The best prepaid and no contract plans in the US (January 2016)

by: Joe HindyJanuary 2, 2016

When we first started this list in 2012, things were starting to get exciting. We were seeing processors with more cores, screens in true HD, and things were starting to get really exciting for Android. It’s now 2015 and the mobile industry has undergone a striking revolution. Carriers are becoming less aggressive, off-contract phones are getting better and cheaper, and things don’t look anything like they did in 2012. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the value of a good no contract plan or a prepaid plan so let’s take a look at the best ones of 2015. Please note, this list is in alphabetical order.

Top 10 Cheapest Prepaid Plans

AT&T best prepaid plans in the US


Like Verizon, AT&T has spent the better part of the last few years simplifying their offerings. They are now much easier to understand for the average consumer. Also, like Verizon, you can bring your own device to AT&T’s prepaid plans (currently called GoPhone plans) as long as they support AT&T’s network.

Plan Details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, no data. Users can buy 100MB of data for $5 if needed. Much like Verizon’s lowest tier, AT&T recommends customers use WiFi Hotspots for personal data useage.
  • $45/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1.5GB of data. This plan also includes AT&T’s Rollover Data where any data you don’t use gets added to your next month. For instance, if you end the month with 500MB left on your plan, that 500MB will be added to next month’s allotment.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 4GB of data. This plan also includes Rollover Data, unlimited calls and texts to Canada and Mexico. It also supports data roaming to Canada and Mexico.
  • $2/day – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, no data. You can purchase data at $0.01 per 5KB of data. This is likely for folks who are traveling into the US and need a temporary SIM card.
  • $0.10/minute – AT&T also supports the old school “per minute” pay structure. You pay $0.10 per minute, $0.20 per message, and $0.01 per 5KB of data. Frankly, this is a rip-off.

AT&T isn’t too dissimilar from Verizon. The plans are reasonably priced although the data allotments are a little small. Our recommendation is the same as Verizon. If you go with AT&T, stick to WiFi as often as possible.

Boost Mobile best prepaid plans in the US

Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile is an MVNO that uses Sprint’s network. It’s one of the more popular MVNOs out there and most people have probably heard the name somewhere before. They have a decent selections of phones and, like T-Mobile, don’t use contracts at all on their network. You can bring your own Sprint device assuming it’s somewhere on this list.

Plan details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data. This supports Boost Mobile’s Auto Re-Boost feature.
  • $35/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data.
  • $45/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 5GB of data.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited data.
  • Data boost – Boost Mobile is offering a promotion where every three months of on-time payments gives you a (permanent) 500MB of additional data. Thus, after 18 months, each plan listed above has the capacity to earn an extra 3GB of data (that’s the max). Obviously, the unlimited plan doesn’t have this.
  • Add-ons – Boost Mobile offers a ton of add-ons including data packs, International phone services, phone insurance, and mobile hotspot services.

Boost Mobile provides a lot of bang for your buck. Even more so than Sprint at this point which is kind of funny considering that Boost Mobile uses Sprint’s network. We especially liked the low cost of entry for unlimited data and the ability to earn more through on-time payments.

Boost mobile Prepaid plans & phones

Cricket Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

Cricket Wireless

Fun fact: Cricket Wireless used to be called AIO and it’s an MVNO that runs off of AT&T’s network. In fact, Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T similar to how MetroPCS is owned by T-Mobile. You can bring your own device, assuming it’s on their compatibility list.

Plan details:

  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2.5GB of data. You get unlimited 2G after the data cap.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 5GB of data. You get unlimited 2G after the data cap. This plan also includes unlimited Int’l texting to 38 countries and free data roaming in Canada and Mexico.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB of data. You get unlimited 2G after the data cap. This plan also includes unlimited Int’l texting to 38 countries and free data roaming in Canada and Mexico.
  • Auto-pay discount – Cricket Wireless offers a deal where you can get $5 off any plan if you use their auto-pay system effectively cutting the rates to $35, $45, and $55/month, respectively.

Hilariously, Cricket Wireless has better rate plans than AT&T does, despite being owned by AT&T. We would recommend looking into Cricket if you already own your device and are just looking for AT&T service. See the best Cricket Android phones.

Cricket Wireless Prepaid plans & Phones

H2O Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

H2O Wireless

H2O Wireless prepaid is next on the list and it is another prepaid service that uses AT&T’s towers. That means you can bring pretty much any GSM smartphone to the service and it should work. They also have a ton of plan options.

Plan details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 500MB of data. This plan does not include unlimited data.
  • $35/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 500MB of data. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of data. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 4GB of data. After the data cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G speeds.
  • International calling – All plans (except the $60/month one) includes unlimited mobile-to-mobile minutes to Mexico. You can add International calling for $10-$20/month.
  • Pay-as-you-go – H2O Wireless offers pay as you go options for $0.05 per minute, $0.05 per text, and $0.10 per MB of data.

These are surprisingly reasonable prices, especially compared to what they were offering a couple of years ago. It’s also a good way to get AT&T’s service without worrying about their pricing strategies.

H20 Wireless Prepaid plans & phones

MetroPCS best prepaid plans in the US


MetroPCS was purchased by T-Mobile a few years ago and has since seen some changes. Its original CDMA network has been decommissioned and MetroPCS officially operates as an MVNO on T-Mobile’s network. That means most GSM devices and T-Mobile-compatible devices should work as well but you should double check before committing.

Plan details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of data. You get unlimited 2G speeds after the data cap.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 3GB of data. You get unlimited 2G speeds after the data cap.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 5GB of data. You get unlimited 2G speeds after the data cap.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited data.

It’s worth noting that each plan comes with mobile hotspot so you can use your data on other devices as well. It also includes many of T-Mobile’s perks, including Music Unlimited (their version of T-Mobile’s Music Freedom) and Data Maximizer (their version of Binge On).

Metro PCS Prepaid Plans & phones

Net10 Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

Net10 Wireless

Net10 is a subsidiary of TracFone, which is why we won’t be mentioning TracFone. They’re pretty much identical services available in the same places. That means that Net10 is an MVNO that piggybacks off of all four major US carriers. They allow you to bring your own phone as well so you can use virtually any device on this network (as long as it has a SIM card slot) which is actually pretty awesome.

Plan details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 500MB of 4G data. After the data cap, you get unlimited 2G data.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1.5GB of 4G data. After the cap, you get unlimited 2G data.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 5GB of 4G data. After the cap, you get unlimited 2G data.

When we last updated this list, Net10 was using some pretty archaic pricing and plan features. It’s really good to see them moving to a more acceptable plan structure. Given their wide compatibility range, this definitely ranks as one of the best MVNOs right now.

Net 10 prepaid plans & phones

Page Plus best prepaid plans in the US

Page Plus

Page Plus is an MVNO that is powered by the Verizon network. To date, it is literally the only way to get unlimited data on Verizon’s network which is something pretty special. You can bring your own Verizon device to the network if you so choose or buy one directly from Page Plus.

Plan details:

  • $12/month – 250 minutes, 250 texts, 10MB of data.
  • $29.95/month – 1500 minutes, unlimited text, 1GB data. This plan does not offer unlimited data.
  • $39.95/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1.5GB data. After high speed data, you get unlimited 2G.
  • $55/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 5GB data. After the high speed data, you get unlimited 2G.
  • $69.95/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 7GB data. After the high speed data, you get unlimited 2G.
  • $10 – This pay-as-you-go price includes 100 minutes with each additional minute at $0.10.
  • $25 – This pay-as-you-go price includes 416 minutes (?) with each additional minute at $0.06.
  • $50 – This pay-as-you-go price includes 1000 minutes with each additional minute at $0.05.
  • $80 – This pay-as-you-go price includes 2000 minutes with each additional minute at $0.04.

Simply put, if Verizon offered these services at these prices on their own network, it would probably put everyone else out of business. This is a great deal for Verizon customers looking for more flexibility with data (which is virtually every Verizon customer). Their pay-as-you-go options aren’t great, though, and we recommend avoiding those unless absolutely necessary.

Page Plus prepaid plans & phones

Project Fi best prepaid plans in the US

Project Fi

Project Fi is Google’s attempt at being a mobile carrier. It uses T-Mobile along with Sprint to provide a pretty decent coverage map. Currently, the service is only compatible with Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, or Nexus 6 devices which you’ll have to purchase off-contract on your own. For now.

Plan details:

  • $20/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, no data.
  • $10/month – 1GB of data. Additional data is calculated at $1 per 100MB.
  • Data buyback – Much like Ting, Project Fi revolves around a “pay for what you use” philosophy. If you use 2GB, then your bill will be $40/month. If you use 1GB, your bill will be $30/month. If you use 1.3GB, your bill will be $33. Project Fi recommends you use WiFi hotspots whenever possible to keep your bill low and, unless we’re mistaken, will actually help you find WiFi hotspots to use when you’re out and about.

Project Fi is a unique and fun little experiment. It’s not easy to get into and the device list isn’t great, but if you can stick to WiFi networks and happen to own a Nexus device, you can get good service for cheap. To learn more, check out Project Fi’s FAQ page.

