Prepaid phone with US roaming?
I set up Virgin Mobile prepaid for my mom and it's been fine for her Canadian usage. She mostly does voice calls and this costs $25 every two months, or about $150 a year without tax. However this does not work at all in the US. There is no such thing as US roaming with Virgin prepaid.
Are there any prepaid services that allow US roaming?
I know that with an unlocked phone you can swap SIM cards when crossing borders, but this requires that you have an active service on that second SIM. I'm hoping to use a single service that also works when the phone is roaming in US space. My mom is not very technical.
Any advice appreciated. Or does she really have to switch to a monthly plan to do US roaming?
Fido has US roaming but it seems expensive:
I have used Roamobility. It involves swapping SIM.
We use Speakout pay as you go in Canada and buy an AT&T for use in USA. The AT&T SIM actually worked for us both sides of border and I did that for one year. That cost US$100. They charge 25c/min or $2 for each day you use the phone.
Instead of AT&T, I have been looking at knowroaming https://www.knowroaming.com/ . You buy a sticker for your sim for $29.95 (incl $10 airtime) and that allows you to use phone in 200 countries, including USA. Calls are US13c/min within USA or even back to Canada 18c within Canada. You get a US and UK number it seems. They also have a SIM card. Not sure how it would work for Canadians. I emailed them, but it might be better to talk to them. There might be charge to get a Canadian number.
Let me know what you think of this because I am interested.
Does need a smartphone (I recently bought a Moto E)
Public mobile is very cheap prepaid sim-only service that has 10-day unlimited US roaming bundles starting from $8. Not sure it would work for mom as the customer service is community driven via online forums to keep the prices so low (hence the name public mobile)
Originally Posted by james4beach
Promos come up from time to time and they are open to existing customers and don't expire as long as you stay active. Every year you stay with them you get a higher monthly reward ($1, $2, $3 etc) plus auto-pay, referral, community based rewards etc
I've used this for short visits to the US but anything longer than 10 days and I spend the extra few seconds it takes to pop in a local SIM. In the US I use Walmart brand Strait Talk which does require a few more seconds to activate the SIM, but anywhere with a rep does that for you in no time
There's lots of free wifi in the States, could she get by using Fongo or something and not use actual cell service?
Rogers prepaid allows worldwide roaming. We use them in Europe because we only make a few calls. Very expensive. We use a SIM card in Mexico.
Does she need data plan or a smartphone capability while in the US? One option is to buy a disposable GoPhone from AT&T that has pre-paid minutes. If you search Best Buy, they have them on sale for $10-15 and you get a flip phone and a few dollars credit of air time. If you top it up with $100 the account will be active for another year. Otherwise you just get rid of it.
But I guess it depends on your needs.
Checked and it seems for those like me that just need a paygo phone for occasional use both sides of border, knowroaming's SIM card is available. It costs $9.95 and you get a US and UK number. If you want a Canadian number, it costs US$3 per month. Air time can be added in $25/$50/etc chunks. Calls within Canada and to USA cost US$0.18/min while calls within USA and to Canada cost US$0.13/min. Data and texting rates on their site.
Originally Posted by agent99
One negative is that you can't choose your US area code - you get a random one. Not sure about Canadian number.
For those satisfied with their present Canadian phone plan, adding the $29.95 knowroaming sticker may be a better option.
Need to look at reviews and coverage before going this way!
Thanks for all the replies, sounds like there are lots of options. I'll start looking into these... the goal here is to get her something so that she doesn't get stranded at airports. (You can't find working payphones in US airports any more)
I use a 4G tablet, the LG V410, modified with Cyanogenmod software, a T-Mobile "Free Data For Life" SIM, and a VoIP service to essentially roam freely in Canada and the USA without paying service charges. If I go over the 'free' 200mb/month data, T-Mobile sells plans for US$10 for an additional 1 week/1gb.
Total out of pocket cost for the solution was approximately US$100 including the T-Mobile SIM (which you can get for free if you get on one of their offers, but I paid $5 for mine through an eBay seller).
Don't know if I'd set up someone non-computer-savvy with such "solution", but its been brutally cost efficient for me .
Last edited by mark0f0; 2016-12-24 at 02:30 PM.