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Roam Mobility US SIM Cards for Canadian Travellers – UPDATE

by Mary Chong
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Ahhh, Vacations.

We fantasize about going on vacation and being disconnected from everything in the world and just relaxing and chilling. We dream of being alone on a deserted island with not a care in the world.

But in truth, gone are the days when we can totally be off the grid.

Sh*t does happen.

Family/work/house emergencies can occur back home, OR there can be issues during your vacation like flat tires, flight delays, need to cancel reservations, a last-minute search for excursions, etc.

Having a cell phone with you and being able to leave a contact number with family/friends/house sitter just makes safety sense regardless if it is a weekend cross-border shopping trip or a 3-week road trip to the Grand Canyon.

But roaming and data plans can be expensive!

There are time limits and data limits to worry about and so you have to keep an eye on the clock because if you go over your limit you’ll be hit with extra high surcharges.

roam mobility sim card


Roam Mobility USA Travel SIM Card = Piece of Mind

As a frequent traveller to the United States and a person who needs to be “connected” for business and personal reasons, I wanted a cheaper alternative to just paying roaming fees with my home cell phone provider.

I searched online and asked some travel friends, and everyone suggested Roam Mobility. I’ve used it ever since….

The steps are simple.

  1. Purchase a SIM Card at either a retail reseller or online at the Roam Mobility website
  2. Activate your SIM Card
  3. Click on the “Top Up” column and buy your plan.
  4. Schedule the start date and time and “Add to Cart” and check out.
  5. Once you get the confirmation message you are all set. Super easy.

Once you are about to cross the US / Canada border, remove your regular Canadian SIM card from your unlocked cell phone and insert the Roam Mobility SIM card. It will connect automatically to the network once you are in the US and you will get a notification on your phone to set up your personal voice mailbox.

That’s it – set up is done.

What’s NEW?
When I started using Roam Mobility last year I was only able to get 3G speeds, but they’ve since improved their service, and plans and NOW I can talk and text to anyone in the US, Canada at 4G LTE network speeds without checking the clock.

  • NEW 3-in-1 SIM cards which fit inside any device cost $9.95 CAD
  • NEW USA Daily Plans – Text+Data starts at $1.95/day and Talk+Text+Data starts at $3.95/day
  • NEW Snowbird Plans – Talk+Text starts at $19.95/month and Talk+Text+Data starts at $39.95/month
  • NEW Data Only plans – starts at 300MB/3 days for $7.95 to 5GB/30 days for $59.95
  • NEW Mexico Weekly Plans – Talk+Text+Data starting at $25
  • NEW plan features including unlimited data, MMS, premium SMS and more
  • NEW Enhanced Coverage (Add on) – For $1/day Roam Mobility lets you tap into their partner network providers to give better rural coverage nationwide in places like West Virginia (see note below)

Note:

  • The cell phone must be unlocked, but Roam Mobility also offers cell phones for sale on their website.
  • When I first used the plan in 2014 there were limits to the coverage within the US on the basic plan as I found out with a panic when my phone went dead while driving on the I-79 through West Virginia and Virginia. So, make sure you check the coverage map online (before leaving) to make sure that Roam Mobility offers coverage to where you are going. If your area of travel is not on the coverage map (such as in West Virginia or Alaska) think about paying $1/day extra for the “Enhanced Coverage”.
  • If you plan on using an unlocked Android cell phone you need to configure the APN. Instructions are available online so, print these instructions out and bring them with you on your trip. I’ve found through use that you don’t have to do this every single time you travel with the SIM card – your phone will remember the settings.

Roam Mobility for Canadian Travellers - UPDATE

In action:

  • The website was very easy to navigate when activating the SIM and to purchase my plan, and the configuration instructions for the APN were clear and easy to follow.
  • Being a non-techie, I was a bit confused about which direction to insert the SIM. There aren’t any photos or illustrations in the starter guide. So, pay attention when you remove your old SIM and remember how the card should sit in the tray. Otherwise, all documentation was easy to follow.
  • Performance, once I had a signal, was excellent – I had no issues with speed using social media, surfing or texting and calls to Canada were clear.
  • Setting up the voicemail was fast and easy to set up and access.
  • Even though the phone didn’t work in the mountains of West Virginia and Virginia on the basic plan, I was shocked when our cruise ship was sailing past El Moro in San Juan, Puerto Rico and service instantly came on. After a few days sailing through the Caribbean, I was able to call home, tweet and Facebook some photos of the fort while still sailing on the cruise ship.