PTel best prepaid plans in the US

PTel Mobile

PTel (formerly PlatinumTel) has undergone a lot of identity changes over the last two years. Aside from the name change, PTel also adopted T-Mobile’s network as its main source over AT&T. You can bring your own GSM phone as long as it supports T-Mobile bands.

Plan details:

  • $20/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 250MB of data. This plan does not give you unlimited data.
  • $25/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited data. Data is all 2G, no 4G data is included.
  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB data. After data cap, you get unlimited 2G.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB data. After data cap, you get unlimited 2G.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 3GB data. After data cap, you get unlimited 2G.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB data. After data cap, you get unlimited 2G.
  • Real PayGo – This pay-as-you-go service offers $0.05 per minute, $0.02 per text, $0.10 per MB.

These are all surprisingly good deals. The unlimited 2G may not be great for some, but $25/month for unlimited 2G data is a better deal than you would think it is, especially if you spend most of your time around WiFi. Their pay-as-you-go solution is among the more reasonable options as well. To learn more, check out their plans page.

Red Pocket Mobile best prepaid plans in the US

Red Pocket Mobile

Next on our list is Red Pocket Mobile. This MVNO uses three of the country’s top four service providers, including Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T. That means you can bring virtually any device to the service as long as it has a SIM card and supports those networks.

Plan details:

  • $29.99/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 500MB of data. This plan doesn’t appear to have unlimited data and CDMA devices are limited to 3000 minutes.
  • $39.99/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 500MB of data. After the data cap, you get unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $49.99/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of data. After the data cap, you get unlimited 2G speeds.
  • $59.99/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 3GB of data. After the data cap, you get unlimited 2G speeds.

Red Pocket Mobile isn’t the strongest options in this price range when it comes to features, but it’s not a bad option given its high compatibility with other carriers. If you want to learn more, check out their plans page.

Republic Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless used to be one of the most simple companies on this list. They have only three plans and you can only use three devices on their network that you have to buy from them. The phones are the Moto E, Moto G, and Moto X (2014).

Plan details:

  • $10/month – This is the base price for unlimited talk and text. This is included in all plans.
  • $15/month – Additional 1GB of data per month.
  • $30/month – Additional 2GB of data per month.
  • $55/month – Additional 3GB of data per month.
  • Data buyback – Republic Wireless will refund any GB of data that you don’t use. So if you get 2GB and only use 1GB, your next bill will be credited with $15.

While they aren’t quite as simple as they used to be, Republic Wireless is still among the most simple and economic solutions on the list. As usual, you’ll want to stick to WiFi whenever possible and you should be able to make use of this service.

Republic Wirless prepaid plans & phones

simple mobile best prepaid plans in the US


SIMPLE Mobile hasn’t change a whole lot over the last couple of years. They’re still on T-Mobile’s network and you can still bring your own T-Mobile-capable GSM device if you so choose. Their rates also haven’t changed much.

Plan details:

  • $25/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, no data. This plan also includes unlimited International texting.
  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 4GB of data. You get unlimited 2G data after the data cap.
  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 8GB of data. You get unlimited 2G data after the data cap.
  • $20, $40, $60/month – These are data-only plans that give you 1.5GB, 4GB, or 6GB respectively.
  • $20/week – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data. You get unlimited 2G data after the data cap. This also includes unlimited talk and text to supported International countries.
  • $35/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, no data. This also includes unlimited talk and text to supported International countries.
  • $40-$45/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 4GB of data. You get unlimited 2G data after the data cap. This also includes unlimited talk and text to supported International countries.
  • $55/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 8GB of data. You get unlimited 2G data after the data cap. This also includes unlimited talk and text to supported International countries.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB of data. You get unlimited 2G data after the data cap. This also includes unlimited talk and text to supported International countries.

There are a lot of plans available, and the International plans are pretty good. Don’t forget to read the fine print so you can see the restrictions and such.

Simple Mobile prepaid plans & phones

Sprint best prepaid plans in the US


At one point, Sprint had only two prepaid plans. One with unlimited data and one without data at all. Since those days, Sprint has been rethinking their plans and now they’re more in line with the competition. One downside is that you have to buy a Sprint pre-paid phone and you cannot bring your own. That’s lame. You can find the selection of prepaid phones by clicking here.

Plan details:

  • $35/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of data. Data is technically unlimited. After you use your 1GB of LTE data, you’ll be dropped down to 2G speeds.
  • $45/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 3GB of data. Again, data is unlimited, just throttled after 3GB.
  • $55/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 6GB of data. Yes, still unlimited, but throttled after 6GB.

It is worth noting that Sprint will be doing away with contracts altogether by the end of 2015 (or early 2016). Once that happens, they’ll operate much like T-Mobile where you buy phones and plans separately and you can cancel at anytime. You’ll also be able to bring your own phone assuming it supports Sprint’s service. Until then, prepaid is your best bet.

Sprint prepaid plans & phones

Straight Talk best prepaid plans in the US

Straight Talk Wireless

Straight Talk made headlines a few years ago with their bold, no-contract plans and their “bring your own phone” philosophy. Most carriers now mirror this ideology but you can still bring pretty much any GSM smartphone with you to the service.

Plan details:

  • $30/month – 1500 minutes, unlimited text, 100MB of data. All plans, including this one, include unlimited calls to 411 as well.
  • $45/month – unlimited talk, unlimited text, 5GB of data. Once your data allotment is up, you’ll have unlimited data at 2G speeds.
  • $60/month – unlimited talk, unlimited text, 5GB of data (unlimited 2G speeds). This plan includes unlimited International calling to Mexico, India, Canada, and “select International landline destinations”.
  • $130 per 3 months – This is the $45 plan that you pay every three months instead of monthly. This will save you $20 per year over paying month-to-month.
  • $255 per 6 months – This is the $45 plan that you can pay every six months (twice a year). You save $30 per year over paying month-to-month.
  • $495/year – This is the $45 plan if you paid it once per year. Doing so can save you $45 annually. That’s essentially one free month of service.

Overall, it’s not quite the amazing value that Straight Talk used to be. That said, it’s still a pretty decent contender, especially if you don’t need more than 5GB of data. Liberal use of WiFi while at home and this is a great, cheap plan.

Straight Talk prepaid plans & phones

Ting Prepaid

Ting Mobile

Ting is perhaps one of the most interesting prepaid carriers on the list. They’re a dual GSM/CDMA carrier that use’s Sprint’s network and an undisclosed (literally) GSM network. However, you should be able to bring most GSM phones to this service along with Sprint phones, which is great news.

Plan details:

  • For plans, Ting uses a “only pay for what you use” philosophy which makes listing out plan rates literally impossible. You can find their rates here.
  • We also recommend you use their savings calculator. It allows you to get a good idea of what you’d pay based on your usage.
  • $6/month – no talk, no text, no data. This is the lowest possible plan that is literally just a device connected to their service.
  • $81/month – 2100 minutes, 4800 texts, 2GB of data. This is the max price for a plan as listed by the Ting website. If you go above those numbers, you’ll be subject to overages at $0.02 per minute, $0.0025 (1/4 of a cent) per text, and $0.015 (1.5 cents) per MB.

It’s a fun idea, especially for those who like to micromanage their use. If you stick to WiFi as often as possible and mitigate text and calling to services like Hangouts, Skype, etc, you can get away with getting decent phone service for a very low cost. If you’re not interested in managing your own services all the time, we recommend you probably look elsewhere.

Ting prepaid plans & phones

T-Mobile best prepaid plans in the US


T-Mobile has done away with contracts entirely. That means that, technically, every plan on their service is no-contract. Believe it or not, they still have a prepaid service as well. There are a ton of options and most plans get all of the perks, including T-Mobile’s JUMP program, Music Freedom, Binge On, and whatever else they happen to cook up. You can bring your own phone assuming it can use T-Mobile’s service. The only downside is the plan structures have gotten a lot more complicated.

See: Best Android T-Mobile prepaid phones

Plan details:

  • $50/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data. Technically, it’s unlimited data but you’ll be throttled to 2G speeds after 2GB.
  • $65/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 6GB of data. Again, unlimited data but throttled after 6GB.
  • $80/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 10GB of data. Throttled to 2G speeds after 10GB.
  • $95/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited data. Data is “de-prioritized” after 23GB of usage.
  • $50-$335/month – Family plans come in a ridiculous number of combinations. Far too many to list here. You can get as low as one line for $50 to as high as five lines with unlimited everything for $335/month. Click here to see T-Mobile’s family plan tool to see all the combinations.
  • $3/month – Any combination of 30 minutes and 30 texts.
  • $5/day – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 500MB of data per day.
  • $10/week – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of data per week.
  • $10/month add-on – You can get unlimited calls to and from Mexico and Canada for $10/month.
  • $15/month add-on – Unlimited calls to and from Mexico, Canada, and 30+ countries.
  • $5/month add-on – This is T-Mobile’s “Score!” promotion that gives you better pricing on new devices. It doesn’t apply to all new devices and really, we don’t recommend it. Especially if you have JUMP.

