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Finding a cheap prepaid phone plan has never been easier. MVNOs are emerging as the cheapest prepaid phone companies, offering affordable plans without sacrifices.

If you've not heard of these alternative carriers such as Mint Mobile, Tello, and US Mobile to name a few, you're not alone. However, by running on the three main networks they offer you the same nationwide coverage but without the expensive price tag.

We've selected some of the best deals below where you could save up to $600 a year on your cell phone bill.

Best prepaid phone companies on T-Mobile

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with T-Mobile coverage to consider.

Cheap T-Mobile plan

Tello 2GB plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
2GB
data
$10/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$780 in annual savings

Best family plan on T-Moble

Mint Mobile 15GB plan

Image of cell phone with Mint Mobile
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
15GB
data
$15/mo*
$20/mo
See at Mint Mobile

*$45 for 3 Months

4.2 Read our Mint Mobile review
$675 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on T-Mobile

Tello unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$600 in annual savings

How T-Mobile compares

The table below demonstrates that choosing the Tello unlimited data plan would save you $600 per year compared to buying an unlimited data plan from T-Mobile directly.

T-Mobile T-Mobile coverage at a fraction of the cost
See at Tello See at Mint Mobile
*$45 for 3 Months
See at Tello
T-Mobile 4G & 5GT-Mobile 4G & 5GT-Mobile 4G & 5G
Unlimited data
*not unlimited
Unlimited dataUnlimited dataUnlimited data
$75/mo$10/mo$15/mo*$20/mo$25/mo
$900/yr$120/yr$225/yr$300/yr
1.4 on Trustpilot
4.6 on Trustpilot
2.9 on Trustpilot
4.6 on Trustpilot
Annual savings$780/yr$675/yr$600/yr

Best prepaid phone companies on Verizon

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with Verizon coverage to consider.

Cheap Verizon plan

Twigby 2GB plan

Image of cell phone with Twigby
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
2GB
data
$5/mo*
$15/mo
See at Twigby

*$5/mo for 1st 3 Mths

4.4 Read our Twigby review
$750 in annual savings

Best family plan on Verizon

US Mobile 10GB plan

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
10GB
data
$15/mo*
See at US Mobile

*$180 for 12 Mths Service

5 Read our US Mobile review
$720 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on Verizon

US Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$15/mo*
$29/mo
See at US Mobile

*30 Day FREE Trial

5 Read our US Mobile review
$594 in annual savings

How Verizon compares

The table below demonstrates that choosing the US Mobile unlimited data plan would save you $594 per year compared to buying an unlimited data plan from Verizon directly.

Verizon Verizon coverage at a fraction of the cost
See at Twigby
*$5/mo for 1st 3 Mths
See at US Mobile
*$180 for 12 Mths Service
See at US Mobile
*30 Day FREE Trial
Verizon 4G & 5GVerizon & T-Mobile 4G & 5GVerizon & T-Mobile 4G & 5G
Unlimited data
*not unlimited
Unlimited dataUnlimited dataUnlimited data
$75/mo$5/mo*$15/mo$15/mo*$15/mo*$29/mo
$900/yr$150/yr$180/yr$306/yr
1.2 on Trustpilot
4.4 on Trustpilot
4.7 on Trustpilot
4.7 on Trustpilot
Annual savings$750/yr$720/yr$594/yr

Best prepaid phone companies on AT&T

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with AT&T coverage to consider.

Cheap AT&T plan

Red Pocket 1GB plan

Image of cell phone with Red Pocket
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
1GB
data
$10/mo
4.1 Read our Red Pocket review
$780 in annual savings

Best family plan on AT&T

Boost Mobile 5GB plan

Image of cell phone with Boost Mobile
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
5GB
data
$15/mo*
4 Read our Boost Mobile review
$720 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on AT&T

Boost Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Boost Mobile
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$12.50/mo*
$25/mo
See at Boost Mobile

*50% Off 1st Mth

4 Read our Boost Mobile review
$612.50 in annual savings

How AT&T compares

The table below demonstrates that choosing the Boost Mobile unlimited data plan would save you $612.50 per year compared to buying an unlimited data plan from AT&T directly.

AT&T AT&T coverage at a fraction of the cost
See at Red Pocket See at Boost Mobile See at Boost Mobile
*50% Off 1st Mth
AT&T & Verizon 4G & 5GAT&T & T-Mobile 4G & 5GAT&T & T-Mobile 4G & 5G
Unlimited data
*not unlimited
Unlimited dataUnlimited dataUnlimited data
$75/mo$10/mo$15/mo*$12.50/mo*$25/mo
$900/yr$120/yr$180/yr$287.50/yr
1.3 on Trustpilot
4.4 on Trustpilot
1.3 on Trustpilot
1.3 on Trustpilot
Annual savings$780/yr$720/yr$612.50/yr

Best overall prepaid phone company

Tello unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$600 in annual savings

How to choose the best prepaid phone company

What network coverage do you prefer?

MVNOs are powered by the same 5G & 4G LTE networks as the big 3 wireless networks. Among the various carriers, T-Mobile obtained the top position in this J.D. Power 2023 wireless network study in terms of 5G coverage. If you have a preference for a particular network, choose an MVNO that operates on that network. Or, to identify the best cell phone service in your area, you can use our coverage checker tool.

