You may not think a pay as you go cell phone plan is the right choice for you. The truth is that no-contract phones and plans are now a great choice for anyone.
When you make a pay as you go and prepaid phone plans comparison, the two are very similar. You prepay plans of either kind. Both typically allow you to add more minutes, texts, or data. The best part is you can save as much as 50% off your cell phone bill by choosing either of these options.
The competition is fierce in the wireless industry right now so we've sorted out some of the best deals for you.
In This Guide
- Key Considerations When Choosing a Pay As You Go Plan
- Consider MVNOs for the Biggest Savings
- Best Unlimited Talk and Text Pay As You Go Plans
- Best Pay As You Go Unlimited Data Plan
- Best Pay As You Go Family Plans
- Best Plans for Kids
- Best Pay As You Go Plans for Seniors
- Best Cheap Pay As You Go Plans
- Best Pay As You Go Data Only Plans
- Best Overall Pay As You Go Plan
Key Considerations When Choosing a Pay As You Go Plan
- Coverage: Wireless providers all cover most of the U.S., but there are subtle differences. Check out our cell phone coverage maps to find the best one for your area.
- Budget: As with anything else, you can spend a little or a lot. Shop around to make sure you're getting the best deal for your needs.
- Plans: Are you a heavy data user or do you just want a couple hundred minutes in case of an emergency?
- Number of lines: Some pay as you go family plans include perks like access to all of your lines from one account or parental control tools.
- Features: If you need things like international coverage or mobile hotspot data, you'll want to make sure your new carrier offers those features.
- GSM or CDMA: You can save even more money by bringing your own device. T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM technology, Verizon and Sprint use CDMA. Check with your carrier to ensure your phone is compatible.
Consider MVNOs for the Biggest Savings
Benefits of MVNOs:
- Service on the same 4G LTE networks as the big four providers
- Cheaper cell phone rates thanks to lower operating costs
- Customized plans so you can buy only what you need
- Great customer support, often 24/7
- No contracts or credit checks
- Easy online signup by ordering a SIM card and swapping it out with yours
Best Unlimited Talk and Text Pay As You Go Plans
You get Sprint network coverage with Tello and a ton of customization options. Pair unlimited talk and text with the right amount of data for you - from Wi-Fi only all the way up to 10 GB.
You also get:
- Calling to Canada, China, and Mexico
- Optional international add-on service to over 140 countries
- Freedom to switch plans at any time
Best Pay As You Go Unlimited Data Plan
US Mobile is our pick for its pay as you go unlimited plans using the Verizon network. There are nine different options. Pair your choice of minutes and texts with the data speed you want.
- Unlimited text and data, 100 talk minutes
- Unlimited talk, text, and data
- Unlimited everything plus hotspot
- Standard: 1 Mbps
- Fast: 5 Mbps
- Ludicrous: Uncapped data speed (up to 150 Mbps)
US Mobile lets you manage all of your lines through one online account. You can add more of anything any time you want.
Best Pay As You Go Family Plans
Mint Mobile (formerly Mint SIM) runs on the T-Mobile network. This MVNO operates on the basis of saving money by buying in bulk. You pay for three, six, or 12 months of service at a time. Save more by paying for more at once.
- Choose from 2 GB, 5GB, or 10 GB of data.
- Get free talk and text with any plan.
- Add more data or international service at any time.
Buy as many lines as you need. Even though it's not a traditional family plan, Mint save you more than half of the average cell phone bill.
Pro Tip: There are monthly plans offered but they'll cost you more.
Best Plans for Kids
Mint is also our favorite as the best kids cell phone plan. Pay as you go options are great for tweens and teens alike because you won't get hit with overage charges. If you do want to buy more data you can add it on at any time.
Best Pay As You Go Plans for Seniors
Choose from 200 up to unlimited minutes. Data comes in buckets of 150 MB or 300 MB of data for basic phones, and up to 4 GB for smartphones.
Twigby also includes unlimited free international texting to over 180 countries with every plan.
Best Cheap Pay As You Go Plans
Calling to Canada, China, and Mexico is included in your plan minutes and you can add more of anything as needed.
Best Pay As You Go Data Only Plans
Looking for a data only plan? Tello has the most affordable options in bucket sizes up to 10 GB. Plus you can tether your other devices.
Best Overall Pay As You Go Plan
Mint has hit the nail on the head in terms of the best all-around plans. You get:
- Great prices
- Multiple plan options
- International and data add-ons
- Unlimited calls and texts
- Better pricing the longer you stay
- 7-day customer service
All of that comes with one of the most extensive wireless networks in the industry - T-Mobile.
Great Ways to Save on Your Next Smartphone
If you're going to go with a pay as you go plan then you're going to need a phone. Here are your two ideal options:
- Bring your own: Technology has reached a point where it's ridiculously easy to bring your own smartphone to another network. You may need to have your current carrier unlock it but that's not a big deal.
- Buy a used smartphone: Sites like Swappa and Decluttr make it easy to find both iPhones and Androids for up to 50% off retail.
Don't forget to compare offers when you sell your old device so you can get the most cash out of it.
Pay as you go plans have become contenders in an extremely competitive industry. That means better plans and lower prices for you. Don't pay more than you have to anymore!