Plan or Pre-Paid
Most providers in the United States require either a Social Security Number (SSN) or a high security deposit for setting up a contract for your cell phone service. These contracts usually last for one or two years in which you are required to stay with that provider or pay a fee to cancel the contract. Recently, some providers have started to make their services more easily accessible for international students and do not require Social Security Numbers or high deposits for contracts (plans) anymore.
In addition, all providers offer pre-paid options, in which you pay your monthly bill in advance. These do not require a Social Security Number or high deposits and do not require you to stay with the provider for a fixed time period, but may have higher monthly fees. Almost all providers offer additional options to their plans or pre-paid options for international texting (SMS & MMS) and calls. Please note that placing international phone calls can be very expensive.
Please note: Once a contract is signed, you will be obligated to pay for the entire contract period. Expect to pay a high fee if you break a contract. Contracts generally last 1-2 years. Due to this, we do not recommend that students enter in family plans with other students, as you can be held liable if another student in the plan breaks the contract.
Information above copied with permission from: "Cell Phones." International Student & Scholar Services. Georgetown University Office of International Programs, n.d. Web. 01 May 2014.