AT&T Prepaid (formerly GoPhone)EditAT&T is the biggest GSM-based provider in the US, rivaling only with Verizon. It has the biggest coverage nationwide aside from Verizon and gives the best compatibility with devices both within and from outside the United States.
AT&T's 2G was shut down by January 1st, 2017 and is no longer available. 3G is on 850 MHz and 1900 MHz up to HSPA+. 4G/LTE is on 700 MHz (B12/17, B14, B29), 850 MHz (B5), 1700 MHz (B4, B66), 1900 MHz (B2) and 2300 MHz (B30) (see Basics chapter for details).
Availability and start-upEdit
Their prepaid lines now are all called AT&T Prepaid. A starter pack is called “AT&T Prepaid SIM card kit”. The SIM card only is referred as “Bring your own” (device). The SIM card is available for up to $20 from AT&T stores (locator) or for $9.99 online to be sent to an US postal address or at other stores such as Best Buy, Target and Walmart (also for $9.99). Mini-, micro- and nano-SIMs are available. Take care that some mall kiosks like to charge you more for the SIM card. But some waive the SIM fee if you buy a top up at the same time.
Alternatively, you can buy at online dealers e.g. on eBay to be shipped overseas for a surcharge. Commercial vendors like them here ship it worldwide for a steep surcharge: For instance the $45 plan with SIM is sold at £71 (= $88) which constitutes an almost 100% surcharge.
There are two different kinds of plans on offer: one with voice, texts and data for phones and another with data-only for tablets, routers and modems. The data-only plans work in phones and modems too, but are intended for tablet use and your phone will not send/receive calls or text messages with a data-only SIM (even though it still has a phone number). To avoid confusion in shops, state that you want to use it in a tablet, even if you plan to put the data-only SIM into a phone. There is no need to conceal anymore that you bring an iPhone from overseas. This caused problems until some years ago, but AT&T now welcomes foreign iPhones too.
The SIM cards sold in stores like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart work with both the data-only and phone plans, you decide when activating the SIM which kind of plan to use and you can change from one type to another later. The instructions with the SIM explain how to activate it, which is done differently for the plans.
If you buy the SIM in an AT&T store, then keep your receipt, it shows the phone number of the SIM card. If you activate the SIM yourself, you will receive an SMS message showing your phone number after activation. SIM cards bought in their stores normally don't have any instructions or other information and you get only the plain SIM card.
Activation can be done in three ways:
- from your GoPhone (phones only): place card in phone, turn it on, select rate plan, type activation code, select ZIP code, send, turn it off and turn it on after 10 minutes to be activated.
- from any phone: call 877 426 0525 and follow instructions
- online at: https://www.wireless.att.com/activations/
When you are not in the US and want to activate your SIM before (e.g. to know your number ahead) follow this procedure: Use the online link (see above), as IMEI enter in the form (Any IMEI will work), you can add a non US-based credit card, but choose USA as country and use any US address you can think of. AT&T uses the entered IMEI number to determine, if device is AT&T branded. If the system determines that the IMEI is not an AT&T branded device, select one of the following options from the drop down menu. (Phone,Tablet,Hotspot,Data Device). LTE is enabled on all devices now by default. As ZIP code take any US ZIP code, the ZIP code is needed so the carrier can assign a phone number based on the area code. Then you can recharge, but can’t choose your plan though, because the verification SMS won’t be forwarded roaming abroad. For that you have to call customer service at +1-800-331-0500 to add your data plan manually. Have in mind, that the plan starts from this moment on.
Recharges and validityEdit
At least some credit cards not issued in the US can be added to the account (see above). If you don’t succeed in adding yours, just buy vouchers, called refill cards in the US. They are available at AT&T stores, many supermarkets, gas stations, Walgreen’s and CVS drugstores, 7-Eleven and many other outlets. Minimum value is $15. A refill of $15 is valid for 30 days, up to $50 for 90 days and from $100 for 365 days. Take care: If not used up and extended in time, your credit will be lost, the account closed and the SIM card terminated. The account closure time differs between phone and data-only plans. As of 2015 the phone plans close 60 days after last credit expiry and data plans 365 days after last expiry.
Voice plans with dataEdit
These following monthly packages for 30 days are offered for smartphones:
|No data included, add-on 250 MB of data for $5|
|$35||$30||1 GB included in US, beyond throttled to 128 kbps, roll-over|
|$50||$45||unlimited to USA, MEX, CAN||8 GB included in US/MEX/CAN, then throttled to 128 kbps; roll-over|
|$65||$55||Unlimited data in US/MEX/CAN (depriorization during network congestion, video streaming max of 1.5 Mbps, no hotspot use)|
|$85||$75||Unlimited data in US/MEX/CAN (22 GB before subject to depriorization during network congestion) max. 10 GB for data hotspot/tethering (US usage only, throttled to 128 kbps beyond)|
AT&T considers one month to be 30 days, including the day of activation. Monthly plans expire at 11:59pm Central Standard Time on the 30th day of service. If you link it to auto-pay on your credit card, the plans are discounted by $5, but you need to cancel later.
