Best plan for occasional visitors to US?


    My wife is from the US but we live in the UK.


    We visit the US every 12-18 months but as relatives get older, we are visiting more often.  Last visit we got a pre-paid T-Mobile SIM and I've just registered and discovered that it's on the "Simply Prepaid UNL Talk Text WC" plan.


    We would like to keep the number alive because having a US number when we do show up is very handy but we will not be using it most of the time (as we will be in the UK) so what would be the best plan for us?


    My gut says that the monthly plan is no good for us and that 'Pay As You Go', making the occasional text/call to keep the number alive, is what we want - am I correct or is there some way to keep a prepaid number alive without having to shell out $25 each month for a phone that we are not going to be using most of the time?


    Thanks for all suggestions.

      All replies

      • tmo_lauren

        Your gut feeling is right and Pay As You Go is probably the better answer. You can up the plan as needed whenever you travel back and aren't stuck with Pay As You Go, so my suggestion would be to convert to Pay As You Go for the times you aren't here and pay the $3 a month (and make sure you make continuous payments, a lump payment WILL expire) and then switch to a monthly prepaid plan when in the US.


        Keep in mind, the monthly prepaid plans are always subject to change, so by converting to Pay As You Go you are limited to what plans are available currently when converting to a monthly, but that's the only foreseeable downside I would predict.



        • drnewcomb2

          Unfortunately, keeping a mobile number alive costs money. My suggestion would be to get a GV number next time you're in the US and forward it to whatever prepaid you get each time you visit. People you call will see a different caller ID each time you visit but the alternative is as described by Lauren.

            • papadeltasierra

              Thanks both of you.  It's always interesting seeing how cell phones operate in the US.  FYI, in the UK you can normally keep a mobile number alive by making one fee-charged call or text per month with no additonal monthly fees.

              And thanks for the GoogleVoice suggestion - I'd not considered that at all.

                • drnewcomb2

                  In the US, the carriers have to pay fees and taxes per line, each month to various government agencies. Lines that aren't producing income become a drag on the business. I have an old grandfathered T-Mobile Pay-as-you-go SIM that I only have to top-up $10/year to keep active but T-Mobile doesn't offer this any more. It's also not useful for data. Since UK and Europe have a completely different tax and pricing structure, the carriers can afford to keep lines active with only nominal usage. I used to keep an Italian SIM alive by simply sending a TCP/IP Ping request once every 90 days. It cost about 2¢US to keep alive.