Purchase SIM Card at LAX

By Richrrrd | Apr 24, 2017, 03:18 PM
Hi there, I'll be traveling to the US tomorrow and looking to purchase a SIM card (mainly for data use)

Is there anywhere in LAX airport which sells them, or should I wait until I find a Walmart etc in Vegas (final destination)

Cheers
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By dimi | Apr 24, 2017, 04:47 PM

No, you will not be able to find US SIM cards at LAX.

You are also unlikely to find SIM cards at Walmart and other supermarkets in the US; you will have to purchase one from the carrier (AT&T or TMobile).

Check out the locations and hours of their stores in Las Vegas.

Another option is to purchase a US TMobile SIM in Sydney airport from Sim Corner, although it can be a hit and miss (last time I bought one they failed to activate it prior to my arrival to LAX and sorting it out required emailing them plus waiting for another few hours).

Last edited by dimi at Apr 24, 2017, 04.53 PM.
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Richrrrd

By MattJelonek | Apr 24, 2017, 05:02 PM
Head out to T-Mobile, there are a few around the Airport but you either need to drive out, UBER it or get your rental car.
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By markpk | Apr 24, 2017, 07:06 PM
That you're asking about buying a sim indicates you have an unlocked device - why not commit to a real global carrier like Vodafone who offer AUD 5 per day phone/data roaming in the US and lots of other countries...

There are a number of articles on AusBT outlining the benefits
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By Greg84 | Apr 24, 2017, 08:13 PM
Because $5 a day is a lot compared to some of the deals offered overseas - also means you'd be with Vodafone when you're at home...plenty of people still avoid them after the Vodafail issues...
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Edwin Taylor

By markpk | Apr 25, 2017, 10:21 AM

Because $5 a day is a lot compared to some of the deals offered overseas - also means you'd be with Vodafone when you're at home...plenty of people still avoid them after the Vodafail issues...


Yep, I was one of those who left - but I'm back and don't have issues. There recent data allowance upgrades, plus free calls/data for NZ plus the $5 make it pretty attractive. 

I guess if you're prepared to invest the time to hunt around for deals then there are better offers out there...
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By kimshep | Apr 25, 2017, 03:45 PM

No, you will not be able to find US SIM cards at LAX

Last edited by dimi at Apr 24, 2017, 04.53 PM.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Incorrect. See LAX airport website (from which the below has been taken) www (dot) lawa (dot) org

"Currency Exchange

  • ICE Currency Exchange booths are located on the departure level post-security in Terminals 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and Tom Bradley International Terminal.
  • ICE Currency Exchange booths are located on the arrivals level in Terminals 2, 5, 6, and Tom Bradley International Terminal.
  • Cash advances (up to $300 in US Dollars), on Visa and Mastercards are available at the ICE Currency Exchange Kiosks in Terminal 2, 3, 5, 7 and Tom Bradley International Terminal.
  • All ICE Currency Exchange booths sell international and domestic Sim Cards.
  • Telephone (310) 646-0553 or (310) 646-7934 for exchange rates and hours of operation
  • Hours of Operation vary according to terminal."

If memory serves me correctly from last trip <6 months ago, the kiosk in Tom Bradley can be accessed by turning left within the Arrivals area after exiting the secure area. It is just past the escalator to Departures level and near the Terminal EXIT doors.


Last edited by kimshep at Apr 25, 2017, 03.57 PM.
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By MattJelonek | Apr 25, 2017, 07:05 PM
You can buy a SIM card from T-Mobile with Data for say $20 US and have 4GB, ok maybe $30. That's certainly cheaper than $5 a day to roam from an Australian company!
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By dimi | Apr 25, 2017, 08:18 PM

  • All ICE Currency Exchange booths sell international and domestic Sim Cards.

Last edited by kimshep at Apr 25, 2017, 03.57 PM.


Awesome! Thanks for letting me know, Kimshep.

By any chance do you know how much a SIM card costs there?

According to TripAdvisor it is US$89 for a SIM.

I guess I will give them a call before going to LA next time.

Cheers!

Last edited by dimi at Apr 25, 2017, 08.19 PM.
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By kimshep | Apr 26, 2017, 12:23 PM

@dimi,

Amongst a plethora of plans, T-Mobile are currently offering the following 31 day value plans:

  • Unlimited 3G (voice, data, SMS) at USD $55.00 (includes access to Canadian and Mexican calling)
  • Unlimited 4G (voice, data, SMS) at USD $70.00 (includes access to Canadian and Mexican calling)

These are taken from T-Mobile directly, which is how I renew my T-Mobile cell number each time I visit the USA. Not sure whether ICE Currency adds a surcharge / commission to the customer for the SIM .. or whether they are paid a commission ex T-Mobile.

In the first case, it would be a minimal amount for a domestic SIM. When I bought my T-Mobile SIM (at a non-ICE vendor) in 2012 the SIM card was free and the service was activated while I paid.

