We maywhen you click our links.

Full Advertiser Disclosure:

MoneySavingPro believes everyone should be able to cut their bills and choose the best deal based on their individual requirements. While our site doesn't feature every carrier or provider available on the market, we're sure you'll be able to make significant savings from the information we provide and the free independent tools we create.

How can we provide this service for free? Our partners compensate us. This may influence which plans we compare and review and write about, but it does not effect our recommendations or advice, which are based on thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services.

Best Pay As You Go Phone Plans in 2021

Compare the cheapest pay as you go plans

Best cheap plan
1GB 4G/5G data
$10 per month
Powered by:

See Deal

Best unlimited plan
Unltd 4G/5G data
$30* per month
Powered by:

See Deal

* $90 for 3 months Service
Best family plan
5GB 4G/5G data
$15 per month
Powered by:

See Deal

Free Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM
Cheap PAYG Plans Starting at $10/mo - Compare Now
Find the best phone plans in your area

Looking for the best pay as you go plans? You've come to the right place.

With no-contract and flexibility to cancel at any time, this plan can save you hundreds of dollars a year. We've analyzed some great low-cost carrier plans.

Find out how you could save around 50% a month on your cell phone bill, without losing the same coverage and service you've grown to trust.

Tello SIM Card - Best cheap pay as you go plan - TelloTello SIM Card - Best cheap pay as you go plan - Tello
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
1 GB
Price
$10/mo
Editors Take
5 / 5
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

Features
Benefits

Pros

  • 24/7 customer support

  • No contracts

  • Budget friendly family plans

Cons

  • No roaming

  • Coverage in rural areas

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

Mint Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go unlimited plan - Mint MobileMint Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go unlimited plan - Mint Mobile
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
Unlimited
Price
$30/mo** $90 for 3 months Service
Editors Take
4.5 / 5
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
Features
Benefits

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

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

US Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go family plan - US MobileUS Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go family plan - US Mobile
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
5 GB
Price
$15/moFree Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM
Editors Take
4.5 / 5
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

US Mobile Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$8

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

Features
Benefits

Pros

  • Flexible, no contract plans

  • 24/7 customer service

  • 5G coverage available

Cons

  • No international calling

  • Phone selection

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

Ultra Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go 5G plan - Ultra MobileUltra Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go 5G plan - Ultra Mobile
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
2 GB
Price
$11/mo** Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20
Editors Take
3.5 / 5
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Ultra Mobile 250MB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

0.3GB

$8*

* Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20

Ultra Mobile 2GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

2GB

$11*

* Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20

Ultra Mobile 3GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$16*

* Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20

Ultra Mobile 6GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

6GB

$22*

* Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20

Ultra Mobile 15GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

15GB

$24*

* Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20

Ultra Mobile Unlimited Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$32*

* Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20
Features
Benefits

Pros

  • Simple account dashboard

  • Unlimited international talk and text

  • Nationwide coverage

Cons

  • Customer service

Benefits

  • Coverage provided on the nationwide T-Mobile network

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

  • Bring your own compatible GSM phone or buy one from Ultra Mobile

  • Mobile hotspot use supported

  • Unlimited global texting and unlimited calling to 80+ countries

  • International roaming credits available in $5, $10, or $20 denominations

  • International plan tier comes with uTalk - a feature that gives you up to 1250 bonus minutes to your choice of 39 additional destinations

  • Customer service available by phone, email, and chat from 6am to 6pm every day

Ting SIM Card - Best pay as you go talk & text plan - TingTing SIM Card - Best pay as you go talk & text plan - Ting
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
0 GB
Price
$10/mo** $5 extra per GB
Editors Take
4 / 5
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

$25*

* $20 Off for 3 Months

Ting 12GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

12GB

$30*

* $5 Off for 6 Months
Features
Benefits

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

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

Twigby SIM Card - Best pay as you go plan for seniors - TwigbyTwigby SIM Card - Best pay as you go plan for seniors - Twigby
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
3 GB
Price
$10/mo** 50% Off for 6 Months
Editors Take
4.5 / 5
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Twigby Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$6.50*