Hilariously, T-Mobile went from being one of the most simple carriers in the industry to being one of the most complex. Either way, there are some good deals here. Do note that to get all the extra perks, you’ll need at least the $65/month plan or better.

T-Mobile prepaid plans & phones

US Cellular best prepaid plans in the US

US Cellular

US Cellular is a lesser-known carrier that operates its own wireless network independent of the major four carriers in the US. It’s a CDMA carrier with LTE coverage. You can bring your own device, but the compatibility list is not very large.

See: Best US Cellular phones

Plan details:

  • $40/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, unlimited data. This is for basic phones, not for smartphones.
  • $45/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of data. You get unlimited 2G speeds once you hit the data cap.
  • $55/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2GB of data. You get unlimited 2G speeds once you hit the data cap.
  • $65/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 4GB of data. You get unlimited 2G speeds once you hit the data cap.

US Cellular keeps their prepaid plans simple which we like. The only issue is that this service isn’t available everywhere so you’ll have to check and make sure you can even get the service before signing up.

US Cellular Prepaid plans & phones

Verizon Wireless best prepaid plans in the US

Verizon Wireless

Next on our list is Verizon Wireless. Over the last few years, they’ve been slower to adapt than their smaller counterparts but don’t let that chase you away. They still have a rock solid network and good LTE speeds. Since our last update, Verizon has further simplified their prepaid and no contract plans. You can bring your own device as long as it supports Verizon’s network.

verizon logoSee also: Best Verizon prepaid Android phones (November 2015)5

Plan Details:

  • $30/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, no data. Users are encouraged to use WiFi for their personal data needs.
  • $45/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of LTE data.
  • $60/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 3GB of data.
  • $5, $10, $20 data add-ons – You can get an extra 500MB, 1GB, or 3GB of data for $5, $10, or $20 respectively. These are not part of monthly plans and the data expires after 30-90 days.

In classic Verizon fashion, you get rock solid service but you don’t get to use a lot of service. These plans are great for those who need calls and texting but not so great for those who consume a lot of data. If you go for Verizon, we recommend using WiFi whenever possible to avoid overage charges and saving your data allotment for when you’re not at home, work, or anywhere else with a WiFi Hotspot.

Verizon plans & phones

virgin mobile best prepaid plans in the US

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile is a CDMA prepaid service that runs on the Sprint network. It promotes itself to the younger crowd and indeed, a lot of young people use this service. They keep the plans simple with the only caveat being that you cannot bring your own, non-Virgin Mobile device to the service with you.

Plan details:

  • $25/month – 500 minutes, unlimited text, no data. This plan recommends that you use WiFi all the time for your device as it comes with absolutely no data.
  • $35/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1GB of data. After the cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G data.
  • $45/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 3GB of data. After the cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G data.
  • $55/month – Unlimited talk, unlimited text, 8GB of data. After the cap, you’ll have unlimited 2G data.
  • $5-$10/month – You can get data add-ons for 1GB and 2GB ($5 and $10, respectively). This gets added to your existing plan.

While it’s true you can find better value in other places, we love that Virgin Mobile keeps it simple. Their phone selection isn’t too great, though, and we yearn for the day that we can bring our own Sprint devices to the network.

Virgin Mobile prepaid plans & phones

Which prepaid and no contract plans are the best?

Unforunately, there is no way to determine that for sure because everyone’s use case is different. Some people need a lot of data while others don’t. In order to get the best value, you’ll have to know your usage habits and what you’re willing to change to fit into one of these plans (if anything). That said, we can list a few guidelines for you.

  • Best for data – Boost Mobile, MetroPCS, and T-Mobile are the only three carriers that offer unlimited, high-speed data.
  • Second best for data – Cricket Wireless, Net10 Wireless, Page Plus, PTel, SIMPLE Mobile, Sprint, Straight Talk, and Virgin Mobile offer larger than average data caps and they all offer unlimited 2G after you hit the cap.
  • Best for talk and text – Most plans offer unlimited but if you’re a real talker or texter, you may want to avoid the cheapest deal on Page Plus, Straight Talk’s cheapest plan, Ting, and Virgin Mobile’s cheapest plan.
  • Best perks – Most plans keep it pretty simple but some other things to the plans that add value. AT&T, Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, and T-Mobile all have extra features on their plan that can add value to your experience.
  • Best bang for your buck – Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Net10 Wireless, Page Plus, Project Fi, PTel, Republic Wireless, SIMPLE Mobile, Sprint, Straight Talk, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile.

Wrap up

We would love to hear about your experiences with these carriers and, of course, recommend any great prepaid and no contract plans that we might have missed! If you’re looking for some epic smartphones to use on your new service of choice, check out our review section, our list of the best cheap Android smartphones, and our list of the best Android smartphones! Have a specific prepaid carrier in mind? Be sure to check these lists out as well:

Next: Compare all cell phone plans

  • Brandon Wood

    Correction: Straight Talk does offer their own phones (albeit not very decent ones, except for maybe the SII).

    • JosephHindy

      Hello Brandon and thank you for commenting and reading :) Yes I know Straight Talk carries their own phones. I was attempting to engage in humor by saying they didn’t offer any real phones of their own (as only a couple of carriers on this list offer decent smartphones). I didn’t think that one through, so I will change it. Thanks again!

  • nexus2012

    I’m going with T-Mobile. They don’t have the best speeds, but I’m in a contract paying $100 a line with 6 phones. Share your data thing doesn’t work either. I’m a data machine downloading my ROMs and apps and just surfing the web

    • William Diaz

      With T-Mobile they are refarming their network, as well as constantly bumping speeds from HSPA+14 and HSPA+21 to HSPA+42 rapidly. So Im sure the speed will get better for you. Unlike AT&T, T-Mobile will NOT announce an HSPA+42 area until majority of coverage/towers in that area have fiber. AT&T will just say “Yes, we have HSPA+21” but without the fiber to backhaul, only the equipment is up to date, not the speed.
      Aside from this, T-Mobile Monthly 4G plans you CAN share data, via HotSpot for $15.

  • Stamas Express

    What about Ting?

    • Marvin Nakajima

      I’ve got Pretty good service for me since I travel out of the country from time to time and would hate to have to pay much when I’m not in the country to actually use my phone.

      • JosephHindy

        Thanks for reading and commeting Marvin and Stamas. I will add Ting to December’s update along with Virgin Mobile :)

  • matt

    Another correction: You are *very* wrong when you say you “can’t port Verizon phones” on PagePlus Cellular.

    In fact, you can use ANY non-4g Verizon smartphone, and pretty much every other basic phone [as long as you dial *228 for activating], including the Samsung Fascinate, Droid X2, Droid 3, etc.

    • matt

      well, by “pretty much every other basic phone” I of course mean any basic Verizon phone, as long as it is not “prepaid.”

      And yes, PagePlus has their own phones [which are probably junk, sure]
      but just as long as you know you can use your old 3g smartphone with PagePlus!
      The downside is it costs $10 to get a number [free to port in], they recently started charging for getting a number, it used to be completely free.
      But I definitely recommend PagePlus!

      • JosephHindy

        Hello and thank you for stopping by :) I did not know Verizon allowed their phones on other networks and was misinformed about that. I’ll go make the appropriate changes now. Thank you for reading and letting me know :)

  • Justin W

    Straight Talk correction: you can get either an AT&T provisioned or T- mobile provisioned SIM card. With either, as long as you have the right APN settings, you can access their HSPA+ network. The main difference is that At&T’s is only a 21mbps network, but I still average about 5-6 Mbps down.

    • JosephHindy

      Hello and thank you for commenting :) I’ll make those changes immediately.

  • Frank

    On virgin mobile you can get unlimited messaging, unlimited data, and 300 minutes of talk for $35 /month. They also have a decent smartphone lineup.

    • JosephHindy

      Hello and thank you for reading and commenting! I will add Virgin Mobile when I update this article next month :) Thank you!

  • Darnell

    No mention of Solavei. One of the best at the moment. Joe, mail me for details.

    • JosephHindy

      Hello Darnell, I have heard of Solavei before but I wanted to figure out more about what they’re all about before I included them on this list. My G+ and Twitter are on my author box just above this comment section. Feel free to send me a message or tweet me there if you have more information about it.

      • Mike

        Don’t get too excited – Solavei is basically MLM phone service. That’s why he wants you to contact him personally for more info–so he can get you in his downline if you decide to try it out.

        • JosephHindy

          Oh I’m stuck in a contract plan ;) so that won’t be happening.

          • Scott Steinlage

            MLM or not it’s still great service. $49/month Unlimited talk, text and data. Plus you are not throttled down on data until 4GB!! That is the best in the market. Oh and for those international folks it also comes with unlimited international texting! Yea heck of a deal if you ask me. If you are interested and want to know more just go to

  • Jae

    FYI, Simple Mobile doesn’t allow call forwarding, so Google Voice voicemail will not work.

