Guides

Alternatives to roaming in USA: eSIM for travellers, SIM card and wifi

logo Roams
Last update: October 16, 2023
Fernando Carrillo
141 people have read this post in the last 12 months
In a nutshell

There are different ways to have internet in the USA while you are travelling. An eSIM may be your best alternative if roaming is not included in your mobile tariff. You can also buy a SIM card or connect to a wifi network. We show you all the offers so you can choose the best option for you.

Buy your eSIM unlimited data USA now

Mobile internet in USA for tourist: all the options

Are you preparing your trip to the United States? If you don't want to run out of internet connection on your mobile phone while visiting the US, it's best to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

Here we show you all the alternatives for maintaining your internet connection in the USA. This way you can keep in touch with your loved ones, use Google Maps so you don't miss the most emblematic places in the Big Apple, find a good restaurant in San Francisco or know where to stop if you are travelling along Route 66.

Most likely, your mobile network provider will charge you per minute, MB or text message used, usually without limits, so the final roaming charges can be quite high. For example, you could pay up to £2.00 for making a one-minute call or £5.00 for each MB used.

We are going to explain how to have good and cheap internet during your trip to the USA, but before analyzing each alternative in depth, here we leave you a summary table with all the options and their approximate prices.

How much does the internet cost in the United States?
Service Price by day Data
USA eSIM
  • From £19/5 days
  • Unlimited
SIM Card USA
  • From £32/9 days
  • Ilimitados
Wifi EEUU:
  • Portable
  • Public

  • From £6/day
  • Free

  • From 1GB
  • Unlimited
Roaming in USA
  • From £6/day

  • From 1GB

eSIM USA: the best way to get internet in USA

A Holafly international eSIM is one of the best SIM cards to have mobile internet in the USA, as it allows you to get a data plan for your phone at a fixed price. That way you'll know in advance how much money you're going to spend on your bill at the end of the month.

eSim USA
Mobile
Prepaid: 5 days expiry
Data Unlimited

Coverage
AT&T
Connection speed 4G
Pay as you go£195 days expiry
taxes included

Although there is the option to buy a SIM card when you arrive at your destination, from our point of view, the best option is to buy a Holafly eSIM for USA, so you will not have to look for a local store of operators such as AT&T and queue just to buy it.

If you choose the option Roams recommends, you will receive your digital SIM card to USA by email seconds after purchase and only need to activate it when you are going to use it. Here you have the data plans you can purchase for US roaming with Holafly eSIM cards:

Holafly USA data plans
Plan Price Data
5 days £19 Unlimited Data
7 days £24 Unlimited Data
10 days £29 Unlimited Data
15 days £44 Unlimited Data
20 days £49 Unlimited Data
30 days £59 Unlimited Data
60 days £77 Unlimited Data
90 days £87 Unlimited Data

As you can see, there is a Holafly plan for every type of traveler and best of all, every eSIM USA prepaid with internet are with unlimited data, which will allow you to browse without limits. On the other hand, Holafly data cards don't include minutes, but remember that you can use VoIP apps like Whatsapp to call your family and friends.

Keep in mind that not all devices are compatible with eSIM, so before purchasing this product, make sure you can install it on your mobile. Xiaomi, iPhone, Samsung, Oppo or Huawei are some of the brands that have already incorporated this technology into several of their models.

What is an eSim card?

If you are not convinced by Holafly's offer to have mobile internet during your stay in the United States, here we leave you other brands specialized in the sale of eSIM whose rates may interest you.

Airalo eSIM: rates and reviews for internet access
Ubigi: options, plans and reviews | February 2023
SimOptions: options for getting internet abroad
Nomad eSIM: internet deals for travel abroad
DENT Wireless eSIM: deals, services and opinions

SIM card USA: another way to get internet

Buying a local SIM card is the most suitable option for you if your phone does not support eSIM technology. There are Pay As You Go SIM card USA that you can purchase before your trip begins or you can choose to buy this product upon arrival at your destination.

If you hesitate between buying a local sim card in USA or a SIM card to use in USA before traveling, here we leave you more information to make your decision easier:

  • Buy local SIM card in USA: If your question is "where can I buy a SIM card in USA?", the answer is simple. You can do it in international airports, supermarkets and pharmacies with electronic section or in stores of mobile operators. T-Mobile, Verizon or AT&T are the most popular brands in the United States. This may be the best alternative if you are looking for the cheapest prepaid SIM card USA. The disadvantage is that you will not have internet as soon as you arrive in the North American country.
  • Tourist SIM card USA: If you feel panic thinking about not having internet from the first moment you set foot in the US, the best option is to buy a SIM card for USA online.

Roaming in USA: can I roam in the United States?

Roaming in the USA is available in almost all UK mobile tariffs, so you can easily roam in the United States with your actual phone without the need to switch SIM cards. This means you can use your data connection or make phone calls if you need to, which we can all agree is really convenient.

Data roaming charges in the USA vary greatly from carrier to carrier, as some companies offer bundles to roam overseas, while others charge you according to the data or minutes that you actually use during your stay in the United States.

Phone companies have different roaming partners, that is why the network used by your phone provider to roam in the USA can be different to the network used by other UK provider. All in all, you will have no problems with your connection in the States.

What is more, you do not even need to change anything, your phone will automatically connect to the North American mobile network, which according to your carrier or the State you are planning to visit will be different. This also happens when roaming in Mexico, its neighbouring country.

Is roaming in the USA free?

