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Best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans of 2021

Compare the cheapest prepaid cell phone plans

Check Coverage

In these uncertain times, the last thing you need is to be stung by your cell phone. Money savers and bargain hunters, welcome. You're in the right place. Find your next cheap prepaid cell phone plan from a low cost carrier here.

With prepaid plans, you choose a package with set features and pay at the beginning of the month. You can pick from a range of plans including set data plus unlimited talk and text, or get unlimited data if you need it.

We've analyzed the best, cheap prepaid cell phone plans out there for you to choose from.

Best prepaid plans of 2021

Cheapest Cell Phone Plans

Tello - Best cheap prepaid phone plan

Powered by:
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
1 GB
Price
$10/mo
Editors Take
5 / 5

Avoid unpleasant bill-shaped surprises at the end of each month with Tello. Operating on the T-Mobile network, they describe their plans as crazy affordable. We absolutely agree.

Read our full Tello review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 24/7 customer support

  • No contracts

  • Budget friendly family plans

Cons

  • No roaming

  • Coverage in rural areas

Carrier Benefits
  • Service on the nationwide T-Mobile network

  • Money-back guarantee on phones (no refunds on plans)

  • Prepaid - no contract, credit check, or activation fee

  • Bring your own phone or choose from a modest selection of new or refurbished devices

  • Keep your current phone number

  • Use of your plan data as a mobile hotspot through your phone is allowed

  • Use your minutes to call Canada, China, and Mexico

  • Minutes to other countries available as add-on

  • 24/7 customer service

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Tello Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$8

Tello 1GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$10

Tello 2GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

2GB

$14

Tello 4GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

4GB

$19

Tello 6GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

6GB

$24

Tello 8GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

8GB

$29

Tello Unlimited Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$39

Cheapest Unlimited Data Plans

Mint Mobile - Best prepaid unlimited data plan

Powered by:
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
Unlimited
Price
$30/mo*
* $90 for 3 months Service
Editors Take
4.5 / 5

You might have noticed we're not huge fans of unlimited data plans (because most of us only use 3-5GB.) But if you think you'd be completely stuck without it, the Mint Mobile unlimited plan is the best out there. Their unlimited coverage is powered by T-Mobile. You can also bring your own phone, or find great deals on the latest handsets.

Read our full Mint Mobile review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers the latest phones with 0% finance

  • Prepay months in bulk for more savings

  • Reliable network coverage

  • Works with most GSM phones

Cons

  • No family plans

  • Minimum 3 months

Carrier Benefits
  • Operates on the nationwide T-Mobile network

  • 7-day money-back guarantee

  • Prepaid - no contract, credit check, or activation fee

  • Bring your phone or buy a Mint Mobile device

  • Keep your phone number

  • Using your phone as a mobile hotspot is permitted

  • Free calling to Canada & Mexico, affordable rates to 160+ other locations

  • Flat-rate international roaming available as an add-on feature

  • Customer service by phone on weekdays and weekends, 24/7 by virtual chat

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Mint Mobile 4GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

4GB

$15*

* $45 for 3 Months Service

Mint Mobile 10GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

10GB

$20*

* $60 for 3 Months Service

Mint Mobile 15GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

15GB

$25*

* $75 for 3 months Service

Mint Mobile Unlimited Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$30*

* $90 for 3 months Service
Best Family Cell Phone Plans

Reach Mobile - Best prepaid family plan

Powered by:
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
3 GB
Price
$15/mo*
* 50% Off for 3 Months
Editors Take
4 / 5

Family phone plans offer multiple lines for you and your family. To get a good value plan for the whole family you'll need to know how much data you're all using. With great customer service and super flexible options we like Reach Mobile family plans.