Pulling into San Juan aboard @HALcruises and I already have wi-fi thanks @RoamMobility #awesome

A photo posted by Calculated Traveller (@calculatedtraveller) on

General Tips

  • In the case of data-only plans, I would buy the smallest plan that you think you are going to need. You can always top up online along the way if you think you are about to run out.
  • If you have more than one SIM card, use the “rename” feature within your account to label each SIM card according to the intended device to avoid confusion i.e. Mary’s SIM
  • Make sure that you “Top Up” for each SIM that you will be using.
  • You will be provided with a personal US phone number for each SIM card. If you have a bad memory like I do – write it down and stick it on the back of your phone
  • Get a SIM card case and carry it with you to hold your various cards when they aren’t inside a device. They are tiny and easy to misplace.
  • Make sure you remember to bring along the SIM card tray eject pin to remove your SIM from your phone. They aren’t all the same size.
  • Be careful that you don’t lose your regular SIM card. (I had a mild panic for about 5 minutes when I thought I lost mine they are so small)
  • Make a note of the troubleshooting hotline number just in case you run into issues during your trip

Roam Mobility – Final Thoughts

I love that I don’t have to worry about my online security or searching for coffee shops that provide free Wi-Fi when I’m travelling. I also love that I can talk with my family and friends at any time when in the US or now in Mexico to check-in and not have to worry about the length of time we talk or surf or watch the clock if I’m at a Cyber café.

It’s a small price to pay for convenience, and I highly recommended it.

For another option when travelling with your cell phone check out:
Ready SIM for International Travellers to the US – Review


Roam Mobility provided me with a SIM card, and monthly plan for testing purposes. I did not receive any financial compensation and this in no way affected my review of this product. As always, my opinion is entirely my own.

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24 comments

Susan Osborn February 25, 2017 - 3:51 pm

We are currently using Roam Mobility in Arizona. Got 3 of the snowbird plans as there are 3 of us. While we haven’t had any problems with signals, connecting or any of the other issues others have had, we have an issue with the plan itself. The Snowbird plan requires that you buy 3 months worth per sim card to begin with. No choice if you just want to pay per month for it. So, for us, that was almost $500 right off the bat with their sim cards included. A stretch for those who are retired and on a fixed budget. But, we managed. Then, we proceeded to use our phones. As the end of our first month approached we had lots of data left of the 4GB per month of 4 G LTE. So, use it or lose it, we didn’t scrimp and watched youtubes, uploaded photos…then, watching our usage, we expected to be slowed down to 2G for the remainder of our month. We continued to use our data, but were surprised it didn’t seem to get any slower. Great! One of us suddenly had the idea that possibly we were still using our total of 12 GB for the entire 3 months. Sure enough. They give you the 12 GB right off the bat, so that you end up using 4GB of high speed LTE data each month, followed by 2G speed until the end of each month. We all feel this was not explained clearly on their website and feel we have been mislead by wordy description which say they give you 4GB of 4G LTE per month. Not 12 for the duration of the 3 months. We are currently emailing our complaint and asking for restitution. But, from what we’ve read, their customer service sucks, so aren’t expecting much. We won’t use them next year.

Reply
Pierre Laliberté March 8, 2016 - 3:23 pm

I got a 1 week plan for Mexico from them. Prior to buying the plan for $ 50 + taxes, I had inquire directly to the support staff to verify if I would have decent coverage where I was going (Puerto Vallarta). They guaranteed I would get voice & data coverage. Reality turned up to be very different. I had to go throught an extensive problem determination exercise by email (hotel computer). After 2 days of that, still nothing worked, so they said they opened up a ticket with T Mobile and would get back to me. That was the last I heard from them. Upon coming back, I demanded a full refund, I was turned down. Their excuse : Our policies do not allow refunds for a plan once it has started … yes … believe it or not. Bottom line : If you intend to use them and run into troubles, you will be considered like if were were an idiot and will lose your money.

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Claude gauthier July 26, 2016 - 10:03 pm

Not surprise!! Je me suis sentis de la même façon!

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bill Clarkson February 6, 2016 - 10:52 pm

I purchased the snowbird plan. Phone service worked relatively quickly after I went into settings and followed all the instructions. Data was another matter. It took several days of trial and error with data eventually working but then I found I had to “refresh my phone” by turning it off and then turning it back on but it would only work for a few hours. Each time the roam tech had me go through the same checks ( they don’t seem to keep good records of what they had me go through). They finally gave me some sort of “boost” and everything worked fine after that until my first 3 months service expired. I was told to text topup to them to renew my subscription but it did not work. I then phoned and purchased another 3 months service – ditto the problems described above. I finally convinced them to try another “boost” or whatever they do. I will await to see if that has any lasting effect. I feel the service is good if they could only smooth out these start-up problems. In the meantime you have paid for periods of time when you receive no service and for that I award them one star.

