Prepaid SIM Card: Plan Comparison

Compare the best prepaid SIM cards

Switch & Save$600*per year

Saving Example - T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile

Network: T-Mobile 4G LTE
Data: Unlimited*
Monthly Cost: $70
Annual Cost: $840
Network: T-Mobile 4G LTE
Data: 8GB
Monthly Cost: $20
Annual Cost: $240
Switch & Save: $600/yr
Don't waste money on data you don't use!*average data usage of unlimited data plan customer is 3-5GB

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Nationwide CoverageThe same networks you already use4G LTE Data SpeedFastest speeds on largest networksKeep Your Phone & NumberBring your phone to the new carrierNo ContractPrepaid plans with no credit checks

Comparing 102 plans from 12 carriers

Monthly Price:$1-100
TelloSprint NetworkUnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts1GBdata$10/moSee DealTextNowSprint NetworkUnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts2GBdata$20/moSee DealReach MobileAT&T NetworkUnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts3GBdata$25/moSee Deal

Showing cheap plans compatible with

Tello
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:1 GB4G data
Tello is powered by:Sprint
Tello SIM Card
NetworkSprint
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkCDMA
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes Mexico, Canada & China
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 3 days
TextNow
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:2 GB4G data
TextNow is powered by:Sprint
TextNow SIM Card
NetworkSprint
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkCDMA
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsNo
Money Back GuaranteeNo
Average Customer Rating1 Star2 Star3 Star4 Star5 Star5 User Reviews
Reach Mobile - 3GB Data Plan30% Off with Promo Code: MSP30
Reach Mobile
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:3 GB4G data
Reach Mobile is powered by:AT&TVerizon
* 30% off the first 3 months with promo code: MSP30
Reach Mobile SIM Card
NetworkAT&T, Verizon
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM & CDMA
Mobile Hotspotn/a
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International Callsn/a
Money Back Guaranteen/a
Average Customer Rating1 Star2 Star3 Star4 Star5 Star3 User Reviews
i3 Mobile
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:Unlimited4G data
i3 Mobile is powered by:AT&T
i3 Mobile SIM Card
NetworkAT&T
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes Canada & Mexico
Money Back GuaranteeNo
Twigby - 300 Mins & WiFi OnlyPromo Code: MONEYSIM
Twigby
Mins:300minutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:0 GB4G data
Twigby is powered by:VerizonSprint
* 25% off for the first 6 mths
Twigby SIM Card
NetworkVerizon & Sprint
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkCDMA
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes Mexico, Canada & China
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 30 days
Mint Mobile
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:8 GB4G data
Mint Mobile is powered by:T-Mobile
* 3 months service for $60
Mint Mobile SIM Card
NetworkT-Mobile
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - 3 mths prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes Mexico & Canada
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 7 days
Ultra Mobile - 3GB Data Plan15% Off with Promo Code: multi15
Ultra Mobile
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:3 GB4G data
Ultra Mobile is powered by:T-Mobile
* buy 3 months get 3 months free
Ultra Mobile SIM Card
NetworkT-Mobile
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes 80 countries
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 10 day
PureTalk USA - 500MB Data PlanMSP Exclusive: 25% off the first 3 months
PureTalk USA
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:0.5 GB4G data
PureTalk USA is powered by:AT&T
* 25% off the first 3 months
PureTalk USA SIM Card
NetworkAT&T
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile Hotspotn/a
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International Callsn/a
Money Back Guaranteen/a
Gen Mobile - 1GB Data Plan5% Off with Promo Code: MSP5Off
Gen Mobile
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:1 GB4G data
Gen Mobile is powered by:Sprint
* Unlimited international calls to 100 countries
Gen Mobile SIM Card
NetworkSprint
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkCDMA
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer ServiceMon-Fri 9am-6pm
International CallsYes - 101 countries
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 7 days
Tello
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:4 GB4G data
Tello is powered by:Sprint
Tello SIM Card
NetworkSprint
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkCDMA
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes Mexico, Canada & China
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 3 days
Ting - 500 Mins/1000 TextsPromo Code: MONEYSAVINGPRO10
Ting
Mins:500minutes
Texts:1000texts
Data:0 GB4G data
Ting is powered by:SprintT-Mobile
* $10/mo discount for first 3 mths
Ting SIM Card
NetworkT-Mobile & Sprint
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkCDMA & GSM
Mobile HotspotNo
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes 60 countries
Money Back GuaranteeNo
Ultra Mobile - 6GB Data Plan15% Off with Promo Code: multi15
Ultra Mobile
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:6 GB4G data
Ultra Mobile is powered by:T-Mobile
* $162 for 6 months service
Ultra Mobile SIM Card
NetworkT-Mobile
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes 80 countries
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 10 day
TextNow
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:0 GB4G data
TextNow is powered by:Sprint
TextNow SIM Card
NetworkSprint
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkCDMA
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsNo
Money Back GuaranteeNo
Average Customer Rating1 Star2 Star3 Star4 Star5 Star5 User Reviews
Mint Mobile
Mins:Unlimitedminutes
Texts:Unlimitedtexts
Data:3 GB4G data
Mint Mobile is powered by:T-Mobile
* 3 months service for $45
Mint Mobile SIM Card
NetworkT-Mobile
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - 3 mths prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes Mexico & Canada
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 7 days
Ting - 100 Mins/100 TextsPromo Code: MONEYSAVINGPRO10
Ting
Mins:100minutes
Texts:100texts
Data:0 GB4G data
Ting is powered by:SprintT-Mobile
* $10/mo discount for first 3 mths
Ting SIM Card
NetworkT-Mobile & Sprint
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkCDMA & GSM
Mobile HotspotNo
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes 60 countries
Money Back GuaranteeNo