Read our full Reach Mobile review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Socially conscious provider who gives back

  • 4G LTE network

  • Hotspot enabled

Cons

  • Small selection of handsets

  • Expensive high data plans

Carrier Benefits
  • Powered by the Verizon network

  • Service is postpaid with no credit check

  • Only upfront payment is shipping for SIM card

  • Bring your own compatible phone

  • Keep your phone number

  • Hotspot enabled on all plans

  • 24/7 customer support by phone or chat

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Reach Mobile 3GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$15*

Reach Mobile 8GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

8GB

$23*

Reach Mobile 12GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

12GB

$28*

Reach Mobile 20GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

20GB

$33*

* 50% Off for 3 Months

Best 5G Phone Plans

Boost Mobile - Best prepaid 5G plan

Powered by:
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
2 GB
Price
$5/mo*
* 50% Off 1st Month & Double Data for 3 Months
Editors Take
3.5 / 5

If you're looking for the very fastest data speeds and have a 5G compatible phone, Boost Mobile plans include 5G at no additional cost. They're one of the best MVNOs for cheap 5G cell phone plans.

Read our full Boost Mobile review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • New upgraded network with DISH

  • No annual contract

  • Unlimited music streaming

Cons

  • Coverage in rural areas

Carrier Benefits
  • Owned by Dish and runs on T-Mobile's nationwide network

  • Prepaid service - no contract, credit check, or extra fees

  • Bring your own phone (GSM compatible) or choose from a wide selection of new phones

  • Mobile hotspot allowance with all plans

  • International service and roaming available as add-on packs

  • Customer support available by phone - 4am - 8pm PST Monday to Friday, 4am - 7pm weekends

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Boost Mobile 2GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

2GB

$5*

* 50% Off 1st Month & Double Data for 3 Months

Boost Mobile 5GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

5GB

$25

Boost Mobile Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$50

Best Talk & Text Only Plans

Ting - Best prepaid unlimited talk & text plan

Powered by:
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
0 GB
Price
$10/mo*
* $5 extra per GB
Editors Take
4 / 5

Talk and text prepaid plans are great if you want a phone that functions well, without any of the distracting stuff. Ting plans are ultra-dependable and cheap.

Read our full Ting review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Simple plans for light phone users

  • Customer service

  • Nationwide LTE and 5G coverage

  • Good selection of handsets

Cons

  • Not for the data hungry user

Carrier Benefits
  • Offers coverage on both Verizon and T-Mobile

  • Prepaid service - no contract, credit check, or start-up fees

  • Bring your GSM or CDMA phone - most devices are compatible - or buy one from Ting

  • Keep your current number

  • Tethering/mobile hotspot allowed, speeds limited to 3G for GSM tethering

  • Use your plan minutes to call 60+ international locations

  • International roaming capability (at surcharged rates)

  • Extensive customer service hours by phone, chat, or email

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Ting Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$10*

* $5 extra per GB

Ting 1GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$15

Ting 5GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

5GB

$20*

* $5 Off for 6 Months

Ting Unlimited Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$40*

* $5 Off for 6 Months

Ting Unlimited Pro

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$55*

* $5 Off for 6 Months
Best Cell Phone Plans for Seniors

Twigby - Best prepaid phone plan for seniors

Powered by:
Minutes
300
Texts
Unlimited
Data
1 GB
Price
$7.50/mo*
* 50% Off for 6 Months
Editors Take
4.5 / 5

Shopping for a senior cell phone plan for yourself or a family member? Twigby is powered by the Sprint and Verizon networks. Their rates are affordable to fit almost any budget. You start at a basic wireless phone service, and can add more features for a smartphone. You or your loved one won't have to worry about paying for snazzy stuff that's not getting used.

