Downloadable U.S. SIM card for Canadian travellers

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By Heather

Travel & Tech Writer

Downloadable U.S. SIM card for Canadian travellers
The fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to get your hands on a U.S. SIM card for Canadian travellers is by downloading one directly onto your phone or tablet.

Then you’ll be able to connect to U.S. networks and give your device a steady data connection anywhere in the United States, which is perfect for Canadian snowbirds or vacationers.

What can you use a U.S. SIM card for?

When you’re a Canadian travelling to the U.S., it’s nice to have a U.S. SIM card (or virtual U.S. eSIM) because it means you can connect to a local data network within the United States, just as if you were a local citizen. This makes it much, much cheaper to use mobile data for maps, email, messaging, apps, streaming, and anything else that needs an internet connection.

Do U.S. SIM card for Canadian travellers come with phone numbers?

A physical SIM card for the United States may include a temporary U.S. phone number you can use during your time in the United States, but not all do. The cheapest solution is to use a prepaid eSIM data package for the United States, and pair that with a short-term United States phone number from the Hushed app (also made by our team).

Top three U.S. SIM card options for Canadian travellers

1. Downloadable SIMs

A eSIM is basically an invisible SIM card. You download it to your device and use it to connect to a U.S. network for instant data. Here at aloSIM, our prepaid United States data packages proudly run on the trusted AT&T network.

How much it costs: Starts at $4.50 USD for a week’s worth of data

Benefits: You can connect to local networks in the U.S. without being an American resident. No need to visit a store, either. You can download your eSIM immediately after purchase, and activate your data package whenever you want to use it. You can add as much data as you want, and use it as quickly or slowly as you’d like. You’ll never pay roaming charges or be charged for anything you don’t want.

Downsides: You might not have a phone or tablet that supports a downloadable SIM. (You can check here.)

2. Physical SIM cards

A physical SIM card must be added to your phone or tablet. This might mean taking out your „real“ SIM card (that powers your mobile plan here in Canada) and risk losing or damaging it, or you might have a dual-SIM phone that can accept a second physical SIM card.

How much it costs: Usually $15 USD and up

Benefits: You can connect to local networks in the U.S. without being an American resident

Downsides: It’s almost impossible to buy a physical SIM card for the U.S. in any United States airport, so you might have to taxi to a local shopping mall to get your hands on one.

3. Roaming on your Canadian SIM card

If your phone or tablet doesn’t support eSIM and you don’t want to mess around with physical SIM cards, you can always roam in the United States using your Canadian SIM card. This means your mobile provider here in Canada will continue to provide a data connection for a higher cost, since you’ll be in another country.

How much it costs: Often $16-$20 a day, depending on your carrier

Benefits: Not much to do. You just tell your carrier you’ll be travelling to the U.S. so they can put you on a U.S. travel plan

Downsides: It’s very expensive. You pay a flat daily rate even if you barely use your phone that day. Your data usage is often capped at lower speeds because you’re considered a ‚guest‘ and not a local. If you don’t correctly set up the plan with your carrier, you might end up paying high fees for each call, text, and MB of data used.

What if you go to the U.S. without data?

If you go to the U.S. without a data solution (like a downloadable SIM or a physical SIM card or a carrier plan), you should switch off Data Roaming for your primary SIM to avoid paying outrageous roaming charges. (Another option is to toggle off your primary SIM entirely, so you avoid the risk of having to pay for any data usage, calling, or texting.

How do I get a downloadable U.S. SIM card?

In less than five minutes, you can purchase a downloadable U.S. SIM card, install it on your phone or tablet, and use it to connect to a network in the United States to start using data.

Get started by downloading the free aloSIM app and browsing the United States data packages, which start at $4.50 USD.

Questions about buying or using a U.S. SIM card, as a Canadian traveller? We’re located here in Canada (Ottawa, specifically) and we’d love to chat with you anytime via live chat or email (support@alosim.com).