Best prepaid phone service in April
Prepaid phone plan benefits
Want to stay on the same network, keep your phone and number, plus get greater flexibility?
Yep. You've got it. Forget the major carriers. Plans include everything you need, but come at a much better price with an MVNO.
Same great nationwide coverage: These cell phone carriers operate on the very same networks as the big four carriers.
Much lower prices: Save up to $600 per year on your cell phone plan. Why are MVNOs so much cheaper? They don't have the huge overhead and advertising costs the big guys do.
No contracts: Don't get trapped into a two-year agreement. Switch carriers when you decide to with a no contract phone plan.
Same cell phone service: Just because you're paying less, that doesn't mean you have to scrimp on features. Plans with unlimited everything are easy to find from these prepaid carriers. Usually, a low cost carrier plan comes with unlimited talk and text as standard, high speed data, and even mobile hotspot data features.
Keep your phone and number: You can bring your own phone and keep your phone number. No need to sign up for pricey device payments.
Customize your plan: You decide how much data you need. Choose to pay as you go, opt for unlimited or no data, minimal minutes, or unlimited talk text and data. Unlimited data plans come at a much better price with an alternative carrier. Pick the plan options that fit your budget - not the one your carrier thinks you need.
Great customer support: Smaller mobile providers are known for their attention to their customers. Stop feeling like an anonymous number getting lost in the crowd! Check out our carrier user reviews before switching.
T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile Plan Comparison
Keep your T-Mobile phone, number & coverage: Save $480 per year
4G LTE Data
|T-Mobile 4G LTE|
|T-Mobile 4G LTE|
|*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GB||Savings||$40/mo||$480/yr|
Prepaid phone plan features
4G LTE data speeds: Since MVNOs operate on the big four cellular networks you'll pay less without sacrificing speed. More and more are adding 5G coverage all the time so you can expect high-speed data.
Unlimited talk and text messaging: Finding a new unlimited plan has never been easier. Virtually all small carriers include unlimited text and calls in their plan options. Compare cheap talk and text plans with or without data.
International calls to Canada and Mexico: International calling is a must for many people. Luckily MVNOs offer some of the best international phone plans, with free calling to certain countries like Canada and Mexico, and discounted rates on others.
Multiline discounts: Low-cost carriers also offer some of the cheapest family cell phone plans, with multiline discounts.
Wi-Fi calling: This feature is handy when you're out of your service area, allowing you to make calls over the internet instead of on your cellular connection.
Tethering/hotspot data: Many low-cost carriers allow you to use your phone as a hotspot. Pick an MVNO with the best mobile hotspot plans so you can share your mobile hotspot data with other devices.
HD video streaming: Just like the big guys, some MVNOs offer HD video streaming and some don't. Read the fine print to find the option you want.
Prepaid carrier coverage
Which prepaid carrier is best for you? That depends on which network has the best coverage in your area.
Network performance ratings
Best prepaid carriers by network
And don't worry - some MVNOs are already starting to offer 5G phone plans currently being rolled out on the major networks, you'll just need to make sure you have a 5G compatible phone. In the meantime you'll still get the 4G coverage you're used to.
Prepaid carrier customer service
Concerned that low-cost carriers won't have good customer service? Don't be, on average MVNOs score much higher customer ratings than the big networks as you'll see in the comparison chart below:
TRUSTPILOT USER RATING
Prepaid phone plan types
Unlimited plans: Looking for unlimited talk text and data? Alternative carriers have got you covered. Data hungry users looking for unlimited plus plans can save serious money by switching to one of the cheapest unlimited data plans. Not sure how much data you need? Check out our data usage calculator.
Basic plans: If you (or a loved one) only use a cell phone to make a few calls, send a couple of messages and rarely go online then you can opt for a simply prepaid plan. You get basic cell phone functions, an allowance for minutes of talk, and usually around 2GB of data at a great price. Once you run out of your data allotment, speeds slow, but it's usually very easy to add on more.
Family plans: Need four lines or more? Many MVNOs offer group plans. Compare the cheapest family phone plans so you can pick and choose what each family member needs.
Bring your own phone plans: BYOP plans are the norm with smaller carriers. Compare cell phone prices and get a great deal to go with your cheap cell phone plan!
Single line plans: Stop paying a premium rate just because you only need one line. Find the best phone plans for individuals.
