Cell phone SIM cards for when visiting New York

Are they easily available like in the UK?

Rich the Glitch
Hi all - I will be in New York on business in a couple of weeks time staying for around a week. During this time I will need to make quite a number of "local" calls (land lines and cell phones in NY, NJ & PA). Using my German mobile for this will definately cost an arm and a leg, so can anyone tell me if it is possible to buy sim cards in the States like you can in most contries and just put it in my backup-cellphone? (It is tri-band so it should be able to cover the correct networks).

I will probably only be making/receiving calls within New York City though there is a slight chance I might be going down to Philly for a day.

If this is possible can you tell me how to get hold of one of these chips as I have never seen them advertised anywhere on previous visits (although it is possible that I just wasn't really looking for them as I have never had to make so many calls before and thus always used my usual phone and sim card).

Are there any Networks I should avoid? (High prices? Charges for incoming calls? etc..)

Suggestions/Info would be greatly appriciated!

Why you get to the US, just goto the local Wal-Mart, K-Mart or some other electronics store and by a prepaid card for whatever
network you want.. If your using a German based GSM phone the network provider in the US is going to be AT&T or T-Mobile.
Rich the Glitch
Wow! Ok - didn't realise it was that easy - I remember I once searched the internet about this topic a few years back and came to the conclusion that things were done slightly differently in the US (e.g. you bought a cell phone and the chip was somehow integrated).

Thats great, though!
Thanks for the quick reply!

That is not always the case. Some older GSM and most current CDMA and PCS phones don't have a SIM.

But most, if not all the modern GSM phones sold in the US have a SIM. AT&T (Cingular) and T-Mobile
both sell prepaid SIMs separately from the phones for around $20, which you can then top-up with
top-up cards from just about any convince store.

The only thing you need to double check is that the phone you intend to use in the US is:

1. SIM Unlocked
2. Tri or Quad Band GSM

You may need to change the phones network Band settings to "Auto" so it can find/use
the networks in the US. FYI: Cingular (AT&T) has the best coverage in the US. But checkout
the providers coverage maps of the areas your going to be in before you buy.
O2 has sim cards for the US, i think the rate is .09 min. Alot better price then for here @ .19 min
O2 does not run/own/operate a mobile phone network in the US. - Link (Neither do their parent Company, Telefonica)

However they might have a partnership with a US carrier. If they do then it's Prob. going to be Cingular or T-Mobile
as those are the 2 big GSM networks in the US.

Update: O2 has Roaming Agreements with AT&T (Cingular) Still can't find a mention of this .09 cent deal on their website.

United States:
AT&T Mobility 3G 850/1900 Live
AT&T Mobility GSM 850 Live
AT&T Mobility GSM 1900 Live
well, being from the US, when i got my O2 phone, i asked about phoning when in the US. The girl looked at prices, she told me with that with another sim, the price for calling and sms is .09.. even she was suprised by the price..
Note that in the US you will also be paying to receive calls. There is no additional charge to a caller for calling a US cell phone. Because of dual usage of area codes and exchanges (NNX) it's often impossible to know whether a call is being made to a mobile or landline. Not necessarily applicable to calls made from/to other mobiles on the same network using the same carrier.

When you get another SIM from a US provider, They become your provider. They know nothing about your contracts with O2
as you are using Their SIM. No Info about your O2 contracts is stored on your phone, nor is it sent to the US Provider. If you
swap out your O2 SIM card for a AT&T, T-Mobile or Other Provider SIM card, you will be expected to pay the prices that go
along with using that card.

In the case of AT&T, the rates for Prepaid cards are listed below. (For more detailed charges check the AT&T Website)
And remember that in the US you are charged minutes for both incoming and outgoing calls, unless the call is to/from a phone on the same network
and you have the Unlimited talk plan.

Attached image
Rich the Glitch
Thanks for all the input guys - have found someone who offers SIM cards via ebay.de for the US ... ordered one from there (its a T-Mobile chip) should be all good now! :-)
I hope you didn't pay more than $20, Total for it.
T-Mobile Network coverage in NYC should be fine, but if your going anywhere outside big cities and highways, coverage will be very spotty.
Rich the Glitch
I paid 39 EUR incl. shipping but it comes charged with $40 which is fine for me. Especially considering that if I used my german mobile I would be paying something in excess of 1.50 EUR per Minute! Its all tax deductable, anyway ;-)
A word of warning. You presumably realise you will only be reachable on the number from the new sim card? Don't, don't whatever you do come up with the idea of diverting your current sim number to the new sim number (to be reachable with the new sim card, if someone dials your current no.). You would pay for the diverted call!, i.e. a call, via mobile from Germany to the US...
Rich the Glitch
Hehe - don't worry - I am not that much of a techno-muppet! I will of course be providing anyone and everyone who might need to reach me with my temporary US-Number whilst leaving a message on my current mailbox saying that I can only be reached under +1... xxxxxxx from the time of x to y.

Thanks for taking such good care of my interests though, poppet! :-)
Any T-mobile shop will be fine. There is an activation fee, if you want to forgo all the paperwork any electronics shops sell sim cards. It's shady, but they work.
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