* 50% Off for 6 Months

Twigby 1GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$8*

* 50% Off for 6 Months

Twigby 3GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$10*

* 50% Off for 6 Months

Twigby 5GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

5GB

$12.50*

* 50% Off for 6 Months

Twigby 10GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

10GB

$17.50*

* 50% Off for 6 Months
Features
Benefits

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

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

Red Pocket SIM Card - Best pay as you go plan for kids - Red PocketRed Pocket SIM Card - Best pay as you go plan for kids - Red Pocket
Minutes
500
Texts
500
Data
0.5 GB
Price
$10/mo
Editors Take
4.5 / 5
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Red Pocket 3GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$10*

* 50% Off First Month

Red Pocket 500MB Data

500

500

0.5GB

$10

Red Pocket 10GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

10GB

$15*

* 50% Off First Month

Red Pocket 22GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

22GB

$20*

* 50% Off First Month

Red Pocket 50GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

50GB

$25*

* 50% Off First Month
Features
Benefits

Pros

  • Nationwide coverage

  • No contracts

  • Latest selection of phones

Cons

  • Account dashboard needs work

  • No 0% financing options on latest phones

  • Customer service

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

Good2Go Mobile SIM Card - Best individual pay as you go plan - Good2Go MobileGood2Go Mobile SIM Card - Best individual pay as you go plan - Good2Go Mobile
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
3 GB
Price
$10/mo** 50% Off for 3 Months
Editors Take
4 / 5
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

Good2Go Mobile 1GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$7.50*

* 50% Off for 3 Months

Good2Go Mobile 3GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$10*

* 50% Off for 3 Months

Good2Go Mobile Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$10

Good2Go Mobile 6GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

6GB

$15*

* 50% Off for 3 Months

Good2Go Mobile 10GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

10GB

$35

Good2Go Mobile 20GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

20GB

$45

Features
Benefits

Pros

  • 4G LTE coverage

  • No contract

  • No credit checks

Cons

  • No unlimited data options

  • No app interface

Benefits

  • Coverage on the nationwide AT&T & T-Mobile networks

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

  • Bring your own phone or buy a Good2Go Mobile phone

  • Mobile hotspot/tethering not supported

  • International calling to over 60 countries available as affordable plan add-on; calling to other countries via add-on calling card

  • Customer service available by phone 7am - 1am EST every day

US Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go hotspot plan - US MobileUS Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go hotspot plan - US Mobile
Minutes
0
Texts
0
Data
2 GB
Price
$10/moFree Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM
Editors Take
4.5 / 5
Plans
PlanMinutesTextsDataPrice

US Mobile Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$8

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

Features
Benefits

Pros

  • Flexible, no contract plans

  • 24/7 customer service

  • 5G coverage available

Cons

  • No international calling

  • Phone selection

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

The best pay as you go plans in October

Check Carrier Coverage

Pay as you go plan benefits

Take back control of your cell phone bill with a pay as you go plan. Only pay for what you use, not a cent more.

You'll find a great choice of pay as you go plans from Mobile Virtual Network Operators, (MVNOs for short). Choose which features to pay for each month, get more flexibility and control, and save a ton of money while you're at it. It's one of the many reasons we love smaller carriers.

If you're on the lookout for a cheap pay as you go plan an alternative carrier is the best route to go down.

Let's take a look at the benefits.

  • Same great nationwide coverage: Pay as you go carriers operate on the very same networks as the big guys.
  • Much lower prices: You could save up to $600 per year on your cell phone plan. How are MVNOs so much cheaper? They don't have the huge overhead costs that come with running retail stores or maintaining the network. Plus, they don't fork out for advertising campaigns like the big guys do.
  • No contracts: Don't get trapped in a long-term commitment. Switch when you decide the time's right.
  • Same cell phone service: Paying less doesn't mean scrimping on features. Plans with unlimited everything are easy to find. Plus, you'll usually get unlimited talk and text as standard, high speed 4G LTE data, and even mobile hotspot features.
  • Keep your phone and number: Save more by taking advantage of the bring your own phone feature. Your old number will be ported over to your new plan, no problem.
  • Control over your plan: With a pay as you go plan you customize everything to suit your needs. Decide how much data you need, go unlimited or opt for no data. Tailor your message and call allowance, get minimal minutes or unlimited talk text and data. With alternative carriers, you build a plan to fit.
  • Great customer support: Smaller providers pay attention to their customers. You're more than a number to them. Check out our carrier user reviews before switching.

