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This post covers some of the best SIM cards and phone plans available to tourists in New York City and the U.S. who bring their own unlocked phones.

We include prices, what you get with the plan and where you can purchase these cards.

If you are traveling to NYC, you may find these other posts helpful.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small commission of sales through the links below at no extra cost to you.



This card has unlimited talk, text, and data bundles available in 3 increments, 7-day, 14-day and 30 days.

You can purchase it online, at a T-Mobile store, and from retailers like grocery stores, convenience stores.

Features of all plans

  • unlimited data, calls, and SMS/text messages within the United States only
  • Nano size only
  • data is 4G LTE on T-Mobile’s network
  • your phone must be GSM compatible
  • SIM card works with cell phones only, no other devices can be used
  • no ability to use mobile WiFi hotspots
  • Activation may take up to 24 hours
  • must be activated within 90 days of purchase


Note that the 14-day card and 30-day card have the same price when purchased online, as of August 2023.


This SIM card offers 30-day plans available with different levels of GB (gigabytes). The more GBs, the higher the price. 

Plus you get unlimited talk & text and other features

They also offer SIM cards for 3 months, 6 months and 12 months.

Although Ultra Mobile is not one of the major wireless carriers in the U.S. it is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and uses T-Mobile’s network so you will get great coverage

Before purchasing, make sure you check that your phone is supported by this SIM card.

Features of all plans

  • Valid for 30 days
  • Free Unlimited Nationwide Talk & Text
  • Free Unlimited Talk & Text to 80+ International Destinations
  • Free Wi-Fi Calling
  • 3-in-1 SIM sizes (nano, micro, and standard size)
  • No Activation Fee
Photo from Ultra Mobile website


$15 Plan & Sim Kit     

  • Limited to 250MB of 5G - 4G LTE Data

$ 19 Plan & Sim Kit

  • 2GB of 5G - 4G LTE Data
  • Free Mobile Hotspot
  • Monthly $1.50 International Call Credit
  • One-Time $5 INTL Roaming Credit

$ 29 Plan & Sim Kit

  • 6GB of 5G - 4G LTE Data
  • Free Mobile Hotspot
  • Monthly $1.50 International Call Credit
  • One-Time $5 INTL Roaming Credit

$ 39 Plan & Sim Kit

  • 15 GB of 5G - 4G LTE Data
  • Free Mobile Hotspot
  • Monthly $1.50 International Call Credit
  • One-Time $5 INTL Roaming Credit

Purchase any plan here


Lycamobile's SIM card options are a lot like Ultra Mobile. It offers 30-day plans available with different levels of GB (gigabytes)—the more GBs, the higher the price.

Plus you get unlimited talk, unlimited texts and other features. It operates on the T-Mobile network.

Before purchasing, make sure you check that your phone is supported by this SIM card.

Photo from Lycamobile website.

Features of all plans

  • Good for 30 days
  • Unlimited National Calls and SMS/Texts
  • Unlimited International Talk & Text to 85+ Countries
  • Data at up to 5G speeds
  • 3-in-1 SIM sizes (nano, micro, and standard size)


  • $15 Plan - 250 MB
  • $23 Plan - 3 GB + $1.50 Calling Credit
  • $29 Plan - 6 GB +  $5 Calling Credit

Find a Lyca Mobile Store near you. You can also purchase online at Amazon.

Cricket Wireless Simply Data

If you do not expect to make any phone calls on your trip, then one of Cricket Wireless’s data-only plans might be right for you. 

You’ll get lots of high-speed data and be able to use apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Skype to communicate with family or friends. 

Cricket Wireless uses the AT&T network so you can expect broad coverage in the United States.

You’ll need an unlocked and compatible device. Be sure to check your device compatibility before purchasing. 

You can do this on their website. You will need your phone's IMEI number. You can find the number in your device settings.

Both plans include high-speed data, nationwide 5G access and usage in Mexico and Canada. 


  • $35 - 20 GB 
  • $55 - 50 GB

Purchase this data-only SIM card plan from Cricket Wireless.


Mint Mobile has a SIM card valid for 3 months (90 days) with different levels of GB (gigabytes). The more GBs, the higher the price. 

Plus you get unlimited talk & text and other features.

If you are staying in the US for 3 months, the 15 GB card is a great deal at just $20 per month.

Even if you are not staying in the US for that long, you may find these prices good for you given what the plan has to offer.


  • 3 months of unlimited talk & text
  • 5G-4G LTE data in the amount of your choice
  • Free mobile hotspot
  • Wi-Fi calling
  • Free calls to Mexico and Canada 
  • 3-in-1 SIM card (standard/micro/nano sizes)
  • 7-day money-back guarantee



Where can I buy SIM cards in NYC and the US?

Official retail stores of most carriers are found all over big cities. You can also purchase many SIM cards online from Amazon or the carrier’s website.

You can find many SIM cards in popular chain shops such as Target, CVS, Walgreens, 7-Eleven, and Best Buy, as well as supermarkets, electronic stores and small grocery shops.

Can I buy a SIM card in airports?

Unlike many other countries, especially those in Europe, it is uncommon for airports to have SIM card shops or resellers for various mobile carriers.

In NYC, the two international airports (Newark and JFK), there are places to purchase SIM cards but we do not recommend this as prices will be much higher.

Can tourists get a SIM card in the USA?

Yes. When you purchase a SIM card at a shop, you may be asked to show your passport and complete a straightforward registration process.

The shop will make a copy of your passport, and your name and passport number will be linked to your new SIM card.

Does a prepaid SIM come with a phone number?

Generally yes. Sim cards have new phone numbers. Some plans may allow you to port your own phone number, but if you aren't traveling for a long time, it may be simpler to keep the number that comes with the SIM card.

What about companies like Sprint, Verizon and AT&T?

Both AT&T and Verizon are major wireless carriers in the US but do not offer easy-to-purchase pre-paid SIM cards with plans for tourists.

You must purchase a SIM card, then choose a plan from their websites or stores, making these companies ill-suited for travelers.

Sprint no longer exists as it was merged with T-Mobile.

What countries are typically covered in international plans?

Before purchasing a card, check each plan to know for certain what countries are included.

This is not a full list but you will likely find the following countries covered: Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and many more. Some cards will include Africa and Australia. 


About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo,, and more.
Updated: August 12th, 2023
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