If your traveling to the United States and are concerned about Australian mobile phone roaming costs, there is no need to worry anymore! It is much cheaper and easier to setup your own pre-paid US mobile smart phone. If you already have your own smart phone, all you need to purchase is a monthly service plan.
Where and how do I do it? Easy. Go to the nearest Walmart store (which are as common as Collingwood supporters missing teeth), go straight to the electronics section (always at the very back of the store furthest from the entrance) and go to the mobile phone section. The product you need to look for is Straight Talk. Just look for the Straight Talk logo and the ugly pale green colour.
Once you’ve located the ugly pale green colour and logo, there are several options for you to consider. Do you have your own smart phone with you? If so, you will only need a monthly service plan that comes with a simcard. The service plan I bought was $US45 for one month and included simcards for several major US mobile phone carriers. I needed to purchase my own smart phone as well as a plan, but it was still very affordable.
This current trip to the US is expected to be at least 1 month, so I bought a cheap ZTE smart phone for $US30. On top of that, purchased a $US45 monthly plan. The $US45 plan includes Unlimited Talk, Text and data for 30 days. Yep, UNLIMITED DATA. (Ok, the speeds are restricted after the first 8 gigs, but thats quite good in my books.) Within hours of arriving on US soil, my US mobile phone was up and running for a total cost of $US75. After the first month, $US45 every 30 days. Bring your own smart phone if you can and switch out your simcard. Be sure to secure your Australian simcard in a safe place when it comes time for your return home.
What phone number do you get? The phone number is issued just like any other US mobile phone, a 3 digit area code plus regular phone number. The best part is, you can choose the area code you want. If you want a New York City area code, you can get one. It actually does not matter which area code you choose, as it is unlimited talk, text and data across North America for 30 days.
Why should you get an active US mobile while in the US? To avoid roaming costs – which is almost the equivalent of paying the mafia to provide protection. Roaming costs are a lousy outdated business model you can now completely avoid. You’ll use data for Google maps driving directions, restaurant locations or anything else you want to locate. That’s your reason. Requiring GPS in vehicles is a thing of the past, sorry TomTom, as much as I loved your GPS products – it’s true. Just whip out your smart phone and hit the road.
What if you want to call Australia with your new US mobile (or someone in Australia call your US mobile) – International rates will occour for the caller. However, there are multiple ways around that. (Remember, Unlimited data!) Facebook video calls, Google hangouts, Facetime and my favorite option MagicJack. (More details to follow in another article.) Why would you make an international phone call with high charges or pay for roaming costs anymore? All you need to remember now is to keep your battery charged. Have fun traveling in the US.