The Best PrePaid Cell Phone Plans (for $60 or less!)

18 January 2017

PrePaid Cell Phone Plans

PrePaid wireless plans are the greatest safeguard against overages or surprise bills (and we've all been hit by surprise bills at some point) so if you're looking for a high-value cell phone plan with no blowback, a pre-paid plan might be your best option. 

The pre-paid market is where the sharpest competition is right now and the *entire* wireless market has moved to monthly no-contract plans and contracts are redundant. That means the main difference between your traditional post-paid plans (with credit check) is that on post-paid you pay at the end of the month and with pre-paid, you pay at the beginning of the month. 

Ditching a postpaid monthly can save you hundreds annually as there is great value in the pre-paid space, especially if you are currently with AT&T and Verizon. We've compiled a selection of our fave plans from different price tiers, so read on to find the best option for you. 

For first timers, here's why you'd choose pre-paid:

  • No credit check: you don't need to have good credit to get a great pre-paid plan
  • Flexibility: if you want to stop / pause your plan, you can just choose to pause your re-charges
  • No contracts: there's no lock in contracts - switch anytime
  • Families are welcome: you can now get a pre-paid plan that supports multiple lines on the same account

How to Buy Pre-Paid

The news you may have missed is that the prepaid market has changed. No longer a place only for teens, or those with a low credit score, the prepaid market is the where the smart shoppers hang out, hunting for value. Any new wireless providers who are starting out in the wireless market will all offer no contract prepaid plans and this is where the best value is to be found. Many people switch between carriers multiple times per year, hunting down the best value. If you like your wireless plan under $30 per month, then switch away. 

Things to Know

You need to know these 4 things about getting the best pre-paid plan:

  • Smaller carriers rule (smaller carriers who operate on the back of the major networks) all offer pre-paid options and typically provide better value than the major carriers
  • Big 4 major carriers offer prepaid options, but typically they offer a 'lesser' product than their premium post paid plan 
  • Cheap deals need a sharp eye & forethought. Some great pre-paid options offer a super cheap deal, yet have some elements removed to make them cheaper. For example, the coverage and speed might only be 3G. 
  • Autopay will save you as every carrier offers discounts if you just let them auto renew you each month (typically $5/month discount)

There are two different types of pre-paid offers available from carriers. The first is a monthly prepaid product which typically features runs for 30 days. These plans offer auto top up (aka auto re-charge, auto re-up), meaning that it functions just like a monthly no-contract post paid plan as you are never without service. We put these plans in the same comparison basket as postpaid monthly no contract plans as they stack up on a head to basis. Alternatively, there are the fixed expiry pre-paid plans from 1 day through to 365 days. These plans are typically called Pay As You Go plans. 

In our selections we've focussed on the monthly pre-paid plans which will give 30 days of access and auto-top up each month. 

Here's our Best PrePaid Plans in 2017...

Here’s our top picks for best PrePaid cell phone plans in January. Full information on each plan is listed at each price range below.

Price Range Carrier Data Price
Under $20/mo The People's Operator 1GB $16.80/mo
Under $30/mo H20 Wireless 3GB $27/mo
Under $40/mo Mint SIM2GB $35/mo
Under $50/mo Cricket 8GB $45/mo
Unlimited PrePaid Boost Mobile Unlimited $50/mo
Last updated: 17 January 2017.

Best PrePaid Plans Under $20/mo

The People's Operator 1GB Plan

Why we like it: This new carrier uses both the Sprint and T-Mobile 4G LTE network and offers great plans for a fraction of the price. 

This is a 1GB data plan with unlimited calls and text in the US. For a standard cell phone plan, we'd normally recommend 2GB+ per month, but for this price, you can focus more on using WiFi and get a cell phone plan for under $20/month.  Coverage is on the T-Mobile or Sprint networks (depending on the phone that you bring) and you get 4G LTE (as long as your phone supports it). 

There's no stores so you need to sign up online, get your sim card in the post and you are away. GSM phones from AT&T and T-Mobile and phones from Sprint will all work with this carrier. 

