A prepaid eSim is the cheapest and easiest way to get high-speed mobile data while visiting the USA. There are a handful of different plans tailored to visitors so I’ve compared the most popular options to help you find the best prepaid USA eSIM data plans.
Quick Note About Prepaid Data Plans In The USA
Many visitors to the US are frustrated by the high costs and lack of prepaid data plans—especially since they’re so easily available in the rest of the world. So what’s the deal? There are multiple reasons:
- Most Americans Use Multi-Year Phone Contacts: It’s common for a majority of Americans to have multi-year phone contracts so there aren’t many prepaid options.
- You Might Need a US Credit Card: Many mobile carriers require that you use a US credit card to buy month-to-month plans. You can sometimes get around this by purchasing a prepaid VISA debit card from a grocery store and then using this card to sign up for service. Again, it’s a hassle.
- US Mobile Carriers Are Slow To Adopt eSIM Plans: eSIMs make switching carriers easier—which mobile carriers don’t like. I personally had to jump through multiple hoops with tech support to transfer my plan to an eSIM for my iPhone.
In short, don’t expect to easily find a prepaid data plan quickly once you arrive in the US. That’s why I highly recommend buying a data plan before arriving in the US if you don’t want to deal with the hassle.
The Best Prepaid eSIM Data Plans For The USA
Let’s take a look at the best USA eSIM data plan options that I’ve found. Each eSIM plan I’ve listed in this guide will vary slightly so spend time looking at the specific details. But here are the main things to consider:
- Data Allowance: Most plans give you a set amount of mobile data (i.e. 5GB, 10GB, 30GB, etc) but others give you unlimited data over a set amount of time (5 days, 15 days, 30 days, etc).
- Plan Length: eSIM data plans can be valid anywhere from about 5 days to 90 days. It depends on your plan so it’s something you’ll want to consider when picking a plan.
- Mobile Hot Spot Tethering: Most eSIM plans don’t allow you to use your phone as a mobile hot spot.
- Voice Calls and SMS Texting: Most eSIM plans are data only—which means the plan doesn’t include voice calls or SMS texting. This isn’t much of an issue since you’ll probably not be calling people anyway.
- NOTE: You can still use iMessage to “text” between Apple iPhones but you can’t send messages between iPhones and Android phones. Or you can download WhatsApp to send messages over data (which is what most of the world is already doing).
Holafly Unlimited Data USA Prepaid eSIM Data Plan
Holafly is a Spain-based eSIM startup that offers multiple affordable eSIM data plans—including a USA plan. I’ve personally used Holafly and found it worked surprisingly well (read my Holafly eSIM Review to learn more).
Unlike other eSIM providers, Holafly gives you unlimited data (although they’ll throttle your data if you use excessive data) and their plans run from 5 to 90 days. Holafly also connects to the AT&T and T-Mobile networks—two of the largest mobile carriers in the US.
In short, if you don’t want to worry about monitoring your data usage while traveling then Holafly is an excellent option.
Holafly USA eSIM Plan Specs:
- Prices For Unlimited Data (Check Holafly for details)
- 5 Days: $19
- 10 Days: $34
- 15 Days: $47
- 20 Days: $54
- 30 Days: $64
- 60 Days: $84
- 90 Days: $99
- Service Speed: 4G/LTE
- Calls: None
- Texts/SMS: None
- Tethering: No
Three 30-Day Pass USA eSIM
The Three 30-Day Pass is another great eSIM plan that’s hard to beat for the price and data allowance. This data plan gives you 20GB of data for $35 and it’s valid for a month.
Three 30-Day eSIM Plan Specs:
- PRICE: $35
- DATA: 20GB
- INCLUDES TEXTS OR CALLS?: NO
- CREDIT VALID FOR: 30 Days
Smart Traveller USA eSIM
The Smart Traveller eSIM is a cheap option for short trips since this plan is only valid for 10 days. If you’re visiting for longer than 10 days, it makes sense to go with Holafly or Three 30-Day Pass.
Smart Traveller eSIM Plan Specs:
- PRICE: $18
- DATA: 6GB
- INCLUDES TEXTS OR CALLS?: NO
- CREDIT VALID FOR: 10 Days
The Major US Mobile Carriers
Here’s a list of the largest mobile carriers in the USA. You’ll see that it’s hard (sometimes impossible) to find any information about eSIM on their websites. In most cases, the only way to get an eSIM from them is to have a long-term contract and then have their customer service port the eSIM plan to your phone. T-Mobile looks to be your best bet if you want to go this route.
- Verizon Wireless: https://www.verizon.com/
- AT&T Mobility: https://www.att.com/wireless/
- T-Mobile US: https://www.t-mobile.com/
- U.S. Cellular: https://www.uscellular.com/
- TracFone Wireless (includes brands like Straight Talk, NET10 Wireless, and Total Wireless): https://www.tracfone.com/
- Metro by T-Mobile: https://www.metrobyt-mobile.com/
If you want to learn more about data plans with physical SIM cards in the US, check out my guide to the Best SIM Card Data Plans For USA Travel.
More USA Travel Tips From The Savvy Backpacker
I’ve mostly written about NYC travel so here are a few helpful articles for visiting The Big Apple (and beyond):
- The Savvy Backpacker’s Guide To New York City
- Best Hostels in New York City
- The Best Things To Do In New York City
- Best Cheap Restaurants In New York City
- How Much To Budget For Visiting New York City
- The Best Travel Shoes
- The Best Travel Backpacks and The Best Travel Backpacks for Women
- Aer Travel Pack 3 Review | My Hands-On, Travel-Tested Thoughts - September 23, 2023
- The Best Travel Backpacks | In-Depth Buyer’s Guide & Backpack Reviews - September 10, 2023
- How To Travel Solo In Europe | Your Guide To Solo Travel Planning - September 7, 2023
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Thanks For Reading! — James