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* MoneySavingPro compares plans from numerous low-cost carriers in one place. We do our best to keep everything as up to date and accurate as possible but there may some discrepancies on the actual price you pay. We provide this free service to make it easier for you to switch to a cheaper carrier and save money.

How to Find the Best Prepaid SIM

Last Updated:

The prepaid SIM card is an option for those who would not prefer to make a commitment to a carrier network. Not only that but a prepaid SIM card is perfect for those with mediocre or below credit or who don't want to pay a hefty postpaid plan deposit.

So you may be a little confused as to what a prepaid SIM card is in comparison to a subscription-based SIM card. Well, we're here to explain that to you.

We're also here to compare prepaid SIM cards. Inside this guide, you'll find information on not only the definition of a prepay SIM card, but also what prepaid SIM cards are compatible with the Apple iPhones, Android phones, and Samsung Galaxy devices. We'll also show you a step-by-step guide on how to activate a SIM card, and SIM cards in relation to the Internet of Things.

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What Is a SIM Card?

A SIM card, or subscriber identity module card, contains your profile and other information, including text messages, contacts, and more. Not only does a subscriber identity module card features your unique identity, but it also allows you to use a tower specific to the carrier you are with. Without a SIM card, you won't be able to operate your phone with the carrier.

There are also various forms of SIM cards - for instance, the global SIM card or the local SIM card.

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Switch & Save:$600/yr
Mint MobileT-Mobile

With a prepaid individual or monthly plan, the SIM card records all the details regarding said prepaid plan and helps the carrier and consumer adhere to the prepaid agreement. For instance, if more minutes than what are agree upon are exceeded, then the SIM card sends the message to the carrier to stop the service.

As a result, if a consumer wants to continue service, then they need to purchase more cell phone minutes, known as buying more air time or topping up minutes. The SIM card then registers the new amount of minutes and tells the carrier's computer servers to turn the cell phone back on.

Nowadays, there are several prepaid carriers and prepay plans complete with SIM-only service, allowing you to purchase a SIM card for your phone, pop in said SIM card, and activate service without a second thought.

Related: SIM Card Size Guide

Prepaid SIM Cards Across Devices

Below, you'll find what SIM Cards are compatible with Apple iPhones, Android phones, and Samsung Galaxy phones:

Apple iPhone

All of the latest iPhones - between the Apple iPhone 6 and Apple iPhone SE - sport the Nano SIM card size. Check out Apple iPhone SIM cards here.

Android Phones

Many recent Android models - like the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, LG G5, LG G5 SE, LG G6, LG V10, and LG V20 - sport a Nano SIM card slot. However, some models still retain the Standard SIM card size.

One such model happens to be the HTC Desire. Not only that, but it is important to note that entry-based or mid-range phones are likelier to feature the Micro-SIM card size.

To learn more, go to our guide on Android SIM cards.

Samsung Galaxy Series

Some Samsung Galaxy series phones sport the Micro-SIM card (Micro-SIM is the third generation of SIM cards), while others feature the Nano SIM.

For instance, the 2016 version of the Samsung Galaxy J3 and the 2016 version of the Samsung Galaxy J7 both host Micro-SIM card slots, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Note 7, Note Edge, S6, S6 Edge, S6 edge+, S7, S7 edge, S8, and S8+ all have a Nano SIM card tray.

To see the entire table of Samsung phones and their compatible SIM cards, go to our Samsung Galaxy SIM card guide.

Prepaid SIM Cards Across Carriers

Here is where you'll find the prepaid SIM cards offered by a few prepaid carriers.

T-Mobile Network

This no-contract cell phone carrier features a prepay SIM card for purchase.

