There are manyplans are available in the US. While most Americans subscribe to services directly from AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon, a number of smaller providers can provide you with a solid service at a lower cost. Although major carriers now focus primarily on unlimited plans, these smaller carriers still offer different plans with a defined data distribution.
There are a ton of providers, but for the purposes of this story, I will focus on just a few: Boost Mobile, Cricket, Mint, Google Fi, Tracfone, Metro by T-Mobile, Verizon Prepaid, and AT&T Prepaid. Since these carriers also have many different plan options, I would also like to draw your attention to less than 5 GB of data, less than 10 GB of data, and.
What exactly is a prepaid phone plan?
There are two main ways to pay for telephone service: the invoice you pay at the end of the month and the prepayment from the place where you received the service before using your phone. The ads you see for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are almost always for invoiced payment plans, and the plans and operators we are talking about here are prepaid plans.
You get information and login before you use it. Prepaid plan providers offer you various increments – 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, six months or even a full year – and prices often vary depending on how long you are willing to commit.
In this story, I compare a year’s prepaid cell phone plans.
Will your area get good cell coverage?
As I mentioned when covering the best unlimited plans, you need to make sure you have the coverage you need to get the most out of the deal. This makes it difficult to make a general recommendation about any carrier: T-Mobile service in New York may be excellent, but if you are in Iowa, Verizon is more reliable.
Prepaid providers almost always use someone else’s service. Before registering for one, it is worth checking what the main network is. Each offers some versions of 5G, and I’ve broken them all down here, but to summarize:
- Boost Mobile currently uses T-Mobile (in the future, AT&T will switch to T-Mobile and its own network)
- Mint uses T-Mobile
- Cricket uses AT&T
- Google Fi uses T-Mobile and US Cellular
- Metro uses T-Mobile
- Tracfone uses Verizon
- Verizon Prepaid is on Verizon
- AT&T Prepaid is in AT&T
If you have friends or family in your area who use a prepaid operator, ask them about the experience. You can also go to the main carrier’s store and see if it offers any free ways to test it before switching to a service like T-Mobile’s Test Drive.
Find out about prepaid phone plan promotions and deals
As with major carriers, there are periods when prepaid players offer deals. Boost Mobile is offering a promotion that allows you to get three lines of unlimited calls, text and data for $ 90 per month ($ 30 per line) after your “$ 100 first payment”, although you must be a new customer to take advantage.
The best prepaid phone plans
Sarah Tew / CNET
Ryan Reynolds’ phone company is notorious for its unusual ads, but it also has one of the better offers for the unlimited information we see. You can get unlimited calls, text and information for $ 30 per month for 12 months. By working on T-Mobile networks, you get 35 GB of high-speed data per month on 5G and 4G LTE, although if you do this before your 30-day period is reset, your speeds will slow down to 128 Kbps or even potentially slow down. 64Kbps.
There is also 5 GB of high-speed hotspot data and free international calls to Mexico and Canada.
Sarah Tew / CNET
As with all plans, the value will vary depending on your specific needs and whether the network works well in your area. Google Fi has updated its unlimited plans for the mobile phone service, which not only lowers the monthly price, but also adds several useful features. Although the $ 50 price per line is many times higher than Mint, if you have three or more lines, you can save a bit.
The plan, called Simply Unlimited, costs $ 25 per month with three lines, and drops to $ 20 per month if you have four or more lines. Now it includes 35 GB of high-speed data in Canada and Mexico, as well as speech, text and data. The plan still offers 5GB of hotspot data, although this is a “hard” cover where the hotspot function stops after 5GB is used, unlike data slowdowns.
Other options: In addition to these two providers, Boost Mobile has a promotion offering 35 GB of high-speed data per line for $ 90 per month for the three lines we mentioned. After this point, your speed will “decrease for the rest of the month.” We recommend Google Fi because it is cheaper between the two.
