Last updated Mar. 12, 2023 by Peter Jakes
Prepaid plans are for people who don’t want a contract or credit check and don’t need unlimited data.
These plans are also perfect for teenagers because they can be set up through their parents’ accounts so that parents have some control over how much data their kids use each month.
If you’re a parent or caregiver looking for just one plan that gives the most bang for its buck, look no further than our list of the best-prepaid cell phone plans below.
Prepaid Unlimited Starter
This plan offers a lot of data. The best part is that it’s unlimited! Consider this plan if you need more time on the phone and less worrying about how much data you’re using.
As a bonus, all text messages sent to countries outside of the US will be free! You’ll also get unlimited talk and text within the United States and Mexico.
- Unlimited talk, text, and data
- Unlimited mobile hotspot
- Unlimited music streaming
- Unlimited international text
- Unlimited international calling to Mexico, Canada, India, and over 100 other countries. You can also make calls to the US while traveling in each country at no additional charge.
International calls are billed at a flat rate of $0.25/min; an unlimited plan is required for this feature.
- In-flight texting: You can send texts on your phone while boarding an airplane (provided you have Wi-Fi).
There’s no need to turn off your data before boarding—Boost Mobile will send an SMS message with instructions on how to start texting when it’s time for takeoff.
International texting: Boost Mobile offers unlimited international texting from the USA to 88 countries around the world, including Canada, Mexico, India, and China;
No roaming fees are associated with sending or receiving messages from these locations.
If you’re looking for a plan with unlimited data, look no further than Cricket Wireless. For $55/month, you can get unlimited data, talk, and text and 2GB of 4G LTE monthly data.
Once that runs out, your speeds will be reduced to 3G, but you’ll still have all your other features available. This is an excellent option if you want to use just enough monthly data so it doesn’t matter if it gets throttled at the end of the billing cycle.
For the price of $10 per GB, you get unlimited talk and text. Data is unlimited at slow 2G speeds and fast LTE speeds, as well as wifi hotspots and Google Fi hotspots.
You can also use international LTE speeds in over 170+ countries worldwide for no extra charge.
Mint Mobile’s $30 plan is a great option for those who want to take advantage of the new Unlimited Freedom plans from T-Mobile and Sprint but aren’t willing to switch carriers yet.
This plan includes unlimited talk and text plus 8GB of LTE data. You can add more data by buying 3GB packs, perfect for those who use their phones sparingly throughout the month or only occasionally need a lot of bandwidth.
The Mint Mobile app offers detailed data usage tracking, so you know exactly how much you use anytime.
This carrier also includes unlimited international calling to Mexico, Canada, India, and dozens more countries worldwide (and free calls within North America).
If you don’t have an unlocked phone that supports CDMA bands (iPhones do not), this might not be your best bet, as Mint Mobile operates exclusively on Verizon’s network with its own SIM cards.
Good read: Twelve ways to Get Cheap Cell Phone Service
What’s good about the Red Pocket Mobile 1GB $10 Plan is that it includes:
- 1GB of data
- Unlimited talk and text
- Unlimited international texts
- Unlimited international calling to Mexico and Canada
- Unlimited domestic calls – no additional charges (overages) for using your plan’s allotted minutes/texts/data.
What are the downsides? There are none. The only downside is that this plan is unavailable in every state, so check out their coverage map before signing up.
If you want to keep your monthly cell phone bill down, the best-prepaid options are those that provide unlimited talk, text, and a fair amount of data. The Republic Wireless My Choice Plan (1GB) offers this combination at $20 monthly.
- Unlimited Talk & Text – You get unlimited talk and text on any US-based number, including calls to Canada and Mexico.
- 1GB Data – That’s enough for most people who don’t stream video or download large files frequently (but if you do, there are better options).
- Fewer Features – While the Republic Wireless My Choice Plan includes additional features like voicemail transcription and WiFi calling, it doesn’t offer caller ID or visual voicemail by default. This can be added for an additional charge, though!
If you want unlimited talk, text, and data without any strings attached, then the Straight Talk Ultimate Unlimited $55/Month Plan may be for you.
The plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data with no data cap. It also comes with unlimited 4G LTE mobile hotspot usage that can be used on a laptop or tablet.
The plan has an unlimited international calling to Mexico and Canada and unlimited international texting to more than 200 countries with no per-country fees.
Sprint’s Prepaid 6GB plan is one of the most affordable options. With it, you’ll get 6GB of high-speed data to use in the US, plus unlimited talk and text. You can also take advantage of unlimited international text messages.
It gets better: This plan comes with unlimited mobile hotspot data at up to 8Mbps (which means you can share your Wi-Fi connection with up to eight devices simultaneously).
It also offers unlimited music streaming and international roaming in Mexico and Canada. If you travel often for work or pleasure, this is a great option for keeping connected while abroad.
T-Mobile Simply Prepaid 10GB High-Speed Data | Unlimited Talk & Text – $50/mo.
No contract, credit check, activation fees, and roaming charges. This prepaid plan offers 10GB of high-speed data and unlimited talk & text to use in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.
Verizon Wireless 5GB prepaid data plan is great for those looking for unlimited talk and text and up to 5GB of high-speed data.
