Galaxy S20+ 5G network with SIM cardsSource: Samuel Contreras / Android Central

The best prepaid phone plans get rid of the things you don't need while keeping up all of the features that matter most. The days of being locked into a lengthy wireless contract are over, as there are a plethora of prepaid options that allow you to pay for your phone service on a month-to-month basis. We've taken the liberty of breaking down the top prepaid wireless options for you in this handy guide.

Check your coverage

One of the first things you should consider when deciding on a prepaid carrier is the coverage provided in your area. Prepaid carriers often have a smaller coverage map than postpaid carriers because of their limited roaming agreements, so it's good to re-check your area, even if you've used the carrier before.

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Your phone will need to support the network your prepaid carrier uses as well. Luckily, most of the best Android phones are unlocked and support these networks. Getting an unlocked phone also makes it easier to switch carriers if you ever need to.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans AT&T Prepaid

AT&T logoSource: AT&T

AT&T's prepaid option lets you choose from a selection of phones specifically for their prepaid plans, or you can purchase a prepaid SIM card kit if you'd prefer to bring your own device. Be sure to check your coverage before signing up.

Price

AT&T prepaid plans include unlimited talk and text in the U.S., as well as unlimited messaging to Mexico, Canada, and over 100 countries. For data, AT&T offers several types of prepaid plans:

  • 2GB of LTE, with rollover data — $35/month
  • 8GB of LTE, with rollover data — $50/month
  • Unlimited LTE data — $65/month
  • Unlimited LTE + 10GB hotspot (5G access) — $75/month

The bigger unlimited plan also adds support for HD video streaming and 22GB of premium data. Put clearer, you may use 22GB of data without being subject to slow down on crowded towers. The 8GB plan is also available in three, six, or 12-month terms with the longer terms working out cheaper monthly.

The 8GB and unlimited LTE plans also include unlimited talk and text within and between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, and allow you to use your high-speed data allotment from your plan when in Mexico or Canada. You can also save $5 per month on any plan by signing up for Auto Refill.

You can also pay $2 per day for unlimited nationwide talk and text or pay $0.25 per minute and $0.20 per text message. Data is available at $2 per MB (based on their stated $0.01 per 5KB rate), or you can add on a data package that gives you 100MB for an extra $1 a day.

How to reload

Pay online via myAT&T using a credit/debit card or eCheck, buy a Refill card (available online, at AT&T wireless stores, and at more than 200,000 retail locations), or call 611 anytime from your phone (or 1-800-901-9878) and follow the prompts for Refill.

International texting

AT&T Prepaid

One of the best LTE networks

Access one of the largest and fastest networks around with plenty of high-speed data and savings multi-line and multi-month.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans T-Mobile Prepaid

T-Mobile logoSource: T-Mobile

T-Mobile's prepaid service gives you access to T-Mobile's nationwide network without signing up for an annual contract. You have the option to buy a prepaid T-Mobile phone, or bring your own device for only the cost of the SIM card. Be sure to check your coverage before going all in.

Price

T-Mobile offers prepaid plans for individuals and families, as well as a pay-as-you-go option.

Individual plans include:

  • 10GB of LTE + hotspot — $40/month
  • Unlimited + unlimited 3G hotspot — $50/month
  • Unlimited Plus +10GB LTE hotspot — $60/month

You can add 5GB of 4G data in Mexico and Canada for $5 per month to any plan. You can also add international calling from The United States for $15 per month.

All plans include unlimited talk, text, and data on T-Mobile's nationwide network, with data speeds slowed to 2G upon reaching your monthly data allotment. On the unlimited plans, data is deprioritized at a massive 50GB.

If you'd rather pay as you go, T-Mobile has partnered with Ultra Mobile to offer a plan that starts at $3/month for any combination of 30 minutes of talk or 30 texts, with options to add a high-speed data pass with daily ($5/day for up to 500MB of LTE data) and weekly ($10/week for up to 1GB of LTE data).

How to reload

To reload your account online, go to T-Mobile's website, either through one-time payments or by setting up recurring payments. You can also call -A-D-D (-2-3-3) from your T-Mobile phone to reload your account via credit, checking account, or T-Mobile Refill card. Refill cards are available to be purchased online or in-store at a T-Mobile location.

T-Mobile Connect

T-Mobile also has two low-cost T-Mobile Connect plans starting at just $15 per month. For that price, you get unlimited talk and text as well as 2GB of data. For $25 per month, you can get 5GB of data. Not only that, these plans are designed to grow with customer demand so each year the data cap will increase by 500MB, that's half of a gig.

