The best prepaid cell phone plans: Verizon vs AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Cricket, Boost and more

The best prepaid cell phone plans: Verizon vs AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Cricket, Boost and more
Ever since AT&T was the last major cell phone contract bastion to bite the dust, carriers have been falling head over heels to offer contract-less options that were somewhat negating the need for their previous prepaid offerings, so those plans had to be adapted, too.

All major carriers have had those crappy prepaid phones for a while now, for folks who don'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 much more moderately priced, plus the phones offered on prepaid are no longer scraping the bottom of the specs barrel. 

We've compared the current prepaid offerings from each major carrier below for your convenience, and have provided the best MVNO (virtual operators that piggyback on the big four networks) alternatives for each one that offer unlimited data. The vast majority of these plans, save for some basic ones, include unlimited talk and texts, but who's talking these days, it's the data that counts. Also, sometimes going the MVNO route is the only way to get unlimited data at reasonable pricing on your favorite carrier of choice now. Check out the current prepaid plan prices for easier comparison when you shop around.



PlansNo data2 GB5 GB
Monthly charge$30$45$60

Extra data: $20 for 3 GB (90 days), $10 for 1 GB (90 days), $5 for 500 MB (30 days)

Perks: 1 GB extra per month for setting up AutoPay on the $45 and $60 plans




Plans10 MB1 GB1.5 GB5 GB7 GB
Cost$12$29.95$39.95$55$69.95

MVNO network: Verizon

Perks: $10 international calling credit with each plan, and unlimited international texting.




PlansPay per use2 GB5 GB
Monthly charge$30 plus $5 per 100 MB$45$60

Perks: $5 less per month for setting up Auto Refill; unused data rollover and unlimited international texts for all but the basic plan.

Throttling: After high-speed data allowance is used, data speeds are reduced to a max of 128Kbps for the rest of the term.





Plans2.5 GB5 GB10 GBUnlimited
Monthly charge$40$50$60$70

MVNO network: АТ&T

Perks: $5 less per month for setting up AutoPay; unlimited international texts for all but the basic plan.

Throttling: After high-speed data allowance is used, data speeds are reduced to a max of 128Kbps for the rest of the term.




Plans3 GB5 GB10 GB
Monthly charge$40$50$60

Perks: $5 more per month for plan usage in Mexico & Canada;

Throttling: After high-speed data allowance is used, data speeds are reduced to a max of 128Kbps for the rest of the term.




PlansNo data4 GB5 GB10 GBUnlimited
Cost$25$40$50$55$60

MVNO network: T-Mobile

Perks: $2.50-$5 less per month with Auto ReUp, except the unlimited option; plans valid for Canada and Mexico, plus free international calling to mobiles in China, India and more.

Throttling: After high-speed data allowance is used, data speeds are reduced to a max of 128Kbps for the rest of the term.




Plans1 GB3 GB6 GB
Monthly charge$35$45$55

Extra data: $5 for 500 MB, $10 for 1 GB (30 days)



Plans2 GB5 GBUnlimited
Monthly charge$35$45$60

MVNO network: Sprint

Perks: $5 less per month with Auto Re-Boost; unlimited music streaming from participating services (Pandora, Slacker, Milk Music); free incoming calls and texts even with 60 days without payment, 500MB of extra high-speed monthly data after every 3 on-time payments (up to 3GB extra maximum in 18 months).

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