Talk and text only plans: Don't need data? No problem - compare cheap talk and text plans. Bonus, you'll save a ton of money if you're not paying for data!
Tablet plans: Find the cheapest data plan for your tablet or iPad.
Kids plans: MVNOs offer the best phone plans for kids because you can tailor them to exactly what you want your child to have.
Senior plans: Senior citizens often have different cell phone needs. Compare cheap cell phone plans for seniors for the perfect fit.
Pros and cons of prepaid cell phone plans
Contract free: no commitment necessary with a prepaid plan. Pay month to month and if your needs change you can amend your plan or leave at any time, without worrying about early termination charges. However, if you choose to there are plans that you can sign up for 3 or 6 months at a time, at a discounted rate.
Plans to fit you: customize your plan to suit your needs. Decide how much data you want and any other additional features.
Cheaper plans: saving money feels good, and MVNOs do just that. Their low-cost plans give you all the features you need, plus network coverage from one of the three major carriers. They can offer this as they don't have the expensive overheads from physical stores. So they pass on their savings to you.
Deprioritization: because MVNOs run on the major telecom networks, at busy times, sometimes your data speed can be slowed to avoid congestion.
What to look for when comparing plans
Of all the prepaid plans we've covered, only a handful will be a perfect fit. There's a ton of features to compare, and so much choice can be overwhelming.
That's where we come in.
We break down the most up-to-date industry knowledge and built tools to give you a clearer idea how you're using your phone. Knowing which features you really need will help narrow your search. Here are some things to consider when comparing plans.
It's a complete myth that coverage is worse with a smaller carrier. Alternative carriers use the exact same network infrastructure as the big guys. They piggyback off same towers, which power the same coverage. Switching won't mean you get poorer quality service.
Coverage is personal. Perhaps you love the coverage you get from your current provider. Whether you're with T-Mobile or Sprint, AT&T or Verizon, there are lots of low cost alternatives operating on the same network.
If you're not happy with your coverage, put your ZIP code into our coverage checker to see which carrier will give you the best service.
Figuring out how much data you need will also help you narrow down the search for the perfect plan. Once you've worked out how much you need, you'll know whether to pay more for unlimited, or save big with a set data plan.
If you plan on using your cell phone for high-data activities, streaming HD video or as a mobile hotspot home internet for example, opting for a larger data allowance makes sense. Many low cost alternatives have unlimited plans. Mint Mobile, Tello, US Mobile, and Red Pocket to name a few. Data speeds with these carriers are the same as you'd expect from the big networks.
However, we're not fans of unlimited data plans. Why pay a premium for something you don't need? Use our data calculator to see how much you need. If, like most people, you only really need around 3 to 5GB, opting for a set-data amount will save you even more.
Perks and add ons
It's not just the big guys offering additional perks. Many carriers come with different bonuses and features as standard. Unlimited talk and text comes with most, some carriers will offer sign-up bonuses, or multi-month discounts when you opt for three months, and cashback guarantees. Others have additional international features like unlimited international minutes, but there'll be a small additional cost.
Number of lines
Many alternative carriers offer multi line plans, but not all of them. Whether you're looking to switch a single line, or multiple lines will help you to narrow down your comparison search.
Some, like Mint Mobile, come with an intuitive app for you to manage all of these accounts. Switching multiple lines from your current carrier to a low cost alternative is seamless.
Prepaid cell phone plans comparison chart
$15** 50% Off for 3 Months
$18.75** 25% Off for 3 Months
T-Mobile & Verizon
$20** $5 Off for 6 Months
$30** $90 for 3 months Service
How to pick the right plan
So after comparing all these prepaid carriers, if you're still not sure, we're here to make choosing a plan less painful. There are plenty of checks you can do to make sure you choose the right phone plan for you.
There's no one size fits all when it comes to prepaid phone plans but there are different areas you can look at to find the best prepaid plans for you.
Look at how you use your phone
The first place to start is to think about what you need from your cell phone plan. A basic plan is great if you need it for calls and texts or just for emergencies. There's also plenty of options if you have loved ones living abroad with phone plans offering unlimited international calling, some with at least 200 countries including Mexico and Canada.
Decide if it's necessary to have unlimited everything or can you save money with less talk text and data and go for a set data plan option instead?
What's your budget
How much do you want to spend on your monthly bill? MVNOs offer a variety of low-cost plans that still provide the same benefits you'll find going directly to one of the major networks, but with a more affordable price tag.