Big on data

T-Mobile Prepaid

A big network with a lot of data

T-Mobile Prepaid has some of the best prepaid 5G plans you can get with a ton of data and hotspot support on every plan.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans Verizon Prepaid

Verizon logoSource: Verizon

Verizon's prepaid option gives you full-access to Verizon's nationwide LTE network without locking you into a lengthy contract. You have the option of buying a prepaid phone from Verizon or BYOD. Be sure to check your coverage befor signing up.

Price

Verizon offers monthly smartphone plans, featuring no annual contracts, no activation fee, and no credit checks.

  • Talk and Text — $30/month
  • 5GB LTE data $35/month
  • 15GB LTE data — $45month
  • Unlimited LTE data — $65/month

Verizon's prepaid plans all include unlimited talk and text, and the limited data plans will fall back to 2G data once data is used. On the bright side, every plan includes mobile hotspot and unlimited international texting to 200 countries, and the 15GB and unlimited data plans include unlimited calling to Mexico and Canada.

How to reload

Reload your Verizon account online, buy refill cards, or pay in-store.

No contract network

Verizon Prepaid

A whole lot of data

Get data on one of the strongest networks available with Verizon Prepaid. With plans as low as 1GB and up to unlimited, this can be a great way for anyone to get on the Verizon network without locking into a contract.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans Cricket Wireless

Cricket logoSource: Cricket

After being acquired by AT&T, Cricket Wireless has supported devices that use AT&T's HSPA+ and LTE network. You can purchase a phone from Cricket, or BYOD. Just be sure to check your coverage and make sure you'll get good signal strength in your area.

Price

Cricket Wireless offers four plan levels, from talk and text to unlimited data.

  • 2GB of LTE, unlimited talk and text — $30/month
  • 10GB of LTE, unlimited talk and text — $40/month
  • Unlimited data at up to 8Mbps — $55/month
  • Unlimited data +15GB mobile hotspot — $60/month

All plans except for the 2GB plan are eligible for a discount with up to five lines.

Receive a $5 credit on your monthly bill by signing up for AutoPay (not available with the Group Save Discount).

Cricket's unlimited data plans include unlimited texts to 37 countries, as well as unlimited calls, texts, and data to and from Canada and Mexico — though Canada usage can't exceed 50% of your overall usage for the month.

There's also a bunch of add-on features available for each plan.

How to reload

Log in to My Account on the Cricket Wireless site to pay your bill or sign up for AutoPay, or download the My Cricket app for Android and iOS.

AT&T for less

Cricket Wireless

Access to the AT&T network for less

Cricket gives customers access to AT&T's massive wireless network through a range of plans that offers a solution for most people.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans Metro by T-Mobile

Metro by T-MobileSource: T-Mobile

Metro uses T-Mobile's LTE and 5G network, as it is owned entirely by the larger carrier. You have the option to purchase a phone through Metro, or bring your own device that's compatible with the T-Mobile network. Also, make sure you get good coverage by checking the coverage map.

Price

Plan pricing is based on how much high-speed data you think you'll use monthly. There are no annual contracts, and taxes and fees are included in the price.

  • 2GB of high-speed data — $30/month
  • 10GB of high-speed data — $40/month
  • Unlimited LTE + 5GB hotspot — $50/month
  • Unlimited LTE + 15GB hotspot — $60/month

Music streaming is unlimited on the 10GB plan which can be a great way to save data. You also get access to T-Mobile's nationwide 5G network with a compatible phone.

The unlimited data plans also include a free Google One membership, which includes 100GB of cloud storage on Google Drive, and the $60 plan even throws in an Amazon Prime membership.

In addition, Metro includes taxes and fees in its pricing, meaning the sticker price is exactly what you'll pay each month — a carryover from T-Mobile and a first for the prepaid industry.

How to reload

Log into the Metro website to make a payment or set up AutoPay. You also have the option to pay in person at a Metro store.

Big on data

Metro by T-Mobile

Cloud storage and the data to use it

Metro by T-Mobile grants you access to T-Mobile's massive LTE and 5G network with a ton of data and multi-line savings.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans Boost Mobile

Boost MobileSource: Boost Mobile

Check your coverage on the older, Sprint-based nationwide network. Most new customers will sign up on the T-Mobile-based expanded network map.

Dish currently owns Boost Mobile following T-Mobile's purchase of Sprint. In the past, Boost Mobile used Sprint's network exclusively. Boost Mobile refers to this network as its Nationwide Network and it's still available with its own selection of plans; most people will be steered towards the T-Mobile-based Expanded Network.

