I like using the Internet while I visit the United States, which I do often. T-Mobile used to offer a service that worked well for people like me; I was a cheerful customer, but now they’ve told me to go away.

[Update: Several people tell me that if you got your Canadian credit card registered with your T-Mobile account before they broke the site, you can still refill it and use it. I thought I had but T-Mo seems to have forgotten mine. Maddening.]

It used to work like this: You’d visit a US T-Mobile store once, get a pay-as-you-go account, and fill it up online before you visited. The pricing was irritatingly different for tablets and phones, but reasonable either way.

But they changed their web site so I can no longer use my Canadian credit card: The form that you enter that on requires a US State and Zip code.

Sure, you can still walk into a T-Mobile store and wait your turn to get the counter and work with a low-paid employee who doesn’t usually use this part of the system to put a few bucks on your account. But this totally misses the point: One of the times I most want to be online is while I’m waiting on the plane and immigration line and rental-car shuttle, to find out what’s been happening while I was in transit. Waiting for a store visit, screw that.

There are a whole lot of people who visit the USA on business and who need to be online. On balance, I’d think we’d be pretty good, pretty profitable customers. But T-Mobile just decided to bounce us all. Color me baffled.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Grahame Grieve (Dec 19 2013, at 15:56)

You're lucky it ever worked - never worked for me (Australian).

But this is USA: In any other country in the world, there's a store waiting for me when I get off the plane where I can buy a local sim for my iPad, or by credit for my 3g card (I carry a virgin one too). I think it's the way that "corporate choice" leads to better deals for consumers.

Actually, during my last visit, neither a T-Mobile Store, an At&T store, nor an Apple store (with AT&T support) were able to get my iPad on-line at all. It works everywhere else, and it worked the time before that...

I think it's just that USA actually is trying to become a 3rd world country


From: Allen Holub (Dec 19 2013, at 15:58)

Time --- that's the way it's been in Europe for a long time. I'm in London a few times a year, and I can't renew my pay-as-you-go sim with a US credit card on any carrier, not just T-Mobile. The carriers give lip service to worldwide coverage, but none of them actually support it.


From: David Megginson (Dec 19 2013, at 16:25)

On the bright side, Rogers now charges only $7.99/day for each 50MB of US roaming data by default (i.e. without any special plan). It's not fantastic, but since my trips to the US are generally 5 days or under, it's good enough for me to keep my Rogers SIM in the phone and not go to any extra hassle.


From: Henry Mensch (Dec 19 2013, at 16:59)

You can buy refill cards from third-parties over the Internet ... places like this: http://www.callingmart.com/ (I haven't used this one but I've used sites like it). You can also get refill cards for other systems here as well.


From: Aaron Logan (Dec 19 2013, at 17:24)

Roam Mobility is almost the same thing and is on the t-mobile network.


From: Ken Walker (Dec 19 2013, at 18:14)

I do the same. I have a T Mobile sim card I bought in NYC a year ago. I have used it several times on the US trips since most recently mid November with a refresh the using my Canadian Visa card. That's over?


From: Chris Maddocks (Dec 19 2013, at 20:05)

I am a Canadian and frequent traveler to the US. For me the secret sauce is an AT&T SIM, an American Express card, and a US address for the AT&T account. The AMEX has a Canadian billing address, but with AMEX (unlike with my VISA) AT&T does not seem to care that they match.


From: kw (Dec 19 2013, at 20:55)

I am Canadian and I got burned by this too. My CC got compromised on another trip and I could not update my account via T-Mobile website. I have resorted to buying cards off of Walmart.Com using a paypal account. It works but Walmart can take up to 2 days to process so plan ahead. Another option is stopping by a Walmart store when you arrive in US and buying a card...


From: Patrick Gibson (Dec 19 2013, at 21:44)

I have a USD MasterCard with BMO, and I have the billing address just set to the shipping place I use in Blaine. The mailing address is still my Canadian address (though they don’t mail statements any more). As a result, I can use my card on US-only sites. For those sites that require a US IP address, I just setup an SSH SOCKS proxy tunnel to my VPS in the US, and boom.


From: Chris Swan (Dec 20 2013, at 01:51)

I'd second what Henry says. I've been using Calling Mart for top ups since Pinzoo stopped doing T-Mobile. They take PayPal, which gets around the international payments nonsense.

I always had problems paying directly, as large PAYG top ups are a fraud red flag (and I generally do $100 at a time).


From: G. Ken Holman (Dec 20 2013, at 09:35)

We use our T-Mobile prepaid SIM numbers on roaming in Canada because it is cheaper than getting a Canadian phone number for the amount of time we use. We don't use data.

We use third-party refill coupons that are available over the web. We don't deal with T-Mobile directly. We go to a reseller who accepts our Canadian registered credit card and they email us the refill code that we apply with no hassle.

You may find that a strategy to keep your T-Mobile account active.


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