Read our full Twigby review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No hotspot/tethering charges

  • International calling and texting

  • 4G LTE coverage

  • Exclusive deals and discounts as a Twigby customer

Cons

  • Limited handset selection

  • Not for the data hungry

Carrier Benefits
  • Runs on both the Verizon and Sprint networks

  • 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee on phones and plans (under 300 minutes, 300 texts, or 300 MB of data used)

  • Prepaid - no contracts, credit checks, or activation fees

  • Bring your CDMA device or choose from a modest selection of Twigby phones

  • Keep your own phone number

  • Use your phone and plan data as a mobile hotspot

  • Use your plan minutes to call Canada, China, and Mexico

  • Free international texting to over 180 countries

  • US-based chat support available weekdays 7am to 9pm CST and 10am to 6pm on weekends

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Twigby 300 Mins & Unlimited Texts

300

Unlimited

0GB

$4.50*

Twigby 500 Mins & Unlimited Texts

500

Unlimited

0GB

$5.50*

Twigby Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$6.50*

Twigby 300 Mins & 1GB Data

300

Unlimited

1GB

$7.50*

Twigby 3GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$10*

Twigby 5GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

5GB

$12.50*

Twigby 10GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

10GB

$17.50*

* 50% Off for 6 Months

Best Cell Phone Plans for Kids

Red Pocket - Best prepaid phone plan for kids

Powered by:
Minutes
1000
Texts
Unlimited
Data
1 GB
Price
$10/mo
Editors Take
4.5 / 5

If you're in the market for a cell phone plan for your kid, Red Pocket Mobile plans are a good option. This award winning carrier offers smaller set data plans. Keep track of how much data is being used each month and tailor the plan to suit them. You won't need to worry about coverage because they are powered by all 3 major networks.

Read our full Red Pocket review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Nationwide coverage

  • No contracts

  • Latest selection of phones

Cons

  • Account dashboard needs work

  • No 0% financing options on latest phones

  • Customer service

Carrier Benefits
  • Operates on all four networks - AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon

  • Prepaid cell phone plans - no contract, credit check, or activation fees

  • Bring your own GSM or CDMA device and keep your phone number

  • Mobile hotspot/tethering allowed with your plan data

  • Free international calling to 70+ countries

  • Customer service available in English, Chinese, Filipino, and Spanish via chat or phone

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Red Pocket 1GB Data

1000

Unlimited

1GB

$10

Red Pocket 3GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$19

Red Pocket 10GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

10GB

$30

Red Pocket 22GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

22GB

$40

Cheapest Phone Plans for One Person

Pure Talk - Best prepaid phone plan for individuals

Powered by:
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
4 GB
Price
$18.75/mo*
* 25% Off for 3 Months
Editors Take
4 / 5

The large networks only offer the best deals if you buy 4 or 5 lines together. This is not suitable for a lot of people, so if you're looking for the cheapest phone plan for one person, Pure Talk plans are a great choice.

Read our full Pure Talk review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 4G LTE coverage

  • Multi-month discounts

  • US based customer service

Cons

  • No 0% finance plans for new phones

  • May slow speeds at busy times

Carrier Benefits
  • Service provided on the AT&T network

  • Prepaid service - no contract, credit check, or activation fee

  • 30-day risk-free guarantee on plans- cancel within your first 30 days or 500 minutes/500 MB of data to receive a refund for your plan charges

  • Bring your own compatible GSM phone or buy a PureTalk USA phone

  • Keep your phone number

  • Mobile hotspot/tethering permitted

  • International calling available as an add-on calling card

  • Customer support available by phone 9am - 10pm EST weekdays and 12pm - 9pm weekends

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Pure Talk 2GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

2GB

$15*

Pure Talk 4GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

4GB

$18.75*

Pure Talk 6GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

6GB

$22.50*

Pure Talk 10GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

10GB

$26.25*

Pure Talk 20GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

20GB

$33.75*

Pure Talk Unlimited Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$41.25*

* 25% Off for 3 Months

Best International Cell Phone Plans

Gen Mobile - Best prepaid international plan

Powered by:
Minutes
300
Texts
Unlimited
Data
1 GB
Price
$9/mo*
* 25% off for 3 months - Promo: MSP25OFF3MO
Editors Take
3.5 / 5

If you make a lot of international phone calls, then Gen Mobile plans are ultra-dependable and cheap. They offer free unlimited international calling to over 100 countries.