All you need to do is bring your own device - that way, you'll skip the credit check. Not only will you keep your existing phone number, be able to use your device with any prepaid plan, and retain your existing apps and contacts, but you won't have any commitments whatsoever with the T-Mobile network.

What you need to do is check your device's compatibility with the T-Mobile network, buy a SIM card, which will be shipped to you, and then insert the SIM card into your phone. The SIM card will then activate a starter Pay As You Go cell phone plan, complete with 30 minutes of talk or 30 texts (or any combination of the two that adds up to 30). If you dislike the plan, you can always compare prepay plans and instead adopt a prepay plan with unlimited talk and unlimited text.

Straight Talk

With Straight Talk, you can bring your own phone and receive a SIM card activation kit, complete with a monthly plan featuring unlimited talk, unlimited text, and unlimited 2G data, though the first 8GB of data will be for high-speed mobile internet. Better yet is that the Straight Talk cell phone plan is rather cheap.

Sprint Network

Sprint network does not offer a prepaid plan for bringing your own phone. In other words, the mobile phone carrier doesn't offer prepaid SIM cards.

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile does not currently support prepaid SIM cards. It's unfortunate, but Virgin Mobile has also undergone a huge overhaul involving their newest plans and iPhones.

How to Activate a SIM Card

While the process may differ slightly when activating your SIM card, overall it's very much the same, no matter which carrier you decide to go to.

  1. After receiving your SIM card, remove the slot from your no-contract cell phone. On a GSM phone, the card tray is normally located near the battery. It's another story for CDMA phones. For instance, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 SIM card slot is located on top of the mobile phone.
  2. Head over to the activation page provided by your carrier's site. You may also dial the carrier's phone number to have a representative walk you through.
  3. Typically, you input the SIM Card ID and the Device ID into the boxes.
  4. Then follow the instructions for activation.
  5. Et voila! Your phone should be activated!

To find compatible SIM cards for your network, check out our guides on GSM SIM cards and CDMA SIM cards.

How Much Does a SIM Card Cost?

A SIM card isn't even that expensive. A SIM card can run you anywhere between free of charge and - if you buy one with a plan attached to the SIM card - $45. In other words, you're hardly paying anything for the SIM card itself. If you're looking for a carrier that provides free SIM cards, you should check out our comparison guide to free SIM card carriers.

Pay As You Go SIM Cards

Unfortunately, there aren't many US carriers who sell Pay As You Go SIM cards. One such carrier that does, however, is T-Mobile. As I've mentioned in an earlier section, if you buy a prepaid SIM card, you'll have access to the Pay As You Go Plan, which grants you 30 minutes or 30 texts (or a combination of both). However, you can always top off your plan if you've run out of minutes and/or texts.

SIM Cards and the Internet of Things

SIM cards have increasingly become more valuable with time. Not only are they part of the mobile phone, but they have made their homes in data-only devices like smart watches, tablets, alarm systems, GPS trackers, and more. In other words, SIM cards have only become more integrated into your life.

Related: What is the Internet of Things?

Specialty SIM Cards

There are some SIM cards that are designed for specific devices or functions. Many of these special SIMs I mentioned above, but there are a few more.

  1. 4G LTE: The 4G LTE SIM card is designed to give you talk, text, data, and any other feature of your cell phone plan but at the fastest possible speeds of our current technological generation. Unless specified, a SIM card you purchase may not be 4G LTE.
  2. Data Only: The Data Only SIM card is pretty self-explanatory. Because this type of SIM card only gives you an Internet connection and an allotment of data, you won't get any minutes or texts. This isn't a nail in the coffin, however, as they are plenty of free, third-party apps that allow for WiFi calling and texting.
  3. Micro SIM Cards: The Micro SIM card is simply a smaller version of its standard predecessor. Although the regular SIM card is quickly becoming obsolete, the micro variant is still in use, albeit in older generation phones and connected devices.
  4. Nano SIM Cards: The Nano SIM card is the smallest iteration yet. Many of the latest smartphones and devices use these.

Recap

While the prepaid SIM card isn't as popular in the states as it is in the United Kingdom, it has begun making its home, with many people opting for the service - for instance, Straight Talk offers prepaid SIM cards, complete with high-speed mobile internet, and there have been a few people who have opted into it.

Hopefully, with time, the service will grow to where it is a more commonplace option (the international SIM card is in the same boat), even when compared to postpaid SIM cards.

SIM cards are used for a plethora of connected devices. For more guides, reviews, and comparisons check out our connected devices directory!

If you're in the market for a cheap cell phone to pair with your SIM card, take a look at our prepaid smartphones directory.

The Best Cell Phone Plans

Popular Questions

Who should switch to a low-cost carrier?

Low-cost carriers are perfect for anyone that is looking to save money on their cell phone plan, without compromising on coverage. Whether you're a family, senior, student, cord cutter, business owner or just a savvy consumer, there's a customized plan suitable for everyone.

