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73 posts

Master Geek

# 173646 31-May-2015 10:15
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Hi all,

My folks are with Spark On Account plan and are about to go to the States for 21 days. I see Spark only has a $10 per day option ($210 if they were to do that!). They will need data and they will be making the odd call to US numbers.

Is there are better way to do this?

Can they buy a prepaid sim in the US easily? Even better can I arrange that for them before they leave somehow? I really to make it super easy for them.


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28269 posts

Uber Geek

Biddle Corp
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  # 1314989 31-May-2015 10:23
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Spark's roaming these days is an exceptionally poor offering - $10 gets you 200MB of data whereas Vodafone's $5 per day which covers all voice, sms and data from your plan.

I always use Vodafone roaming, but as they're on Spark my recommendation would be forget roaming and look at T-Mobile offerings, they used to have $3 day plan which was good value.

Whatever option you use, just be aware of the network bands and whether they have a handset that will be on any use in the US. If you're going to buy a US SIM, your phone will determine that networks(s) you can or can't use. Buying a SIM over there is pretty straight forward, and you'll find them everywhere.

73 posts

Master Geek

  # 1314994 31-May-2015 10:28
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Awesome thanks Steve, will look into that $3 option. They have an iPhone 5.

Damn, thats a shame about vodafone as $5 would have been great. Is there anyway they can buy a vodafone prepaid sim here and get a similar roaming deal?


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Uber Geek


  # 1314996 31-May-2015 10:34
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port the number over to a Vodafone On Account plan?

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Uber Geek

  # 1315082 31-May-2015 13:22
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If you look on ebay you can buy a T-mobile sim with the $70 unlimited everything (including overseas calls!) plan for just $20, shipped to their hotel.

Note though T-mobile only works in the big cities, if you're going rural you'll want AT&T or Verizon. (You'll most probably need to get a new phone in Walmart or something for Verizon.)

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Master Geek

  # 1315112 31-May-2015 14:23
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Whoa, that sounds great DarkShadow! Is that legit deal via T Mobile or do these Sims come via dodgy sources? Do you have a link to the you were referring to on ebay? I had a look at a few of those deals and they look a bit dodgy... 

They are only going to San Fran and New York so no rural issues there. 

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Uber Geek

  # 1315168 31-May-2015 16:20
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T-mobile has good rural coverage. I used it near Sheridan, Illinois (basically in the middle of nowhere) and got a great signal.

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Uber Geek

  # 1315169 31-May-2015 16:27
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These are sold by TMobile dealers as a promo, from the second month onward you'll pay full price. But since you're not using it for more than one month it's fine.

You call the dealer to activate the card. It so happens that my dealer's call center broke at the moment I wanted to call so I had to wait an extra half hour to have it sorted out. After that it works perfectly. It is slightly more work than just buying a SIM when you land but it's such a great deal. It's real unlimited too, unlike so many other American "unlimited" plans where you get throttled after a few GBs.

It seems the dealer that sold mine isn't selling anymore, just take standard precautions when buying online, look for sellers with good feedback etc.


73 posts

Master Geek

  # 1315339 1-Jun-2015 09:48
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Thanks for that info. If it was me going, I'd definitely choose that option, but I need to make this process super simple for my folks.

Even though its a bit more cost, I might just opt for buying a Sim online from T-Mobile and getting it shipped to their hotel in San Fran. Looking at this option below, it looks like its $3 per month and them I could get them to sign up for the $10 per week plan when they activate the Sim.

Remembering they have an iPhone 5, and that when I pay for the Sim and subsequent $10 per week plan fee I'd be using a NZ credit card, that should work right?

68 posts

Master Geek

  # 1315527 1-Jun-2015 14:23
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When we were in San Francisco last October the T-Mobile store in the big Westfield Shopping Mall on Market Street was offering Tourist Sims with "competitive rates." I didn't check the rates as were heading to Alaska but the store always seemed busy when we passed by. It's on level two.

I have tried AT&T in the past but gave up on them as soon as they realised we were tourists they seem to lose interest up but think that may have changed as their Hawaii store had promo posters up last week. Once again didn't check the rates as our unit had free wifi.

Good luck!

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Uber Geek

  # 1315870 2-Jun-2015 08:53
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Remembering they have an iPhone 5, and that when I pay for the Sim and subsequent $10 per week plan fee I'd be using a NZ credit card, that should work right?

Assuming they have the international version, the phone would support 3G on 1900 only. T-Mobile uses both 1700 and 1900 for 3G. I have tried it with a phone that does 1700/1900 and one that is 1900 only. While the 1700/1900 does get 3G in more areas, the 3G coverage for the 1900 phone is still pretty good.

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Uber Geek

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  # 1315880 2-Jun-2015 09:06
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I've used T-Mobile a Lot when in the US and one thing I'd warn you about, we are REALLY spoiled here for Mobile data speeds. It's TERRIBLE there. You can only get 4G (What I'd consider to be 3.5G here) if you have a locked Phone (Doesn't apply to you) so expect your data to be just slightly faster than Dial Up.

My understanding is that if you Roam with VF you get 4G but currently Spark have no 4G available via roaming?

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Master Geek


  # 1315993 2-Jun-2015 10:50
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Also Voda do 4G roaming to about 50 countries vs Spark who do 0....

Voda kinda own the roaming with $5 days atm :)

1730 posts

Uber Geek

  # 1316068 2-Jun-2015 11:40
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Get a 3UK SIM from ebay - a few $
Buy the 10 pound pre-pay package which is similar to NZ $19 packages here
Enjoy free USA roaming

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  # 1316129 2-Jun-2015 12:40
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I used when I went to the US last year.  Not overly cheap to buy, but is fairly easy (SIM is delivered to home, put the SIM in when you arrive/on the plane) and worked fine.  It was a SIM which is an AT&T MVNO.

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