There are a lot of themplans available in the US. While most Americans subscribe to services directly from AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon, many smaller providers can provide you with solid service at a lower cost. While major operators now focus primarily on unlimited plans, these smaller operators still offer a range of plans with specific data allocations.
There are many providers, but for the purposes of this story I will focus on just a few: Boost Mobile, Cricket, Mint, Google Fi, Tracfone, Metro from T-Mobile, Verizon Prepaid and AT&T Prepaid. Since these operators also have so many different plans, I will also focus on the best options for less than 5 GB of data, below 10 GB of data and.
What exactly is a prepaid phone plan?
There are two main types of telephone payment methods: postpaid, where you pay at the end of the month, and prepaid, where you purchase a service before using the phone. The ads you see for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are almost always for postpaid plans, while the plans and operators we are talking about here are all prepaid plans.
You purchase data and access before using it. Prepaid plan providers allow you to shop in different steps – 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, six months or even a full year – with prices that often vary depending on how long you are willing to commit.
In this story, I compare one-year prepaid mobile phone packages.
Will your area get good mobile coverage?
As I noticed when covering the best unlimited plans, to get the most out of your business, you need to make sure you have the coverage you need. This makes it difficult to give a full recommendation to any operator: T-Mobile’s service in New York may be great, but if you’re in rural Iowa, Verizon is more reliable.
Prepaid providers almost always use other people’s services. Before you sign up for one, it’s worth checking out what the core network is. Each offers some version of 5G and I’ve broken all this down here, but to summarize:
- Boost Mobile is currently using T-Mobile (switching to a combination of AT&T, T-Mobile and its own network in the future)
- The Mint uses T-Mobile
- Cricket is used by 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 at AT&T
If you have a friend or family in your area who is already using the prepaid operator you are considering, ask about their experience. You can also go to the operator’s store and see if it offers any free ways to try out the service before switching, such as the T-Mobile Test Drive.
Get acquainted with the promotions and offers of the prepaid phone plan
As with major operators, there are periods when prepaid players offer offers. Boost Mobile is launching a promotion that allows you to get three lines with unlimited talk, text and data for $ 90 per month ($ 30 per line) after your first $ 100 payment, although you’ll need to be a new user to take advantage.
The best prepaid phone plans
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Ryan Reynolds ’phone company made a name for itself with its weird advertising, but it also has one of the better deals for unlimited data we’ve seen. During 12 months, you can get an unlimited number of calls, text and data for $ 30 per month per line. Working on T-Mobile networks, you get 35 GB of high-speed data on 5G and 4G LTE per month, although if you go through that before your 30-day reset period, your speeds will slow to a brutally slow 128 Kbps or potentially as much as 64Kbps.
There is also 5 GB of fast hotspot data and free international calls to Mexico and Canada.
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As with all plans, the value will vary depending on your specific needs and whether that particular network works well in your area. Google has updated the unlimited plans on its mobile phone service, which not only lowers the monthly price, but also adds several useful features. Although its $ 50 price per line is much higher than the Mint price, if you have three lines or more, you can save a little.
Called Simply Unlimited, the plan is $ 25 per line per month with three lines and drops to $ 20 per month if you have four or more lines. It now includes 35GB of high-speed data plus calls, text and data in Canada and Mexico. The plan also now offers 5GB of data on the hotspot, although this is a “hard” limit where the hotspot function stops after 5GB is used, as opposed to slowing down the data.
Other options: In addition to these two providers, Boost Mobile has this promotion for the three lines we mentioned, offering 35GB of high-speed data per line for $ 90 a month. After that point, your speeds “will be reduced by the end of the month.” Between the two, we would recommend Google Fi because it is cheaper.
Cricket also has a similar option of $ 30 per line, but if you have four or five lines, the price per line would 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 offering, and Cricket doesn’t offer data for mobile access points with these plans.
Cricket says it “can temporarily slow down the speed of data if the network is busy,” while Google says it will slow down data if you exceed 22 GB in a month.
Tracfone does not offer the traditional unlimited data package. Verizon and AT & T’s prepaid options start at $ 50 a month with automatic payments ($ 65 without). The Verizon contract also requires you to dedicate 10 or more months.
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Cricket and Metro also offer benefits with their top-notch unlimited plans – in the case of Cricket, you get a subscription to HBO Max with ads, while Metro offers a subscription to Amazon Prime and 100 GB of Google One storage. But those prices are higher per line if you’re only looking for one, two or three lines.
If you’re looking for four or more lines, a top-notch Metro unlimited plan might be worth considering. The promotion reduces that to $ 30 per month per line, so if that’s your budget, you might want to check out that offer, because for the same price per line, you can also get benefits like Amazon Prime and Google One with the service.
If cost is your biggest factor, check out the Google Simply Unlimited plan we mentioned above.
However, it is less than four lines, and it is much more expensive than the Mint. One phone line with this premium unlimited plan costs $ 60 per month, two lines are $ 90 per month, and three lines are $ 120.
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When it comes to data below 10 GB, Mint again has the best value if the T-Mobile network is solid in your area. While Metro and Cricket charge $ 40 a month for one line, and Boost has a $ 35 plan for 10GB of data, Mint outperforms them in price.
Getting 10GB of 4G LTE / 5G monthly data costs $ 20 a month at the Mint.
Other options: Google Fi has an “account protection” feature designed to refund you for data you don’t use, but with a maximum monthly charge of $ 80 per month for one line and 6 GB of data and unlimited chat / text. I think you better look elsewhere instead of having to calculate how much data you use.
AT&T has an 8GB monthly plan that costs $ 25 a month if you pay $ 300 in advance for the entire year.
The Tracfone doesn’t have a 10GB plan, but it has two other options directly above and below. The first is an 8GB per month plan that costs $ 35 per month if you enable auto-recharge, or $ 40 per month on a regular basis. Although it is just over 10 GB, the provider has a monthly plan of 12 GB for one year that costs $ 199.
The advantage of AT&T and Tracfone plans is that all unused data is transferred to the next month. For the latter, if you’re looking for a prepaid provider on Verizon, it’s hard to beat what’s a monthly rate of $ 16.58.
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It was almost pure momentum when it came to the value of the Mint. With $ 15 a month for 4GB of data, his contract exceeds Boost Mobile’s $ 15 offer for 2GB of data and Cricket’s monthly rate of $ 30 for the same amount of data. The Tracfone has a 3GB data package, but it costs $ 25 when auto-filling ($ 30 without).
Boost, however, has a $ 100 contract that offers 1GB of data per month for the entire year for new users. That comes down to $ 8.33 a month. If you don’t have Boost, find yourself mostly on a Wi-Fi network and price is your biggest driver, this is the best choice if you’re looking for a new service.
If you need a little more information, Mint is the right choice. When the company’s holiday is taken into account, it is 45 dollars for the first six months.
Verizon Prepaid has a 5GB plan that it says runs $ 25 a month, as long as you’re willing to commit to at least 10 months, but the math here can be tricky. The plan is usually $ 40 per month, but that price will drop to $ 35 per month starting the second month assuming you have automatic payments enabled. It will then drop to $ 30 per month if you keep the service for three months, before lowering another $ 5 to $ 25 if you stick to the operator after the ninth month.
T-Mobile has several offers for T-Mobile Connect including a $ 25 per month option with unlimited talk / text and 6 GB of data (with an additional 500 MB of data added to your plan each year).
As we said at the top, the best offer is the one that suits you best. But when it comes to price, assuming the T-Mobile network works well in your area, it’s hard to beat the prices Mint charges.