Best T-Mobile pay as you go plan

Mint Mobile 4GB data plan* $45 for 3 Months Service

Unlimitedmins

Unlimitedtexts

4 GB

4G/5G data

$15/mo*

$3.75 per GB

Powered by: T-Mobile

T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile Plan Comparison

Keep your T-Mobile phone, number & coverage: Save $660 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
T-MobileT-Mobile 4G LTEUnltd*$70/mo$840/yr
Mint MobileT-Mobile 4G LTE4GB$15/mo$180/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$55/mo$660/yr

Best Verizon pay as you go plan

US Mobile 5GB data planFree Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM

Unlimitedmins

Unlimitedtexts

5 GB

4G/5G data

$15/mo

$3.00 per GB

Powered by: Verizon & T-Mobile

Verizon vs US Mobile Plan Comparison

Keep your Verizon phone, number & coverage: Save $780 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
VerizonVerizon 4G LTEUnltd*$80/mo$960/yr
US MobileVerizon 4G LTE5GB$15/mo$180/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$65/mo$780/yr

Best AT&T pay as you go plan

Good2Go Mobile 3GB data plan* 50% Off for 3 Months

Unlimitedmins

Unlimitedtexts

3 GB

4G/5G data

$10/mo*

$20/mo

$6.67 per GB

Powered by: AT&T & T-Mobile

AT&T vs Good2Go Mobile Plan Comparison

Keep your AT&T phone, number & coverage: Save $690 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
AT&TAT&T 4G LTEUnltd*$75/mo$900/yr
Good2Go MobileAT&T 4G LTE3GB$20/mo$210/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$55/mo$690/yr

Pay as you go phone plans features

  • 4G LTE data speeds: MVNOs operate on the big cellular networks, so you don't sacrifice speed. As 5G coverage is rolled out, more low cost alternatives are adding this to their offering too, so you can expect high-speed data with your next carrier.
  • Unlimited talk and text messaging: It has never been easier to find a new unlimited plan. Pretty much every plan from a small carrier includes unlimited text and calls. Compare cheap talk and text plans and opt for, or go without data.
  • International calls to Canada and Mexico: You shouldn't have to pay more to keep in touch with loved ones abroad. Alternative carriers offer the best international phone plans. Many come with free calling to Canada and Mexico, and offer affordable add-ons for more countries.
  • Multiline discounts: If you're looking to switch multiple lines over to a new plan, low-cost carriers offer the cheapest family cell phone plans out there. With most of these plans the more lines you add, the less you pay.
  • Wi-Fi calling: This feature is super handy if you find yourself in a signal shadow with no cellular connection, but do have WiFi. Simply make calls over the internet instead.
  • Tethering/hotspot data: Use your set data allowance to get more devices online. Most low-cost carriers will allow you to use your phone as a hotspot as no additional cost. Browse some of the best mobile hotspot plans.
  • HD video streaming: Fancy features like high definition video streaming come with plans from MVNOs. As it is with the big networks, some smaller carriers offer this feature, others don't. Check with their customer support people if you're not sure.

Compare pay as you go phone plans

CarrierNetworkMinutesTextsDataPrice
TelloT-MobileUnltdUnltd1GB$10
Mint MobileT-MobileUnltdUnltd4GB$15** $45 for 3 Months Service
TwigbyVerizonUnltdUnltd5GB$12.50** 50% Off for 6 Months
TingT-Mobile & VerizonUnltdUnltdUnltd$25** $20 Off for 3 Months
US MobileVerizon & T-MobileUnltdUnltd30GB$30Free Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM

Carrier coverage comparison

Which pay as you go carrier is best for coverage depends which network has the best coverage in your area.

