Are you planning a trip to Los Angeles and wondering if you can buy a sim card for traveling in the USA on arrival at Los Angeles International Airport? The answer is yes! But does Traveltomtom advice to do so… keep reading!
This is a complete guide for buying a prepaid sim card at Los Angeles Airport including up to date prices as per January 2024, my recommendation, where to buy a sim card, more about the best e-sim cards for the USA and everything else you need to know before buying a sim card at Los Angeles Airport LAX.
Traveling with a working data connection on your phone is so much more convenient. Therefore looking for the best ways to stay connected when traveling abroad is a vital part of my travel planning. To save money on high roaming costs you can order a sim card for the USA on the internet and arrive prepared or buy a prepaid sim card at Los Angeles Airport on arrival.
E-sim cards are super convenient and in fact the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to Los Angeles.
Heads up: you can NOT buy an e-sim card at Los Angeles Airport, only physical prepaid sim cards for tourists are available.
Traveltomtom is on a journey to travel to every country in the world and everywhere I go I write sim card guides for other travelers to find the best ways to stay connected. That is why on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world: Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Europe, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Asia, Hong Kong, Australia and many more.
Traveltomtom also wrote an extensive guide for the best prepaid USA sim card for tourists in 2024, including 4G/5G coverage maps and everything else you need to know.
Are you just here for e-sim cards then check out my USA e-sim card guide with a comparison of the best e-sim card for traveling to the United States in 2024.
If you are traveling to multiple countries in on your trip to LA then you might want to look into buying an international sim card.
Traveltomtom is the most complete sim card blog on the internet. Next time you are planning your trip abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination. Bookmark me!
Traveltomtom does NOT recommends buying a sim card at Los Angeles Airport LAX. The cheapest sim card for tourists start from $82 USD. This is the most expensive tourist sim card I have seen anywhere in the world.
So what next? Well, there are lots of ways to get data on your phone when traveling to Los Angeles that are much cheaper than buying a sim card at Los Angeles Airport.
For example, going to a sim card store in the city center from Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile to buy a tourist prepaid sim card will already be much cheaper. For more info buying a prepaid sim card in the USA click on the link to read my complete guide.
But you can also order a sim card for Los Angeles on the internet. There are international prepaid sim cards in the form of physical sim cards and e-sim cards, but you can also easily order an e-sim card for the USA online and get 10 GB data for just $18 USD.
USA e-sim cards already start from just $4.5 USD for 1 GB data for 7 days. Staying connected in the USA does not need to be super expensive.
Be aware that the local prepaid sim cards you buy in Los Angeles, as well as e-sim cards and international sim cards only work in unlocked phones. If your phone is locked make sure to unlock your phone before your trip to Los Angeles. Contact your mobile internet provider in your home country if you are not sure about this.
Best e-sim cards for USA
Local prepaid sim cards are not the only way to stay connected when traveling to the the USA. The easiest way to get data on your phone when traveling to Los Angeles in 2024 is by ordering an e-sim card for the USA on the internet.
No need to visit a sim card store anymore on arrival and no need to buy a sim card at Los Angeles Airport LAX. As soon as the plane lands you are online. The e-sim card for USA you buy on the internet needs to be installed on your phone in a couple simple steps. Then once installed the e-sim instantly connects to an available network as soon as the plane touches the ground.
You can order an e-sim card for Los Angeles directly on the internet, you process the payment, receive a QR code, scan it, follow the instructions and instal the e-sim card in a couple simple steps. You are all set in less than 2 minutes.
Airalo is a recommended e-sim card provider that Traveltomtom has used multiple times. Check out the following Airalo e-sim card plans for the USA:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $8 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $11 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $16 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $26 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $42 USD
Click here to order a USA e-sim cards directly via Airalo or find more info about it.
The Change e-sim cards from Airalo are only valid in the USA (and Puerto Rico) and they operate on the 4G/LTE/5G network of Verizon and T-Mobile. Big advantage of the Airalo e-sim cards is that the Airalo e-sim cards for the USA are 5G ready.