    • Terry Franzman

      You’re missing the point of Google Voice. Virgin doesn’t allow call forwarding….so I got Google Voice which can automatically forward your calls to any other number.

      • William Diaz

        No he meant for people like me, and many others who prefer to use Google Voice as a Voicemail option rather than carrier. This way, we can read our voicemails, listen to them over data in the app, etc. Rather than pay per minute for people to either leave messages, pick up messages or in some cases, BOTH.

  • Nick V

    I just purchased 2 Nexus 4, and I am going to be going with T-Mobile. My wife recently got the Note II on T-Mobile, and it had horrible connection issues, even down to being able to make a call, meanwhile, y son has a Samsung Exhibit, and it works great on T-Mobile. I hope the Nexus 4 lives up to it’s reputation… :)

    • Matthew

      The antennas on international Note II are not made for tmo’s network so you only get 2g with them with a n international note II

  • Matthew

    I will probably go on PlatinumTel in December if they piggyback on AT&T’s network, but not if they use Tmo’s or if they have a hidden 1GB throttle.

  • Daniel Neal

    Nice round-up, Joe. FYI, on kajeet you can also activate your ‘old’ unactivated Sprint device, and with no activation fee. This is great for getting more use out of your old phone when you do a Sprint device upgrade. Best, –Daniel Neal

  • ArtemisKitty

    From my own horrible experiences with Simple Mobile, I can definitely confirm that they do NOT give you unlimited everything. It’s “Unlimited unless it’s more than we think is acceptable” – some months you get full 250MB of data, some months I got cut off at 130MB. (BTW this was on an iPhone 3GS, so I wasn’t even getting their 3G or 4G, merely 2G speeds – and btw, 2G = minimum 128Kbps by definition – even those first (only) 130-250MBs is throttled to 100kbps, which is not even 2g speed though Simple is advertising it as 3G. I tried dropping my SIM in a friend’s T-Mobile android phone and we did a line speed test there as well, on the first day of my billing cycle to make sure the speed was the max. available – same results, 100Kbps max, and generally around 80 on the tests for 2 days) When you hit that limit? Cutoff until next month period. Send too many text messages? Cut off until next month. The only thing that I never ran over on personally was minutes, however a close personal friend of mine did – he works nights at a slow job and would talk to his girlfriend for hours – 2 months in a row they cut him off for using too many of his “unlimited” minutes. He didn’t stick around for a 3rd. When I called customer support several times, they were rude and condescending, lecturing me on “Well we can’t afford to keep handing out bandwidth to people who want to be unreasonable” – when I asked what unreasonable meant, they stated that I was using “too much data” and that their plans do NOT in fact offer unlimited data, rather unlimited web. When I asked what the difference was (I use my phone to watch videos a lot via Hulu+ and similar) they informed me that it was only intended to be used to do basic tasks such as check email. According to their corporate policy, streaming videos, uploading photos, and using GPS programs were all in violation of the agreement. After the 3rd month in a row got cut off, I’d had enough.

  • Random Reader

    You may want to clarify the coverage — most of these MVNOs do not have roaming agreements, so coverage isn’t the same as for postpaid contract customers on their parent networks. An example is H2O Wireless: “if you’ve seen an AT&T coverage map, you’ve seen a H2O Wireless coverage map” isn’t actually true. Just compare the maps:

    H2O Wireless:

    AT&T Postpaid:

    AT&T Postpaid customers get coverage in Nebraska (Omaha) due to a roaming agreement with T-Mobile, but H2O customers are restricted to AT&T’s native network which has no presence there.

    Verizon prepaid, AT&T prepaid, T-Mobile prepaid, Boost Mobile, PlatinumTel, H2O Wireless, Red Pocket, and Simple Mobile do not have roaming.

    Page Plus charges extra for roaming.

    Ting and Republic Wireless have roaming for voice and text, but not data.

    Straight Talk and NET10 usually roam, depending on what underlying carrier and phone you end up with.

  • Robby Butler

    I would be glad to help with your research to add Solavei to your listing next month. I have spent the past four months studying Solavei and interacting with its leadership, and detailing what I have learned here: . Solavei enrolled its first 65,000 subscribers and gave out its first million dollars in the first two months since its launch, according to the Wall Street Journal’s “Market Watch” . Not only does Solavei offer premium service at a great price, but it offers growing income streams for its customers through profit-sharing (instead of one-time referrals), and is pursuing a global vision of introducing market efficiencies to benefit millions of people (in parallel with the other kinds of market efficiencies introduced by Amazon, Walmart and eBay). Solavei’s vision is to improve the lives of millions of people, with the mobile service just the first of their products. If I can be of help with your research, contact me at 360 420-5634 or [email protected] . Thanks! —Robby

  • Nicolas de Leon

    Straight Talk and SIMPLE Mobile are both also subsidiaries of TracFone.

  • William Diaz

    Both Straight Talk and Simple Mobile limit your data after 2GB by the way, however a friend has Net10 Bring Your Own Device plan, which ironically is $5 more than Straight Talk, and not branded by Walmart, but owned by the same company (TracFone), however it offers true unlimited 3G/4G data on T-Mobile or AT&T (ask for one or the other SIM, phone does NOT need to be unlocked if its carrier branded).

  • mmmmmmmmmmmmme

    I see no mention of metroPCS, unlimited local & long distance talk + text for $25. can’t beat that if you don’t need data,

  • pepote

    I believe Solavei is the best prepaid plan out there right now. Granted $49/month + taxes&fees for unlimited talk, text and 4G data is slightly more expensive than some of the ones listed in this post; however, Solavei is the only one that will pay its members rather handsomely for referring others. Heck my wife and I are now enjoying free wireless service + extra money in the bank just for having referred a few people. Take a look at my affiliate website and let me know what you think

  • Columbus, OH Nate

    article! However, Avoid the HTC EVO 3D like the plague! We got 5 on a family
    plan with Sprint. One phone got replaced for restarting and its replacement is the
    only phone still working… One phone got dropped in water and was replaced with
    the GSII (a much much better phone)… One phone sends a strange text to one of
    the other phones every time the phone is restarted, which is all the time
    because it locks up… One phone can barely be used because texting and the
    screen mess up with a mind of its own… and the last phone lost its 4g service
    (4g turns on and off and on and off never connects to anything) Sprint
    discontinued this phone for a reason… get the GSII which is still sold if you
    want WiMAX! We can get new phones 4/1 by signing a new 2 year contract, but we
    are not out of the current contract until 6/27. Lesson learned, don’t sign a
    contract! When your phone breaks you are stuck.

  • Naids

    Nice reviews… now for the 2013 updates and including the wifi spin on it…

  • tom


    Finger weh von Karten, die auch das T-Mobile Netz nutzen

    habe schlechte Erfahrungen gemacht, da der Anbieter wenn zur Wahl
    natürlich die Daten im günstigen T-Mobile Netz. Grundsätzlich
    o.k., aber deutsche Nutzer haben Smartphones ohne die nötige UMTS
    Quadbandfunktion, also nur extrem langsames 2g EDGE zur

    Die Flatrate bring so garnichts… Emails, mehr
    geht nicht..

    Hier meine Empfehlung – ausschließlich schnelles
    AT&T Netz: USA Prepaid SIM

    Finger weg von den vermeindlichen Schnäppchen,
    T-Mobile und europäische Endgeräte passen nicht zusammen, der Kunde
    kann nicht frei zwischen den Netzen wählen, die Entscheidung trifft
    der Anbieter natürlich nicht zugunsten des teueren AT&T

    Kunde bleibt nahezu offline – nie wieder

  • Naids

    Anyone able to tell me where I could easily obtain a prepaid sim card with data (Platinum, Straight talk, Ting or even T Mobile per the reviews) close to JFK airport? I am arriving in the USA and will be staying in a hotel very close to the airport. Would like to get a sim card upon arrival.

    • Naids

      PS – I have a GSM phone (Nexus 4).

  • joser116

    You forgot that Boost and Virgin now offer phones that run on Sprint’s new LTE rather than WiMax, and at the same monthly price.

  • etoolz65

    Hello, I have a Verizon contract that just ran out, yet I’m now lingering for the phone aspect of it as a hotspot for my other devices. I have a ATT Pantech Element I bought for 250 via “month to month”. Afore that it was a T-Mobile branded Dell Streak 7, which died finally. I basicly used my hotspot for it, but did the tmobile prepaid a bit here and there, but their prepaid was totally expensive, I was hoping to use my hotspot and also then add their sim to tablet and get more data per month, etc. I usually use about 2-12 gig a month as it is via data surfing, emailing, blogging, etc, etc, etc…

    What I want to know is, now that I have a ATT 4g LTE pantech element, what would be the best place to go and get unlimited data for it? When I say unlimited data I mean anything from 2g to 4g, 3g would be great for the duration, etc, that I won’t get throttled too badly at, where I could say use 5-20gigs per month?