For more data on the limited plans you can add 1 Gb for $10 or 3 GB for $20 valid for the rest of the running time of the base plan.
Unused data on the $35 and $50 plans rolls over to the next month when the plan renews. However, plan data is used before rollover data and rollover data expires after 30 days. That means that unless your data usage alternates from low one month to high the next you are unlikely to be able to use much of your rollover data.
Daily plans Edit
$2 per day for unlimited domestic voice and text, charged only on the days used. Outgoing call or SMS, or accepting an incoming call, activates the plan for the day. $8.33 is the minimum monthly cost. A $0.25 to $2.50 per month "911" fee is deducted from your prepaid balance in some states. This daily plan expires at 11:59pm in the time zone, where it was activated.
Default data rate on this plan is 1c per 5 KB (= $2/MB), but AT&T actively blocks this default rate on smartphones to avoid bill shock. However, in case AT&T doesn't accurately detect your device type, use caution to avoid accidentally emptying your balance.
Instead a new $1 per day 100 MB Data Day Pass is now available to users on the $2 Day Plan. The new Data Day Pass for Daily plan users is good, since using data doesn't trigger the $2 daily fee, which is only charged if a call is made or received or a text sent. $1 per day for data-only use is a pretty good deal for short-term international visitors or anyone who needs data only occasionally. Visit this site to activate this data pass, or free call 611 from the device.
This $1/day 100 MB day pass expires 24 hours from the time of purchase. Once you have used at least 90 MB you may purchase another pass manually, it doesn't auto-renew. Purchasing a new pass does not expire the remaining MB from the previous pass. To check remaining data enter *777*3#.
These monthly packages called Data Connect are for tablets, but work on phones and modems too:
- 10 GB: $50
- 15 GB: $70
Unused data will not roll over to the next month. Plans expire in 30 days and can be renewed prior to expiration as long as the account is active. They don’t renew automatically and there is no voice nor text on this line. Accounts can be managed online or by calling 866 707 5550. Accounts for data-only plans are cancelled 365 days after the last plan expires (i.e. if you have a plan for January 2019 and it expires on Feb 1st, 2019 then you can still renew the plan anytime until Feb 1st, 2020. After that time the account is closed and you must get a new SIM card). This expiry time is longer than for phone plans (which expire 60 days after the last plan expires). Overage rate is $10 per GB.
Note that AT&T uses the device IMEI No. given during account setup to determine the type of device being connected to the network. If your device can't be ascertained by AT&T's system IMEI, the system will ask what the device is (Phone,Tablet,Data Hotspot), If you later try to go into AT&T's online account management system and change your plan from one of the above listed plans to another (say $50 to $75 data plan) you can only change to phone plans. In order to change the data plan, you must call AT&T and have it changed manually by a customer service representative.
If your device connects proper to the AT&T network, but can't get data connection (only a few AT&T sites), check the appropriate APN (see below). If you then get a message that you don't have any data credit available, even if you have topped up before, your account may have been switched to phone by default (see above). So call 1-800-331-0500 and talk to a technical support representative to activate your plan as data, not as phone.
Settings and infoEdit
- APN for smartphones: NXTGENPHONE
- APN for modem, routers and tablets: Broadband
- APN for smartwatches: Phone
- Customer Support for GoPhone: 800-901-9879
- Website: www.att.com
AirVoice WirelessEditAirVoice Wireless is a MVNO on the AT&T network in 3G and since August 2016 on 4G/LTE too, no 2G.
Their SIM cards are available only online as mini-, micro- or nano-SIMs for $4.99 to be sent to an US postal address. International customers can use vendors on eBay who do overseas shipping for a surcharge. Refills can be done offline at Western Union outlets (list). Available are top-ups of $10, 20 or 30 which keep the card active for 90 days each. Online you can use callingmart without surcharge via PayPal or credit card. Activation is done online here or by calling 888 944 2355 from another phone.
The is a maintenance fee of $1 per month, and is usually billed on the 8th day of the month. If your account has less than $1, your remaining balance will be depleted.
Default data rate is $0.066 per MB and the following packages are available:
- Unlimited Plans: They come with unlimited domestic mins, text, MMS, international. SMS and data
- $5 for 5 days: 25 MB
- $20 for 30 days: 2 GB
- $30 for 30 days: 6 GB
- $50 for 30 days: unlimited
- Pay as you go Plans: They come with an airtime allowance. These are actually refills in a given amount and validity. Data stays at the default rate of $0.066 per MB all the time:
- $10 for 90 days
- $20 plus $1 bonus for 120 days
- $30 plus $2 bonus for 150 days
Settings and infoEdit
- APN: att.mvno
- Proxy: 188.8.131.52
- Customer support: 888 944 2355
- Website: www.airvoicewireless.com
Cricket (formerly: Cricket Wireless) Edit
Cricket Wireless, now mostly called Cricket anymore, was acquired by AT&T, but is not sold at their stores as it is marketed separately from AT&T. As such, it uses AT&T network's. You can bring any AT&T compatible device.
