GSM Sim card for USA & Canada

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gaz1

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Hi,

We are travelling to Los Angeles, Alaska & Vancouver in a few months & would like to take our LG GSM mobile phone with us - primarily for emergency use & SMS back to relatives in Australia for the couple of weeks we are there.

Our first stop will be Los Angeles for a few days - is it possible to get a sim card that will work in our phone from somewhere around LAX? I presume this would need to be a prepaid SIM as we won't want to sign up for a plan or contract.

I understand that GSM is not that common in the US & Canada, so I'm not sure which carriers will support this.

Of course if anyone has any other suggestions on ways to give us emergency contact & SMS that would be good too.

Thanks,

Gary.
 
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Maca44

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You might want to consider putting a voice message on your phone that you will be uncontactable for several weeks whilst overseas, but will be able to retrieve sms messages every couple of days. Then you won't have the expense of paying for global roaming calls received, but will have the option of using your phone to make calls. If you get a sim card in the USA be careful as some of the phone companies, apart from the cost of the sim card, charge you an activation fee which was US$85 when I did it two years ago. I now use the sms method, and purchase an international phone card, but again be careful as the ones you buy in the USA such as T-Mobile etc will not work in Canada as the majority of Canada is covered by Rogers Communications. Making calls from your mobile phone using global roaming can cost heaps if you use it a lot.
 

Maca44

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So can receiving calls!

Yes, and receiving calls as the caller pays for the Australian connection and then "you" pay for the international connection. Got caught in 2001 with a ten day trip and a $190 phone bill.
 

straitman

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gaz1,

In the past I've imply used my GSM phone in the USA. I just authorised International roaming and it all worked. A triple band phone is required but all was OK.

For the emergency situations you are talking about this works well (though expensive).
 

futaris

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You can get a prepaid AT&T Wireless SIM card (used to be called Cingular) in the US.

Your phone needs to supports GSM 850 and 1900 to have the best coverage. This generally means Quad Band phone.

You should check prepaidgsm.net for Canada options if you want to get another SIM card there. Rates for pretty much every country's prepaid SIM options are on that site.

If its essential for others to contact you, activate international roaming, and set the diversion on your other phone to your local prepaid SIM card. Alternatively you can look at an international SIM card, but these generally aren't worth it unless you visit a lot of countries and don't stay there long enough to justify the cost of a local prepaid GSM card.
 

robertz

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Here's another way to cut the cost, if its important for people to call U.
Get a VoIP phone and Aussie number.
Get a Pre-Paid US GSM Card.
Divert aussie VoIP to US Mobile. (Change divert numbers when you go to different countries)

Put phone messege to call VoIP Number for the next few weeks on your mobile. (Might be able to divert, but a double diversion sometime doesnt work, but this increases the cost as you pay Mobile back to VoIP)

This way you pay 3-4 cents per minute. (VoIP to US GSM)

Cheapest way I've worked out how to get your friends/work to call U overseas without paying a fortune.

Rob
 
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For the US, AT&T or T-Mobile are GSM
For Canada, it's just Fifo/Rogers.

Prepaid through T-mobile is a little cheaper to set up.
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However, AT&T has better coverage, esp. outside major cities.

Both have stores everywhere, so you'll have no problems getting a SIM quickly. Just remember to have some ID (e.g. Driver's license) in case they ask.

mt
 

Maca44

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Last year I purchased a pre paid AT&T sim card and although I only wanted $50 worth of calls on it, it then cost me something like $38 for an activation fee that I had to pay at the store. I now use global roaming, put a voice message on the phone to say I'm overseas for several weeks, but will check sms messages every couple of days. Saves me money, but doesn't help those who need to be in constant contact with their office. THEN, when I drove to Vancouver I did not have any signal from AT&T so had to purchase a Rogers sms card. You learn what not to do every day.
 

Baysider

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We spent 6 weeks around the USA and Canada over December / January. My wife and I purchased T-Mobile SIM cards and these were fine. Note that you pay not only to make calls but also to receive calls in the USA. T-Mobile does roam into parts of Canada - it was fine for us in Toronto and up to Barrie. You have to go to a full T-Mobile store to get a SIM, the little booths they have in malls can only deal with top-ups.

