3 roaming USA

Some feedback of our experience using 3 PAYG for a trip to the US. We paid for a SIM bundle in advance, 30GB data, unlimited calls and texts, used a couple of times before we left in an unlocked phone. Actually 3 only give 40% of the data "Fair use" for roaming. Unlimited calls and texts were only to UK numbers whether they were in the UK or elsewhere. Calls received from US numbers or to US numbers were charged and required an additional credit balance on the account. When we arrived, we tested the phone to call a UK number and found nothing worked regardless of switching on international roaming and selecting different networks, we could not even phone the customer service numbers and had to rely on chat through the App during UK working hours. Return calls from customer service took no account of the time difference and were missed at night. Eventually it was sorted but this is how we discovered the rules. As it happened, we generally used WiFi everywhere and had Google Maps pre-downloaded for use offline which worked well. I would say it would still be better to buy a local sim than use 3 otherwise the calls to local numbers are going to cost. 


  • BUFF
    BUFF Posts: 2,185 Forumite
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    afaik the cheapest T-mobile prepaid (assuming that you don't have an US bank account) sim only is $40. Even Walmart's own (which will work with GSM) is $25  .
  • eDicky
    eDicky Posts: 6,559 Forumite
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    edited 13 August 2022 at 5:40PM
    JonB_3 said:
    When we arrived, we tested the phone to call a UK number and found nothing worked regardless of switching on international roaming and selecting different networks,
    Did you replace the initial zero of the UK numbers you were calling with +44..? Is that how it was 'eventually sorted'..? If not, how..?

    Evolution, not revolution
  • getmore4less
    getmore4less Posts: 46,882 Forumite
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    I had the problem of calls not working sorted by chat

    Need to connect to T-Mobile mine had connected to AT&T.

    We went for the £10 option with 12GB in 2 phones.

    Lots of WiFi access but using it for traffic(maps downloaded) and when no WiFi.
    Whatsapp to communicate with the people in the US

    Hit about 2GB over 2 weeks

    There is  £3 1GB 1month which could work for many trips where you have a lot of WiFi access and can limit data use.

    There are apps that give you a US number and allow free calls using WiFi(some will also work on data)
    Not tried any.
  • merchcon55
    merchcon55 Posts: 302 Forumite
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    edited 14 August 2022 at 8:00PM
    Interesting I tend to find the opposite in NYC - AT&T works great, while T-Mobile can be hit and miss. This is for a 3 Data Sim - no idea if it makes a difference which USA network works better . Just giving the info
  • jimjames
    jimjames Posts: 17,578 Forumite
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    We used 3 Sim in USA back in 2020, all worked fine. Not sure what would have changed but it might also depend on the state you are in.
    Remember the saying: if it looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.
  • getmore4less
    getmore4less Posts: 46,882 Forumite
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    I set back to automatic and it's connected to AT&T works for data but not calls.
  • eDicky - yes the numbers were dialed correctly, it was sorted by 3 through Chat, don't know how.
    getmore4less - calls did not work initially with AT&T or T-mobile, data did work - changing to T-mobile was a suggestion through chat that did not work.
    Yes there is wifi in hotels, restaurants etc, google maps was downloaded in advance, we used WhatsApp for family or Messenger, our concern was making calls to US numbers if needed such as hotels, car hire - required a credit on the account and if you are only using the SIM for a trip, how much should you put on; imagine breaking down and limited internet preventing you from crediting the account to make a call for help.
  • km1500
    km1500 Posts: 2,293 Forumite
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    since you appear to bectreated is if youbare in the uk (ie uk numbers free, usa numbers charged for), would this ptegix methor work to call us numbers when there ?

  • 400ixl
    400ixl Posts: 2,771 Forumite
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    Never had any issues making calls in the US with either our Three or EE sims over multiple years including this year.

    There was an issue with your configuration for some reason which was unfortunate, but it is not a broad brush issue and it is still the easier option than getting a local sim for most people.

    Am a member of a US travel forum and the vast majority of people have no issues using Three roam anywhere sims (contract or PayG).

    Sorry to hear you had issues, but it is not the norm and people shouldn't be put off.
  • simax
    simax Posts: 1,957 Forumite
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    I can explain the issues you’ve had.

    AT&T in the USA switched off their 2G/3G networks recently and only operate 4G and 5G now. In order to use AT&T your device needs to support 4G Calling (VoLTE) *AND* your home network needs to support “VoLTE when roaming”. The UK networks only recently noticed this issue and Vodafone and EE have switched the feature on for the USA.

    The other alternative is to connect to T-Mobile manually but their coverage and data availability is naff to say the least. 

    I’m not sure if Three/O2 have since enabled “VoLTE when roaming” but if not you’ll need to connect to T-Mobile to use calls.
    I spent 25 years in the mobile industry, from 1994 to 2019. Worked for indies as well as the big networks, in their stores also in contact centres. I also hold a degree in telecoms engineering so I like to think I know what I’m talking about 😂
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