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Sunday, December 8, 2019

MOSTSIM Prepaid U.S. Tourist Cellular Service

MOSTSIM's prepaid tourist cellular service plans may be the perfect answer for Canadian and other international travellers to the U.S. With unlimited data, is it too good to be true?

But let's back up a bit to review my experiences over the past 6 or 7 years.

Cell service in the U.S. was super expensive for this Canuck. If you weren't careful you could easily ring up a roaming bill in the hundreds of dollars - or even higher.

Some years ago a company called Roam came up with a great $5 a day plan. Initially, I loved it, and recommended it. Rogers, one of the big Canadian provider's, matched their $5 daily rate.

Using Roam was so simple - you got a SIM that you could reload and you could even keep the same phone number over multiple trips.

But boy did they fall off a cliff. There are so many stories out there every day about people who can't get their service activated in the US and in fact never get it activated at all during their trip.

I was one of those people.

The Rogers Roam Like Home plan was pretty good at $5 a day. For five bucks, you got to use the plan you had in Canada, but in the U.S. It was easy to turn on, and the cost just showed up on your regular monthly bill. There was no reason to look at a third-party provider any longer.

But then Roam Like Home went up to $6 a day.

Then it was $7 a day. And I was paying 13% tax on top.

So what's a traveling type person to do?

With these international plans, there is always the '$10,000 cell phone bill in the news' worry. You do something wrong, or some kid gets ahold of your phone and spends 28 hours streaming Korean K-Pop videos, going over your prepaid limit and using swaths of expensive by-the-megabyte cellular data, and you're in the poorhouse.

You also have to factor in that some hotels charge exorbitant fees for internet service, if it isn't already rolled into a resort fee, or if you aren't paying a resort fee - if your room is comped, for example.

I hunted around to see if there was a better option.

After much research - there are so many different plans and companies out there - I was just about to pull the trigger on a T-Mobile tourist plan, now marketed through Ultra Mobile.

It looked good. Reasonable prices. International calling (limited to 100 minutes) and international texting. And super important for me, LTE data speeds.

And then I noticed something - you get 2GB of LTE data, and then you're throttled down to 3G. And if you use tons of data, they can choke you down as low as 64kbps. If you want to top up your LTE data... you can't.

Not only that, it looked like I'd have to get to a T-Mobile location in the U.S. to buy the plan.

I kept looking and came across MOSTSIM, which also resells T-Mobile service.

You can buy a MOSTSIM sim and service plan on Amazon. You're sent a SIM card and instructions on how to pre-register the SIM card for your trip. This is done on the MOSTSIM activation website.

Just before your trip starts, MOSTSIM sends an email with your temporary U.S. phone number and some instructions. Seems reasonable.

This card doesn't include international texting, which is a bit of a drag, but here's the best part - along with unlimited U.S. calls and texts, it gives you unlimited 4G/LTE data.

And, the SIM card can be re-used up to 45 days after your trip by purchasing a new plan. And, you can add days onto your plan during your trip if you contact MOSTSIM 48 hours ahead - helpful when there are severe flight disruptions or changes in your travel plans.

And, unlike some SIM cards, this one supports tethering, albeit at a reduced speed. But this should easily be enough to provide internet connectivity in cases where WIFI is unavailable or expensive.

I went for it and ordered a 12-day plan for $44.99 CAD. This works out to $3.75 a day, which is half of what Rogers' Roam Like Home plan would be. It would be totally worth it if it works well, and if it could save me a single resort fee or WIFI charge, it would be fantastic.

In my case, I was staying at Wynn for part of the trip. There's no resort fee on my reservation (thank you Wynn Slots app!!!) but I also don't get any WIFI. Want WIFI? That'll be $20 a day PER DEVICE. No thanks. Hopefully my MOSTSIM service would provide all the internet service I'd need by tethering my devices to my smartphone.

The SIM arrived very quickly from Amazon, nicely packaged along with a sturdy SIM removal tool.

The MOSTSIM prepaid SIM card comes with a very chic SIM removal tool. Much more fashionable then the bent up paperclip I usually use.

The SIM card is one of those three-sizes-in-one cards, where you just break out the size you need. I put it in my phone to make sure it was compatible (turning off cell service first - you don't want to connect in Canada with the MOSTSIM SIM in because... I'm told that it would be bad.)

The card was recognized as a valid SIM and I was ready to rock.

Then I did the registration process on their website, which was easy and quick. I entered my phone's details (IMEI and so on), a secret password emblazoned on the SIM card, and the date I wanted service to start.

The morning of my trip, I got an email from MOSTSIM telling me what my U.S. phone number was, and giving detailed instructions on how to get the thing up and running when I got to Las Vegas.

So how did the MOSTSIM service actually work? And how about activating it on the T-Mobile network?

Before landing, I used the SIM removal tool to open the teeny weeny SIM drawer in my phone. I carefully stowed my Rogers SIM and replaced it with the MOSTSIM SIM.

When El Capitan said it was OK, I took my phone off of Airplane mode and before I knew it I was getting a flood of emails selling me stuff, inane Facebook Messenger communique's featuring pictures of my sister Divana's cat, and a number of Twitter notifications giving me the warm feeling of being liked by strangers that I crave so much.

The MOSTSIM service was working, and I didn't have to do a thing except stick the SIM card in.

Throughout the trip, my cell service was excellent. I was able to tether my laptop through my phone when needed. The only time I had any issue was in my room at Wynn - the signal was extremely weak up there. This is not MOSTSIM's fault in any way, nor is it T-Mobile's. Wynn rooms are notorious for having crappy cellular reception.

I loved being able to leave my photo upload on all the time, to watch videos as I wished, and to tether my laptop, all without any worry that I would incur some exorbitant charge.

The only downside was that anyone calling my Rogers cell phone number wouldn't be able to reach me. But the people I care about know where to find me by email, text, or cat meme.

Would I use MOSTSIM again?

I checked with MOSTSIM to see if I could re-use my SIM card for the next trip, but 45 days have long passed. It has to be said that the customer service I received from MOSTSIM has been stellar. I got an answer to this emailed question in just 9 minutes.

I've already purchased a new MOSTSIM SIM card and plan for my next trip. I'll update this post with details on how round 2 goes, but for now, MOSTSIM is Flushiepants approved.

When will this trip report be out? It's a state secret.

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