The best of prepaid? Verizon vs AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint plans compared

 SprintVerizon AT&TT-Mobile ONE
0.5/1 GB-
3 GB-
4 GB$40
6 GB-
7 GB/10 GB-
$50/$60--/$50 (1st line family plan)
Unlimited$60$75$60/$75 (with 6GB hotspot)$75
*prepaid plan prices are after the auto-pay discount, where available

All major US carriers have had those scrappy prepaid phones since ages, for folks who didn't really have the wherewithal to endure two-year contracts, or the credit history to get a subsidized expensive phone with set monthly outlays. The death of two-year contracts forced them to rethink the prepaid conundrum, too, and these are now very enticingly priced, plus the phones offered on prepaid are no longer scraping the bottom of the specs barrel.

After the two-year cell phone contract is all but dead, and after the dust from the unlimited data plans battle has now settled, the next frontier in the cutthroat competition among the major US carriers is the prepaid market. More and more folks are seeing that value, and AT&T just acknowledged that fact by rebranding its GoPhone plans, and announcing that "prepaid is becoming the most competitive category in wireless."

We've compared the current prepaid offerings from each major carrier above for your convenience, and, surprisingly, with these prices the MVNOs may soon be feeling the heat in prepaid - just look at AT&T's Cricket MVNO plans below, for instance, and the situation is not much better with Straight Talk, Boost, Virgin or other prepaid populars.

These plans include unlimited talk and texts, but who's talking these days, it's the data that counts, as well as other perks.T-Mobile, for example, has been running a 10 GB for $50 prepaid promo since March, and has the highest throttling threshold. Sprint maintains the lowest unlimited data price in prepaid as well, while AT&T now gives you two months for free, and its unlimited prepaid is very reasonably priced, barely higher than Cricket's, for instance. 

Verizon's is the most expensive, but its network offers the most expansive coverage, and a few other extras as well, so check out the current prepaid plan prices for easier comparison when you shop around the big four, and eventually settle down for whichever is the one that covers your area best.



1. jmill75

Posts: 125; Member since: Jul 22, 2009

Signed up for ATT's new prepaid plans on Friday. My son gets unlimited data, I get 6gb's. $95 per month. I'm pretty happy with that. I had switched to TMobile from Verizon a little while back to save money. TMobile service sucks where I live. Att gets great service.

2. donfem

Posts: 708; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

no one wants to know why you switched from X to Y.

3. baldilocks

Posts: 1542; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

That's just your opinion. And we all know what opinions are like.

5. jmill75

Posts: 125; Member since: Jul 22, 2009

Guess what, I told you anyway. Any you read it and responded so you must actually care.


Posts: 1461; Member since: Mar 09, 2010

He just mad you knocked Tmobile..... Lol

10. Lumia_Luigi

Posts: 173; Member since: Mar 22, 2017

Isn't it capped at 3mbps?

11. BuffaloSouce unregistered

That might be an issue for someone who has nothing going on in their life so all they do is spend their day with their thumb up their butt downloading crap, but it's fine for the average user doing social media or streaming

17. Bernoulli

Posts: 4362; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

Streaming at 3 mbps? That sounds like a lot of buffering or low quality videos

4. scottevodesign

Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 26, 2012

After using my US unlocked galaxy S7 on the Top 3, I recommend not using it on verizon as for whatever reason it has the hardest time staying connected on volte calls. It shows LTE and VOLTE is on but it randomly doesnt stick. Everybody else has no problem with VOLTE

6. Nobias23

Posts: 64; Member since: Jul 17, 2017

Metro pcs anyone?

7. Godlymansean

Posts: 339; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

They're all competitive with price, but end of the day it comes down to who provides the best service in the area you live. Me personally Verizon or AT&T has the best coverage.

8. middlehead

Posts: 462; Member since: May 12, 2014

Cricket's data limits may not be as good as AT&T mainline, but it's still much cheaper because the main doesn't have family plans yet. I have 3 lines; with Cricket that's $90 and a fourth would only be $100, with mainline it'd be $120 now and $160 if I added.

9. domfonusr

Posts: 1092; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

I am all for a price war in the prepaid market. May the best... combination of network, data availability, handset selection, and pricing... win!

12. Dboyfresh831

Posts: 11; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Yes AT&T prepaid is capped at 3mbps. Cricket is less expensive and uses the same network but caps at 8mbps.

13. Duncdawg26

Posts: 177; Member since: Jan 20, 2017

Att pp is only capped on the unlimited plan. It's 6 and 1gb are at regular speeds and it does also offer multi line discounts. They're not as good as crickets, but pretty close. Cricket doesn't allow tethering (except for $10 extra on its 8gb plan) or roaming while att pp allows both.

14. Jyakotu

Posts: 867; Member since: Dec 12, 2008

When it comes to prepaid services, I always was biased toward AT&T, especially since back in the day, buying phones outright and just inserting your SIM card wasn't as common as it is today. AT&T Prepaid has a couple advantages over Cricket and other AT&T MVNOs, such as better customer service (never had an issue), more stores, and better network access. I've never had an issue with AT&T and their service and I'm so glad that I'm able to use the same network at a cheaper price.

16. fastfreddy123

Posts: 67; Member since: Mar 25, 2017

Blah, Every person should go with whats best in there area or more specifically where they live. if Tmobile isnt then get something else. 95.00 for 6 gig though is alot. I have 4 lines for 120.00 with 10 gig per line. Cricket is ATT. Monthly Rate $30.00 $40.00 $50.00 $60.00 High-Speed Data Allowance* 1 GB* 4 GB* 8 GB* 12 GB* and you get 5 dollars off if you autopay. If you feel better paying more go for it . Theres a sucker born EVERYDAY.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.