HINT: I've had the same US cell number for the past 5 years. When departing the USA, simply call T-Mobile Customer service and have your 'monthly' plan changed to PAYG (Pay As You Go - which allows you to retain the same cell nbr without any monthly payments). When you return to the US (within 12 months), just call them, change the plan back to .monthly' and advise them of your credit card number for payment. Rinse and repeat.

Nowadays, I simply land at the airport (LAX or DFW), dial Customer Support, and I'm activated in under 5 mins. No need to even visit a T-Mobile store.

Last edited by kimshep at Apr 26, 2017, 12.52 PM.
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By mikimoto | Apr 26, 2017, 04:04 PM

We've used the Woolworths Global SIM card in the US and Japan on a couple of occasions over the last few years and found it quite good.  One of the benefits is that for a few dollars more you can buy a local phone number (eg an Australian no. or a US no., etc) which allows anyone calling  you from Oz (or USA) to use that no. for the cost of a local call. We did have an issue with a faulty batch of Woolworths Global SIMs last year and were forced to buy a replacement AT&T SIM in New York which was a bit annoying. But Woolworths SIM customer service was very good and they did refund us all the additional costs when we got back home. The only problem is that we weren't able to purchase the Oz phone no. allowing family in Ausrlaia to call us for the cost of a local phone call. 

Last edited by mikimoto at Apr 26, 2017, 04.07 PM.
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By jnic | Apr 26, 2017, 06:14 PM

The USA is one of THE most difficult places to get a working SIM for your phone ... believe me I got stuck using Starbucks Wi-Fi on 2 separate trips because all the info I was given prior to leaving Australia was WRONG !!! Third time lucky I did this ..... Pre-buy an AT&T SIM from an Australian seller on E-Bay (less than A$15) and go to the AT&T website to set up your pre-paid plan. I'm not going to say this process is easy but the guy I bought it from included a brilliant set of instructions that seriously made it a breeze to arrange .....   I picked a 30 day plan for about $50 with stacks of data and calls. AT&T works almost everywhere and will ..... hopefully ..... auto-connect on switch-on (if not you will have to search for the AT&T network in your phone setup). Lastly and most important ....  once you insert the AT&T SIM, DON'T TURN ON THE PHONE UNTIL YOU GET TO THE USA. btw .... Starbucks is good to sit and check your mail regardless :-)

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By andyf | Apr 27, 2017, 10:41 PM
Whenever I head to the US I get an AT&T GoPhone SIM. I typically say in LA for a night, so one of the first things I do is drive to an AT&T Store to get a SIM. The GoPhone has options of either $45 USD for 6GB or $65 USD 'unlimited' data (at 3 mbps with throttling past 22GB). Provided you're staying for a reasonable visit its is typically good value (e.g. 6 weeks with Vodafone at $5/day is $210, while its $90 USD for 2 months on AT&T 6GB plan).

I was under the impression that AT&T's 4G bands are fully compatible with most Australian phones (bands 2,4,5,17) all of which my Australian Nexus 6P supports. T-Mobile seems to use bands 2, 4, 12, and my phone does not support band 12. Similarly Verizon uses 2, 4, 13 and my phone doesn't support band 13. Without access to those bands I understand that coverage with T-Mobile and Verizon might be sub-par; hence I go with AT&T. Perhaps someone more technically minded can chime in if I've got that wrong.
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By akronflyer | May 06, 2017, 04:29 PM
I used AT&T  two years ago for a month all round the States
Buy a Sim card from a AT&T company store
Coverage was excellent
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By kimshep | May 08, 2017, 11:16 AM

Bear in mind that 3G-4G coverage depends not only on what Bands are supported by each carrier - but also the band capabilities supported by your handset (which do vary). Apple & Microsoft Windows handsets generally tend to cover almost all 'bands' and should pose little, if any, issue in connecting to the major carriers. Because of the profusion and technical variation of Android handsets, this is not always the case (ie. a cheaper handset of brand x might have a less capable chipset, compared to the flagship model of the same brand).

Broadly, most carriers in the USA support the following technologies:

 

Of the big 4, given T-Mobile's vast network expansion in the USA (doubled in the last 2 years - and with more modern technology), their network coverage and speed is now equal to or exceeds ATT. Next down the list is Verizon, followed by Sprint. An independent organisation named OpenSignal (dot com) is a great source of accurate, updated information re. network coverage / telco comparison / and technical comparison, which is use by the FCC.

The reason that ATT is complex to connect to has more to do with their stringent marketing and the manner in which they customise their handsets (lots of pre-loaded in-house and external software). Just ask anyone in the USA about updates to any given ATT-supplied handset vs. the same handset from any other supplier. 

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By crave555 | May 10, 2017, 02:08 PM
You can get an Arieli Mobile SIM card with unlimited data at 4G is now around $45. They run on the same T-Mobile network so you get all of the same coverage
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