Best pay as you go phone plans in 2024

Same coverage: Cut your bill by $600 per year

Big Wireless
$75
/mo
Unlimited data
$900/yr
vs
Tello on T-Mobile
Tello logo on phone
$25
/mo
Unlimited data
$300/yr
See at Tello
US Mobile on Verizon
US Mobile logo on phone
$25
/mo
Unlimited data
Boost Mobile on AT&T
Boost Mobile logo on phone
$25
/mo
Unlimited data
Find a cheaper plan in seconds Save your money

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Fed up with the big three's limited selections, baffling charges, and relentless assault on your finances?

As these telecom titans revel in their latest profit surges and tee up even more price hikes, it's clear they've overlooked the power of today's discerning consumer.

Using almost 15 years of experience in the telecom arena, I've witnessed the disparity in pricing grow ever more stark, yet the pathway to a smarter choice has never been clearer.

I've sifted through and reviewed 30 alternative carriers and explored over 100 pay-as-you-go plans, all to spare you the hassle.

To save you time, I have excluded carriers that:

  • Only offer unlimited data plans
  • Only advertise multi-line prices
  • Have confusing phone bills with unexpected fees
  • Lure customers with "free" phones
  • Constantly try to upsell additional lines
  • Bundle plans with unnecessary subscriptions
  • Need loads of small print to explain their offers
  • Want you to go to a store
  • Need a commission-based salesperson
  • Reward customer loyalty with increased prices

What may surprise you is the robust lineup of carriers in play. While you may not recognize them by name, they provide service over the same reliable networks you're accustomed to but without the hefty price tag.

Choosing the right plan comes down to understanding your network preferences and data usage.

I've cultivated a selection of the best value pay as you go plans across all user types and networks. I've also pinpointed one plan that offers the greatest value, yet the ultimate decision is in your hands!

Best pay as you go plans on T-Mobile

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with T-Mobile coverage to consider.

Cheap T-Mobile plan

Tello 2GB plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
2GB
data
$10/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$780 in annual savings

Best family plan on T-Mobile

Mint Mobile 15GB plan

Image of cell phone with Mint Mobile
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
15GB
data
$15/mo*
$20/mo
See at Mint Mobile

*$45 for 3 Months

4.2 Read our Mint Mobile review
$675 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on T-Mobile

Tello unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$600 in annual savings

Best pay as you go plans on Verizon

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with Verizon coverage to consider.

Cheap Verizon plan

Twigby 2GB plan

Image of cell phone with Twigby
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
2GB
data
$5/mo*
$15/mo
See at Twigby

*$5/mo for 1st 3 Mths

4.4 Read our Twigby review
$750 in annual savings

Best family plan on Verizon

US Mobile 10GB plan

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
10GB
data
$18/mo*
See at US Mobile

*$210 for 12 Mths

5 Read our US Mobile review
$684 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on Verizon

US Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo*
See at US Mobile

*30 Day FREE Trial

5 Read our US Mobile review
$600 in annual savings

Best pay as you go plans on AT&T

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with AT&T coverage to consider.

Cheap AT&T plan

Red Pocket 1GB plan

Image of cell phone with Red Pocket
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
1GB
data
$10/mo
4.1 Read our Red Pocket review
$780 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on AT&T

Boost Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Boost Mobile
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$12.50/mo*
$25/mo
See at Boost Mobile

*50% Off 1st Mth

4 Read our Boost Mobile review
$612.50 in annual savings

Best overall pay as you go plan

Tello unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$600 in annual savings

Big wireless: Big prices, big profits, little value

With the average phone bill of $155 per month and the prices of other basic needs rising, it's no wonder nearly 38 million Americans are living in poverty. The government's recent response? To cut funding to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which helps 22 million low-income families access affordable internet and cell phone service.

At the same time, the big three spent January celebrating record profits and multi-billion dollar shareholder dividend payouts. To add insult to injury, they are simultaneously announcing yet more price hikes. With consumers outnumbering shareholders, the math doesn't add up.

Awareness is power - there are other options outside of the big three, so the power is in your hands!

Take back control of your phone bill

A big wireless unlimited plan will cost you $1,600 extra over the next 3 years compared to getting the same service from an MVNO.

An unlimited data plan with a major provider will cost you $2,700 over the next 3 years for just 1 line. In comparison, unlimited plans from a low-cost carrier over the same period would only cost you $900.

So, buying plans directly from Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T is now 3 times more expensive for the same coverage. This does not include fees and taxes or future price hikes.

Why is it so much more expensive to buy the same service directly?

Big wireless companies tack on extra expenses. Essentially, you are paying for multi-billion dollar ad campaigns, stadium sponsorships, and thousands of stores with commission-based salespeople - all these costs are passed onto the many to maximize profits and dividend payouts of the few.

With the next generation of MVNOs, you instantly switch online and simply pay for phone service - none of the extras.

