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Getting a US Phone Number

Communication is the key while you are away from home. And so, getting a cell phone connection should be the first on your list of priorities. We know that picking the right carrier and the right plan can be confusing, especially if this is your first experience shopping for a phone connection in the United States.


So here are some simple guidelines on how you can choose...

  • Several carriers provide good network coverage in State College. Some of the popular ones are AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, h2o, and Cricket. We encourage you to check their websites before you make a decision.

  • While choosing the carrier, it can be difficult to understand the contract deals and the family plans. Let us de-mystify these terms for you.

    • Most US phone carriers offer packages that include monthly installments over a set number of months. These are combined for the cost of your phone device and the call/ text/ internet plan. This is what people refer to as a contract. These typically require you to have a Social Security Number (SSN). The SSN is a way to for your carrier to understand your financial habits and your ability to responsibly handle money - and if you are eligible, let you buy the phone without paying in full at the time of purchase. But, building the credit history in the United States takes time - a year or two, at least - and so, it may be difficult for you to obtain a contract phone right away. Alternately, you may pay a security deposit to get a phone under contract. You will get the money back at the end of the deposit period, but we can assume this to be an expensive option when you arrive.

    • An easier option is to obtain a pre-paid monthly plan, similar to the ones in India. These do not require you to have an established credit history in the US, and typically does not need a deposit. Most, if not all, plans offer unlimited calls and texts within the United States, Canada, and Mexico. And so, these pre-paid plans are priced by their 4G LTE data cap. Most carriers will offer this plan - you can walk into a store, fill out the paperwork and you are done! 

    • A family plan is one in which a common cell phone account can be accessed by two or more people. You will get individual phone numbers, but you will share some of the plan features. Family plans are great if you want to save some money by sharing costs for the cell phone connection. These plans are available for pre-paid as well as contract options.


  • While choosing your ideal plan, we encourage you to look for reviews on Google and similar websites. You may send an email to IGSA if you have any specific query.  

  • You can find an AT&T kiosk at the HUB-Robeson Building at University Park. AT&T representatives can help you with more detailed information. Stores for other carriers are located in State College. You can use the store locator on their company websites to find a store nearest to you.

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