How much data do you need?

Do you really need an unlimited data plan? The big 3 may try to persuade you otherwise, but the reality is that the majority of people only consume approximately 10GB of cellular data each month. Furthermore, if you primarily use Wi-Fi at home or work, your consumption of cellular data will probably be even lower. With cheap cell phone providers, you can choose a data plan that fits your requirements and pay a reduced amount if your data usage is lower.

Is hotspot data included?

Most carriers allow the usage of hotspot data; however, there are limitations on the quantity of data that can be used via tethering. The actual limit depends on the prepaid plan you choose and the carrier. Moreover, certain carriers offer prepaid mobile hotspot plans specifically tailored for use on mobile hotspot devices, iPads, and tablets.

What's the monthly cost?

While the big three usually charge between $75-90 per month for unlimited plans, the best MVNOs offer inexpensive plans that range from $5-35 per month. Despite their affordability, these options still offer dependable wireless coverage and fast data speeds. It's crucial to be mindful of extra fees and taxes, as some carriers include them in their pricing while others, such as AT&T and Verizon, do not.

What if I need multiple lines?

When it comes to the big wireless networks, the price advertised is only valid if you buy four lines. While with MVNOs, the price displayed is the price you pay, even if you only have one line. Furthermore, plenty of affordable carriers currently offer further reductions for additional lines with prepaid family plans.

Can I bring my own phone or buy a new device?

Despite the big 3's love of keeping their customers locked into a constant cycle of phone upgrades, MVNOs advocate the choice of bringing your own phone. This gives you the power to stay in control and only switch phones when it suits you. If you do choose to purchase a new phone, many MVNOs offer the opportunity of 0% financing for 1-2 years.

What promotions do they offer?

The big wireless promotions may appear appealing at first, but with further scrutiny of the fine print, you'll find they frequently include unnecessary items and the commitment to a lengthy 3-year phone contract. On the other hand, many Mobile Virtual Network Operators provide special discounts to new customers and offer no contract phone plans and clearer pricing structures.

Are there any additional perks?

A lot of the plans from the major networks include "free" TV subscriptions, but these eventually turn into paid subscriptions and are automatically added to your bill if you forget to cancel them after a few months. However, there are some prepaid carriers, like US Mobile, that offer free subscription services. But in our opinion, it's better to keep these subscriptions separate so that you have better control over them.

What international features are available?

If you travel often, it's recommended that you check whether your prepaid carrier offers these services. International calling and roaming are distinct features, and several MVNOs provide free international calls; however, the countries available may vary depending on the carrier. Roaming is typically offered as an optional feature, with the cost differing depending on the country you are traveling to.

Do they have parental controls?

Many MVNOs offer parental control features that enable parents to supervise their children's phone usage and data consumption. With these controls, you can set data limits, restrict access to particular apps or websites, and even track your child's location. These capabilities are available either as part of plans or can be configured in your cell phone's settings.

Check out our prepaid cell phone comparison to help find the best deal.


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Cheapest prepaid cell phone plans

Carrier Data Monthly Price Annual Price Savings
Tello 2GB $10/mo $120/yr $780/yr See at Tello
Mint Mobile 15GB $15/mo*$20/mo $225/yr $675/yr See at Mint Mobile
*$45 for 3 Months
Tello Unlimited $25/mo $300/yr $600/yr See at Tello

Prepaid phone companies FAQs


Recap

MVNOs provide great value when it comes to prepaid cell phone plans, and the best thing is there's no contract. So if your needs change, you can amend your plan or change carriers.

Prepaid phone companies encourage you to bring your own phone to save even more money; however, if you're looking to get a new handset, most MVNOs offer a selection available on a 0% finance plan over two years.

Powered by the major US networks, you can stick with the coverage you love or check the best cell phone coverage in your area using your ZIP code.

Carrier guides

How we choose the best carriers and plans

To select the best carriers and plans, MoneySavingPro's team of experts evaluated over 30 different carriers.

Carriers were rated in five categories, with a star rating from 1-5, with 5 stars being the best. We then calculate the overall star rating using the five categories:

  1. Value for money: We compare carriers based on price, features, benefits, and promotions. It's not just about the lowest price but getting the most bang for your buck.
  2. Coverage: We look at network 5G and 4G LTE coverage across the US. We use coverage maps to determine service availability and data speeds in urban, suburban, and rural locations.
  3. Customer experience: We take into account items such as current user experience, website and app usability, ease of switching, and customer service in terms of availability, channels, and satisfaction ratings.
  4. Transparency: We assess whether carrier pricing is clear and straightforward. We examine the fine print to check for hidden fees, confusing terms or conditions, and misleading offers to ensure upfront, honest prices and advertising.
  5. Range of choice: We evaluate the diversity of plan options to determine if they fit the individual needs of all customers.

Read more about our carrier ratings methodology and our editorial process.

We regularly update our comparisons. Updating cell phone plans weekly and our content monthly to ensure we are showing the latest and most accurate information.

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