Whether you choose a GSM carrier (T-Mobile and AT&T) or a CDMA carrier (Verizon) you'll enjoy the same coast-to-coast coverage you'd expect from a major carrier.

Network performance ratings

NETWORKOVERALLRELIABILITYSPEEDDATACALL
Verizon Coverage9596949694
AT&T Coverage9494959692
T-Mobile Coverage8688828982

Source: Rootmetrics

Find Cheap Cell Phone Plans in Your Area

Prepaid carrier customer service

It's a myth that customer care is worse with a cheaper prepaid carrier. On average MVNOs score much, much higher for customer satisfaction than big networks. Take a look at the comparison chart here to see what we're getting at.

CARRIERTRUSTPILOT USER RATING
Reach Mobile4.9
Tello4.6
US Mobile4.6
T-Mobile1.5
Verizon1.3
AT&T1.2

Pay as go phone plan types

  • Unlimited plans: It's super easy to find unlimited talk text and data plans from alternative carriers. Their unlimited data plans come at a much better price. It's worth checking whether you even need to go unlimited though, as you can save a heap more by opting for a set-data plan. Use our data usage calculator to see how much you need each month.
  • Basic plans: Only use a cell phone to make a few calls, send a couple of messages and rarely go online? Go for a simply prepaid plan. You'll get basic cell phone functions, a set amount of minutes of talk, and around 2GB of data. If your data allotment runs out adding more is simple.
  • Family plans: You'll find a great number of MVNOs will offer group plans. So if you need four lines or more, compare the cheapest family phone plans and tailor the plan to your family.
  • Bring your own phone plans: Smaller carriers make it east for you to bring your own device. In fact, BYOP plans are the norm. Porting your number and data to a new plan is seamless.
  • Single line plans: You no longer ned to pay a premium for a single line plan. Here are some of the best phone plans for individuals.
  • Talk and text only plans: You or a loved one rarely use data? Get a cheap talk and text plan instead. You'll save a ton of money by opting for no data.
  • Tablet plans: Alternative carriers aren't just for cell phone plans. You can find cheap data plans for your tablet or iPad too.
  • Kids plans: Pay as you go plans are perfect for kids because you can customize them. We think smaller carriers have the best phone plans for kids. You have control over the features your child has access to.
  • Senior plans: Older folk may have different cell phone needs, and there are plans to suit. Find cheap cell phone plans for seniors and discover the perfect fit.

Considerations when comparing pay as you go plans

  • Coverage: low-cost carriers we recommend hook onto the major networks; Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. Use our cell phone coverage maps to find the best coverage in your area.
  • Budget: prices vary, but one thing is for sure, pay as you go plans are super budget friendly.
  • Plans: only pay for what you need. Whether you're a heavy data user, or you just want a couple hundred minutes in case of an emergency, there's a plan to suit you.
  • Number of lines: family cell phone plans include multiple lines, and many come with intuitive apps to help you manage your account.
  • Features: international coverage and mobile hotspot data are useful features for those often on the move. You can usually find these come as standard, or as a low cost add on, with alternative carrier plans.
  • Bring your own phone: save more by bringing your own device. You'll need to check whether your phone is compatible. Use our IMEI checker to figure this out fast.

Pay as you go plan pros and cons

Pros

  • Contract free: feel the freedom with a pay as you go plan. If your needs change, you can change your plan. And forget early termination charges, leave at any time. Most come with 100% money-back guarantees. Be aware through, you can bag a bigger discount by signing up for more months at a time. Mint Mobile, for example, offer a bigger bargain with their 3 or 6 month plans.
  • Plans to fit you: know how you use your phone and customize the plan to suit you.
  • Cheaper plans: take control of your budget. Get features you need, network coverage from the big guys and save money.