Cricket has a similar option of $ 30 per line, but if you have four or five lines, the price of each line will drop to $ 25 per line per month ($ 100 per month for four lines, $ 125 for five lines). It’s still more expensive than Fi’s updated offer, and Cricket doesn’t offer mobile hotspot data with these plans.
Cricket says that “if the network is busy, it can temporarily reduce the speed of data,” while Google says that if you exceed 22 GB in a month, the data will slow down.
Tracfone does not offer a traditional unlimited data plan. Pre-paid options from Verizon and AT&T start at $ 50 per month with automatic payments (without $ 65). Verizon’s deal also requires you to make a commitment for a period of 10 months or more.
Sarah Tew / CNET
Cricket and Metro also offer advantages with the best unlimited plans – in the case of Cricket, you subscribe to HBO Max with ads, while Metro offers a subscription to Amazon Prime and 100 GB of Google One memory. If you are only looking for one, two or three lines, these prices are higher for each line.
If you are looking for four or more lines, the best Metro unlimited plan is worth considering. The offer is reduced to $ 30 per month per line, so if you have a budget like this, you may want to look at that deal, as you can get the same price for each line as well as benefits like Amazon Prime and Google One.
If price is the biggest factor for you, take a look at Google Fi’s Simply Limited plan above.
Anything less than four lines, but more expensive than Mint. With this top unlimited plan, one line costs $ 60 per month, two lines $ 90 per month and three lines $ 120.
Sarah Tew / CNET
When it comes to data below 10 GB, Mint is once again the best value if the T-Mobile network is strong in your area. While Metro and Cricket have a plan of $ 40 per month for one line and Boost has a plan of $ 35 per 10 GB of data, Mint outperforms them all in price.
Getting 10GB of monthly 4G LTE / 5G data at Mint costs $ 20 a month.
Other options: Google Fi has an “account protection” feature designed to refund you for data you don’t use, but with a line and a maximum of $ 80 per month for 6 GB of data and unlimited talk / text, I think you’re better at calculating how much data you use look elsewhere instead.
AT&T has an 8GB plan per month, which is $ 25 per month if you pay $ 300 in advance for a full year.
Tracfone doesn’t have a 10GB plan, but there are two other options directly above and below. The first is an 8 GB plan that runs $ 35 per month, or $ 40 per month on a regular basis, if you activate auto-recharge. Although a little more than 10GB, the provider has a monthly 12GB plan worth $ 199 a year.
The advantage of AT&T and Tracfone plans is that any unused data is transferred to the next month. For the latter, if you are looking for a prepaid provider on Verizon, it is difficult to find a tariff of $ 16.58 per month.
Sarah Tew / CNET
As for the value from the mint, it was an almost clean scan. The deal, which costs $ 15 a month for 4GB of data, surpassed Boost Mobile’s $ 15 offer for 2GB of data and Cricket’s $ 30 a month offer for the same amount of data. Tracfone has a 3GB data plan, but it costs $ 25 (without $ 30) to charge automatically.
Boost has a $ 100 contract that offers 1 GB of data per month for a full year for new customers. That’s down to $ 8.33 a month. If you don’t have a boost, find yourself mostly on Wi-Fi, and the price is the biggest driver for you, and if you’re looking for a new service, this is the option.
If you need a little more information, Mint is the way to go. When factoring in the company’s vacation contract, it is $ 45 for the first six months.
Verizon Prepaid has a 5GB plan that runs for $ 25 a month for as long as you’re willing to commit for at least 10 months, but the math here can be tough. The plan is normally $ 40 per month, but if you activate automatic payments, this price will drop to $ 35 per month starting from the second month. If you keep the service for three months, it will be reduced to $ 30 per month, and if you stay with the operator after the ninth month, it will be reduced from another $ 5 to $ 25.
T-Mobile has several T-Mobile Connect deals, including unlimited talk / text and 6 GB of data (adding 500 MB of data to your plan each year) for $ 25 a month.
As mentioned above, the best deal is the one that works best for you. But when it comes to price, given that the T-Mobile network works well in your area, it’s hard to beat the prices paid by Mint.