Price

Boost Mobile offers four types of monthly prepaid phone plans featuring LTE high-speed data. Once your plan's data allotment has been reached, speeds are reduced to 2G for the remainder of the billing cycle.

On the Nationwide Network based on Sprint, plans start at 3GB and go up to 35GB. Up to five lines can be added to one account, which brings down the cost per line. Make sure you have great coverage on this network before signing up because it's unlikely that the coverage or speeds will be improved in the future.

  • 3GB of LTE with hotspot — $35/month
  • 6GB of LTE with hotspot — $35/month (Walmart exclusive)
  • 35GB + 12GB hotspot — $50/month
  • 35GB + 30GB hotspot — $60/month

On the Expanded Network, Boost Mobile is making the most of T-Mobile's LTE and 5G network. There is a range of plans available under $50 from 1GB up to 15GB with unlimited 2G speeds after your data is used. This includes the Shrink-It plan with 15GB of data and $10 per month of savings with six consecutive payments.

Boost Mobile Expanded Data PlansSource: Boost Mobile

For $50 or $60 per month, you get 35GB of data with the main difference being HD streaming on the more expensive plan. Lines can be added to either for a reduced rate.

Boost Mobile Unlimited Expanded PlansSource: Boost Mobile

How to reload

If you find you need more data, Data Packs are available at $5 for 1GB.

Alternatively, you can pay in-store at any Boost Mobile location.

The data hogs

Boost Mobile

A wide range of plans on the T-Mobile or Sprint network

Boost Mobile has a great new network and a plan to fit every user starting small with just 1GBB all the way up to 35GB.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans Mint Mobile

Mint MobileSource: Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile is a T-Mobile subsidiary owned by Ultra that sells its plans in multi-month bundles. You can buy a phone from Mint or bring your own T-Mobile-compatible or unlocked GSM phone. Be sure to check your coverage before signing up.

Price

All of Mint's plans include a 7-day money-back guarantee, along with unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, international calls to Mexico and Canada, and mobile hotspot. The unlimited plan has 5GB of high-speed hotspot data included.

3GB 8GB 12GB Unlimited (35GB)
3 months $15 per month ($45 total)
$25 per month renewal ($75 total)
$20 per month ($60 total)
$35 per month renewal ($105 total)
$25 per month ($75)
$45 per month renewal ($135 total)
$30 per month ($90)
$40 per month renewal ($120)
6 months $20 per month ($120) $25 per month ($150) $35 per month ($210) $35 per month ($210)
12 months $15 per month ($180) $20 per month ($240) $25 per month ($300) $30 per month ($360)

If you try out one of the 3-month plans and decide to stick with Mint, you can retain the introductory pricing by buying a whole year at a time — otherwise, there's a slight price increase.

How to reload

Sign into your Mint Mobile account online or download the Mint app on Android or iOS to renew your plan manually or set up automatic re-ups.

Bundle to save

Mint Mobile

Pay more upfront to save more

Mint Mobile is willing to reward you for your commitment offering discounted plans when you pay for a few months upfront.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless logoSource: Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless is an MVNO that uses WiFi calling by default but also utilizes both the T-Mobile and Sprint networks. You can purchase a phone from Republic or bring your own phone, provided that it's unlocked and GSM-compatible. Check your coverage on Republic's map before signing up.

Price

Republic has some of the simplest pricing around — in fact, there's just one plan. You pay only for the data you need, maxing out at 15GB a month, and of course, you can increase your data plan mid-cycle if necessary. Save money by paying for 1GB or 2GB of data upfront for $5 more per 1GB.

  • Unlimited talk and text — $15/month + $5 per GB

Republic's plan includes mobile hotspot, WiFi calling, and free domestic roaming. There's no international calling, but you can call back to the U.S., Canada, or "per call countries" (which may cost up to $0.50 per minute) from anywhere in the world over WiFi.

Should you exhaust your data allotment for the month, Republic doesn't fall back to unlimited 2G; you'll need to pay for more data.

How to reload

You can pay your phone bill online by visiting the My Account portal, or on your phone with the Republic Wireless app for Android.

For lighter users

Republic Wireless

Simple plans for traditional phone usage

Start low with unlimited talk and text and add data as you need it. If you don't need a ton of data, you can save a lot of money.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular logoSource: Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular operates off of T-Mobile and AT&T's towers, and focuses on retirees — it offers a 5% discount on monthly services for AARP members, as well as other benefits including 30% off on accessories and an extended risk-free return policy. Check your coverage before signing up.

Price

Consumer Cellular sells popular devices or if you prefer you can bring your own phone, as well.