    I’d love to have 3g speeds and even slower, if it was truly unlimited… I had a bestbuy flyer(it got tossed in the recycler) but I remember reading all these plans and features and the one place said, “truly unlimited, many users report using up to 80+ gigs a month before being throttled down to slightly slower speeds for duration”….

    I cannot seem to find any info on that article//flyer.

    So, I need at least 5-20gig a month or it’s not worth it to bother for me since I have 6gig and hotspot for like 75 a month now with my verizon corp account.

    Anyone know of a place that would sell me a mini sim(pantech element takes smaller sim) and doesn’t throttle down to dialup speeds? I don’t need blazing fast speeds and do not stream endless movies, but like to get my news and radio in am, etc, and then it’s surfing all day, blogging, etc.

    I’d also consider buying a hotspot device and shoving a sim card in that. Someone gave me an old net10 fone to use as an mp3 player in bathroom and I noticed a sim card in that!!! I heard Net10 throttles you if you use over a gig in a week…

    Thanks for the time and sorry so redundant!!!


    • jej

      Millenicom will sell you a vzw powered hotspot with 20 GB per month for $70. Sprint service is 50 gig for the same price.

  • MasterMuffin

    I don’t live in USA, but T-Mobile seems like the best one

  • Sandeep

    Best article I’ve come across so far….bookmarked it.keep updating

  • gtoexpress1966

    Metro is the cheapest and best with rate plans now tmobile unlimited 3g $40 4g $60 nobody close

  • Deborah Smith

    I love page plus I use a Droid x have my router and get the 1200 plan with wifi I do great almost anywhere you go there is WIFI for 29.95 a month. Of course they are being bought out by Carlos so who knows what will happen

  • John Smith

    Unlimited everything shouldn’t be the ultimate/only criteria. We have Ting and they provide 3 smart phone lines and for what we use we pay $43 total, on average. We used to pay Verizon over $170.

  • Brianna

    AIO Wireless is the best plan for me..I use 2-3gb a.month $45 is perfect good coverage signal.

  • Alex

    Simple mobile $25 is not a monthly plan, it is a 15 day plan. Beware.

  • gilber

    Wheres U.S Cellular

  • Cosmo Lee

    For super cheap Pay As You Go, check out AirVoice Wireless (AT&T
    MVNO). Great rate structure – you could pay as little as $3.33 per
    month by mostly accessing WiFi and avoiding the cell network. Can’t
    beat that!

    Here’s how: BYO-unlocked GSM WiFi-enabled
    smartphone and you can get service for only $3.33/mo – utilizing mostly
    WiFi, which people generally have access to at home and work, for VOIP
    & data. Then use the cell network only when away from WiFi.

    – $0.10/min voice and $0.33/MB of data. I’m told the data rates are
    going to drop soon. $10 card good for 90 days. This allows you to do
    a roll-your-own Republic Wireless kind of thing, but w/o the higher
    monthly charge and the crappy phone they sell.

    by integrating Google Voice, you can give out just one tel # for people
    to reach you at home or any cell #. Calls (free over WiFi) from your
    cell show your single unified Google Voice #. No more chasing multiple
    voice mail boxes. Plus, the many other GV features.

    Sorry to sound like a salesman, but this set up is awesome and it’s cheap!

    • Cosmo Lee

      News flash: AirVoice just lowered their data price to $0.06/MB.

  • VikasIndia

    One needs to identify monthly usage, choose a group plan for cost benefits, check coverage and get the plan which best suits your download & upload requirements. This article is very helpful:

  • mike

    Lycamobile is new in US and has the lowest rates
    0.02 cents per min talk
    0.04 cents per text
    0.06 cent per MB 4G data

    • jej

      Free incoming texts too I think.

  • Cal

    I agree that ting is expensive if only one person is using it, but if you switch an entire family over to ting, and don’t use too much data it is in fact the cheapest carrier on this list. Ting is a great carrier because of their phone selection and their prices on everything except for data.

  • RFM


    i am looking for prepaid 7 days,15 days & 30 days Unlimited solution including to India.
    have gone through your resarch impressive.
    what you suggest for my requirment

  •ü/100006483932228 Ar U. Gaetu

    Far too much info in the article to be useful, especially considering the constantly changing rates. It’s like trying to find the best gas station; it feels good now, but wait until next week.

    I still cannot find an inexpensive service and phone. All I need is GPS and occasional internet, on a phone I seldom use. Companies make it nearly impossible to compare.

    Perhaps worse is the extremely high rates in the US compared to UK and Europe, in addition to data speeds we won’t see for another 10 years. Along with health care, perhaps it’s time to move.

  • Ron Capua

    This is very helpful to any person who wanted to know about prepaid wireless information.

    • Ron Capua

      We Offer Unbelievable Prepaid Phone Package. please visit us at or call me at 800-886-0686 ext 8

    • Ron Capua

      We offer the cheapest long distance minutes to any country.

      please call us at 800-886-0686 ext. 8

  • kickboyface

    hey joe,

    great list. thanks for doing this.

    one thing to note: the reason I don’t use republic wireless is their SMS is hampered by using VOIP-like protocols…so you can’t receive MMS, you also can’t TXT to short codes (e.g. TXT “dude” to 7748 to get your free tickets)…those are deal breakers for me…so much so, that I’ll pay my extra $15 a month and stick with boost.

  • Sebastian Nuñez Del Prado

    Just to clarify something on the article that seems to be outdated information. I have Consumer Cellular 3 lines. We brought our phones over from At&t. You do get 4G Service provided you have a 4G phone and you are in the covered datazone. Same coverage zone as At&t so more often then not you’ll see the 4G icon hangin out in your status bar. I currently use the galaxy note 2 yup you guessed it 4G. My previous phone was the galaxy s2 skyrocket and 4G as well. I asked quite a few questions to the representatives at Consumer Celluar’s one of the questions I asked was are you planning on enabling 4G lte soon. Two different people said they have big plans for lte rollout in January. So remember what I said haha.
    All three of us share 2gb of data a month, 15,000 text messages (comes with the data package, connect plus I believe). And 2,000 minutes a month. And we make it last. I am the only one of the three that uses the most texts and data but it still lasts every month. You can change your plan at any time no contracts! I would recommend this to anyone with gsm smartphones laying around. They give you your first month free to see if you like it. We pay half of what we paid with at&t for an identical “family plan” on 2- year contract. we pay about 100 a month as opposed to At&t’s 200+ a month. There’s so much more then the big four of mobile communications. Just have to read up and give it a shot! Goodluck to you all!

  • turborb26

    How about Textnow wireless or Solavei or Walmart Family Mobile or Lycamobile?

  • janproef

    what about lycamobile?

  • marc

    I don´t take a t-mobile SIM. I am from germany and often use sim cards for traveling in the usa. I always order at They use AT&T SIM cards. Good choice for germans.

  • Lance

    One thing overlooked with any of the companies using AT&T GoPhone coverage (pay-as-you-go plans), you get a reduced AT&T coverage with no partner tower usage. I live in Nebraska and was told by the AT&T rep that the whole state is covered, but it isn’t. I have to be in a town on the interstate to have signal. H2O and RedPocket also say you can get signal outside of your car or building, but that is not the case if not near the interstate. If I had to do it again, I would purchase a used Verizon (CDMA) phone and go with PagePlus.

  • Dark_Laser

    H2O has unlimited data?!? What’s the catch?

  • Joe

    What about AIO wireless?

    • Guest

      AIO is no more – It is now Cricket.

  • Sebastian Nuñez Del Prado

    Update! I am still on consumer cellular and they also have 4g LTE. Assuming you are in the coverage zone (LTE market) and your device is capable.

  • Me_

    There a difference between NET 10 and Tracfone. One is GSM, the other is CDMA. You can bring your own phone on both service. On Tracfone- using Verizon- you bought a 60 minutes card for 20$ and it will give you 180 minutes of talking, 180 texts and 180 mb of data. The service is good for 3 month. You can add data only – but don’t add time. You can pay 6$/ month just to keep the service without adding minutes/text/data. Their smartphones are equivalent to a Moto E. For somebody who doesn’t use their phone everyday, this is a very good option.

    Anther error in this article: you didn’t mention the plan offer by Cricket include all fee and taxes.

    • Cali4ever

      There is a vast difference in Trac vs Net 10- and that’s the price of minutes. Trac ph is much higher. I have 2 friends and I see their calls cost 33 ¢. Yes, I know there’s other options like double minutes …also Net 10 has the options of both CDMA and GSM. Plus, depending on what model phone you choose, you can use Verizon, At&t, or even T-Mo. T-Mo’s service where I live is real spotty- yet for my friend in San Diego, T-Mo is tops for her- even beating out the high priced Verizon contract she used to have. ;)
      I made sure I knew which towers the cell phones would use before buying.

  • William D

    Consumer Cellular does have ATT 4g lte. We have 3 phone lines sharing, 600 mins call time, 15,000 texts and 2.5gb data for just over $80.00 a month. 2.5gb data is more than enough for us, wifi is used often.