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Kenneth January 29, 2016 - 1:23 pm

So would this be a good option for truckers going back and forth all over Canada and states?

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Mary Chong January 31, 2016 - 3:07 pm

hmm… the good thing about the plan is that you can buy it by the day – so depending on the length of time you plan on spending in the US it may work for you.

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Chris Freeman January 1, 2016 - 10:46 pm

I bought a sim card, and a snowbird plan from Roam Mobility. When I got to the US, I discovered that they had old stock at the local retailer (7-11) where I purchased the sim card, and it didn’t fit in my phone. It was a 2-in-1 instead of a 3-in-1. When I called the rep couldn’t say for sure if they would send me a current sim card, but someone would contact me within 48 hours. No one contacted me so I phoned back and was informed they would ship me a card, but because it was New Year’s, it would be another 6 days till their shipping department would open and then another 8 days for shipping. My suggestions:
1) Order the sim card online so you can be guaranteed that it is a current 3-in-1 card that has a nano size for the newer phone models. Roam doesn’t seem to update the stock for their retailing agents.
2) Check that the sim card is the right size for your phone before leaving Canada.
3) Put the card in as soon as you get to the US so you will know if it is working.
4) Know as much as you can about your phone and the sim card you have, and be persistent if you need help.. For example, a rep told me there was no such thing as a 2-in-1 card, that they only sold 3-in-1 cards and would not believe me at first, requesting pictures to show that the card was indeed an out of date model. If I hadn’t phoned and talked to someone else, I have no idea whether anyone would have done anything to rectify the problem.

I will update when I get the up to date sim card and advise how the service worked.

Reply
Alouise June 18, 2015 - 4:59 pm

I’ve actually never taken a smartphone when traveling, and the last few trips I’ve regretted not being able to check Google Maps (because I get lost and confused really easily). Something like this would definitely come in handy for any trips I take to the US.

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d sahota June 17, 2015 - 11:23 pm

Great give away. Being connected is a must when travelling!

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Dave June 17, 2015 - 11:09 pm

Absolutely need to be connected while on the road.

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Lori Jackson June 10, 2015 - 2:26 pm

Absolutely! Hubby and I travel quite a bit to Florida and back!

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Charlotte/chalbe June 9, 2015 - 8:54 pm

I like to be connected at all times

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Maggie C June 9, 2015 - 8:48 pm

Thanks for the info! It is important to stay connected … I travel quite a bit and this is great info! Have not heard about this until now. =)

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maria June 9, 2015 - 2:55 am

I feel it’s a matter of safety, being able to check in and in case of emergencies.

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Sara June 6, 2015 - 6:50 am

Such useful info. Thanks

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jane canapini June 5, 2015 - 9:49 am

Finally! Someone who I know that has made sense of what to do when travelling to the States. Good job, Mary!

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iam_604 January 26, 2014 - 1:22 pm

Great tech tip! I also use Roam for my US travels. Mostly in Seattle, Las Vegas and San Francisco. Works great and I know that I’m saving tons on my roaming bills. The flexibility of buying service only for the day is a huge plus. I’m using a Google Nexus 4 smartphone, which has all the cellular frequencies and gets fast data speeds on the Roam network.

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Mary Chong January 26, 2014 - 8:20 pm

That’s the same phone that I use. I had the monthly plan but I do agree with you that being able to buy it day by day is a great feature. Thanks for stopping by.

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Jamie January 24, 2014 - 3:09 pm

This is fantastic info! Have been looking for affordable ways to get data on my phone while in the US. We’ll tweet this out!

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Mary Chong January 26, 2014 - 8:21 pm

Thanks Jamie for tweeting it out…

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Adelina @ PackMeTo January 24, 2014 - 7:59 am

I’ve used Roam a couple of times and I love the convenience of it all and it’s pretty affordable. I had issues connecting to the network for data as well even when my APN info was correct. It just takes awhile to connect which kind of sucks considering you’re paying for that time where you don’t get data. I used it in NYC and in Portland. It was great in NYC but it was a bit spotty in Portland. They say both have good service, but it wasn’t really what I experienced. Regardless, it was handy to help get around both cities!

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Mary Chong January 26, 2014 - 8:22 pm

I’m wondering if it’s due to the mountains/wooded areas that both Portland and Virginia have….hmm…

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Martin Wigginton January 22, 2014 - 9:00 pm

Great information Mary. This is a real solution for those of us who travel to the US every now and then.

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Mary Chong January 22, 2014 - 9:11 pm

Thanks Martin…I think if I had you there with me I would have known which WPA setting to use! Don’t forget they also have snow bird plans to!

Reply

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