This plan is $50 per month, making it one of the cheapest prepaid plans today. However, if you need more than 5GB of high-speed data each month, you can pay an additional $10 per gigabyte to cover what you use above your limit.
The Verizon Wireless 5GB Plan includes unlimited international texting and no contract commitments. That means there are no contracts or credit checks required when signing up.
No activation fees or roaming charges are associated with this plan; however, taxes may vary depending on where you reside in the United States (or outside).
When looking for the cheapest prepaid phone plans, remember a few things. First and foremost, you want to find a plan that doesn’t charge extra for features like rollover minutes or mobile-to-mobile calling.
The best way to ensure you don’t pay these fees is to read the fine print carefully. Make sure your plan gives you a good amount of talk minutes. You can also save money on your cell phone bill using a prepaid phone card instead of paying a monthly bill online.
And if you’re considering switching to one of the major carriers like AT&T or Verizon, be aware that some of their prepaid plans are actually more expensive than their postpaid counterparts.
Walmart prepaid phones are a great option for those looking for reliable cell phones as an alternative to the more expensive plans offered by major providers.
They’re especially handy for anyone that doesn’t want a long-term commitment, whether it’s because they’re moving soon and don’t want to be stuck with a plan that has no coverage in their new home or because they’d just rather not.
Some even many people have cell phones with month-to-month plans but simply like to have a Walmart phone as a backup in case their primary phone breaks or if they lose or break it themselves.
What are the disadvantages of a prepaid phone?
The first disadvantage is that you have no guarantee of service. When you buy a prepaid phone, you’re buying an airtime card activated when you add the minutes to your phone.
If the company goes out of business or stops providing service in your area, your phone number and minutes are worthless. The second disadvantage is that losing your phone loses all the information stored.
Most phones have applications, photos, videos, and other information stored on them that can’t be replaced, so losing your phone means losing all that information.
The third disadvantage is that if your airtime runs out, any calls to your prepaid number will go straight to voicemail until the balance is replenished. The fourth disadvantage is that your airtime will expire and can be used up if you don’t use it.
The fifth disadvantage is that your phone may not work properly in some areas, especially outside major metropolitan areas.
AT&T is giving away the iPhone 6 for free. The carrier is running a promotion to give you the $199-value smartphone for free when you sign up for one of their GoPhone plans.
In addition to the free iPhone 6, AT&T offers several other deals. If you buy an iPhone 5S with a two-year contract, AT&T will give you a $100 bill credit.
If you upgrade to any new smartphone (including iPhones), you’ll get $200 credit on your account if you do so on a new two-year contract.
There are two main ways to get a free phone. The first way is to participate in a referral program. Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T carriers design these programs.
In these programs, if you refer someone to sign up with them, they will give you $50 or more off your service every month for as long as that person stays with them. Some of them also give you an extra bonus of $50 or more just for signing up yourself.
However, this only works if someone else in the family already uses that carrier or doesn’t mind switching over.
The second method is to use an online forum like Swappa, where people sell their old phones to get new ones.
Sometimes people sell their old phones for less than they’re worth because they’re desperate for extra money. You can buy the phone from them and have it shipped to you. Then you can activate it online and start using it immediately with your SIM card.
AT&T always sends out free phones to their customers, but they’re generally not super-receptive to customer service requests.
It’s kind of like how some companies will send you a new product if it breaks during the warranty period; they’re happy to give you a new product if something goes wrong, but it seems like a long shot to get one without having it something break.
AT&T’s promotion is simple: when you buy an eligible device from them, you can sign up for a promo code that gives you $300 off your next phone purchase within two years.
If you sell your old phone before using the promo code, though, you can still use the code toward your next purchase as long as your account is in good standing.
You just call customer service and tell them what device you want to get, then ask for the promo code.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most affordable prepaid?
Consider your needs, preferences, and budget when looking for the most affordable prepaid plan.
For example, a pay-as-you-go phone might be great if you don’t care about unlimited minutes or texting.
However, getting unlimited minutes and texting would be better if you want to talk as much as possible but don’t want to pay for any overage charges.
Even plans offer both, so you can talk all day without worrying about paying more money towards your bill.
Whether you’re looking for more minutes or text messages, unlimited calling, or something in between, you can find what’s right among the available prepaid options.
We’ve found plans with wireless providers like T-Mobile, Boost Mobile, and Cricket Wireless that can meet your needs and fit into your budget while also providing superior coverage across the country, whether in rural areas or big cities, so you can talk with friends no matter where they are located.
Depending on your needs, the best prepaid cell phone deal for you might involve any number of things.
Maybe you’re a student and want to be able to have a phone that doesn’t have a contract but still has unlimited text messaging. Or maybe you live in an area where prepaid is your only option for getting service.
No matter what you need, it’s worth comparing your options to decide which carrier will give you the best deal.
Prepaid phones are unlocked and compatible with most major US carriers, meaning they’ll work with any GSM network, including AT&T and T-Mobile. They do not require contracts or installment plans.
If you’re looking for a prepaid cellphone plan, the number of options in the market can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve done the work to find you only the best. Here are our top picks for the best prepaid cell phone plans: