You’re likely overpaying for your monthly phone bill if you are with a major carrier. Prepaid phone plans let you save significant money and offer the same reliable coverage you get with Verizon or AT&T.
These plans have no contracts and let you pay in advance for service, so you can purchase what you need without making a long-term commitment.
Our guide shares the best deals that won’t sacrifice reliability.
What Are the Best Prepaid Phone Plans?
Prepaid cell phone plans can be more affordable since they may rent space on the towers of a legacy carrier. Known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), they don’t have the expense of infrastructure.
This allows them to pass the savings onto you through no-contract cell phone service. Better yet, you can bring your own phone and often keep your phone number.
As a preview, here are the top prepaid carriers based on our testing.
These are the best prepaid cell phone plans to lower your monthly expenses.
Visible by Verizon is our top choice for prepaid phone plans. The company only offers one plan. It includes unlimited data as well as talk and text.
This provider operates on the Verizon network. Unlike other phone plans on our list, Visible is not an MVNO. Verizon owns the service, so they own the network infrastructure.
While the plan is $30 per month for one line, they often have promotions to reduce the price.
Visible used to have a feature called Party Pay that allowed you to share lines with friends, and each of you could get rates as low as $25 per month. As of August 2022, this option is not available.
Here is the pricing for Visible:
Visible also offers the most generous free trial in the space, allowing you to test the service at no cost for 15 days.
If the base plan isn’t enough for you, you can upgrade to Visible+. This offers additional features, like 5G ultra-wideband and expanded international calling and texting features.
Both plans include free calls to Canada and Mexico. Certain other countries are free as well. Consult the website for current availability and rates.
Additionally, the plan has no limits on your mobile hotspot data. If you need an unlimited plan and fast data speeds, Visible is worth trying.
Pros: Unlimited nationwide 5G coverage, coverage on Verizon
Cons: Video streams in SD, there are cheaper plans available
Read our Visible by Verizon review to learn more.
2. Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile is one of the more unique prepaid plans with no contract. Instead of paying for monthly service, you purchase coverage in increments of at least three months.
You can purchase plans in three, six, and 12-month periods. All plans include unlimited talk and text. If you want to test the carrier, choosing the three-month 5GB plan is best.
This plan costs $15 a month or $45 a quarter. If you like the performance, you can upgrade after the first three months. However, you must sign up for the annual plan to get the same $15 monthly price.
If you don’t want to commit to a year, discounts are available for their six-month plans.
The carrier runs service through the T-Mobile network.
Here are the plans available with Mint Mobile:
New customers can get unlimited data for just $30 per month, making it one of the better unlimited plans on the market.
Mint competes well against Visible, which offers unlimited data for the same price. Read our Mint Mobile vs. Visible analysis to learn how the two carriers stack up.
This provider includes 4G LTE data and 5G service on all plans. Plus, you get free calls to Canada and Mexico as well as reasonable rates to 160 other countries.
Mint Mobile does include a mobile hotspot. Unfortunately, hotspot data comes out of the overall data included in your plan. Even its unlimited hotspot access plan isn’t truly unlimited.
Pros: Plans start at $15 per month, all plans offer 5G
Cons: You can’t change your plan until your current one ends
Read our Mint Mobile review to learn more.
Tello is one of the cheapest cell phone plans in the space. Plans start as low as $10 a month, but this only provides 1GB of data usage per month.
This provider includes unlimited talk and text for all plans. Until recently, it was with T-Mobile. Now, it operates on a nationwide GSM network.
Here are the plans available with Tello:
If you’re on Wi-Fi a lot, Tello is a good choice because it allows you to customize your plan to your needs. However, if you’re looking for unlimited data, you can get that for a $29 monthly rate.
Tello offers 4G LTE and is growing its 5G offerings. You can also make free international calls to over 60 countries.
Like Mint Mobile, hotspot data will count against your allotted data for the month. Keep in mind that you will face deprioritization. This may temporarily slow data in times of congestion.
Reports also indicate that download speeds are slower than what you will experience with Visible or Mint Mobile.
Pros: Plans as low as $10, unlimited calls and texts
Cons: Data plans are limited
Read our Tello review to learn more.
Twigby is one of the lowest-cost cell phone service providers in the space. All plans include unlimited talk and text, and you purchase data separately.
The carrier also provides up to 50 percent off for your first six months of service. This allows you to receive a multi-month discount to see if it’s the right provider for you.
Twigby operates on the Verizon network, so you know you’ll receive reliable coverage, including 5G.
You have a few plan options. Here are the data plans (each with unlimited talk and text):
Twigby has free overage protection and family plan options for everyone in your household.
You can also make free international calls to over 80 countries.
While Twigby is a terrific cheap cell phone plan, there are more affordable options if you need an unlimited data plan. Visible, for example, is a better solution with no risk of maxing out your data cap.
Pros: Customizable plans and coverage on Verizon
Cons: More expensive than other prepaid unlimited plans
Read our Twigby review to learn more.
5. AT&T Prepaid
Surprisingly, AT&T Prepaid is a fantastic choice if you need a new cell phone plan. AT&T might be the last provider to come to mind in terms of affordable plans, but they provide a legitimate service to save money.
AT&T Prepaid runs on the AT&T cellular network. If the telecommunications giant offers availability in your area, it is a good alternative to the legacy offering.
You can get additional data if you choose their 16GB plan. This plan costs $25 per month, but you must pay upfront for 12 months of service to qualify for that rate.
If you need an unlimited mobile plan, you can get that. Unfortunately, this costs $50 a month. You must sign up for autopay to receive that rate. If you don’t use autopay, the plan is $65 a month.
Here are the plans available with AT&T Prepaid:
If you are a college student, AT&T Prepaid offers an unlimited option for $40 a month.
One unique feature this provider offers is that all plans allow you to roll over unused data to the next month. Most prepaid phone plans don’t offer this feature.
Additionally, all plans give customers unlimited text and talk to Mexico and Canada. Talk and text are unlimited while traveling in Canada or Mexico. If you need international roaming, Mint Mobile is a better choice.
Pros: Unused data rolls over month to month
Cons: More expensive than other plans, hotspot data counts against the plan
6. Consumer Cellular
Consumer Cellular is a fantastic choice if you want to share a family plan with your spouse. The carrier specializes in offering service for older clients.
All plans include unlimited talk and text and assume you use Wi-Fi frequently. You can get a two-line plan for $50 a month. This includes 10GB of shared data.
If you’re purchasing an individual line, you can get 1GB of data for $20 a month. Here are the available plans for one line of phone service:
These are the available plans for two lines of service:
Similar to other plans on our list, hotspot data comes out of your total data allotment. The company will even customize a plan for you if one of their publicly available options doesn’t fit your needs.
Consumer Cellular even offers loyalty discounts for AARP customers. This nets you an additional five percent in savings monthly.
It’s typically advisable to bring your own device when you switch carriers. However, Consumer Cellular sells compatible phones specifically for older clients.
The company’s phone offerings include flip phones with larger buttons and displays. You can also use the latest Android or iPhone devices with the carrier.
Read our guide on the top cell phone plans for seniors to learn how Consumer Cellular compares.
Pros: Family plans are available, sells devices specifically for older customers
Cons: Pricing can be more expensive than other prepaid phone plans
7. US Mobile
US Mobile is worth considering if you need a phone plan without much data. You can get a plan with unlimited talk and text and no data for a mere $8 a month.
This plan is best for people who exclusively use Wi-Fi when they need data. It might be particularly helpful if you have a child who needs a phone but limited data.
Read our guide on the best cell phone plans for kids to identify other choices.
If you need data, US Mobile has a variety of other plans to choose from.
Here are the plans available with US Mobile:
US Mobile operates on the Verizon network, so its coverage map is impressive. Verizon has coverage in over 99 percent of the United States, so you will have reliable coverage unless you’re traveling in rural areas.
The one complaint about US Mobile is that their unlimited plans are more expensive than other carriers. Furthermore, you will need the most expensive tier if you are looking for international plans.
If you need something more affordable, Boost Mobile or Metro by T-Mobile may be better options.
Pros: Cheap no-data plan, operates on the Verizon network
Cons: One of the most expensive prepaid phone plans
What Is a Prepaid Phone Plan?
A prepaid cell phone plan allows you to pay your bill before using the service. In most cases, prepaid carriers don’t require a contract, so you can leave whenever you want.
This differs from a postpaid phone plan that has you pay for service after you use it. Plans like this often require contracts and require a credit check. You may also finance a phone with postpaid carriers.
Xfinity Mobile is one notable exception that has low monthly rates. Read our Xfinity Mobile review to learn if it might save you money.
What To Look For in a Prepaid Phone Plan
Selecting from the best no-contract cell phone plans can be overwhelming since there are many carriers. Here is what to consider when choosing a plan.
Price: Prepaid phone plans are often affordable. It’s not difficult to find a plan that costs $20 a month, especially if you use Wi-Fi regularly.
Even if you’re a heavy data user, using Wi-Fi is a great way to cut costs. This will help lower your monthly phone bill since many MVNOs provide unlimited talk and text in all plans.
Nevertheless, not all prepaid carriers are equal in price. Some can go as high as $50 per month. It’s best to compare plan prices and features before making a decision.
None of the carriers on our list charge an activation fee. Some may not include taxes and fees in the quoted price, so your charges may be slightly higher.
Coverage: Choosing a no-contract cell phone plan is a great way to save money fast, but it’s pointless to switch carriers only to get worse coverage.
Thankfully, most companies offer 5G access. They backstop that coverage with 4G LTE access across compatible devices.
Many phone companies have a coverage checker on their website. Use that to learn what to expect before switching. For example, if the T-Mobile coverage in your area isn’t good, you might have a frustrating experience.
Additionally, check phone compatibility before moving. You don’t want to choose a service only to learn afterward your device won’t work.
Know what data you need: Legacy carriers make us believe we need unlimited data to survive. Prepaid cell phone plans show us that you can stream lots of content for less.
Not all no-contract companies are equal when it comes to high-speed data. Some let you pay by the GB, and others level up their plans to get what you need.
It’s also important to note that many carriers let you have a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The data you use from a hotspot often draws on your data plan. You’ll need to monitor your mobile hotspot usage to ensure you don’t receive costly surprises on your bill.
The best unlimited plans, like Visible, give you truly unlimited data without the need to monitor your usage.
What Are the Downsides of a Prepaid Phone Plan?
There can be two drawbacks to using a prepaid carrier. First, you may face challenges with data speeds.
Customers on legacy carriers will have priority over you. This isn’t an issue for a large majority of the time, but you may be deprioritized during times of heavy traffic.
We rarely, if ever, face this issue personally. However, it’s important to know that you may face slow data speeds if this happens to you.
The second issue is that most customer service is virtual and not in-person. Most of the carriers on our list offer client support via email, live chat, social media, or phone.
None offer assistance in person. This is part of how they keep costs low. We rarely face issues due to this, and it’s certainly not worth paying more for or staying in a contract to receive in-person customer service.
You no longer need to spend lots of money on a cell phone contract. Numerous carriers offer prepaid phone plans that don’t skimp on reliability and only cost $20 or $30.
If you’re spending $100 or more monthly on your phone bill, compare prices from the above carriers to identify which will save you more and still take care of your needs.
Who do you use for cell phone service?