SimOptions is another e-sim card provider. They offer international e-sim cards for the USA that are valid in multiple countries:
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $24.9 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $34.9 USD
And they also have USA-only e-sim cards:
- 1 GB data for 30 days = $4.9 USD
- 6 GB data for 10 days = $17.9 USD
- 10 GB data for 15 days = $19.9 USD
Click here to order an international e-sim card for the USA via SimOptions.
Another recommendation for e-sim cards in the USA is Nomad.
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $7 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $9 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $14 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $20 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $32 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for USA from Nomad.
Nomad offers the best value e-sim cards for the USA with 20 GB data for $32 USD which is only $1.6 USD per Gigabyte.
For a complete guide about using e-sim cards when traveling to the USA and a comparison of the best e-sim cards for USA in 2024 click on the link and read all my tips.
Before ordering an e-sim card for the USA make sure your phone is first of all unlocked. E-sim cards only work in unlocked phones. Second, make sure your phone is e-sim compatible. Pretty much all newer smartphones are e-sim card compatible.
Arrival at Los Angeles International Airport LAX
Los Angeles is of course one of the most famous cities in the whole world. However, personally it is not a favorite and it won’t appear on my top 100 best cities in the world list.
LAX is undoubtedly one of the busiest airports in the world and a big hub for planes arriving from South and Central America and Asia. Also some planes from Europe and beyond have direct flights to Los Angeles. I flew lately from Istanbul to LAX with Turkish Airlines, a direct flight of 14 hours.
Although Los Angeles LAX Airport is huge and has more than 7 terminals it is pretty easy navigable for international passengers. All international flights arrive in the International Terminal B. Upon arrival I was pretty surprised how easy going it was.
Los Angeles International Airport LAX is nothing fancy, in fact it seems pretty old and so are the arrival terminals and arrival hall. After you disembark the plane it is a short walk to Immigration, which was done fast and arrived around midday.
After passport control you will get to the luggage belts. There were about 12 luggage belts in the international arrival terminal and it was pretty busy, but also this went fast.
When you pick up your luggage then simply follow the walkways and after the sliding door you arrive in the small arrival hall.
In the arrival hall of the international arrivals terminal B there is not much apart from a Coffee Bean, a travel/convenient store, a tourist information desk and a currency exchange.
Where to buy a sim card at Los Angeles Airport
So where to buy a sim card at Los Angeles Airport when there is no sim card shop in the arrival hall? Well, luckily the Currency Exchange at Los Angeles Airport also sells prepaid sim cards for tourists.
You can’t miss the Currency Exchange as it is right in front of you when you walk into the arrival hall. It is next to the Ground Transportation Exit and the Tourist Information Desk.
The Currency Exchange is open from 06.15 AM to 9.45 PM and the ladies working here are very friendly.
The Currency Exchange is the only place to buy a sim card at the airport in Los Angeles. Like pretty much all international airports in the USA there are hradly any facilities for arriving passengers.
Traveltomtom already wrote about buying a sim card for tourists at Newark, New York JFK, Miami and others, but there are very few options always. Therefore Traveltomtom mostly always recommends to NOT buy a sim card for the USA on arrival at the airport.
Once you step outside the International Terminal B in Los Angeles there are no shops, just ground transportation.
Here is my YouTube video about my arrival at Los Angeles Airport LAX and showing you exactly where you can buy a sim card and how much it costs.
For much better USA tourist sim card deals you need to go to Los Angeles city center or simply buy your sim card for traveling in the USA on the internet.
Prices prepaid sim cards Los Angeles Airport
All the information below is up to date as of January 2024 and prices are in USD.
The Currency Exchange only offers two types of tourist sim cards and these are only available as physical prepaid sim cards. You can not buy an e-sim card at Los Angeles International Airport.
Both sim card plans are from T-Mobile, one of the leading mobile internet providers in the USA, and are valid for 4 weeks.