  • Moch7

    There’s a mistake in the article: Verizon prepaid does not use their LTE network, you are stuck with 3G speeds.

    • JV777

      They do now.

  • Some Guy using Simple Mobile

    Tethering? Do any of these guys let you create a WiFi hotspot from your phone?

    • crim6

      Yeah, I got Cricket & their android plans include a wifi hotspot.

    • RationalGuy12

      Ting lets you create a hotspot. No extra charge. You just pay for the data. In fact I’ll be adding a 4th phone for $6 a month that will be the hotspot for my security system. Now, even if a thief is smart enough to cut phone lines, cable, and even power, the system will still work.

  • Rey Ibarguengoitia


  • Rita

    Thanks for the update…..Good information on prepaid plans.There is so many to choose from these days.

  • Liz Li

    I contacted consumer cellular about their data speed. They told me that access to 4G is limited only by the phone’s capabilities. A phone that is equipped for 4G will receive 4G service from them.

  • gphillimo

    Straight Talk is the best prepaid by far in my experience. I get 3GB of LTE(which i’ve never reached the limit on) using a Straight Talk Att lte sim. My downloads are 16-22 down and 8-12 up depending on the time of day. Since i never reach the limit i had to manually put my phone on 4G/HSPA and those speeds are 10 down and 4-6 up. And when i put it on edge/2G my speeds are 150-200kbps down and slightly more up. I didn’t test youtube on edge/2g but i did check facebook, tumblr, twitter, and gmail apps and they all loaded fine.

  • Sean Bradshaw

    I think y’all are confusing the idea of pre-paid and off-contract. Prepaid shouldn’t be a monthly rate, but an amount you pay in advance and then use until it’s empty and you pay again. At least that’s what “pre-paid” used to mean when it meant pre-paid.

    • Jeffrey Hobbs

      No, prepaid means you pay for it before you use it. That can be monthly,pay as you go or whatever. Off-contract would be if you were on a postpaid carrier and not under contract.

  • Alex

    Straight talk gives me a fast speed on the At&t network….now offer 3gb at 4g LTE. of data and my unlimited talk and text for $45 monthly $48 with tax…I don’t think I would ever change…

  • RationalGuy12

    If you are a moderate or light mobile user stay away from any plan that is ‘unlimited’. You end up subsidizing the ‘heavy’ users. My wife and I switched from Virgin Mobile where we were paying about $86 for two unlimited plans. We switched to Ting last November and added a phone for my wifes mother. The highest bill for the three phones has been $59 and the lowest has been $39. May’s bill was $57 – 3 phones @ $6 =$18, 930 min =$18, 840 txt = $5, 412MB = $12 (plus a few $$ in taxes). And the data is 4G LTE. Bought used phones on ebay and sold old phones on ebay. Paid a difference (including ebay/paypal fees) of about $20 per phone. The first month paid for this difference. We’ve been saving ever since. If you look into this please use this link.

    You’ll get $25; I get $25 if you decide to switch.

  • uagent

    You didn’t mention T-Mobile’s “hidden” $30/mo plan. They have a PAYGO plan that, for some reason, you can only sign up for on their site with a new activation or get at Wal-Mart. It’s $30/mo, comes with 100 minutes and 5 GB of LTE data. I’ve been using it for the last year and I think I’ve run out of minutes once and not hit the data cap, other then when I travelled for work. Thanks for setting up this list though, I’m always on the hunt for a better deal.

    • Yanett

      You’re paying too much for too little. Check out Ultra Mobile. You can get a $19 plan with unlimited talk and text, and 100 mb data. Plus other features. It uses the T-mobile network too so service won’t b a problem. Getting a prepaid plan straight from T-Mobile is too expensive. I know, I’ve been there.

      • Joshua Pingley

        5GB of LTE data is 5x what the highest Ultra Mobile plan offers, for $20 less. The minutes situation is a bit “meh” but the $30 T-Mobile plan is kind of THE prepaid plan to have.

        With that said, I’m considering trying out Cricket Wireless. I have the OPO so I can use T-Mobile or AT&T prepaid MVNOs. For $15 more I’d lose 2.5GB of high speed data, but gain AT&T coverage and unlimited minutes. Choices…

  • David Worthington

    Net 10 and straight talk are both trac phone, and the same company with different facades. I now that as after years of serious problems with straight talk I switched, only to learn immediately that all I accomplished was ditching the remaing time on this months prepaid plan.

    • Cali4ever

      Re: Straight Talk; I’ve had At&t (formerly Cingular) which was overpriced- I switched to Straight Talk which used the Verizon towers from where I activated my phone while I was out of town.

      Unfortunately, when I returned home and decided to get a local phone #, the ST rep either lied, or was clueless, and told me that the CDMA model I have (which uses Verizon’s towers) wouldn’t work in my home town…I informed her it worked fine here, plus my landline and ISP are through Verizon, the Rep, of course being overseas, [I doubt the Rep was knowledgeable about California’s Wireless Network Towers] informed me that there weren’t any local # for my area?! At least not for my phone’s model. [ meaning it costs more because it uses Verizon’s towers LOL]

      So I went ahead and and returned that phone and got a similar model- which used the At&t towers. Up in the mountain area where I live, Verizon has an edge over At&t, however- I get At&t’s reception just fine.
      After not liking how restrictive ST works- with only 2 choices, plus refilling with only the option of using Walmart [which is 60 miles one way from where I live] after a few months of service, I switched to Net 10 which has many more plans- I don’t need a monthly plan because I have a landline- I don’t have any desire or need for data since I have a PC, laptop, and a tablet, so no reason to use my phone.

      For me and how I use my cell phone, Net 10 is much more convenient, offers a lot of different plans- I chose 1 of the 60 day rollover minutes plan, plus I like the fact that their refill cards are available at almost every type of store, even up in my rural town I have many stores I can get them from, plus one can always do the refill at the Net 10 site, etc…Net 10 works best for me.

      I’m not saying it’s the best plan for others, but I don’t like carriers that do not offer a lot of different options and plans, along with availability on how to refill your phone.
      I do know that some carriers make it a real hassle to refill minutes, having to do this every single month, and only through calling that carrier and having to give them your bank account or credit card info. Not for me- I don’t like that type of control period.

      I’ve learned quite a bit about different carriers, phone models, and what towers they use- in the 5 years since I used ST and then compared a few others.

      Anyhow, I enjoy this forum and it’s always good to keep up on the ever changing cell phone carriers and plans. Thank you Android Authority for having a site to come to. :)

      • David Worthington

        Net 10 and straight talk are exactly the same, only the logo and colors are different.

  • dreamer3kx

    I thought Metro uses tmobiles network, sure about this?

  • Jeff

    Verizon prepaid does NOT offer 4G. They’re restricted to 3G only.

  • tdinovi

    Superb, necessary piece. Required reading for all mobile phone users. Than you, Joe!

  • Jimmy Chu

    you don’t want a contract anymore with an mobile operator, you can find here
    the completest list of prepaid plan providers from all the US. has a list of more than 50 providers besides
    the four big networks. For many people this was great help. Hope it would also
    help you!

  • p2lf

    I signed my son up for a 5GB/$30 “bring your own phone” prepaid service on T-Mobile USA. Catch is you only get 100 minutes (but teenagers don’t talk anymore) and you have to activate your SIM though Tmob customer care (not retail store).

  • Yanett

    You need an update. Check out Ultra Mobile. They recently upgraded their plans. It starts with their $19/month plan up to their $49/ month plan. All of them have unlimited talk and text globally, all have data but it varies (the 19 dollar plan has 100 mb data) plus other features. It’s GSM and you can easily buy the SIM cards online (Amazon sells them for a penny with free shipping). Of course, you need to provide your own phone, just make sure its unlocked.

  • Chonchy

    The difference in straighttalk in the $45 and $60 plans are that in the $60 plan have international calls and the $45 don’t have it.

  • Phonelooker

    Thank you for all the information!

  • luke

    I’m with CC and my moto x says its on LTE when not on my wifi at home. And, their coverage is better than the AT&T coverage map. What am I missing?

  • Paul Ramone I used this website to save money on mobile minutes. It really did help a lot.

  • Jeff Baker

    There’s a new company called campusSIMs that runs on T-Mobile’s network, and they’re great

  • forrest48

    Good article. Thanks.
    If you can get by on 250 minutes of talk and 250 text, Page Plus is hard to beat.

  • James
  • fishlove73

    H2o only offers 3g…. no 4g or LTE. Data seems like its throttled after 1g.

  • Greg Hester

    I got the new cricket wireless just over a month ago …. most of the time …even if the LTE speed indicator is showing on the phone ..I get more like 2 g speed… I am about to dump them ….

  • David Larsen

    Happy Straight talk user here. Just wanted to add that any ATT/TMO phone will work and they have an awesome byod program (as I type this on my nexus 4 running on ST). Many unlocked/international phones will work as well. Check for appropriate band compatibility with tmo/att and simply order either a tmo or att Sim and you’re good to go.


    metro pcs also offers $25 unlimited talk and txt and yes they are truly unlimited have tested them versus competitors such as cricket. Here is video proof

  • Betty

    Have you evaluated FreedomPop?

