance.

    Cheers,
    Sam

      1. Aaron, apologies – don’t think I’ve received your email. Can trouble you to let me know how to contact you to follow up on the sim card? Sorry again for the trouble.

        1. argh Aaron your email doesn’t seem to be coming through. Let me reach out to you on fb instead. Thanks and sorry for the trouble!

  3. Hi I’ll be going to USA this April. Could I get a spare SIM card from you please? If you have any left. Thanks 🙂

  4. Hi Aaron
    I am travelling to SFO and Vegas in Apr. Do you still have any spare data cards? And I only need data plans, how does it work? Which plan do I buy in your link? Thank you!

    1. yup I do. the plans will come with talktime and data. i’m back in SG on Monday so i’ll reach out to you again with instructions. thanks!

  5. hi aaron!

    sorry but i think i may have missed out on your email?

    by anychance do you still have any usa sim cards left?

    thanks!

  6. I just got a h2o wireless sim but can’t get the data to work. Voice call is fine. Can you share how to get the APN settings working on the iPhone?

    Thanks!

    1. hi Suki, I’m sorry I’ve just been cleaned out. I’m going to ask those who go if they can bring back some with them. when are you travelling?

  7. Hi Aaron,

    May I know if there is any update on the stock availability for your USA SIM card? My wife is flying off to US in the last week of June and happen to chance upon your website.

    1. good news! I will have some by then (going on a trip to the states next month and back around 20th June). Keep in touch.

      1. Thanks for the update! Hopefully, it is in time as my wife is flying off around that date too. Haha. But I am sure others will definitely benefit from you. 🙂

  8. Hi,

    do you have any H20 10GB data plan sim cards? Can these cards be activated online in singapore before flying off to the US? So would I have to purchase the credits separately at Callingmart?

  9. Hi

    I am leaving on June 18, 2016 for US for 3 weeks and like to find out if you will be back in time from your trip? I have a iPhone 5S and like to purchase the $60 unlimited data.

    Thanks

  10. Hi Aaron,
    This article is definitely very informative for my upcoming trip in Sep. Do u have 2 of the H2O sim card available? Thank you ! Cheers

    1. hi ryan, yes i’ll have them. i’m only back in SG late june so let’s connect then. please remind me though because i am pathologically forgetful

      1. I thought so too, but managed to find the application form on google and thought why not give it a shot.

        Heard nothing but a CSO from UOB called me about a week later to inform me that the card was being delivered. YMMV!

  11. Hi Aaron,

    Filled out the googledoc form but not sure if you received it? Checking your availability for 3x H20 SIMs. Thanks!

  12. Hi Aaron,
    Great to know of someone who is willing to help others out 🙂
    I am travelling to chicago on aug 15 2016. Do you think you may have a spare sim card? Please let me know 🙂

  13. With Startub now offering roaming data in US with Singapore pricing, H2O and others in US are not price competitive any more.

    You can spend SIN $18 on Starhub SIM card and then buy 3.6GB of data for SIN $15 while still having $3 in credit. Comparing this to US $40 – 3x more expensive.

    1. yeah from a pure data pov i think that’s hard to beat. 3.6gb of data is $20 btw. 2.4gb is $15. so you should go with the happyroam if you just want data. if you need local and international calling then you should go with h20.

  14. Hi Aaron,

    Do you still have any more of those h2o cards please? I’m travelling to the US this coming weekend.
    Many thanks.

  15. Hi Aaron,

    Do you still have any more of those h2o sim card available ? I’m travelling to the US next Friday (25 Nov 16).
    Thank you in advanced!

  16. Hi, can I check – if I purchase the lycamobile phone plan now from callingmart, does the 30 days immediately start from then?

  17. Hi Aaron, just to try my luck hope you have sim cards available. I am travelling to USA from 4 Feb onwards, please let me know if you have spare cards to share =)

  18. Hi. Does anyone have good experience with data roaming in Canada? US seems pretty straightforward but Canada appears to have limited options and pretty expensive. Amongst the Singapore telcos, Singtel appears to be the only provider with a meaningful offering of 1GB at $35 for 30 days.

  19. Hi Aaron,

    Came across your site by chance – great work!

    Do you still have a blank nano sim card for any of the VMNOs you mentioned?

    If you have them in stock, I am keen to get one.

    Thanks!

  20. Hey Aaron,

    Am wondering if you had any spare H20 sims? Will be leaving to Nebraska this Tues, 9May.

    Thanks loads!

  21. Been reading your blogs and they’re very helpful!! I am a Singtel subscriber and got charged $800 once when I traveled to Australia! Never using DataRoam ever again! Anyway do you happen to have spare sims still?Im visiting LA and Las Vegas in less than two weeks and Im panicking as I am a solo traveler. Hope to hear from you!

    Thanks!!

  22. Hi Aaron, thanks for the great tip on 1 cent sim card! 😀
    Chanced upon your website when I was researching if I should buy US Sim in SG or in US itself.

    From reading the plans offered by USA telcos in your post, I see that their plans are text and talk heavy but not data heavy, I have decided to go for an unlimited data plan from a seller in SG (http://list.qoo10.sg/item/USA-AMERICA-SIM-CARD-4G-UNLIMITED-DATA-FOR-UP-TO-30-DAYS-WITHIN/530867963) for S$60 ($65 minus $5 from 5 x Q Stamps) or about US$43.

    Disclaimer: I do not work for this seller, in fact, am going down to collect my prepaid sim card this day at their office as I am flying soon.

    Since I am going away for 30 days, and I am a data whore, their sim makes more sense to me since most of us (even my mon) use Whatsapp for our conversations and the fact that I will be using (and tethering) more than 4GB of data (at no cap on 4G LTE speed) instead of talking and texting heavily for my 30 days in Boston.

    Actually, to top it up, if I am in M1 (which I am not and I wish Starhub would follow suite), I would easily go for https://www.m1.com.sg/datapassport (used and proven by my friend that it works very well and no bill shock, real deal) as it uses your local data quota (esp if you have a lot unused data) at only S$2 per activation and S$10 for 30 days of use in the US destination group.

    Happy to get the SIM for you while I am there and pass it to you though. 😀

  23. Hi. I’m traveling to US on 3 Jul 2017. Is it possible to get a H2O SIM card from you within these few days? Hope to hear from you. Thanks.

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