The ZIP SIM is ideal if you’re making a short trip to the USA. This sim card comes pre-setup on a tariff that includes a bundle of calls and data that is valid for 14 or 30 days. (If you are in the USA for a longer period (or if you need more data), you should consider the AT&T sim card.)
ZIP SIM is currently available on the following plans:
ZIP14 – 14 days with 1GB data – AUD $55
ZIP30 – 30 days with 2GB data – AUD $75
All ZIP SIM prepaid plans come with the following features:
- Unlimited incoming calls
- Unlimited calls to US mobile and US landline phones.
- Unlimited SMS text messages to anywhere in the world.
- Local US mobile phone number
- Fast 4G LTE high-speed data
- Voicemail included
- No personal details needed to register your service.
- International calling package may be added (see below)
How ZIP SIM works
ZIP SIM is the easiest US sim card for a non-US resident to activate and start using and is ideal for a short trip.
- When you arrive in the USA simply put the ZIP SIM in your phone
- Then, send a five-digit US ZIP code by text message to 7850
Within 5–10 minutes you will receive a text message with your US mobile phone number with a local US area code that corresponds to the US ZIP code in your activation text message. For instance – send a text message with the Pittsburgh ZIP code 15222 and you get a mobile phone number starting with the Pittsburgh area code 412.
If you forget to send a text message within 5–10 minutes of arriving in the USA and picking up a network, your sim card will be automatically activated and you will receive a mobile number with a random area code.
It’s that easy. No need to fill out any forms, show anyone your identification or even tell anyone your name.
ZIP SIM fits all unlocked phones
The ZIP SIM will fit your phone as long as your mobile phone is unlocked and compatible with the US mobile network. It doesn’t matter if your phone requires a standard (mini) sim, a micro sim or a nano sim.
All ZIP SIM sim cards come as a multi-cut sim card. Just push out the right size to fit your phone.
Coverage on the T-Mobile network
ZIP SIM gives you coverage on the T-Mobile network. The T-Mobile 3G and 4G mobile network offers good coverage in most areas of the United States including Hawaii and even Puerto Rico.
T-Mobile are in the process of upgrading their entire network to high speed data and have switched off their 2G network in many places so you will need a phone that is compatible with the 1900MHz 3G band (it is no longer sufficient that your phone works on the 1900MHz GSM band), although you will get faster data access if your phone also supports LTE band 4 and much better coverage if your phone also supports LTE band 12.
T-Mobile have aggressively expanded their coverage over the past two years. Over the past two years T-Mobile as expanded their coverage by over one million square miles and their coverage now serves an additional 100 million people. However you need a phone that is compatible with LTE band 12 (which includes the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus and the iPhone SE) to take advantage of this expanded coverage.
If you have a phone that supports all T-Mobile’s bands including both LTE band 4 and LTE band 12 you will have full access to T-Mobile’s network which covers 304 million people in the USA with an average data download speed of 21.7 Mbps.
The following coverage map shows T-Mobile’s coverage if you have an Apple iPhone 6S, 6S Plus or and iPhone SE (or another phone that supports LTE band 12):
If you don’t have one of the latest Apple iPhones then it is likely that your phone does not support LTE band 12. Without LTE band 12 you will still have nationwide coverage, although coverage in rural areas will be patchy (or non-existent) and coverage will be limited in Alaska and large parts of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.
The following coverage map will be more accurate if you don’t have one of the latest iPhones:
Please note that coverage will be limited in Alaska, even if you have one of the newest iPhones. If you are travelling to Alaska we recommend that you consider buying an AT&T sim card.
By default, ZIP SIM’s prepaid call and data packages do not include any international calls. However you can add an international long-distance add-on to your ZIP SIM mobile service or use an app to make cheap international calls.
ZIP SIM’s international long-distance add-on packages
ZIP SIM have several international long-distance add-on packages that you can use to make cheap international calls from your mobile phone when travelling in the USA.
ZIP SIM has three international long-distance call packages. The International long-distance 5 package ($5), the International long-distance 10 package ($10) and the International long-distance 20 package ($20).
The rates for the most commonly called countries are:
long distance 5
long distance 10
long distance 20
|Australia (landline)||2¢/minute||250 minutes||500 minutes||1000 minutes|
|Australia (mobile)||7¢/minute||71 minutes||142 minutes||285 minutes|
|Canada (landline and mobile)||1¢/minute||500 minutes||1000 minutes||2000 minutes|
|France (landline)||1¢/minute||500 minutes||1000 minutes||2000 minutes|
|France (mobile)||4¢/minute||125 minutes||250 minutes||500 minutes|
|Netherlands (landline)||2¢/minute||250 minutes||500 minutes||1000 minutes|
|Netherlands (mobile)||5¢/minute||100 minutes||200 minutes||400 minutes|
|New Caledonia (landline and mobile)||19¢/minute||26 minutes||52 minutes||105 minutes|
|New Zealand (landline)||2¢/minute||250 minutes||500 minutes||1000 minutes|
|New Zealand (mobile)||5¢/minute||100 minutes||200 minutes||400 minutes|
|Singapore (landline)||1¢/minute||500 minutes||1000 minutes||2000 minutes|
|Singapore (mobile)||2¢/minute||250 minutes||500 minutes||1000 minutes|
|United Kingdom (landline)||1¢/minute||500 minutes||1000 minutes||2000 minutes|
|United Kingdom (mobile)||3¢/minute||166 minutes||333 minutes||666 minutes|
Please note: the above rates are in US dollars
It is easy to add a ZIP SIM international long-distance add-on call package. Simply buy your ZIP SIM international long-distance call package online from ZIP SIM. You will then receive a code that you can text to 7850 to start your international call package.
