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Best UK roaming data plans for the United States

A trip from Britain to the United States is a relatively long haul — between eight and eleven hours to jet off to the land of the free. And with such a lengthy journey, you might think that roaming in the US would be prohibitively expensive — but you'd be wrong. In fact, some of the major UK networks now offer US roaming plans that won't break the bank — in some cases with 4G roaming thrown in for good measure.

Let's take a look at the best UK roaming plans for the United States.

The best roaming plans for the USA: Three + Vodafone

We're going with a joint winner here, because the provider that's best for you will likely depend on how you plan on using your phone in America.

Three

The US is part of Three's "Feel at Home" (opens in new tab) roaming area, meaning you can use your phone — including data — at no extra cost when you travel there. Just enable data roaming when you land and you're good to go — with a few caveats:

  • You'll be limited to HSPA+ data speeds when abroad, and there've been reports of significant data speed throttling from some customers.
  • If you're on All You Can Eat (unlimited) customer, you'll be capped at 12GB (and 5,000 texts) while abroad.
  • Tethering isn't included.
  • Inclusive minutes can't be used for calls to other international (non-UK) numbers.
  • Calls to UK numbers starting 070, 084, 087, 09 and 118 aren't included.

Vodafone

Vodafone includes the US in its WorldTraveller (opens in new tab) zone, meaning you can use your UK allowances for calls, texts and data there for £5 per day — including 4G LTE data where it's available on the roaming network. (Note that this applies to Vodafone contract plans, not Pay As You Go.)

Depending on when you took out your contract, WorldTraveller may or may not be automatically enabled, as the carrier explains:

All Red and Red Value Bundles bought from 5 May 2016 are automatically opted-in to WorldTraveller. For all other bundles, text ADD to 40508 or call 5555 free from your Vodafone mobile to opt in.

It's worth remembering that the £5 per day charge is measured from midnight to midnight UK time, so you may incur more (or fewer) days worth of charges depending on when you enable roaming.

Runner-up: EE

EE also scores points for having 4G LTE roaming coverage in the US, but its data rates aren't as attractive as Vodafone's for heavy users. In short, you're back to paying for data bundles, per megabyte, in advance. Here are EE's US roaming bundles{.nofollow} at the time of writing, which you'll be able to buy once you arrive in the US:

  • 40MB for £4 for 24 hours
  • 100MB for £7 for 24 hours
  • 250MB for £20 for 7 days
  • 750MB for £40 for 7 days

You can see how much roaming data you have left when abroad by going to http://add-on.ee.co.uk/status{.nofollow}.

Also note that if you're grandfathered into EE's old roaming rates you may get slightly better prices here, with 1GB for £25 being the top bundle. (If your plan includes this, you'll see "Special Rate" next to each roaming bundle when you land.)

The rest

  • O2 (opens in new tab) offers roaming data in the United States at its standard rate of £40 per month for 50MB. This can be increased on request to £120 for 200MB. Neither is great value.
  • BT Mobile offers roaming data add-ons for the US priced at £3 for 20MB or £15 for 100MB.
Alex Dobie
Alex Dobie

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

7 Comments
  • Very helpful for those about to travel.
    Big variations in allowances. The title could be viewed both ways.
    I thought it was for US travellers roaming the UK (but I'm not the full shilling).
  • And Vodafone allow tethering on their World Traveller option (unlike 3)
  • Normally I would agree with three and their feel at home. However on a trip to Orlando last year my family(10 of us with mobiles) all got three pay go sims for the trip. The problems started for one if our party before leaving UK where he couldn't get data. After a long call to customer service it was sorted. On arrival all seemed OK but as the trip went on we all started to have problems. It seemed to coincide with a switch from at&t to tmobile and data services were lost. We were given advice by three how to resolve but the issue kept happening. And not just to one of us. All of us experienced the same issue on the trip. Some on iPhone others on different android devices. Thankfully calls seemed to work so we could stay in touch and free WiFi (Disney parks) sorted us out with data problems. To be fair to three they refunded every member of the party on our return but I'd be wary of using them again (in Orlando anyway) I've used three roaming on feel at home in Europe with no issues so we may just have been unlucky but all of our party experienced the same issue at various times on our trip. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Good luck. I hope that your UK phone can use the same cellphone frequency bands as are available in the US. I found last month that I could only get 4G in one place, and at best 3G elsewhere. My intent of using Google maps while driving was doomed. Thank goodness for OSMand+ with pre downloaded maps. There is minimal 4G overlap between US and Europe specifications.
  • Another vote against Three here. I went for them specifically for Feels Like Home but the speeds have been atrocious - not just in the USA but on any roaming network. I've also found battery life on my usually excellent Galaxy S7 to massively reduce when warming (you can feel the phone getting warmer). Speeds are 2G/3G, certainly not HSDPA or above. Very disappointing but Three have come up with no solution.
  • Wouldn't it just be easier and cheaper to buy a pay as you go sim when you get there? Posted via the Android Central App
  • We did that the first year we went and ended getting spammed like crazy with calls and texts. Posted via the Android Central App