See Plans and for Coverage
 

Driver

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We spent 6 weeks around the USA and Canada over December / January. My wife and I purchased T-Mobile SIM cards and these were fine. Note that you pay not only to make calls but also to receive calls in the USA. T-Mobile does roam into parts of Canada - it was fine for us in Toronto and up to Barrie. You have to go to a full T-Mobile store to get a SIM, the little booths they have in malls can only deal with top-ups.

See Plans and for Coverage

This is what we plan to do for our six week trip to the USA in Sept/Oct.

We also are carrying a small laptop with voip set up. I can call any Australian landline for 8c a call through Pennytel. Easy to set up, bought voip headphones from **** Smith that give good quality sound. I've used it to call the US with excellent results so far. I use a downloaded (free) softphone that stores phone numbers and just sits on the desktop.
 

Baysider

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We used Skype for free calls via our laptop during our North America trip. Most hotels have free wireless broadband, and everyone we stayed with had home wireless networks.
 

Driver

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We used Skype for free calls via our laptop during our North America trip. Most hotels have free wireless broadband, and everyone we stayed with had home wireless networks.

Baysider, we had to work around that as we have family who are not knowledgeable, or don't have wireless (my mother refuses to have anything but dial-up - we're just glad she's on the computer, at 85, that's great), or don't like using anything but their normal phone for a call. Easiest for us is to phone landlines and pay 8c a call. We'll be using hotels with wireless.

We're going to use the mobile phones as above however, we're only giving out the number to family for emergency use only. They are really to keep in touch with each other as we like to wander through the shops (or I sit while SOH visits another museum). We can find each other in the masses!
 

Baysider

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My wife's mother is 82 and she only talks with us on Skype (Perth - Brisbane). As far as my younger parents (in Brisbane) go, well that's another story !!
 

crow

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My wife and I used one of these each last year on the West Coast and will get another couple for the East Coast next year and it worked perfectly.

ekit phonecard and mobile homepage

Next day delivery here in Australia is possible.
 

Driver

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Crow - which sim did you buy - Global? What did it cost you to call each other in the US and what did it cost for someone to ring you from Australia?
 

crow

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We purchased the AT & T US simcard as we were only on the West Coast USA. We used the option that if you made a call you paid a $1 for the day and all calls were then $0.10 a minute. Calls between my wife's mobile and mine were then unlimited free for the day. As you pay for the calls you receive as well as make the international calls you receive are $0.10.

They give you a phone card as well with a $5 credit and calls back to Australia are $0.04 per min ( +flagfall) plus the $0.10 per min if you use your mobile.
 

Driver

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We purchased the AT & T US simcard as we were only on the West Coast USA. We used the option that if you made a call you paid a $1 for the day and all calls were then $0.10 a minute. Calls between my wife's mobile and mine were then unlimited free for the day. As you pay for the calls you receive as well as make the international calls you receive are $0.10.

They give you a phone card as well with a $5 credit and calls back to Australia are $0.04 per min ( +flagfall) plus the $0.10 per min if you use your mobile.

This looks like it is what we will want - just to clarify though, if we make a call we pay $1.00, then it is 10c per minute within the US for the rest of the day. If someone calls us from within the US on a particular day we pay $1.00, then it is 10c per minute to receive their call.

If someone in Australia calls our mobile from their home phone, we pay $1.00 and then 10c per minute.

We also (as well as receiving a sim card to put inside our mobile phone) receive a phone card that will cost us flagfall + 14c per minute using the mobile.

Is this close to right?
 

Driver

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I have found out a lot more since the last post. The USA SIMple card is available online through Flight Centre - here is the link:

Flight Centre - ekit Phone Cards

What is terrific about this card is that family and friends at home can call you (if you want them to - I'll limit this to very close family). You give them your phone number - they ring a 1800 toll free number and follow the prompts. They do not pay for the call (usually you pay AND they pay). You pay 39c per minute for the call. There is no flagfall - just the minute rate. To call anyone in the USA it is a flat 25c per minute.

I'm buying two!

Thanks again for the tip Crow.

This card is useful in some other countries.
 

Driver

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Almost right - here's an email from the company:

With a SIMple calling SIM card, It will cost you:
* 25c per minute to call a USA landline or mobile
* 40c per minute to call an Australian landline
* 25c per minute to accept a call (from anywhere)

The toll-free number for people to call you from Australia is:
1-800-261-038.
You will be charged the usual rate (25c) plus a surcharge (39c) to
receive this type of calls. That is to say 64c per minute. This will not
cost your relatives anything.

The SIM card comes with $10 credit.
 
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