Read our full Gen Mobile review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Good plan selection

  • Very affordable pricing

  • Free unlimited domestic and international texting

  • 15-days free texting if late on bill

Cons

  • No plans for heavy data users

  • No international roaming

Carrier Benefits
  • Coverage on the nationwide Sprint network

  • Prepaid - no contract, credit check, or activation fee

  • 7-day money-back satisfaction guarantee

  • Bring your eligible Sprint, Boost, or Virgin Mobile phone or buy a Gen Mobile phone

  • Mobile hotspot/tethering supported

  • Unlimited global text included; international plans with unlimited talk to 100+ countries, international calling to other countries available at applicable rates

  • Customer support available by phone or chat every day from 8am - 6pm PST

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Gen Mobile Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$9*

* 25% off for 3 months - Promo: MSP25OFF3MO

Gen Mobile 300 Mins & 1GB Data

300

Unlimited

1GB

$9*

* 25% off for 3 months - Promo: MSP25OFF3MO

Gen Mobile 1GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$13*

* 25% off for 3 months - Promo: MSP25OFF3MO

Gen Mobile 2GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

2GB

$17*

* 25% off for 3 months - Promo: MSP25OFF3MO

Gen Mobile 3GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$20*

* 25% off for 3 months - Promo: MSP25OFF3MO

Gen Mobile 5GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

5GB

$24*

* 25% off for 3 months - Promo: MSP25OFF3MO
Data Only Plans Comparison

US Mobile - Best prepaid data only plan

Powered by:
Minutes
0
Texts
0
Data
2 GB
Price
$10/mo
Free Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM
Editors Take
4.5 / 5

Hotspot plans are ideal if you find your home Wi-Fi isn't reliable, or you're out and about. Giving you internet access on your laptop when you're away from home. This internet could be powered by your smartphone, or another pocket sized device. We like this plan from US Mobile. All their plans are designed to save you money.

Read our full US Mobile review

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Flexible, no contract plans

  • 24/7 customer service

  • 5G coverage available

Cons

  • No international calling

  • Phone selection

Carrier Benefits
  • Coverage on either the T-Mobile or Verizon network

  • Risk-free trial: Full refund within 14 days or before 1000 talk, text, or MB's is used

  • Prepaid - no contract, credit check, or activation fee

  • Bring your own GSM or CDMA phone or choose from a small selection of phones for sale

  • Keep your own phone number

  • Mobile hotspot use available as add-on option with unlimited data plans

  • International roaming plans available with eSIMs

  • Add-ons available for talk, text, and data, with rollover

  • 24/7 customer support

Carrier Features
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

US Mobile Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$10

US Mobile 1GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$12

US Mobile 5GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

5GB

$15

US Mobile 12GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

12GB

$20

US Mobile 18GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

18GB

$25

US Mobile 30GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

30GB

$30

US Mobile Unlimited Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$45

Free Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM

Best prepaid phone service in April

Check Carrier Coverage

Prepaid phone plan benefits

We love Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs. If you're on the lookout for cheap cell phone plans, they're the best route to go down.

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.

Saving Example

T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile Plan Comparison

Keep your T-Mobile phone, number & coverage: Save $480 per year

Carrier

Network Coverage

4G LTE Data

Price

Annual Cost

T-Mobile

T-Mobile 4G LTE

Unltd*

$60/mo

$720/yr

Mint Mobile

T-Mobile 4G LTE

10GB

$20/mo

$240/yr

*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$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.

Whether you go with a GSM carrier (T-Mobile and AT&T) or a CDMA carrier (Verizon) you'll enjoy national coverage, just like with the major carriers.

Network performance ratings

NETWORK

OVERALL

RELIABILITY

SPEED

DATA

CALL

Verizon Coverage

95

96

94

96

94

AT&T Coverage

94

94

95

96

92

T-Mobile Coverage

86

88

82

89

82

Source: Rootmetrics

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.

Find Cheap Cell Phone Plans in Your Area

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:

CARRIER

TRUSTPILOT USER RATING

Reach Mobile

4.9

Tello

4.6

US Mobile

4.6

T-Mobile

1.5

Verizon

1.3

AT&T

1.2

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

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Coverage

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.

