You don't have to pay an arm and a leg to use your iPhone in America.
A trip from Britain to the United States is a relatively long haul — between eight and eleven hours to jet off to the land of the free. And with such a lengthy journey, you might think that roaming in the US would be prohibitively expensive — but you'd be wrong. In fact, some of the major UK networks now offer US roaming plans that won't break the bank — in some cases with 4G roaming thrown in for good measure.
Let's take a look at the best UK roaming plans for the United States.
The best roaming plans for the USA: Three + Vodafone
We're going with a joint winner here, because the provider that's best for you will likely depend on how you plan on using your iPhone in America.
The US is part of Three's "Feel at Home" roaming area, meaning you can use your iPhone — including data — at no extra cost when you travel there. Just enable data roaming when you land and you're good to go — with a few caveats:
- You'll be limited to HSPA+ data speeds when abroad, and there've been reports of significant data speed throttling from some customers.
- If you're on All You Can Eat (unlimited) customer, you'll be capped at 12GB (and 5,000 texts) while abroad.
- Tethering isn't included.
- Inclusive minutes can't be used for calls to other international (non-UK) numbers.
- Calls to UK numbers starting 070, 084, 087, 09 and 118 aren't included.
Vodafone includes the US in its WorldTraveller zone, meaning you can use your UK allowances for calls, texts and data there for £5 per day — including 4G LTE data where it's available on the roaming network. (Note that this applies to Vodafone contract plans, not Pay As You Go.)
Depending on when you took out your contract, WorldTraveller may or may not be automatically enabled, as the carrier explains:
All Red and Red Value Bundles bought from 5 May 2016 are automatically opted-in to WorldTraveller. For all other bundles, text ADD to 40508 or call 5555 free from your Vodafone mobile to opt in.
It's worth remembering that the £5 per day charge is measured from midnight to midnight UK time, so you may incur more (or fewer) days worth of charges depending on when you enable roaming.
EE also scores points for having 4G LTE roaming coverage in the US, but its data rates aren't as attractive as Vodafone's for heavy users. In short, you're back to paying for data bundles, per megabyte, in advance. Here are EE's US roaming bundles at the time of writing, which you'll be able to buy once you arrive in the US:
- 40MB for £4 for 24 hours
- 100MB for £7 for 24 hours
- 250MB for £20 for 7 days
- 750MB for £40 for 7 days
You can see how much roaming data you have left when abroad by going to http://add-on.ee.co.uk/status.
Also note that if you're grandfathered into EE's old roaming rates you may get slightly better prices here, with 1GB for £25 being the top bundle. (If your plan includes this, you'll see "Special Rate" next to each roaming bundle when you land.)