- 10 GB data + unlimited calls/text = $82.13 USD
- Unlimited High Speed data + unlimited calls/text = $119.19 USD
These are the only 2 prepaid sim cards for tourists available at Los Angeles LAX Airport.
At the airport they sell tourist sim cards for tourist prices. If you want the cheapest USA prepaid sim card deals then you have to buy a sim card in a phone shop in Los Angeles city center and not at the airport.
Best sim card for tourists at Los Angeles Airport
Well normally I compare all the sim card plans and help you get the best sim card for your trip to LA. In this case there is not much to compare and the only thing I can say that paying $82 USD for just 10 GB data or $120 USD for a sim card with unlimited data is OUTRAGEOUS!
Therefore the simple conclusion that Traveltomtom does NOT recommend buying a sim card at Los Angelese LAX Airport.
For my research about the best sim cards for traveling to the USA I already compared e-sim cards and international prepaid sim cards for some of my other blogs and it is a very simple conclusion that e-sim cards are the best way to stay connected when traveling to the USA.
The e-sim cards from Nomad give you the best value and 10 GB data only costs like $18 USD. Compare this to the sim cards at LA Airport with 10 GB data for $82 USD!
For more info check out my complete guide for finding the best prepaid tourist sim card for the United States in 2024.
Or if you are just interested in e-sim cards then Traveltomtom also wrote a guide for the best e-sim cards for traveling to the USA in 2024.
The biggest disadvantage about e-sim cards for the USA is that they do not include calling and texting. But you can use internet calls for example over WhatsApp.
Order a prepaid sim card for your trip to Los Angeles online
Remember that e-sim cards can only be used in e-sim compatible phones. If your phone is not e-sim compatible and you want to order a sim card for Los Angeles on the internet then you have to look into buying an international prepaid sim card for the United States.
These pre-activated physical prepaid sim cards will be delivered to your home address before your trip. You put them in your phone during your flight and you are online as soon as the plane touches the ground in Los Angeles. Your international sim card connects automatically to an available network.
Arrive prepared in Los Angeles with an international prepaid sim card for the USA from SimOptions:
1. Three Data Pack - $24.90
- 10 GB data
- Valid 30 days
- Valid in 55 countries
- Incoming/outgoing calls not supported
- 10 GB data
- Valid 14 days
- Valid in 124 countries
- Incoming/outgoing calls not supported
My experiences buying a sim card at Los Angeles Airport
Because of my previous trips to the USA I already had a feeling that tourist sim cards at Los Angeles Airport LAX would be super expensive so I arrived prepared and already bought and installed a USA e-sim card on my phone.
In general I use to do this nowadays because I just like the convenience of being online as soon as the plane lands. No need to wait to connect to the free WiFi at airports anymore or wait till you find a sim card shop.
My Nomad e-sim card worked instantly and perfectly fine with a data speed of more than 60 Mbps download and 35 Mbps upload at LAX Airport.
I also tested the free WiFi at LAX Airport for you and it was pretty damn fast.
No need to tell you that Traveltomtom did not buy a sim card from the very friendly ladies at the Currency Exchange, but just sticked to my e-sim card for the rest of my trip in the USA.
I even popped into some phone stores while in the USA and the cheapest prepaid sim card cost pretty much everywhere around $40 - $50 USD after activation costs and taxes. So it is a very simple conclusion that e-sim cards are much more recommended.
How much data do you need?
I consider myself a very heavy data user, but even on a crazy day I won’t use more than 5 GB per day. On average I use about 2-3 GB per day, mostly on social media apps like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. Make sure you don’t have Google Drive or iCloud enabled on data, but only on WiFi.
I am sure some of the above tips on how to stay connected when traveling to Los Angeles were helpful. If you have any additional questions then please leave me a comment below.
Curious what the road to 197 / visiting every country in the world looks like then head to my Instagram @traveltomtom and follow along. As of January 2024 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still more than 40 to go, but no rush.
Enjoy your trip to Los Angeles!
Some links in this article about buying a sim card at Los Angeles Airport are affiliate links. If you buy any product after clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!