Cons

  • Deprioritization: MVNOs piggyback off the major telecom networks. If their network gets busy, they may slow your data.

Considerations when comparing pay as you go plans

Of all the prepaid plans we've covered above, only a few will be the best fit. With so many features to compare and so many carriers to choose from, it can get overwhelming.

That's where we come in.

Use our tools and articles to get a clearer idea of how you're using your phone and which features you really need. This will help narrow your search. Let's run through some things to consider when comparing plans.

Coverage

One of the concerns we hear is that coverage might be worse with a smaller carrier. It's simply not true. Smaller carriers are on the exact same network infrastructure as the big guys, so you get the same great coverage.

We know coverage is personal. Love the service you get right now? Whether you're with T-Mobile or Sprint, AT&T or Verizon, there's a whole heap of alternatives operating on the same network for you to choose from.

Fed up with the coverage you get right now? Put your ZIP code into our coverage checker and find a new carrier on one of the other big networks that'll improve your service.

Data allowance

Work out how much data you need before paying more for unlimited. If you use your cell phone to regularly stream HD video or as a mobile hotspot, a larger data allowance might be for you. Mint Mobile, Tello, US Mobile, and Red Pocket are just a few carriers offering cheap unlimited data plans.

However, we don't see the sense in opting for an unlimited data plan if you don't need it. Use our data calculator, see how much you need and if, like most people, you only use 3 to 5GB, opting for a set-data amount will lower your monthly bill.

Number of lines

Many alternative carriers offer multi line plans. Some, like Mint Mobile, have an app to make managing multiple accounts easier. And whether you're switching a single line or multiple lines over to a new carrier, it's a seamless process.

Consider why we're so attached to multi line plans though. It tends to be the best way to bag a bigger deal, right? With a low cost carrier, the value you get on a single line plan might be enough. Before discounting single line carriers, see how much you could save switching all lines across to separate plans.

How to find the best pay as you go plan

Still not sure? There's no one size fits all when it comes to finding the best plan or carrier, so here are some questions to ask to check it's the right one for you.

  • Cost: Set a limit for how much do you want to spend each month, then find a plan to suit that. MVNOs offer a variety of cheap plans that still provide the same benefits you'll find from the big guys.
  • Call & text usage: First things first, ask what you need from a cell phone plan. Basic plans are great if you rarely your device, maybe you make a few calls and send a limited number of text messages a month. Perhaps you have loved ones abroad? There's a load of international options, such as unlimited international calling. Some carriers will include as many as 200 countries, including Mexico and Canada.
  • Data usage: Most plans from the major carriers offer unlimited data, but it's worth checking your usage first. Most people use 3 to 5GB of data a month. Set data plans give you the financial freedom to only pay for what you need. Decide if it's necessary to have unlimited everything, or if you can go for a set amount of data and save more.
  • Compare plans: If totally unlimited is the way for you to go, Ting, Tello, and Pure Talk all offer great unlimited data plans. Always be sure to check how much data you're really getting. Unlimited doesn't mean unlimited. It means a lot. You'll usually get around 15 GB of high speed data. Once you've burned through your data allotment that, you get unlimited data at 2G speeds.

How to switch to a cheaper pay as you go plan

Switching has never been simpler. It's easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Customize your plan. Find a plan to suit your cell phone needs.
  2. Prepare to make the switch. Pay old bills and get your phone unlocked.
  3. Set up your new plan. Keep your current carrier account open until your number has ported over. A new device should be ready to use when it arrives. If you're bringing your own device you'll need to follow instructions that come with the new SIM card kit.

