Pick my phone plan!
August 1, 2012 12:26 PM   Subscribe

I already have an iPhone. I'm now moving from Canada to the US. What's my best option for a phone plan? Please note: starving student status in full effect.

Looking on the websites of AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, I'm only able to find info on plans that require you to purchase a new phone, which I'm hoping to avoid having to do (though Sprint does have a phone buyback plan that makes that option a little more palatable). Is there a way that I can keep my current phone, but get a new US plan? What's your personal recommendation for the best service/coverage/rates? This previous question kind of addresses my issue....but would something like StraightTalk be worthwhile as a longterm solution?
Additional info:
- I currently have a 32gb iPhone 4
- I'll be living in Durham, NC
- Most of my usage will be text and data (my current plan includes 2GB of data, and I rarely exceed that), and occasional phonecalls
- Of those calls, the majority will probably be to Canada
- Since I'm just moving to the States, I don't currently have a US credit rating, which may be a factor in plans which require a contract.
- The cheaper, the better (I'll be living on a grad student stipend)

Can you help me pick the best plan for me? Or help direct my (obviously not-too-swell) website-reading capabilities towards the info I'm seeking? Or just provide your own experience/expertise about getting your cell phone set up in the States?
Thanks, dudes.
posted by Dorinda to Shopping (10 answers total)
who was your carrier in canada? can you get your phone unlocked?
posted by Oktober at 12:32 PM on August 1, 2012

My Canadian carrier was TELUS.....no idea if it can be unlocked or not...or even what "unlocking" means (I'm an absolute idiot when it comes to matters of technology).
posted by Dorinda at 12:41 PM on August 1, 2012

If your phone is unlocked, you can go with T-mobile. If you are in Canada, I think your phone is already unlocked and can be used in the US with any carrier that uses a sim card (basically anyone but Verizon.) You can even do the pay-as-you-go plans, though the text and data will be better with a monthly plan. As a student, you may find discounted student plans through your university. Welcome to the USA.
posted by Yellow at 12:47 PM on August 1, 2012

Calls from the US to Canada are free through Google Voice (which you can use from a phone). Lack of credit probably won't be an issue -- I moved from the US to Canada without a credit history, and I didn't have any problem getting a phone. Come to think of it, I got my first cell phone in the US before establishing a credit history there too.

Other than that, plans are generally cheaper in the US than in Canada, and you don't have to pay for things like long distance and voice mail.
posted by neal at 12:54 PM on August 1, 2012

You can always sell your Telus phone on craigslist before you leave, and put that money towards a new phone in the US. If you're going to be there for at least 2 years, then you may as well get a contract and a subsidized phone.
posted by modernnomad at 12:59 PM on August 1, 2012

Don't go with T-Mobile. Telus uses the same frequences as AT&T for 3g, so you're stuck with basically them or Straight Talk, their discount pre-paid service.
posted by Oktober at 1:46 PM on August 1, 2012

US mobile phone carriers have contract-free options. Not easy to find, but they're available. Here's a site that ranks mobile coverage. I'd keep my phone, and get a no-contract plan for @ 50/month. If the phone breaks, gets stolen, etc., you can still get a contract.
posted by theora55 at 1:46 PM on August 1, 2012

You can always sell your Telus phone on craigslist before you leave, and put that money towards a new phone in the US.

I think the logistics of doing this would be to: 1) cancel your contract with Telus, and pay the buy-out fee (typically $10 for every month left on your contract). I think you end up with the phone.

Then sell the phone to recoup that cost.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:50 PM on August 1, 2012

Walmart Family Mobile.
posted by usermac at 6:11 PM on August 1, 2012

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