The exclusive value of your ZIP SIM international long-distance add-on call package will expire when your ZIP SIM mobile plan expires.
Using an app to make cheap international calls
Another option is using an app such as Localphone, Rebtel, Skype or Viber to make your international calls. Because this keeps your international calling separate to your sim card you are able to continue using any international call credit for cheap international calls even after you have returned from your trip to the USA.
Apps that you can use to make cheap international calls include:
- Rebtel. Rebtel is an international calling service similar to Skype or Viber, but with the advantage that it doesn’t rely on a data connection. You set up a Rebtel account online, then install the Rebtel app on your phone and make any international calls using the Rebtel app. This is a great option for international calls from your mobile, but it does have two disadvantages: you need access to a computer or tablet with the internet to log into your account and add your US mobile to your Rebtel account after arriving in the USA and you cannot use your US mobile with Rebtel if someone who had previously had that number also had a Rebtel account.
- Skype. Skype is another option for cheap international calls. You need credit in your Skype account to call phones (as opposed to just calling other Skype users). It is slightly more expensive than Rebtel (although calls are cheaper if you have a subscription) and it requires an internet connection to make calls; but it can be set up completely from home prior to travelling to the USA so it is an easier solution. Like Rebtel, you use the Skype app on your phone to make any international calls.
- Viber. Viber also lets you make cheap international calls as long as you have credit in your Viber account. It is very similar to Skype and you use the Viber app on your phone to make international calls.
- FaceTime. If you are making calls from an iPhone to another Apple device you can also use FaceTime to make your call for free.
There are other options including other apps and calling card services where you dial an access number and then dial the international number that you need to call, but the above four options are generally the easiest. If you already have an account with Rebtel, Skype or Viber I would recommend using the app you’re already most familiar with; otherwise take a look at Rebtel, Skype and Viber and go with the one you feel most comfortable with. Facetime, Skype and Viber rely on a data connection, whereas Rebtel also uses regular phone lines so it may provide a better quality call if you are in an area with poor data coverage.
Extending your ZIP SIM mobile service
If you're travelling for longer than the validity of your mobile plan you can extend your service by going to the ZIP SIM website and paying to extend your mobile service. The costs to extend your ZIP SIM mobile service are:
3 days with 100MB data – USD $15
7 days with 500MB data – USD $25
14 days with 1GB data – USD $35
21 days with 1.5GB data – USD $45
30 days with 2GB data – USD $55
You can extend your service as long as your ZIP SIM mobile service is either currently active or if it has expired during the previous 72 hours. If your ZIP SIM service finished longer than 72 hours ago your SIM card will have expired and you will need to buy a new one.
|The best time to top up is after your current plan has expired (or after your data allowance has run out). If you top up a ZIP SIM with an active plan on it, the top up plan will overwrite the existing plan, and you will lose all remaining days and data left on that plan.|
What restrictions does this sim card have?
The ZIP SIM is perfect for most people visiting the USA on a short visit (up to one month), however there are some restrictions that may be an issue for frequent travellers or for people making a longer trip to the USA.
- You will not know your number until you arrive in the USA
- You are not able to port across a phone number from another network, nor are you able to port your ZIP SIM phone number to another network
- Your ZIP SIM service will expire if you do not top it up any later than 72 hours after your current service time expires. In other words, you will need to buy another sim card for your next trip.
- The ZIP SIM service may not be suitable if you need a lot of data (more than 2GB per month)
- The ZIP SIM service may not be suitable if you have an older phone and most of your trip will be spent in national parks and rural areas.
- The ZIP SIM service may not be suitable if you are visiting Alaska
The ZIP SIM is perfect for the average tourist who will be spending less than 30 days in the USA and who will be visiting major cities and tourist areas such as Florida or Hawaii.
If you need a lot of data then you should consider the AT&T sim card.
If you will be visiting Alaska or spending a lot of time in rural areas and national parks or if your trip also includes a visit to Canada or Mexico then the AT&T SIM card is a better option.
If you need your US mobile phone number prior to travelling (for instance if you want to print it on business cards) then an AT&T sim card is a better option.