Pay as you go companies list

AT&TT-MobileVerizon
Red PocketMint MobileTwigby
Good2Go MobileUltra MobileUS Mobile
Unreal MobileUS MobileTing
Pure TalkTingRed Pocket
h2o WirelessTelloReach Mobile
Cricket WirelessRed PocketSpectrum Mobile
Straight TalkGoSmart MobilePage Plus Cellular
Black WirelessRepublic WirelessTotal Wireless
Kroger WirelessSimple MobileXfinity Mobile
easyGO WirelessLycamobileCREDO Mobile
Optimum MobileSelectel WirelessAffinity Cellular
FreedompopBoost MobileGreatCall
Gen MobileWalmart Family Mobile
Wing
easyGO Wireless
Speedtalk Mobile

Best pay as you go cell phones

Want to upgrade your phone? No problem. Here are a couple of great money-saving options:

  • Buy a new phone from the carrier: More and more carriers are offering a selection of affordable phones. Some offer the choice of making device payments, rather than paying all at once. Here are the best cell phone deals all in one place.
  • Buy a refurbished cell phone: Rather own your phone outright? Compare refurbished phone deals ad you could save to save 50% on recent releases.

Compare the cheapest pay as you go cell phone prices

ModelConditionMemoryCompatibilityPrice
Apple iPhone 11New64GBAT&T$499
Apple iPhone 11 MaxNew64GBAT&T$899
Apple iPhone 11 ProNew64GBAT&T$799
Apple iPhone 12New64GBT-Mobile$729
Apple iPhone 12 miniNew64GBT-Mobile$629
Apple iPhone 12 ProNew128GBVerizon$999
Apple iPhone 12 Pro MaxNew128GBT-Mobile$999
Apple iPhone 13New128GBT-Mobile$829
Apple iPhone 13 miniNew128GBT-Mobile$729
Apple iPhone 13 ProNew128GBT-Mobile$999
Apple iPhone 13 Pro MaxNew128GBT-Mobile$1,099
Apple iPhone SENew64GBT-Mobile$399

Pay as you go phone plans FAQ

How does pay as you go work?

With pay as you go you purchase your talk, text, and data upfront. So there's no surprising bills at the end of the month. When you reach your limit, you top up with what you need.

What is the best and most affordable cell phone plan?

MVNOs provide plans to suit any budget. Whether you're looking for unlimited data, international calling, or just a basic phone plan.

Which is the cheapest pay as you go SIM card?

Powered by T-Mobile, Tello offers one of the cheapest pay as you go SIM cards. With a low starting cost you can customize the plan to your needs.


Recap

Pay as you go plans are the perfect fit for anyone wanting to take back control of their cell phone bill. Build a plan to suit you, not the one your carrier tells you to pick.

You can choose your data allowance, pick the features you really need and pay less. No more horrible bill-shaped surprises at the end of the month. Finding your next pay as you go cell phone plan from a lowcost alternative has never been easier.

Still not ready to switch? We get it. The big networks have dominated the telecoms world for a long time. Perhaps till now, you'd only ever heard of smaller carriers like Cricket Wireless or Metro by T-Mobile. Today, there's a huge range to choose from. And however you use your cell phone, there's a pay as you go carrier with a plan to match. We're here to help you find the best one tailored to your specific needs.

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.
CarrierBest for...MinsTextsDataPrice
Tello SIM Card - Best cheap pay as you go planTelloBest cheap planUnlimitedUnlimited1GB$10/mo
Mint Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go unlimited planMint MobileBest unlimited planUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited$30/mo
US Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go family planUS MobileBest family planUnlimitedUnlimited5GB$15/mo
Ultra Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go 5G planUltra MobileBest 5G planUnlimitedUnlimited2GB$14/mo
Ting SIM Card - Best pay as you go talk & text planTingBest talk & text planUnlimitedUnlimited0GB$10/mo
Twigby SIM Card - Best pay as you go plan for seniorsTwigbyBest senior planUnlimitedUnlimited3GB$20/mo
Red Pocket SIM Card - Best pay as you go plan for kidsRed PocketBest kids plan5005000.5GB$10/mo
Good2Go Mobile SIM Card - Best individual pay as you go planGood2Go MobileBest individual planUnlimitedUnlimited3GB$20/mo
US Mobile SIM Card - Best pay as you go hotspot planUS MobileBest hotspot plan002GB$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.