Data allowance

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

Carrier

Network

Data

Price

Tello

T-Mobile

1GB

$10

Reach Mobile

Verizon

3GB

$15** 50% Off for 3 Months

Pure Talk

AT&T

4GB

$18.75** 25% Off for 3 Months

Ting

T-Mobile & Verizon

5GB

$20** $5 Off for 6 Months

Mint Mobile

T-Mobile

Unltd

$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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

AT&T

T-Mobile

Verizon

Red Pocket

Mint Mobile

Twigby

Pure Talk

Ultra Mobile

US Mobile

h2o Wireless

US Mobile

Ting

Good2Go Mobile

Ting

Red Pocket

Unreal Mobile

Tello

Reach Mobile

Cricket Wireless

Red Pocket

Spectrum Mobile

Straight Talk

Boost Mobile

Total Wireless

FreeUP Mobile

Gen Mobile

Xfinity Mobile

Altice Mobile

GoSmart Mobile

CREDO Mobile

Freedompop

Republic Wireless

Affinity Cellular

Simple Mobile

GreatCall

Lycamobile

Walmart Family Mobile

Selectel Wireless

yahoo! Mobile

Wing

easyGO Wireless

Speedtalk Mobile

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

Phone

AT&T

Verizon

T-Mobile

Unlocked

iPhone 11

$349

$599

$599

$349

iPhone 11 Pro

$649

$899

$899

$649

iPhone 11 Pro Max

$999

$999

$999

$999

iPhone 12

$579

$829

$829

$579

iPhone 12 Mini

$479

$729

$729

$479

iPhone 12 Pro

$749

$999

$999

$749

iPhone 12 Pro Max

$849

$1,099

$1,099

$849

iPhone SE

$149

$349

$349

$149

iPhone XR

-

$409

$409

$409


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.


Recap

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.

Check out our MVNO list which includes all the wireless carriers emerging within the industry. Offering cheap cell phone plans, they'll help you save hundreds of dollars each year.

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.

MoneySavingPro methodology

We're here to bring transparency to telecoms, putting power back in your hands. This guides everything we do.

  • We've got high standards. We use our industry expertise to find carriers that reach these standards. We all deserve the best value for money, choice and customer experience.

  • We care about accuracy. MoneySavingPro is run by cell phone geeks and money saving obsessives. Our content team researches everything thoroughly so that information you read here will give you the whole picture. Everything we do is backed up by the data.

  • We keep things simple. It's our job to break down what you need to know, so you can make informed choices.

Carrier

Best for...

Mins

Texts

Data

Price

Tello SIM Card - Best cheap prepaid phone planTello

Budget

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$10/mo

Mint Mobile SIM Card - Best prepaid unlimited data planMint Mobile

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$30/mo

Reach Mobile SIM Card - Best prepaid family planReach Mobile

Family

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$30/mo

Boost Mobile SIM Card - Best prepaid 5G planBoost Mobile

5G

Unlimited

Unlimited

2GB

$10/mo

Ting SIM Card - Best prepaid unlimited talk & text planTing

Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$10/mo

Twigby SIM Card - Best prepaid phone plan for seniorsTwigby

Seniors

300

Unlimited

1GB

$16/mo

Red Pocket SIM Card - Best prepaid phone plan for kidsRed Pocket

Kids

1000

Unlimited

1GB

$10/mo

Pure Talk SIM Card - Best prepaid phone plan for individualsPure Talk

Individuals

Unlimited

Unlimited

4GB

$25/mo

Gen Mobile SIM Card - Best prepaid international planGen Mobile

International

300

Unlimited

1GB

$9/mo

US Mobile SIM Card - Best prepaid data only planUS Mobile

Data only

0

0

2GB

$10/mo

Rob Webber
Rob Webber

Rob has 15+ years experience in the US and UK running price comparison sites for cell phone plans, smartphone deals, TV, and internet. He loves thinking outside of the box to build tools that empower consumers to make more informed decisions.

The Best Prices on the Best Networks