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Best pay-as-you-go cell phone plan for a few days in the USA w. a Canadian Samsung Galaxy S2
June 9, 2012 1:45 PM   Subscribe

Is there a prepaid phone plan in the US that will let me use my Samsung Galaxy S2 at full speeds, for short visits (ie: without having to pay for a full month of use)?

I live in Canada, and have a carrier-unlocked Samsung Galaxy S2.

I periodically go to the US, typically for a couple of days, sometimes longer.

I'd like to find a cell phone plan that can serve my needs for these visits. I'm hoping I can find a plan that meets these criteria:

1) Gives me access to decent data speeds on my phone (Samsung Galaxy S2).

2) Does not require me to pay for a full month, if I plan to be in the US for just a few days.

In the past, I've used T-mobile's prepaid pay-by-the-day plans. Those plans let me pay for just the days I use. Great for short visits- For 5 days, I pay $10 or $15, for unlimited talk/text and data. The one problem, though, is that with my phone, I am limited to edge speeds. (T-mobile sells a Samsung Galaxy S2 which gets 4g speeds on their network, but that's apparently a different phone from my regular Samsung Galaxy S2, which I believe is only compatible w. Edge speeds on the T-mobile network).

I've also seen plans, like the one at Straight Talk, that, if I understand right, would allow me to get faster speeds, but where I'd have to pay for a full month. That's great for longer visits, but $45 seems expensive for a couple of days coverage.

Is there any plan that offers the best of these worlds? (Or some other solution I may be overlooking?)
posted by Mayma Hosey to Technology (5 answers total)
 
T-Mobile's 3G is on a nonstandard frequency, which is why your non-T-Mobile-specific phone only get edge on T-Mobile. If you want a pay-as-you go GSM plan in the US with 3G, and your phone doesn't support T-mobile's 3G network, you're pretty much stuck with AT&T GoPhone.

AT&T GoPhone uses AT&T's GSM network, which will get you 3G. You could use their $2 Daily Unlimited Plan, which gives you unlimited talk/text (but not unlimited data). Because you have a smartphone, they'll insist you get one of their data packages (which are a fixed $5 for 50 MB, $15 for 150 MB, or $25 for 1 GB). For 5 days that would cost you $15, $25, or $35, depending on how much data you expect to consume.
posted by RichardP at 2:54 PM on June 9, 2012


It might not be possible. AT&T's prepaid plans have a $2/day option, but you have to pay ridiculous data usage fees.

You can check out this list from Wikipedia of MVNOs in the US for ones that use AT&T's network and see if any of those have better daily plans. A cursory look at a few of them seems like they don't offer anything reasonable, but I didn't check of all them.
posted by cuetip at 2:54 PM on June 9, 2012


How often to you go the US? I had the same dilemma as you and ended up purchasing and AT&T goPhone Sim, but put $100 of credit on it, which prevented it from expiring for an entire year.. if you're going enough over the course of a year, that might make it worth it.
posted by modernnomad at 4:15 PM on June 9, 2012


Modernnomad, that's an interesting idea!

Do you know - if I buy the $25 for 1GB, is that a bucket of data that's good for a year, too? Or does that expire after a month or something?

Paying $100 to be able to have intermittent phone use for a year might work well for me, as I go pretty often, typically for short visits.

Cuetip - I'll check out those MVNO's
RichardP - Thanks for the clarification re: the AT&T plans!
posted by Mayma Hosey at 5:03 PM on June 9, 2012


looking at their website it seems like the data packages expire every 30 days regardless. i never purhcased a data pack, and just used pay as you go data at 5c/kb or something. but now it says that's not avail w/ smartphones, though i don't know how they could check if you are bringing your own phone.. i always used an unlocked iphone, though i haven't done it in about 8 months or, so its possible the policies have changed.
posted by modernnomad at 7:02 AM on June 10, 2012


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