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Thread: Advice for buying US mobile 'phones

  1. #1

    Advice for buying US mobile 'phones

    Hi. Context. We are from the UK and myself my DH and DS all have i phones. However, they are of little use to us at Disney because use in the US is outside of our contracts so any calls or texts, which are part of our monthly contract fee at home, cost a fortune in the US. Data roaming is a terrifying no go, we have to switch all Internet facilities off on the plane to guard against accidental financial disaster! Last year just a few calls and texts cost us about 100 extra on top of our regular contract costs. I am wondering if it is worth us buying a couple of mobile phones on 'pay as you go' once we arrive in the US. They would only need to be basic enough to make texts and calls so we can stay in touch if we split up. We will have a car so can get to a supermarket. Can anyone advise me on this issue please? Approximate costs and potential makes and models of mobile. Thanks.

     

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  3. #2
    Happiness is that smile MammaSilva's Avatar
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    A couple of years ago friends from Australia were "here" (meaning on holiday traveling thru Hawaii, California, Washington and back to California) I got them AT&T go phones with international minutes and they were pay as you go, the phones were very basic, no bells and whistles, texts and calls but very affordable. I bought them at a store known as WalMart but they offer them at Target and Walmart and almost any other store. You buy a card to add time/minutes to them if you get low. At the end of your trip you can just recycle them.

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  4. #3

    Before you think about buying US phones, do double-check with your carrier in the UK. Things change all the time in the mobile phone business.

    For example, Canadians can, from most carriers, now buy "travel plans" that are good for the US or "International" destinations. The first travel plan available - and still the cheapest - that you can usually get is a "travel text plan" - where you can send 25 text messages for about $15. You can either text back home or you can text in the US (someone in your party if they have also paid the $15 fee). You cannot phone - or leave a voice message with a travel text plan - you can only text on your phones. IMPORTANT: You are not data roaming if you buy a travel plan before leaving home - you will be using an American mobile phone carrier that has a reciprocal agreement with your UK carrier.

    As little as 18 months ago, in Canada, you could only get a text travel plan - now you can get voice, text/voice and data roaming travel plans. These are all "travel plans" though - and if your UK carrier now has them, you must arrange for the travel plans before you leave home.

    In short, things change significantly - and quite fast in the mobile phone business. Do check with your mobile phone service provider to see if they have travel packs that allow you to stay in contact with each other while on vacation.

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  5. #4

    I don't know if this is an option in the US, but when we went to South Africa several years ago we were able to rent cell phones for a couple of weeks at a very affordable price.


  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by MammaSilva View Post
    A couple of years ago friends from Australia were "here" (meaning on holiday traveling thru Hawaii, California, Washington and back to California) I got them AT&T go phones with international minutes and they were pay as you go, the phones were very basic, no bells and whistles, texts and calls but very affordable. I bought them at a store known as WalMart but they offer them at Target and Walmart and almost any other store. You buy a card to add time/minutes to them if you get low. At the end of your trip you can just recycle them.
    Hi. What is very affordable? Thanks.
     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  7. #6
    Happiness is that smile MammaSilva's Avatar
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    At the time I paid 20 dollars US for each phone (2 phones) and that came with about 30 minutes local use or a flat number of text but I don't recall the text number. Now for them, they had a LOT of people here calling/texting them so they had to add time on their phones but if it is just for emergency use for keeping in touch with each other you might not need to add more time on them at all, but if you decided you need to the cards start at 10 dollars.

    Life is too short to wake up with regrets ~So love the people who treat you right
    Forget about those who don't ~ Believe everything happens for a reason.
    If you get a chance, take it If it changes your life, let it ~Nobody said life would be easy,
    they just promised it would most likely be worth it~ remember, Sometimes Miracles Hide

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by MammaSilva View Post
    At the time I paid 20 dollars US for each phone (2 phones) and that came with about 30 minutes local use or a flat number of text but I don't recall the text number. Now for them, they had a LOT of people here calling/texting them so they had to add time on their phones but if it is just for emergency use for keeping in touch with each other you might not need to add more time on them at all, but if you decided you need to the cards start at 10 dollars.
    Cool. That is very affordable! Thanks.
     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydooby View Post
    Hi. What is very affordable? Thanks.
    AT&T GoPhones are as cheap as $15 per phone for super basic ones (i.e. Samsung A107) and "plan" pricing varies based on how much you think you'll use it. You can select from four or five plans. The basic is $0.10 USD/minute, $0.25 per text sent and $0.20 per text received. The next step up is $2/day for unlimited call and text. You pay only on the days you use it as well. If you plan on using it a lot, this would be the better deal.

