Can hosted participants usually get a phone subscription in their name and be billed directly, or does the host family need to get the subscription for them under their name? Only people age 18 years or older can sign up for cell phone plans. Cell phone plans are usually 2-year contracts, with bills paid monthly. Cancelling a contract is very expensive. Host Families are discouraged from adding AFS students to their “family plan” as issues with costly/excessive monthly bills could become a problem.
Can hosted participants use their own international mobile phones with American SIM cards or do they usually need to get a new phone? Many US phones are originally sold with a “lock” on its software, which means it can only be used with a certain carrier (I.e. Verizon, AT&T etc.). If a phone is “locked”, it won’t work with a new SIM card from another country installed. European phones are generally “unlocked”, so it is possible to change the SIM card. The best SIM card to get is “Prepaid, No Contract”. This is when there is a set time limit, no contract and no monthly bill. Here’s a useful website to check if a hosted participant’s mobile phone will work in the USA.
Is it possible for hosted participants to get pre-paid phones? YES. If your hosted participant cannot change their SIM card, they should consider buying an affordable pre-paid, no contract phone. AFS Participants can buy prepaid cell phones at Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart etc. (as well as other stores). They can also buy refill cards for pre-paid phones.
What phone service providers are most commonly used by hosted participants? AT&T, BOOST Mobile, Cricket Wireless, Simple Mobile, TracFone, Consumer Cellular, T-Mobile, and Total Wireless are all commonly available, popular brands for affordable pre-paid phones.
What recommendations do you have for hosted participants when considering the phone service provider? When purchasing a pre-paid SIM card or cell phone, consider how much data you usually use and compare the costs of different brands and options. Also, do research into different options and consider how long students will be on program.