Unlimited data isn't for everyone
Most plans from the major carriers offer unlimited data, but we don't believe it's necessary. On average we only use around 3 to 5GB of data a month, you can check your estimated data use with our free tool. Paying only for what you need can be a great way to save yourself some money.
If an unlimited plan is what you want, you'll find some great deals with MVNOs like Ting, Tello, and PureTalk. But first, make sure to check with the carrier how much data you're really getting. Unlimited doesn't always mean unlimited. More often than not you're getting a set amount of data at high speed, then once that's reached you get unlimited data at 2G speeds.
Best is personal
With such a wide selection there's no single best plan. For some, a great option might be a basic plan where you get unlimited talk and text. For others, it could be a family plan with four lines or plenty of high-speed data for streaming video.
Switching to a prepaid carrier
It's never been easier to switch. Let's break it down.
Customize your plan. Whether you're looking for a truly unlimited plan, or in the market for something more basic, choose a plan to suit your cell phone needs.
Prepare to make the switch. Make sure your old bills are paid up and your phone is unlocked. If you're getting a new device, transferring data from one to another is simple. Even if you're going from an iPhone to Android, and vice versa.
Set up your new plan. Keep your current carrier account open until your number has ported over. Once you're sure your new plan is up and running, cancel your old account. If you've got a new device with your Tello plan, it should be ready to use when it arrives. If you're bringing your own phone then you'll need to follow the instructions with the new SIM card kit that Tello will send to you in the post.
Bring your own phone & save even more
You need simple in your life. The great thing about MVNOs is that switching carriers is easy.
You need an unlocked phone (meaning your carrier has released it for use on another network). Once you've checked with your new provider about phone compatibility the rest is a breeze.
Most low-cost carriers simply provide you with a prepaid SIM card. You pop it into your mobile phone and follow the provider's instructions. Just make sure you don't cancel your current phone plan until you've ported your phone number over to the new carrier.
Prepaid cell phone companies list
Best prepaid cell phones
So what if you do want to upgrade your phone? It's all good - with a prepaid carrier you can save a ton of money by choosing one of a couple of great money-saving options:
Buy a new phone from the carrier: More and more MVNOs are offering a selection of affordable phones. Some even give you the choice of making device payments instead of paying all at once. We've gathered the best cell phone deals for you to compare all in one place.
Buy a refurbished cell phone: If you'd rather own your phone outright, compare refurbished phone deals to save over 50% on top models in great condition.
Compare prepaid iPhone prices
Prepaid phone plans FAQs
Who has the best prepaid unlimited plan?
We like the Mint Mobile unlimited data plan - running on the T-Mobile 4G LTE & 5G network. You can compare the best unlimited data plans available on all networks.
Which prepaid plan is best?
There's no one size fits all approach. This is why prepaid carriers allow you to tailor a plan to suit your needs. It depends on your usage, network coverage, and needs.
Can I use a Verizon contract phone for prepaid?
Prepaid carriers encourage you to bring your own phone. However, some phones are locked to a network. You can check your phone compatibility on the carrier's website.
Who is the best prepaid carrier?
This depends on a number of factors. How much your budget is, your needs, and phone use. Check which network has the best coverage in your area then compare prepaid carriers on your preferred network.
Phew! So there you have it, a run-through of all the best prepaid plans out there. By switching to one of these, you can dodge rising costs of cell phone plans from the big carriers. For every $80 per month plan from the big carriers, there's one from an alternative carrier for around half that.
Still not convinced? We get it, for a long time the big networks have dominated the telecoms world. Perhaps till now you'd only ever heard of the bigger names, like Metro by T-Mobile or Cricket Wireless. But now, there's an incredible range of carriers to choose from. Smaller carrier plans offer the same great stuff. However you use your cell phone, there's a prepaid carrier with a plan to match and we're here to help you make the best choice.
You don't have to sacrifice cellular coverage you already know and trust, or 4G data. These carriers have the same quality offering, only the price is better. That includes new devices, whether you're on the look out for a basic cell phone or an iphone 12, there are carriers stocking the device you want. And if you don't want a snazzy new phone? You can bring your own device.
With so many plans on offer from low-cost carriers, you can find one which is tailored toward specific needs. Need to make regular calls to Mexico and Canada? Not a problem. Don't want to pay big each month for unlimited talk? These MVNOs have got you covered.
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