Travel

Buy SIM card, or use Roam Like Home?

  • Last Updated:
  • May 14th, 2019 3:18 pm
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[OP]
Newbie
May 12, 2019
1 posts

Buy SIM card, or use Roam Like Home?

Hello Savvy Travellers,

I am going to the USA for 10 days soon and would like to have cell & data service when I am there. I am wondering what the best option is?

Option 1) I have a Xiaomi Mi A2 phone, which has 2 SIM card slots. I could buy a SIM card and a cheap pay as you go plan. I remember a few years ago I did that with T-Mobile and it was $10 for the Sim Card, and $3 per day, which gave me unlimited high speed data and a local number. I’m aware that 2 SIM card slots isn’t mandatory... because if I only had 1 slot, I could just take out my Canadian SIM. Not sure what the advantage is of having 2 SIM card slots while traveling. Might even be dangerous... if not realizing I'm using my Canadian SIM. Any recommendations for the best pay as you go company / plan?

Option 2) The other option would be to just use my Telus Roam like Home feature, which is $7 per day.

Any thoughts / suggestions?

Thanks!
9 replies
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
5986 posts
2081 upvotes
Ottawa
Just to make sure we are on the same page, if you get another SIM card for your phone (AT&T, RoamMobility, etc), it means a new phone number. If you are using your "new" SIM card in your phone, you will not receive calls / texts sent to your old phone number. For me (and I'm sure there are others), that alone is reason not to use a SIM card from another provider - I need to receive calls / texts sent to my phone even when I'm travelling (technically I could forward the calls to the "new" number but I'm not sure about the SMS).

The advantage of 2 SIMs is that your phone can effectively have 2 phone numbers. The phone will receive calls and texts sent to either number. I'm not sure about your specific phone but my phone always me to prioritize when SIM is used to dial out (i.e. I could have my CND SIM and US SIM in the phone and set it so that outgoing calls will use the US SIM. That said, if I answer calls to my Canadian number, it's using the CND SIM and I'd get roaming charges (I don't think you get charged roaming fees if you don't answer the phone). Similarly, I'll receive SMS send to my Canadian number (which may incur roaming fees - some CND providers charge for incoming SMS when roaming, some don't). If I reply to the SMS, I would certainly get roaming fees. If you wanted to save roaming, you could call / text back using the US SIM (assuming it let's you call / text Canadian numbers).

One thing to keep in mind is that in many dual SIM phones, one of the SIM cards shares the slot with a microSD card so if you want to use both SIMs, you can't use your microSD (which might be an issue if you depend on that space).
Deal Addict
Nov 12, 2006
1803 posts
355 upvotes
Personally for US trips, I don't care much about voice. Therefore, I use a second sim from Always on Wireless (a sister company of Roam Mobility) for data only. It is US1.99/day for 500MB. If you're going 10 days, it will cost US19.99 and gives you 5GB on 4G. These 5GB can be used anyway you want (e.g., blown it all on the first day). I believe there may be other plans as well.
With the 2 sim set up, my voice /SMS will default to my usual sim, while my data will be default to the Always On Wireless sim. I just turn off the 2nd sim when I get back home.

If traveling to Asia, Europe etc, I get a local sim.
Last edited by doberman_baby on May 14th, 2019 11:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Deal Guru
User avatar
Jan 31, 2007
12333 posts
172 upvotes
Toronto
Tobsterboi wrote: roaming-sims-travelers-2183565/

I'd choose tmobile option $10 2gb or $25 6gb of data. Plus you can bring it back to canada and use it too if you want.
i can buy just data? I don't care for voice or text when i am in the States. Also do they charge for the SIM?

I assume best place is to visit a Tmobile store in the states?
One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Treasure
Deal Addict
Oct 23, 2017
1809 posts
1331 upvotes
GTA West
northamericas wrote: Hello Savvy Travellers,

I am going to the USA for 10 days soon and would like to have cell & data service when I am there. I am wondering what the best option is?

Option 1) I have a Xiaomi Mi A2 phone, which has 2 SIM card slots. I could buy a SIM card and a cheap pay as you go plan. I remember a few years ago I did that with T-Mobile and it was $10 for the Sim Card, and $3 per day, which gave me unlimited high speed data and a local number. I’m aware that 2 SIM card slots isn’t mandatory... because if I only had 1 slot, I could just take out my Canadian SIM. Not sure what the advantage is of having 2 SIM card slots while traveling. Might even be dangerous... if not realizing I'm using my Canadian SIM. Any recommendations for the best pay as you go company / plan?

Option 2) The other option would be to just use my Telus Roam like Home feature, which is $7 per day.

Any thoughts / suggestions?

Thanks!
I like your option 1 and wish I had a dual SIM phone.

The current Pay as You Go plan from T-Mobile is $3 per month, and you can buy data passes as you need them. You also get 30 minutes talk time with the $3. Since we cross the border often, I put $100 into T-Mobile every year and then draw it down for the monthly fees and data passes as needed. A 1 Gb pass good for up to a week is $10. A one day 500 Mb pass is $5.

I mostly use my data pass for navigation using Google Maps with Android Auto. For extended voice calls I normally use my VOIP account which I access over WIFI.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 4, 2004
5986 posts
2081 upvotes
Ottawa
Dealmaker1945 wrote: ... Since we cross the border often, I put $100 into T-Mobile every year and then draw it down for the monthly fees and data passes as needed. ...
If you're using $100US / year on data with a 2nd SIM, you should check with your Canadian cell provider to see how much they charge for NorthAmerica wide coverage. My wife is with Rogers and for $10/month she had coverage in Canada&US with no roaming fees. This is using her monthly data allocation (so using T-Mobile Pay as you go is better for that but she can can call / text anywhere in North America from anywher in North America and she doesn't have to mess with 2 SIMs.
Deal Addict
Oct 23, 2017
1809 posts
1331 upvotes
GTA West
michelb wrote: If you're using $100US / year on data with a 2nd SIM, you should check with your Canadian cell provider to see how much they charge for NorthAmerica wide coverage. My wife is with Rogers and for $10/month she had coverage in Canada&US with no roaming fees. This is using her monthly data allocation (so using T-Mobile Pay as you go is better for that but she can can call / text anywhere in North America from anywher in North America and she doesn't have to mess with 2 SIMs.
Thanks, but in Canada my wife and I are both on legacy PC Mobile (Bell) pay as you go plans since our voice usage is very low. They don't offer roaming packages on that plan.

Unfortunately, we only have single-SIM phones so changing them in and out is a bit of a pain.

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