Cut your phone bill, not your coverage

Low-cost carriers are an unbeatable alternative. They offer transparent pricing, a wide range of customizable data plans to fit your needs, and higher-rated customer service experiences.

The best news? Keep your phone, number, coverage, and most importantly, your money!

It's quick and easy. You can complete the entire switching process online in minutes with an eSIM-compatible phone.

Now is the time to reevaluate your options and take back control of your phone bill. Free yourself from price hikes forever!


Compare the cheapest pay as you go cell phone plans

Carrier Data Monthly Price Annual Price Savings
Tello 2GB $10/mo $120/yr $780/yr See at Tello
Mint Mobile 15GB $15/mo*$20/mo $225/yr $675/yr See at Mint Mobile
*$45 for 3 Months
Tello Unlimited $25/mo $300/yr $600/yr See at Tello

Check out our pay as you go phone plan comparison to find the best deal.


How to choose the best value pay as you go carrier

  • Which network powers lifestyle? Whether you're navigating city streets or the quiet corners of rural life, seamless connectivity is a must. Luckily, affordable carriers tap into the same broad 5G & 4G LTE networks as the industry giants. According to the latest Opensignal 5G Experience Report (2023), T-Mobile shines in 5G coverage. Choosing any MVNO on your preferred network doesn't mean sacrificing quality.
  • Curious about your actual data needs? In the sea of unlimited data plan pushers, you might discover your personal usage is quite modest, thanks to home Wi-Fi and public hotspots. Cost-effective carriers design plans to fit your real needs, considering the average monthly cellular data usage is around 10GB.
  • Do you need tethering for work or leisure? Hotspot functionality typically comes standard, although the details can vary depending on provider and plan.
  • Are you worried about costs? Traditional network direct plans can be expensive ($75-$90), but there are MVNO deals from $5-35 that offer significant savings without skimping on quality.
  • How many lines are you considering? Skip the rigid multi-line packages from major networks. MVNOs offer the flexibility of pay as you go pricing without the burden of unnecessary costs.
  • Thinking about your device options? Imagine a company trying to save you money. MVNOs encourage you to bring your own device, freeing you from the endless cycle of upgrades. There are also affordable choices with 0% financing available.
  • On the hunt for straightforward deals? Nix complex and confusing big wireless offers. MVNOs stand out with their transparent promotions, letting you know upfront exactly what you're signing up for.
  • Considering perks or extras? The draw of "free" subscriptions might be enticing, but it's vital to assess if these benefits truly align with your lifestyle or will end up as just another expense. Opt for perks that genuinely enhance your daily life.
  • Is international communication a priority? Staying connected with family and friends is essential. Several low-cost carriers include free international calling to several countries, an invaluable feature for those with global connections.
  • And what about parental controls? Parents can track and monitor their kids' data consumption. Put limits in place using plans or your phone's settings.

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Pay as you go plans FAQ


Recap: What is the best pay as you go phone plan?

Amidst the relentless price increases from the big three, families are feeling the pinch in every aspect of their finances, from the supermarket to the utility bill. This tactic confirms that big wireless companies seem more focused on profit margins than on meeting actual consumer needs.

However, there's a silver lining when it comes to managing your mobile expenses. Opting for the right carrier can allow your family to enjoy dependable service without the hefty price tag, offering the potential to save significantly on each line with a cheap pay as you go plan.

For families considering a shift to a more cost-effective and flexible mobile solution, the choice is more important than ever.

We've developed our comprehensive cell phone plan comparison tool, designed with your specific needs in mind. It's here to navigate you through the sea of options, ensuring you find not just any plan but the ideal pay as you go plan.

Prepaid plan guides

How we choose the best carriers and plans

To select the best carriers and plans, MoneySavingPro's team of experts evaluated over 30 different carriers.

Carriers were rated in five categories, with a star rating from 1-5, with 5 stars being the best. We then calculate the overall star rating using the five categories:

  1. Value for money: We compare carriers based on price, features, benefits, and promotions. It's not just about the lowest price but getting the most bang for your buck.
  2. Coverage: We look at network 5G and 4G LTE coverage across the US. We use coverage maps to determine service availability and data speeds in urban, suburban, and rural locations.
  3. Customer experience: We take into account items such as current user experience, website and app usability, ease of switching, and customer service in terms of availability, channels, and satisfaction ratings.
  4. Transparency: We assess whether carrier pricing is clear and straightforward. We examine the fine print to check for hidden fees, confusing terms or conditions, and misleading offers to ensure upfront, honest prices and advertising.
  5. Range of choice: We evaluate the diversity of plan options to determine if they fit the individual needs of all customers.

Read more about our carrier ratings methodology and our editorial process.

We regularly update our comparisons. Updating cell phone plans weekly and our content monthly to ensure we are showing the latest and most accurate information.

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