  • John Connors

    Page plus cellular has come a looong way since this article has been written. Do not pass PagePlus up, without a good look. I stack pins on their website so my service is not interrupted. for the best prepay pricing. Pageplus is on the Verizon network. Not a cellular antenna sitting on a Verizon cell tower. Know the difference! Customer service for Pageplus is excellent. Try it out for yourself.

  • Jack Smith
    200 Minutes, 500 Texts, 500MB Data – FREE
    Unlimited Talk, Unlimited Text, 500MB Data – $79.99/year OR $10.99/Month
    Unlimited Talk, Unlimited Text, Unlimited Data (Throttled to 3G after 1GB) – $19.99/Month
    You can BYOD (older phones, like iphone 4s, etc)

  • Simon Fung

    I have Espanol Mobile, $30 unlimited talk/text/500MB LTE data, they have plans that start at $4.99 per month.

  • David Hall

    straight talk 45 and 60 plans have the same amount of data its just to call and text internationally

  • Jeffrey Hobbs

    You guys obviously don’t understand how straight talk works or the difference in the plans. First, the $30 plan is not for smartphones. The only plan they offer for for smartphones is the $45 (or $60 more on that later) plans. Secondly, the access code that comes in the activate kit is not just for Sprint. Those cards support verizon 3g phones as well. I know this for a fact because I’ve activated 2 Verizon phones personally. Also the difference in the $45 and $60 has nothing to do with Data. Both plans come with unlimited data that is throttled after 3gbs. Also, this wasn’t the case in May when you last updated but as of a week or two ago the new sim kits they are selling support used Verizon 4g LTE devices as well.

  • Jeffrey Hobbs

    Also need to update PagePlus as well. They support 4g LTE now and don’t ban certain MEIDs anymore.

  • zega

    Few things, include info on technology used (GSM/CDMA so people with certain phone know if they can switch, cannot mix those two), also network each provider use/piggyback onto (helps with coverage assessment) also making nice comparison table would be nice (quick view) otherwise very helpful article!

  • Mike

    Metro PCS is now a gsm carrier using T Mobile’s network and roams on AT&T in some areas.

  • TGan

    Wondered if someone can help. Going through a divorce and my wife is constantly checking online att bill at my calls. I need to get a phone off the network or account. Went to best buy and they knew very little. Any advice. Id like a phone that I can occasionally text from and make more calls. Calls are more important to me. Texts maybe 3-4 a day and as far as data almost none since I will use my android on Att for that. Can you recommend a company which might serve my purpose? All this is over my head and I would really appreciate any and all help

  • Dirty D

    What makes me laugh is that they stated that Net10 is owned by Tracfone, and yet they didn’t mention it about StraightTalk. Straightalk is also owned by tracfone, and has been for some time now, and the only difference between the two services (net10 and straighttalk) is the fact that you can only buy straighttalk items at Wal-Mart and the price of straighttalk seems to be 5 dollars cheaper for everything.

  • Argus

    I’m surprised no one knows about Airvoice Wireless. It’s truly a hidden gem, you get all the coverage that AT&T has but the prices are amazing. You can even get a plan for only $10 that includes 250 min. talk or 500 texts, the lowest I’ve ever discovered.

  • John

    You (article’s author) never bothered to do your research adequately. Most of what you’re saying is false and you even prove that by stating the limitations of data usage in Boost Mobile’s plan and then put as a plus that they provide unlimited data on all plans, for example.

  • Derrick Lewis

    Ting and Red Pocket Mobile have horrible service… customer service is a$$…. and Red Pocket Mobile
    I can say this much don’t ever punish yourself unless your a person who needs your head checked out, then you can join
    Red Pocket Mobile this company seems to cut customers phone even after they have paid there bill and telling them they used
    to much data I have seen this literally and its sad they do such a thing once they joined Sprint everything went downhill.
    Now I am only speaking for Red Pocket Mobile better known as CDMAS this is for Red Pocket Mobile Sprint customers, don’t use it the service is bad! and the customer service is sad.. very sad like 1 to 10 I give them a 0… and thats a compliment.

  • Ed Aldrin Tallador Dungo

    I had MetroPCS for a month with 60Mbps download and 25Mbps upload on LTE. My friend had it for 8 months and he gets same LTE speeds as mine. So yeah…. MetroPCS sure is slow.

  • gaspar66mx

    You forgot chit chat mobile runs under sprint network

  • Curious

    What about ultra mobile:

  • DaCouncillor

    Hi I am in the US currently for a short while.. maybe about 6 months.. I want a simple prepaid plan ( $10- $15) to operate my Samsung Tab that I use as a mobile phone in addition to the facilities of the Tab. Basically to receive calls and to make the occasional local call. I have access to wifi, most of the time. Top Up should be convenient and easy to locate… The kind people at Walmart suggested I use TRACFONE. ( 90 day No Contract Plan with Talk, Text & Web for as low as $19.99). The Tab uses a nano sim card. I had no problems using the Samsung Tab as a phone and Tablet previously in the Middle East.
    Would this be a good choice and where can I purchase this sim card from.

    Thank you …..[email protected]

  • isis2012

    I ‘m using the Oneplus one phone on T-mo $30.
    00 prepaid plan of 100 and unlimited text and data. I had this plan for 3yrs. Lately reception is getting worse and throttling the data a week after auto pay! The phone is GSM and unlocked. Which prepay plan would be good for this phone?


    Forgot to add Verizon prepaid gives you an extra GB of data with auto pay

    • Blane Stroud

      Nevermind, they saw that. I didn’t read well enough.

  • Scott Lowe

    No mention of Wal-Mart Family Mobile. We’ve been with them for two and a half years now. Unlimited talk, text, and 6GB of data (2GB for my wife) for less than $70/month total, on T-Mobile’s network.

    • JosephHindy

      I will look into it for the next update. Thank you. Do they have a website?

      • Scott Lowe When we started with them in July, 2013, my phone had 5GB of data. My wife’s didn’t have it, because she felt like she didn’t need it. It was unlimited data, but only 5GB of high-speed. We had Nexus 4’s at the time, so 3G and HSPA+ were where I topped out anyway. Later, we added 1GB of data to her phone. Then, this last April, they announced that Family Mobile plans would add an extra GB of data to existing plans for free. That is how we ended up with 6 for me, and 2 for my wife. I have a Moto X 2014 now, so I get 4G LTE data speed. My wife still has her Nexus 4, but she doesn’t care anyway! Our monthly bill is just over $69/month total. I think it’s great, even if T-Mobile’s network is a bit hit or miss unless your in the city. Then, its awesome.

  • ejtsang

    T-mobile also still has the $30/month for 100 min talk, unlimited text, unlimited data (up to 5 GB high speed)

    • Tony T.

      That’s what I use. For $30/mo, you really can’t beat it unless you either talk a lot (who does nowadays?) or you have poor coverage in your area. I have great coverage in the places I live, work, and frequently travel to. I almost never call, so this plan is a no brainer for me.

      • Kyle Brown

        Pair it up with Google Voice, and you can call over data, or wifi absolutely free in the USA. It’s where most of my phone calls go, so I use 0 minutes most months despite making calls.

    • JosephHindy

      I know they have it, but I’ve heard it’s getting harder and harder to actually get it as a brand new customer. I believe they’re trying to actively phase it out.

      • ejtsang

        I actually was able to sign up for it pretty easily just a few days ago. But it’s true that T-mobile doesn’t make it very easy to find–the plan is buried pretty deep on their prepaid website. The catch is that you have to activate either at Walmart or on the T-mobile website. They won’t do it for you at the store. And only new activations are eligible (i.e. both phone and SIM card must have never been activated with T-mobile service previously).

      • A. Moore

        If you go to the store it’s a nightmare, my roommate just tried getting the same plan as me 30$/5GB. The store indicated I was lying about the plan until I showed the manager the offer online. They wouldn’t sell him a SIM in store without the $50 plan. So he ordered a SIM online for $0.99 and activated it online with in minutes of receiving our in the mail. The plan is sudo hidden and does use Walmart verbiage but any pre paid T-Mobile SIM kit with activation code will work. The $600/yr I save from switching from Sprint has been great if you’re ok buying a phone outright.

    • Birch Barlow

      MetroPCS now offers a $30/month plan with unlimited voice/text and 1 GB soft-capped data with no additional taxes or fees. The QoS is identical to T-Mobile prepaid. Clearly MetroPCS is the better option for data-lite users.

    • Karly Johnston

      No it doesn’t, they withdrew that offer. I tried twice with the BYOD Walmart sims but Tmob refused to activate them.

      • ejtsang

        Was this in a Walmart store or T-mobile store? Their website says they will only activate in a Walmart store but not at a T-mobile. The other option they give is to activate the sim yourself through the T-mobile website.