Roaming in the USA is not usually free, however some carriers like Vodafone or O2 offer free roaming in the USA, usually in their more expensive data plans which include different roaming bundles for free.

Our expert opinion

This is a piece of good news if you are a heavy user and you are going to take advantage of the GB and benefits included, however if you do not use your phone that much and you are choosing one of these deals just for the free roaming, you may be paying a lot for a service that is not really used on a daily basis.

author's photo
Fernando CarrilloRedactor especialista en telefonía internacional

Roaming in USA: How much does it cost?

Some carriers like EE, O2 or Three offer roaming bundles which help you roam at the United States at a lower price. Here you have some prices:

  • Vodafone roaming USA: For instance, Vodafone offers free roaming in the USA to their Xtra Plan customers, but only to those who have the most expensive Xtra deal, Unlimited Max + 4 Xtra benefits.
  • O2 roaming USA: On the other hand, O2 allows you to roam in the United States with the O2 Refresh tariffs over 90GB or SIM only tariffs over 100GB.
  • EE roaming USA: With EE company you will pay around £5 per day and you will have 500MB to spend during your travel to USA.
  • Three roaming USA: If you have a local tariff with Three you will pay £5 each day for using your mobile data.

As you can see, roaming in USA is not free in most UK phone companies, you will be charged up to £5 for every MB and up to £2 for every phone call. On the other hand, carriers like O2, EE or Three offer roaming bundles which allow you to roam overseas for a lower price. However, opting for a fixed price data plan, like an Holafly eSIM card, is one of the best options.

Sign up now for an eSIM from Holafly


Wifi in USA: public or portable?

If you think the best way to connect to the internet while traveling in the United States is to use a Wi-Fi network, first think about what type of connection you are going to use.

Everyone knows about public wifi networks, but have you heard of pocket wifi? These are devices that companies usually rent to users so that they can connect to the internet from abroad.

The main advantage of portable wifi over public wifi is the security it offers. However, when compared to a international eSIM for the US, there are several disadvantages:

  • It is not a cheap option (it costs around £6/day).
  • You will have to wait for the company to send the device to your home address.
  • You will have to carry the device with you during your trip.
  • If you lose it or it breaks, you will have to pay compensation.

You won't have calls included either, that's why we at Roams think that the alternative offered by Holafly and its eSIM USA is more interesting. If you choose this option, the virtual card will arrive in your mailbox and to activate it you only have to scan a QR code. And now you can get it with a 5% discount if you enter the code ROAMS.

Get a discounted Holafly USA eSIM now!

As for public wifi, the best thing about it is its price, as connecting to the internet via this means will cost you 0 euros. In addition, there are areas in the US such as New York where you'll find many free hotspots, but what are you going to do where there aren't any?

Public wifi is a method that can get you out of a jam at a moment's notice, but we don't think it's the best way to get internet in the US while you're visiting the country. We recommend that you only use it if you absolutely have to.

However, for us, the biggest limitation of this type of network is its vulnerability and danger. Be very careful if you use public wifi because the risk of having your data stolen is very high. Also, be aware that their speed and connectivity can be very unstable.


Mobile Internet in the USA: recommendations

At Roams we are here to help you, so we would like to take this opportunity to give you some recommendations before travelling to the United States. With these tips in mind and a good internet connection, you will be able to make the most of your stay in the United States:

  1. Carry a printed copy of the ESTA (Visa to enter the USA) or your travel reservations in case of any problems at immigration control. If you are asked for papers to corroborate your stay, you will be able to hand them in quickly.
  2. In the USA, electricity runs at 120V. Make sure your devices, including your mobile phone with US data, support this voltage.
  3. If you use a USA eSIM for tourists or any other method of internet connection, use the Yelp application to find the best accommodations or restaurants.
  4. Pay with your smartphone whenever you can. It's a good alternative to using credit cards, which are sometimes subject to fees.
  5. Check road conditions if you plan to rent a car to get from one state to another.
  6. Adapt your trip on a day-to-day basis. Even if you have planned your adventure, having internet on your mobile phone will allow you to check the tourist attractions in each area at all times, solve any accommodation problems or re-plan your route.

Finally, here you have more information on how to enjoy the best internet connection in some of the most popular US cities among travellers. You can also check out this content if you are a digital nomad and the United States is your next destination.


Frequently asked questions about how to get mobile internet in USA

How is the internet speed in the United States?

The download speed in the United States is 110.07 Mbps (1) . This data places the US as one of the countries with the highest internet speed in the world.

Will I have a 5G connection on my mobile while I am on vacation in the US?

5G technology is widespread in most of the US territory thanks to the main companies in the country: T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon. These networks are being implemented gradually while coexisting with 4G and 3G is being turned off.

Fuentes del artículo
  1. World Population Review. (s. f.). Internet Speeds by Country 2023. Consultado en https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/internet-speeds-by-country
Our methodology
Roams offers a free information and comparison service, which tries to help anyone find the product that best suits their needs. To ensure that the data presented is correct, extensive market research and product analysis is carried out. Our database of mobile phone and internet rates is updated every day. The content is frequently reviewed by a team of writers with previous experience and/or specific training in telephony.

Personas que han participado en este post:

Fernando CarrilloRoams
Actualizado por Fernando Carrillo

Fernando estudió Administración, Publicidad y Relaciones Públicas. Con más de dos años de experiencia en Roams, Fernando es experto en el asesoramiento sobre telefonía, tarifas de móvil e internet. Además, también es especialista en canales de televisión y las distintas ofertas que tienen los operadores con tv.

Laura Burón
Edited and revised por Laura Burón