    You can get the phones and cards in as small as $10 denominations from most major electronics retailers in the US. Though, iirc, the phones come with $15 in the box, so if you're just planning on using it for a trip, you'd just be looking at $15 for each phone and then included air time cards would cover unlimited usage for seven days ($14 value).

    NOTE: I wouldn't recommend purchasing them online through sites other than actual electronics retailers (DO NOT use Amazon, Ebay, etc.). A lot of times, those phones may come with locked SIM cards or no SIM cards at all. That'd result in at least extra cost and potentially a headache if you can't find out until you get into the US.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by iceman559 View Post
    AT&T GoPhones are as cheap as $15 per phone for super basic ones (i.e. Samsung A107) and "plan" pricing varies based on how much you think you'll use it. You can select from four or five plans. The basic is $0.10 USD/minute, $0.25 per text sent and $0.20 per text received. The next step up is $2/day for unlimited call and text. You pay only on the days you use it as well. If you plan on using it a lot, this would be the better deal.

    You can get the phones and cards in as small as $10 denominations from most major electronics retailers in the US. Though, iirc, the phones come with $15 in the box, so if you're just planning on using it for a trip, you'd just be looking at $15 for each phone and then included air time cards would cover unlimited usage for seven days ($14 value).

    NOTE: I wouldn't recommend purchasing them online through sites other than actual electronics retailers (DO NOT use Amazon, Ebay, etc.). A lot of times, those phones may come with locked SIM cards or no SIM cards at all. That'd result in at least extra cost and potentially a headache if you can't find out until you get into the US.
    Thanks. Do you think I could get these at the airport or one of the previously mentioned supermarkets?
     

    If no-one out there understands, start your own revolution and cut out the middle man (Billy Bragg)

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydooby View Post
    Thanks. Do you think I could get these at the airport or one of the previously mentioned supermarkets?
    I'm sure the airport will have something. If not AT&T, then they might have one of the other brands (such as TMobile, Verizon, Virgin Mobile, etc.). I believe AT&T is by far the best deal, however. If they don't, you can definitely get them at most Best Buys, WalMarts, or Targets. Plenty of other stores will have them as well, but those are the only national retailers I can think of. I'm not sure what other retailers are in Florida.

  12. #11
    At home in the hills candles71's Avatar
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    I believe it is Silversat that makes multiple Walmart runs while at WDW, seems like it is fairly close. They should have them.


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    Quote Originally Posted by candles71 View Post
    I believe it is Silversat that makes multiple Walmart runs while at WDW, seems like it is fairly close. They should have them.
    When I went to WDW, I went to Target (I have WM issues,) that had grocery store in the same parking lot. (They had groceries at Target, too, but we went to the Publix, for some stuff.) One stop shopping.
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  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by scoobydooby View Post
    Thanks. Do you think I could get these at the airport or one of the previously mentioned supermarkets?
    There are Best Buy vending machines at LAX and in Downtown Disney (one by the AMC movie theaters and the other by World of Disney) that sell phones with SIM cards. The box inside the machine was a little hard to read, but it said that the phones work in over 100 countries and they can text, as well. The cost was around $40.00 and additional minutes were .09 each.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by tea4two View Post
    There are Best Buy vending machines at LAX and in Downtown Disney (one by the AMC movie theaters and the other by World of Disney) that sell phones with SIM cards. The box inside the machine was a little hard to read, but it said that the phones work in over 100 countries and they can text, as well. The cost was around $40.00 and additional minutes were .09 each.
    You know, this brings up a good point.

    Which Disney resort are you going to, ScoobyDooby? I was assuming WDW, but I just realized you never actually said east coast or west coast. As far as the phones go, it doesn't make a difference, but as far as where to pick them up, it does!

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  17. #16

    Someone on another board mentioned that there are Best Buy vending machines at the Orlando Airport (MCO), too. And there is at least one shop at that airport that sells the travel phones and pre-paid SIM cards.


  18. #17
    Registered User Silvercat's Avatar
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    Okay, hands up, yeah - it's me that goes to Walmart multiple times when at WDW! What can I say - I love Walmart!! So much cool stuff that we can't get in the UK ....

    Anyhoo, back on topic - this is a great thread, and is an idea we had been thinking about for some time now, meaning to do it every time we go back to WDW but then never getting round to it. It would definitely be a good idea and as we visit so often (every year or so at the moment), we could bring the phones home and then take them back again on our next visit. I like the idea of the GoPhones - I think we will do this in October.

    Scooby - let me know if you do get the phones, where you get them from and how you get on with them.

    Silvercat


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