Start up Edit
The SIM is sold online or offline at various independent shops and authorized dealers (locator) but not branded AT&T stores for $10, where refills can be found too. Activations can be made in stores for $25 or online for free.
Data packages Edit
They have these monthly packages on offer. All packs include unlimited domestic calls and texts:
- $25 - includes unlimited calls and texts across the US (no data access)
- $30 - includes unlimited calls, texts and picture messages across the US and 2 GB high-speed data
- $35 - includes unlimited calls, texts and picture messages across the US and 5 GB high-speed data
- $55 - includes unlimited calls, texts and picture messages across the US, unlimited texts to 37 countries and unlimited high-speed data access (hard capped at 3 Mbps, subject to network depriorization after 22 GB, no moble hotspot use)
- $60 - includes unlimited calls, texts and picture messages across the U.S., unlimited texts to 37 countries and unlimited high-speed data access (subject to network depriorization at all times) including 15 GB mobile hotspot use.
Additional data is available at $10 per 1 GB extra. There is a further reduction on all plans of $5 on plans of $40+, when you enable auto-pay. Thus your prepaid turns to a contract, billed on a credit card. You have to have a MasterCard, VISA or Discover and at least in the US a good credit rating. Be aware, that you need to cancel auto-pay online, if you leave the country, or they will keep on charging your credit card.
Max. speed used to be throttled to 8 Mbps on LTE and 4 Mbps on 3G on all plans but the $60 plan. As of September 2018, this has changed. The $55 unlimited plan is now the only plan with a speed cap at 3 Mbps, with all other plans streaming at whatever max speed AT&T's network allows. For data beyond the 2 GB and 5 GB plan's quota, speed will be throttled to 128 Kbps. All packages will renew automatically, if there is credit. If not, service will be suspended.
For tethering on the $30-$55 plans, they offer a "mobile hotspot" feature for $10 extra. Their "officially supported phone" list for this feature is very short and includes only several specific Android and Windows models. There are workarounds on the internet for other devices.
Settings and info Edit
- APN: ndo
- Customer support: 1-800-CRICKET (274-2538)
- Website: http://www.cricketwireless.com/
H2O Wireless EditH2O Wireless by Japanese Lotus Communications is a MVNO on the AT&T network in 3G and 4G/LTE (for frequencies check AT&T, no 2G).
H2O sells SIMs for $9.99 for tri SIM cards,or for $5 for SIM cards sold with an airtime bundle in a lot of retailers like Target, 7-Eleven, Best Buy or Family Dollar (locator) where refills can be too or online at www.callingmart.com without surcharge via PayPal or credit card. It's also possible to buy SIMs on eBay.com for less than $1, including shipping.
Top ups are available for $10, $20 and $30 keeping the account active for 90 days and for $100 active for one year. Activation is done online or by calling 800 643 4926 from another phone.
Following monthly packages are available and include unlimited domestic calls, unlimited international texts, unlimited calls to 50 countries, these unthrottled 4G/LTE data allowances and some credit:
Default data rate is $0.10 per MB. All plans are soft-capped: speed will be decreased to "2G" when quota is used up, which proved to be around 128 kbps. Additional data is available at 5¢ per MB by adding a $10 "Feature Card". Unused Feature Card balances expire at the end of the plan month. All plans have rollover data, meaning that unused high-speed data rolls over to the next month. Rollover data never expires as long as the plan stays active but it's capped at a maximum of 5 GB. When using auto-pay all rates are discounted by 10%, but you will have to cancel. International call credit can be used for calls to 50+ countries.
Settings and infoEdit
- APN: att.mvno
- APN for 4G/LTE: PRODATA
- Customer support: 800 843 4926
- Website: www.h2owirelessnow.com
NET10 and Straight TalkEdit
These are two MVNOs of América Móvil by Mexican Tycoon Carlos Slim with similar rates and setups. Both brands can be used on AT&T and T-Mobile network in 3G and 4G/LTE (frequencies see above). But you must choose one network, when buying a SIM card and then there is no switching or roaming between AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
Straight Talk EditThe SIM card-only with “bring your own phone” is sold exclusively at Walmart (Store finder), including their monthly combo plans for 30 days:
- $35: unlimited talk and SMS and 3 GB
- $45: unlimited talk and SMS and 25 GB
- $55: unlimited talk and SMS and "unlimited" GB (depriorization beyond 32 GB)
- $60: unlimited talk and SMS, including international calls to 35 countries and 10 GB data
When data is used up, speed will be reduced to '2G speeds' of 64 Kbps. For more data, you can only reset your plan ahead of time. Tethering is allowed and without surcharges.