Also Consider

  • Ting: Small Plan with 100MB of Data, 100 Minutes and 100 Messages for $15/mo
  • US Mobile: 1500 Minutes with 100MB of Data, 100 Minutes and 100 Messages for $16/mo
  • Freedom Pop: 1GB of data on the HSPA+ network for $19.99/mo (at time of publishing). Freedom Pop uses the AT&T 3G+ network.
  • Republic Wireless: 1GB of Data and Unlimited National Talk and Text (but you must have an Android 6.0 phone or above).

Best Under $30/mo

H20 Wireless

Why we like it: This is a great deal which runs on the AT&T network for under $30/mo with 3GB of data/mo. 

We don't know how long this plan will hang around, but it is great value plan. It's a monthly plan and the price is reduced to just $27/month it you autopay. 

You can bring any unlocked GSM device (i.e. phones from T-Mobile or AT&T) and use this service. 

Best Under $40/mo

Mint SIM's $35 Plan

Why we like it: This is a great deal which even offers discounts for pre-purchasing wireless service for 3, 6 or 12 months. 

Mint SIM's plan offers 2GB of data for $35/mo (at time of publishing) and unlimited talk and text each month. You get 2GB of high-speed data  (LTE) and unlimited slower data (128Kbps) - so no unexpected data cut-offs or overages. You'll pay $35 for this option on a month-to-month recharge basis, but if you want to save money longer-term, you can sign on for multi-month bundles.

Customers can buy three months of this plan for $80 (or $26 per month), six months for $150 (or $25 per month), and twelve months for $250 (or $21 for each month of service). It's a great option if you want to pay less for your plan in total, but does mean that you're locking yourself to a plan for a minimum number of months by paying upfront - even if you can technically leave at any time.

At under $40/month, there's too many hot options under $40/mo, so here's a list of all the options

Best Under $50/mo

Cricket's $45 Plan

Why we like it: This is a great deal on the AT&T network for under $30/mo with 3GB of data/mo. 

Cricket's prepaid Smart plan gives you unlimited talk, text and data, with a hefty 8GB at 4G LTE speed. The plan is normally charged at $50 per month, but customers enrolled in AutoPay billing will save $5 each month off the total cost. 

This option also includes great international features - you'll get unlimited international texting, plus unlimited calls from the US to Canada and Mexico. If you're planning to travel, you can use your plan's data allowance (and make calls and send texts) when roaming in Mexico and Canada, at no extra charge.

Best Unlimited PrePaid Plan

Boost Mobile's $50 Unlimited Gigs Plan

Why we like it: This is a great deal which even offers discounts for pre-purchasing wireless service for 3, 6 or 12 months. 

For just $50 each month, Boost customers can enjoy unlimited talk, unlimited text and unlimited high-speed data, plus mobile hotspot use and data-free music streaming from Pandora, iHeartRadio, Slacker Radio, 8tracks, Napster and Spotify. 

However, streaming on this plan is 'mobile optimized', meaning slightly restricted. Video streams at up to 480p+ resolution, while music is limited to 500Kbps and gaming at 2Mbps; however, all of these speeds are still great for viewing and listening on mobile devices. 

Best of the Rest

T-Mobile's $60 Simply Prepaid 

Why we like it: 10GB of high speed data for $60/mo

Go with T-Mobile, and you'll get unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 10GB of full speed data, plus unlimited slow data, for $60 each month. This plan also gives customers unlimited music streaming from selected services thanks to Music Freedom, plus unlimited video streaming that won't eat up your data thanks to Binge On.

Simply Prepaid does come with a few exceptions: international isn't included, although you can add on Mexico and Canada roaming for $5 per month. High-speed data is also capped at 8Mbps, and you won't be able to use your phone as a mobile hotspot.

Straight Talk's $55 30-Day Unlimited Plan

Why we like it: 10GB of high speed data

Straight Talk's plan gives you unlimited talk, text and data, with 10GB at high speed each month. The rest of your data is limited to 2G, but customers don't need to worry about overages.

Customers can choose to automatically refill their Straight Talk plan each month via credit or debit card, or just recharge their service as needed. You can also bring your own Verizon, Sprint or GSM-capable phone to Straight Talk, and can change your plan at any time. 

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