How to get a prepaid data plan for iPhone when traveling to the USA

As I travel quite often to the USA, I've always looked for an solution how to avoid the high roaming charges of T-Mobile Germany for being online abroad. I use the T-Mobile Prepaid Plan "Pay As You Go" on a Nokia E61 for years now in the US, but I've never got Internet running with that plan. Ok, I guess it was easier then expected.

You need an iPhone that is simlock free or one that has been modified to be simlock free (there seems to be some solutions out there ;-)

All you need is a T-Mobile "Pay As You Go" Card.
You can grab one of these sim cards at an any T-Mobile Retail shop. There are many in the US:

Simply buy a "Pay As You Go" Card for $10:

This sim card can be easily refilled with Refill card that you can get at retailers like Walgreens, 7 Eleven, Target.

As soon as you have the sim card and your phone number, insert into your iPhone and register yourself online at http://my.t-mobile.com. Here you will need to change your Plan. Go to "My Account > Change Plan". Choose the "Sidekick" Plan

Now on your iPhone: Go to "General > Network > Cellular Data Network"

APN: hiptop.t-mobile.com
Leave user and password blank

You are done!

The connection speed is EDGE most of the time and quite good.
The daily rate for this unlimited data plan in the USA is $1. That means: $1 will be charged from your account every day, independently if you use it or not.

When leaving the US, you would prefer to set your plan back to "Pay As You Go". This plan does not have a daily fee. It could be also good to grab some of the refill cards and extend the account remotely before it expires. Then you can use the same card when returning.


  1. Thanks for the tip! I was really curious how to do that since I generally visit the states at least once every year and often in areas where Internet can be hard to come by (i.e. older family members).

  2. this link has various users experiences


  3. Worked like a charm in the US after having unlocked (bit not Jailbroken!) my iPhone EDGE (people, stop calling this one the 2G). Only problem: Since I'm back in Germany, with my german T-Mobile card, can't use Data anymore! :( Somehow some configs were messed up...

  4. I can confirm that this is working great on a 3GS! EDGE is fast enough for most applications, and you can save a lot of battery power since you can turn off 3G. Tethering works as well!!

    In the t-mobile shop they will tell you that the sidekick plan will only work on a sidekick and not on the iPhone. Just ignore that :) The $10 card comes with $3.34 of credit, enough to use the internet for 3 days.

    I've installed the T-mobile sidekick carrier support package from Cydia. There was nothing else to do, just insert the SIM and reboot the phone.

  5. http://www.tuaw.com/2009/08/11/t-mobile-stops-offering-prepaid-sidekick-data-service-to-iphone/

    They have rained on that parade. Nice way to keep customers T-mobile.

  6. What a shame this won't work anymore - sounded perfect!

  7. Hey
    i am in nyc right now. Does the sidekick for iPhone still work?

  8. I don't believe this -- next week I'll be travelling to NYC and some other places around the East Coast and had planned to use the T-Mobile solution with my iPhone and now they've blocked it…?!

    Aaargh…!!! That totally sucks…!!!

  9. This no longer works. However, you can walk into a T-Mobile store and get a SIM card with unlimited data, texts, evening and weekend calls, and 500 minutes, for $60 month-to-month. Just add $60 and never recharge it if you don't need it longer. And this works perfectly - I'm using it right now on my formerly-locked-to-TMobileUK G1.

  10. Nice tip to have prepaid plan when traveling abroad. It was really a great help for those who are frequently out of the country. But there is prepaid online that also offers domestic and international calling cards online. You can inquire on it online to know their promo and other saving rewards. Many people nowadays are using this system because it is very convenient and easy.

  11. I live in UK but most of my relatives lives in other countries so i wanted to know how to make cheap international calls from UK to reduce my call rates.