Activation is done online or by calling 877-430-2355 from any phone except the one you are trying to activate. Top-up cards can be bought at some convenience stores and at Walmart only.
Customer support can be reached on 877 430 2355 or online at www.straighttalk.com
Net10 WirelessEditThe SIM card-only can be bought for $6.99 (at some stores as low as $1) at certain retailers like Target, Walmart, Rite-Aid, BestBuy and Walgreens and others: NET10 store locator where refill cards can be purchased as well. They have monthly packs with unlimited domestic calls and texts and a data allowance in 3G and 4G:
|Data||2 GB||4 GB||8 GB||10 GB|
When all data are used up, speeds will be reduced to 64 Kbps. Activation can be done here. Tehtering is allowed and free. It's not possible to send many internatl. SMS. Customer support is 877 836 2368 or online www.net10.com
Settings and more info Edit
For both Straight Talk and Net10:
- on AT&T network: APN: tfdata (new) /or/ att.mnvo (old) Port: 80
- Websites: http://www.straighttalk.com and http://www.net10wireless.com/
TracFone is another MVNO of the América Móvil family (see above) on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile networks. But you will have to choose one network and can be switchable between AT&T and T-mobile service. Starting in 2015 TracFone allowed "BYOP" (= Bring your own phone) GSM devices for their AT&T and T-mobile based SIM cards, but not for other networks. 4G/LTE is supported too.
Start up Edit
You can buy the SIM card in stores or the activation kit online for $0.99. Shops include major retailers like Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Costco. GSM phones should activate automatically when the phone is turned on with a Tracfone SIM in it.
Reload cards or codes are available at convenience stores, supermarkets, chain drugstores and big box retailers like Target or online by credit card.
Data feature packages Edit
They offer three monthly smartphone plans:
- $20: 1 GB and unlimited talk and text
- $25: 2 GB and unlimited talk and text
- $30: 3 GB and unlimited talk and text
Unused data will not expire and roll over if you keep the service active by a new plan. They also offer so-called airtime cards to be added to the line for service, data, minutes and texts:
|$15||200 MB||200 mins||500 SMS||30 days|
|$20||1 GB||300 mins||1000 SMS||30 days|
|$25||500 MB||500 mins||1000 SMS||60 days|
|$35||1 GB||750 mins||1000 SMS||60 days|
|$45||1.5 GB||750 mins||1000 SMS||90 days|
|$50||2 GB||750 mins||1500 SMS||90 days|
|$125||1.4 GB||1500 mins||1500 SMS||1 year|
All these packages can be purchased online on http://www.tracfone.com/ or like recharge code cards in Soma major retailers such as Target.
Settings and info Edit
Tracfone users can make calls to 60 countries including Canada, Mexico, China and most Western ge countries (list) for the same price as a domestic call. To make an international call you first dial 1-800-706-3839. You will then prompted to select your language (1 for English) and then to dial 011 plus the country code and number. It's not possible to call other countries besides the 60 supported ones and Tracfone doesn't support sending international text messages either.
- you can check your balance at http://www.fastactportal.com/static/balance
- APN: att.mnvo
- Customer Support: 800-867-7183
- Website: http://www.tracfone.com/
Red Pocket Mobile (on AT&T)EditRed Pocket Mobile is a MVNO on AT&T while T-Mobile was dropped in 2015 and rejoined again in February 2016. 2G with T-Mobile, 3G and 4G/LTE of both networks are supported, but you have to decide which network to use and there is no roaming between them.
Start up Edit
The SIM cards are available for $9.99 online to be sent to an US postal address or offline at Red Pocket outlets. Take care which network you choose. Unfortunately they don’t have a retail outlet list, but on eBay vendors sell them as low as 99c plus postage with international shipping. Reload cards can be found in their stores, supermarkets or at callingmart.com without surcharges. Available top-ups are: $10 for 30 days, $25 for 90 days, $50 for 180 days, $100 for 365 days. If not topped up, account will be terminated and credit is lost. The SIMs can be activated online or by calling 888-993-3888 from another phone.
AT&T Plans Edit
They include SMS and mins and unlimited calling to landlines in 72 countries and mobiles in 24 including China, Hong Kong, Canada, Israel, Mexico and UK all valid for one month.
|Data||500 MB||1 GB||1 GB||5 GB||10 GB||20 GB|
|dom. Calls||500 mins||1000 mins||unlimited mins/SMS|
Default data outside of plan is $0.10 per MB.
Settings and infoEdit
- APN for AT&T: att.mvno
- Customer support: 888-993-3888
- Websites: goredpocket.com