How come I haven't heard of these low-cost carriers?

The reason these plans are so cheap is because the carriers are online only, which eliminates the majority of the costs that the big 4 have to cover. So you're only paying for cell phone service and not for shops with staff on every street corner and expensive marketing campaigns!

However, you'll still receive the same level of coverage that you're used to from the big 4 because the low-cost carriers use their networks.

How do I switch my carrier?

Switching to a low-cost carrier is smart, quick and simple. You don't have to buy a new phone, since you can bring your device to the new carrier. You can keep your old number. All you need to do is order a SIM card and once you have that, you can switch your phone service in as little as 2-3 minutes.

What network coverage will I get with a low-cost carrier?

All low-cost carriers use at least one of the big 4 networks (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint). So you will receive the same the network coverage as you would expect from signing up with the big 4 directly, just without the big prices!

Can I keep my phone number when I switch?

Yes! It's easy to port your existing phone number during the activation process.

Who should switch to a low-cost carrier?

Low-cost carriers are perfect for anyone that is looking to save money on their cell phone plan, without compromising on coverage. Whether you're a family, senior, student, cord cutter, business owner or just a savvy consumer, there's a customized plan suitable for everyone.

How come I haven't heard of these low-cost carriers?

The reason these plans are so cheap is because the carriers are online only, which eliminates the majority of the costs that the big 4 have to cover. So you're only paying for cell phone service and not for shops with staff on every street corner and expensive marketing campaigns!

However, you'll still receive the same level of coverage that you're used to from the big 4 because the low-cost carriers use their networks.

How do I switch my carrier?

Switching to a low-cost carrier is smart, quick and simple. You don't have to buy a new phone, since you can bring your device to the new carrier. You can keep your old number. All you need to do is order a SIM card and once you have that, you can switch your phone service in as little as 2-3 minutes.

What network coverage will I get with a low-cost carrier?

All low-cost carriers use at least one of the big 4 networks (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint). So you will receive the same the network coverage as you would expect from signing up with the big 4 directly, just without the big prices!

  • Verizon Network: US Mobile, Twigby, Pix Wireless, Red Pocket
  • T-Mobile Network: US Mobile, Mint Mobile, Red Pocket, Ting
  • Sprint Network: Tello, Twigby, Ting, Red Pocket
  • AT&T Network: Red Pocket

Can I keep my phone number when I switch?

Yes! It's easy to port your existing phone number during the activation process.

Can I bring my phone to the new carrier?

Yes! Almost all unlocked phones that have a SIM card slot will work with a low-cost carrier. If your phone is locked to a carrier you will need to contact your existing carrier to get it unlocked.

Is my device compatible with the new carrier?

AT&T and T-Mobile devices are generally GSM devices and Verizon and Sprint are generally CDMA devices. It is recommended that if you plan to bring your device to the new carrier, that you choose a carrier that operates on the same network. Although some devices, like newer iPhones are compatible with all networks, as they support both GSM and CDMA.

You can check your devices compatibility on the carrier website before you signup.

Is there a contract or credit check?

No. All low-cost carriers work on a prepaid month to month basis, meaning there is no commitment and you can switch carriers as often as you like. As the plans are prepaid, these low-cost carriers do not run a credit check.

Do low-cost carriers have unlimited data plans?

Yes! Some MVNO's such as US Mobile and Ultra Mobile offer unlimited data, talk & text plans. However, it's worth noting that the average data usage an unlimited data plan user is only 3-5GB. So be sure to only pay for data that you need.

Can I get a data only plan for my tablet or hotspot?

Yes, many low-cost carriers of cheap plans for tablet or hotspot devices, you can see our comparison here:

The networks available with each carrier various and is listed within our comparison tables.

Do low-cost carriers offer family plans?

The plans are already extremely so family plans as less common but some carriers do offer further discounts for multiple lines.

How does billing work?

These a prepaid plans, not contract plans, which means that you pay for 30 days when your plan starts, not afterwards. If you run low on data, talk or text you can recharge your balance with Top Ups. You can also switch on AutoPay to ensure you automatically renew your plan every 30 days.

Can I share my plan across multiple devices?

No. Each plan is for one line. And every device needs it's own line.

Can I tether my device and use it as a hotspot?

Yes, most low-carriers allow you to do this but it may depend on the plan you select, so you will need to check on the carriers website.

Does low-cost carriers offer international calling?

Yes, some carriers include calls to international countries. It depends on the carrier you choose but this information can be found on their website before you sign up.

What is the refund policy?

Most low-cost carriers offer a full refund within 7-14 days if you are not satisfied with the service. It depends on the carrier, so be sure to check this on their website.

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