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T-Mobile offers great deal for US visitors

Posted on by Mike Evans

Telcos can dress up a mast to look vaguely like a tree but they cannot disguise the punitive roaming charges in the USA (this artistic creation snapped in Silver Spring, MD)

Telcos can dress up a mast to look vaguely like a tree but they cannot disguise the punitive roaming charges in the USA (this artistic creation snapped in Silver Spring, MD)

Getting a short-term SIM card for use in the USA has always been a bugbear for visitors. Over the past two years I have had quick and efficient service from T-Mobile but have had to pay over $40 for a one-month deal, plus the cost of the card.

Now the company has introduced a really great deal that is ideal for visitors. For a very reasonable $3 a day you get unlimited nationwide voice calls, unlimited texts and unlimited data, with the first 200MB at 4G speeds. I had to check this twice because it looked far too good to be true. But it is true.

You can choose how many days you wish to pay for upfront and can top up at any time. My stay in Washington was seven days so I paid $21 plus a one-off charge of $10 for the SIM card. For unlimited everything, including 1.4GB of 4G data, this has to be the telecom deal of the year.

What's more, it is all quick and easy. Just call in at any T-Mobile store and you are set up within minutes, no form filling, no ID. It really couldn't be simpler.

In contrast, this is the message I got from Vodafone when I switched off airplane mode at Washington Dulles:

Welcome to the USA. Calls cost 135p/m to make and 100p/m to receive. Texts 35p + your home rate & pic msg 37p. For your £5 a day you have 25MB of mobile internet, then it's £3/MB.

I imagine there are suckers who think this is a good deal. For the rest of us, though, it's better to leave roaming switched off and head to the nearest T-Mobile store. Calling home is no problem because, with unlimited data, it is easy enough to use Viber, Tango or similar VOIP services without charge. I even hotspotted my iPad mini to the iPhone and had uninterruped cellular coverage throughout the week on all my devices. It would have worked with the MacBook Air if I had needed to carry it around.

If you are about to visit the USA, the deal I purchased is called the "$3 Daily UK Tlk Txt Wb (200MB 4G)" plan.

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