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Living in the US: A Comprehensive Guide to Phone Cards


In the United States, having the right phone card and plan can make your life and communication much more convenient. Whether you're here for travel, work, or study, a reliable means of communication is essential.


In this blog, we will detail how to obtain a phone card in the US, choose the right plan, and answer related common questions. Our goal is to make your trip to the US smoother and more convenient.



US Phone Numbers


In the US, like other countries, there's an international country/area code. US phone numbers consist of a 3-digit area code followed by a 7-digit local number. Below are the area codes for each city, with some regions having one or more area codes.


Area Local Area Code US Area Local Area Code US
California 213, 323, 661, 310, 424 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 214, 469, 972
Illinois 773, 312, 872 Washington D.C. 202
New York 917, 212, 718, 347, 929 California 415, 628
Florida 305, 786 Massachusetts 617, 508
Michigan 313 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 215, 267
Washington 206    


Using Domestic Phones to Call the US


To call the US, dial the international prefix 00, then the US country code 1, followed by the US area code, and then the phone number.


For example, to call a number in New York 514-390-0XXX, dial as follows: 001+212 (New York area code) +514-390-0XXX.



How to Get a Phone Card


  1. Official Retail Stores: In the US, you can directly go to the carrier's official retail store to buy a SIM card. Common carriers include AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. In the store, you can get professional advice and choose the right plan based on your needs.

  2. Online Purchase: You can also order a SIM card online and choose to have it mailed to your address or pick it up directly after arriving in the US. This method is suitable for travelers who plan ahead.

  3. Airport Purchase: Many international airports have phone card sales points, convenient for travelers who have just arrived in the US to buy immediately.


Choosing the Right Plan First


you need to consider the following questions:


  1. Prepaid vs Postpaid: Prepaid plans are suitable for short-term visitors and students, with no long-term contracts, flexible and convenient. Postpaid plans usually require a credit record and contract, suitable for long-term residents.

  2. Data and Call Time: Choose the right data and call time according to your needs. If you rely on network navigation and social media, a high data plan would be more suitable.

  3. International Calls and Roaming: For those who need to make international calls frequently, choosing a plan that includes international calling services is more economical.


Then choose the right carrier. There are many wireless carriers in the US, but the three with their own networks and the most users are AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.



According to research by Opensignal, each of the three major US carriers has its advantages. AT&T has the widest network coverage. T-Mobile, after merging with the former fourth-largest carrier Sprint, leads in stable download and upload speeds. Verizon's network performance has won countless awards in the US, maintaining stable signals and reliable service for years.




  1. Compatibility: Ensure your phone is compatible with US network bands. (The US mainly uses CDMA and GSM network technologies, so if foreign tourists or international students want to use their phones in the US, they need to ensure their phones support these network standards. If the phone is not compatible, you will need to switch to a local US phone card to ensure you can use the phone for calls and internet.)

  2. Identity Verification: Purchasing a phone card may require proof of identity, such as a passport or driver's license.

  3. Price Comparison: Different carriers' plan prices may vary, so it's advisable to compare in advance.


US Main Carrier Plan Comparison


Carrier Prepaid Plan Starting Price Postpaid Plan Starting Price Features
AT&T $30/month (2GB data) $65/month (Unlimited data) Wide coverage, suitable for urban and suburban areas
Verizon $35/month (6GB data) $70/month (Unlimited data) Good network quality, covers remote areas
T-Mobile $15/month (2.5GB data) $60/month (Unlimited data) Price advantage, urban coverage

Considerations When Buying a Phone Card


  • Ensure your phone is unlocked and compatible with US network bands.


  • When choosing a plan, fully consider your needs, such as calls, internet, and international roaming.


  • If planning to buy a new iPhone, note that the US version of the iPhone has no SIM card slot, which may not be usable after returning to your home country.


Through this blog, we hope to provide a comprehensive guide to phone cards and plans for newcomers to the US, such as tourists, workers, and students. Our goal is to make your life in the US easier. In this digital age, whether it's communication or financial services, we are committed to providing you with the best solutions.


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This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from WOTRANSFER PTE. LTD. or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.