Talk only plans:

  • 250 minutes for talk and text — $15/month
  • Unlimited minutes$20/month

Unlimited talk and text plans:

  • 500MB of data — $25/month
  • 3GB of data — $30/month
  • 10GB of data — $40/month
  • 15GB of data — $50/month
  • 25GB of data — $60/month

You can add up to three lines to your account with shared data with a reduced rate per lin. Consumer Cellular also offers a 5% discount for AARP members.

All of Consumer Cellular's plans include caller ID, call forwarding, call waiting, 3-way conference calling, voicemail, and international calling at no extra charge — though there's no mobile hotspot feature.

How to reload

You can log into Consumer Cellular's site to pay your bill online or set up Autopay.

Customer service focused

Consumer Cellular

Something for nearly everyone

Whether you just need a simple phone plan or something with a ton of data, Consumer Cellular has a plan to fit your needs.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans US Mobile

US Mobile LogoSource: US Mobile

US Mobile allows you to build your own plan with exactly what you think you'll need or upgrade to an unlimited plan. US Mobile primarily uses Verizon's network but also gives customers access to T-Mobile's network depending on their coverage and their phone. To check your coverage, just visit the coverage map on its website and put in your zip code.

Price

You can build your own plan with exactly what you need. You select your talk, text, and data tiers separately up to unlimited everything at $40 per month. If you don't want to go with unlimited, the cost for minutes ranges from $0 to $10 while the costs for texts range from $0 to $6. Data is a bit more with up to 8GB of data coming in at $26 per month. Any more than that and you'll need the unlimited plan.

The unlimited plan doesn't come with a hotspot and is limited to 5Mbps but for $5 more per month, you can add a hotspot and for $10 more per month you can unlock your data speed.

You can also create a family plan with unlimited data with discounts applied for each additional line. Each line can be upgraded with faster data speeds or hotspot data individually so you still have a lot of flexibility. If you get three lines you can choose from an included subscription service such as Netflix or Playstation Plus. Adding a fourth line unlocks an additional subscription.

How to reload

You can sign into the US Mobile site to view and pay your bill, though the carrier doesn't have a dedicated app on Android or iOS.

So many choices

US Mobile

The entire range of options

Starting as low as just 75 minutes or up to unlimited data, US Mobile offers great service on the Verizon or T-Mobile network.

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Best Prepaid Phone Plans Visible

Visible logoSource: Visible

Visible uses Verizon's vast LTE network for service. You have the option of buying a phone through Visible or bringing your own Verizon-compatible device. Be sure to check your coverage before signing up.

Price

Visible's main draw is the simplicity of only one plan. Visible is one of the best values available with unlimited talk, text, and data with no surprises. Fees are included so $40 per month is all you are paying. You get 480p video streaming and Visible reckons you can expect between 5 and 12Mbps.

If you're looking to save some money, you can join up with three other Visible members and bring your cost down as low as $25 per month with Visible Party Pay.

  • Unlimited everything — $40/month

Visible allows you to use an unlimited hotspot at up to 5Mbps. One thing to watch out for is a lack of international roaming options. This is a great balance for users in the US.

Unlimited means unlimited

Visible

Don't worry about the gigs

With the simplest plan of any network, Visible offers unlimited LTE data with hotspot with fees included on the Verizon network.

Best Prepaid Phone Plans Simple Mobile

Simple Mobile logoSource: Simple Logo

Simple Mobile uses T-Mobile's network and offers options to purchase a new phone or bring your own T-Mobile- or AT&T-compatible GSM phone. Check your coverage before signing up.

Price

Simple Mobile offers five prepaid plans, which all feature no contract or credit check, unlimited talk and text, unlimited international texting, international calling to 68 countries, and roaming to 16 Latin American countries. Rates are also discounted if you use autopay.

  • 3GB of up to LTE speeds + hotspot — $25/month
  • 5GB of up to LTE speeds + hotspot — $30/month
  • 15GB of up to LTE speeds + hotspot — $40/month
  • Unlimited LTE data + 5GB hotspot — $50/month
  • Unlimited LTE + 15GB hotspot — $60/month

How to reload

ReUp through the Simple Mobile website via credit card or pin. You also have the option to pay in advance with Stash, allowing you to add money to your plan when you have it, so you don't have to worry about re-upping when your service runs out.

No confusion

Simple Mobile

Keep it simple

Simple Mobile offers competitive plans with international service. Get the right amount of data from 3GB to unlimited.

Updated Sept. 30, 2020: Prices and features updated for 2020 including new plans for Boost Mobile and Mint Mobile.

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