        • Karly Johnston

          They were both Walmart Starter Kits, I tried activating over the phone and online. Tmob said the sims were cold and could not be activated and take it back to Walmart to scan it. Walmart laughed when I told them that and they said everyone who bought these sims had to return them because Tmob withdrew the offer. They shortly took down all the starter kits and I haven’t seen one in almost a year.

          • Kyle Brown

            I’m by no means saying that you are incorrect, but I’m currently on the plan and having no issues with auto pay. May just stay that way considering that I may not be able to get it back from the sound of that, but my friend in Chicago just signed up less than a month ago at a Wallmart successfully.

          • ejtsang

            You may want to try getting a T-mobile sim starter kit and activating it on the t-mobile website. I was able to sign up for this plan just a few days ago this way.

            I guess the plan is no longer available through Walmart.

      • quick

        Already been said but yeah, it’s still there and not hidden at all… Has nothing to do with WALMART… Just but a T-Mobile Sim card kit, usually 99 cents on sale from T-Mobile or similar on eBay…

        Then just follow the instructions that’s printed on it. Go to the website put in your info and select the $30 plan. I’ve done it recently multiple times.

        Only downside to this plan is that it doesn’t include all the T-Mobile perks from the simple choice plans… ie. no free data outside the US, no free music streaming or video, no data rollover, little too no tethering (think they give ya 100mb) etc…

        But anyway I had that plan for years, had no issues just used hangouts dialer when I ran out of minutes.

        Recently switched to a 4 line family plan and now get all the perks for pretty much the same $30 I was paying before. 👌👍

  • Mohammad Aftab Uddin

    I feel like MetroPCS is the best among all of them. They have good coverage, more data and they have added music unlimited, data maximizer like options. Also no contract and customer service is awesome.

  • patstar5

    I still think Cricket Wireless is the best, especially if you have att already and want to save more money, only caveat is they cap speeds at 8mbps

  • Jerry

    Wow, those prices. I feel really sorry for americans. I have unlimited calls, unlimited texts and 5gb data and pay only 7.82 eur, which is about $8.37

    • dih706

      yes, both my exchange students in the last 5 years thought American cell phone rates were crazy high, 3-4 times more than what they were used to. Just shows you how much profit they make over here. But one girl said her college degreed teacher once told her how much she made per month and it was about 1/10 of what I earn, so it’s all relative I suppose.

    • kosa IE

      I agree with you, american prices are so expensive. I live in ireland and for the 20$ a month (prepaid) I have everything unlimited :)

  • Giuri97

    In Italy i get 300 min 300sms and 5gb and after that 64kbs for 10€… In USA prices are so high…

  • Smiley Smith

    I didnt see FreedomPop, unlimited talk and text, then unlimited data with 1gb 4g then unlimited 3g. This is only 19.99 a month.

    • JosephHindy

      I’ll look into it, but I have to give them my email address before seeing prices which is…weird to me.

  • snakeye2669

    I been rocking T-mobile prepaid for two year now. Got the $30 a month with 5 GB unlimited texts and 100 mins of talk time, 10 cents a min over that. I never go over 5 GB and talking I do sometime go over 200 mins. The catch is you have to keep hunting and buying prepaid card on eBay or local store every few months, but on eBay I normally get the card at discount rate for example $70 – $80 for $100 card, so I get on that card 3 months of data, unlimited text, and $20 left for the go over the mins on talk.

  • me_

    Once AGAINST!, you forgot to talk about pay-as-you-go or pre-paid card from TRACFONE. Presently I’m using a 100$ 1 year card who ave me once activated: 1200 minutes of talk, 1200 text and 12000mb of data.

    After 10 months, still have plenty of talk, text and data left.

    Yep, my data connection is always off ecept when needed.

    I use a Moto E.

    • JosephHindy

      that is a severe use case, though. Also, I believe Net10 works with Tracfone, or is owned by tracfone, or something like that.

    • Komplicated Savage

      Boss way to have a sec number #smart

    • dih706

      Not mentioned in the article is LYCAMOBILE…. daughter has her phone with them (an AT&T Iphone 5s) and it’s 23$ a month. Unlimited minutes and texts and unlimited data, small amount at high speed (also free calls to international countries if that’s needed, we call grandma in Canada for free which I can’t do with my PagePlus Verizon phone)…
      Best thing is Lycamobile is dead CHEAP IF YOU JUST WANT A 2ND PHONE around the house. I activated a Galaxy S3 to have as a back up phone and put their $10 pay as you go on it TEN MONTHS AGO…. it’s 4 cents per minute or text BUT incoming calls/texts are not charged for… I still have about $5 left on the thing because the pay as you go does not expire! It’s really a great deal at 50 cents average per month!!

      • kosa IE

        I just checked Lyca online and they have just 100mb data/ month for 23$, thats crap :/

        • dih706

          yes, it’s a small amount at high speed then slowed down. But, is a great plan for my middle school daughter who usually has wifi, especially with the free international calls. Or for someone like my older neighbor, who doesn’t use data much if at all.
          I’ve been most impressed with putting ten dollars on the other phone and it’s still working fine, in March it’ll be a year.

  • Chauntella Stephanie Brown

    MetroPCS is the BEST! Truly unlimited data with no data caps, reetric

  • Chauntella Stephanie Brown

    MetroPCS is the BEST! Truly unlimited data with no data caps, no data restrictions, throttles or limits for just $60 a month!!! So far l haven’t seen any other Carrier that has beat this.

  • Brock

    I didnt want to go with T-mobile or a provider that runs on their network because they still cannot penetrate big buildings in my area(downtown skyscrapers and big box stores) and I lose service once outside of the city. But I see that Tmo is improving all the time and will be keeping an eye on them and predict their service will meet or surpass ATT and VZ in 2 years.

    I didnt want Sprint or one of their MVNO service providers because their service still has a bad reputation in my area. I have been with VZ for the last 8 years and their service is great everywhere but their phone selection is limited and expensive.

    I really like being able to get an unlocked GSM phone with no carrier bloatware for a great price and the ability to jump to different carriers easily. ATT network has great coverage in the city and out and can penetrate the big buildings fine. So that left me with ATT or one of their MVNOs. I decided to go with Cricket. Their $45 unlimited talk/text 5gig plan appears to be the best on ATT network. And I can always switch to their $55 plan with 10gigs if needed but I usually am under 5 gigs every month. So IMO the best bang for my buck on a great network with a huge selection of affordable unlocked phones is…..Cricket!

    I also did some speed comparison tests using the SPEEDTEST app between VZ and Cricket. While they both have the same coverage and signal strength in my area, Cricket was consistently faster. Oh and my bill is half my VZ bill. I was able to get a new unlocked Note 5 for $550. The same phone on VZ is over $700.

  • AnonymousArt3

    Here is a tidbit, there is now Karma Go, its $50/month for 5mbps with UNLIMITED data (as it said earlier, at 5mbps, so no other throttling after that)
    I use Google Voice (GV), and next month I will be using that plan, known as Neverstop, that way i have UNLIMITED CALLS TEXTS AND DATA. What a deal that will be.

  • adi

    this is very useful. i really am always confused when it comes to phones but thanks to you your information, it has been very helpful. keep the good work up.

  • wonder’n

    Stay away from t-mobile 3.00 pay as you go plan. You’ll spend your time and money trying to keep up with disappearing minutes due to unsolicited 3rd party texts from t-mobile ‘partners’. Put this on an alarm system . Ideally, they would get to just keep the 3.00. Alas it is not going as planned. The minutes are just eaten up by text messages on a device that has no method for reading them.

    • Komplicated Savage

      3 .00 pay as u go just sounds like fu@*ery 😨😨😨😨

  • Komplicated Savage

    Why didn’t u mention u can’t tether with straight talk or they go all medieval on your ass…and your data. -_-


      They didn’t mention a lot of stuff. Like with Verizon prepaid you can get an extra gig of data if you’re on auto Pay, or that Cricket throttles you to 8mbps download…

      • Komplicated Savage

        I dont know what throttle means 😳😳😳
        I’m assuming that’s slowed data speed?

        • ASYOUTHIA

          Yeah, on Cricket its 8 mbps download speed maximum and Page Plus, the max speed is 5mbps

  • Droid22

    How about Verizon on straight talk. 5 GB byop. Yes it’s speed is throttled but the coverage is still Verizon.

  • peerpressure

    I currently use Ting on the GSM, and it’s been working great for us. Two smartphones, a total of $33 (with taxes) per month. We usually use less than 100 mbs for both of us (always on wifi). With Hangouts, we never go over 1000 texts in a month. We have gone up to the next tier sometimes for minutes, which adds $9 ($44 total with the additional taxes), but that’s still cheaper than a lot of plans out there. It would be nicer to have more data, but not enough to effectively double our expenses each month.

  • me_

    When you will drill in your head than TRACFONE and NET10 offer 2 different services. Yes, both are the same company like T-Mobile and MetroPCS are but not like these 2ones, they offer 2 distinct srrvices. NET10 is by month and TRACFONE is pay-as-you-go.

  • Todd Huber

    PTel just went out of business..I had them