Mobile Phones in the US

How will I know if my phone will work in the US?

  • There are two main wireless technologies for mobile phones in the US: CDMA and GSM. Most of the world uses GSM technology on their phone, so you’ll have a higher chance of it working in the US. There’s a great website Will My Phone Work that lets you plug-in the phone you have and carrier to see if it is compatible.
  • Even if your phone is compatible, you may need to have your phone unlocked. This means you are able to go from one carrier to another. If you are not sure if your phone is unlocked, you will first need to check with your current phone service provider or retailer.

How do I know which carrier to choose?

  • If you’re bringing your own phone, make sure to confirm which carrier(s) your phone will work with.
  • Check to see which carrier has coverage in your area. If you’re in rural North Dakota and choose a company that has no service there, you’re just throwing away money.
  • Select which carrier has a plan that best fits your budget and data need.

How do I set up my phone from home?

  • If you are purchasing a plan from one of the major US carriers, your best option will be to search for one of their retail locations. They may have a dedicated store, or there may be an electronics store that also sells their products.
    • Try searching “CARRIER NAME stores near me”, where ‘CARRIER NAME’ is the name of the cell phone provider you want to use OR
    • Search for “CARRIER NAME authorized retailer near me”

How do I get a new phone and SIM card in the US?

  • If you are going to purchase a phone and mobile phone plan while you are here, there are a couple of options:
    • Purchase a new phone from a major carrier or retailer (more expensive)
      • Usually the SIM card and plan will be purchased with the phone
    • Purchase a used phone (less expensive)
      • Usually the SIM card and plan are NOT included with the phone.
  • When purchasing a used phone, make sure to confirm it will work on the network you want before purchasing it.