Best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans
Prepaid phone plans make a lot of sense for people who want as much control over their cell phone plan as possible. For example, if you have a hard time relinquishing control of the remote control when watching TV, then a prepaid cell phone plan might make sense for you.
You could skip also reading all of this and just sign up for Visible’s prepaid plan. Scroll down if you want all the details, but between you and me, it’s the best prepaid cell phone plan for most.
|Provider||Best for||Our Plan pick||Learn more|
|Visible||Value||$40 Unlimited Plan||View Plans|
|Verizon||Unlimited||$65 Prepaid Unlimited Smartphone Plan||View Plans|
|TracFone||Budget||Unlimited Talk, Text & 1GB Data Smartphone Plan||View Plans|
|Pure TalkUSA||Family Plan||Simply Smarter Family Plan||View Plans|
Visible Wireless: Best value
An unlimited data plan on the best network.
- Unlimited talk, text, and data
- Verizon network
- No family plans
- Limited phone availability
What we like about Visible Wireless
Unlimited talk, text, and data plan
What’s rarer to find with your cell phone:
- A prepaid cell phone plan that includes unlimited talk, text, and data on a reliable network for $40 a month; or
- A shiny Charizard in Pokémon GO?
Okay, I honestly have no idea how rare a shiny Charizard is, but I can say with certainty that a prepaid plan with this much value doesn’t come around often. Visible Wireless gets you unlimited everything, and it costs $25 less than our best unlimited recommendation.
Visible uses the Verizon network, which makes this prepaid cell phone plan a cut above the rest. Whenever you hear about a smaller cell phone company like Visible, Cricket, or Pure TalkUSA, each use networks from the big cats like AT&T and T-Mobile. Translation: you get the best network coverage with Visible, which uses Verizon.
This is the kind of coverage you can expect with Visible:
What we don’t like about Visible Wireless
No family plans
Sadly, you can’t stack on multiple phone lines and score yourself a discount. If you want a cell phone plan for the whole family, it makes more sense to go with a carrier like Pure TalkUSA that gives you a monthly discount with a family plan.
Verizon is the cool older brother, and Visible, unfortunately, is the kid brother that doesn’t get as much pizza.
Let’s continue the pizza analogy. You see, a network is like a big ol’ pizza, but there’s only so much to go around. As a Verizon user, you get the best slices of pizza first (high-speed data and coverage). As a Visible user, you get the smaller pieces of pizza (less high-speed data and coverage).
The good news is that the Verizon/Visible pizza still tastes delicious no matter what size slice you get. In other words, the network still beats out Sprint, for example, even if you access it through Visible.
Is this analogy working?
Basically, if you’re surrounded by a bunch of Verizon users, your data speeds may slow down because the Verizon network favors their devices over yours.
Alternative value picks
If you don’t like the sound of Visible, check out some other prepaid plans. Just remember that Visible will cost you $10–$15 less than you’d get with another provider.
Verizon Wireless: Best unlimited prepaid plan
Look forward to uninterrupted access to the best cellular network available.
- Fastest data speeds
- Excellent coverage
What we like about Verizon Wireless
Fastest data speeds
Since Visible uses Verizon’s network, why pay $25 more a month for a Verizon prepaid plan as opposed to a prepaid plan with Visible? Two words: priority data.
Verizon offers the fastest cellular speeds overall, and if you get your wireless connection through Verizon directly, you can expect plenty of coverage basically everywhere you go. You could (probably) FaceTime your family from the Grand Canyon.
Because your data plan is prioritized over other carriers on the Verizon network, you won’t run into any annoying issues where your data speeds suddenly slow to a crawl. Enjoy the biggest slice of the data speeds pizza.
We probably sound like a broken record at this point, but Verizon really does have the best coverage across the country. Why does that matter? Good question. Allow me to dust off a classic Reviews.org observation—how many horror movies could have been avoided with reliable coverage? Think about it.
Hopefully you don’t get tired of maps, because here comes another one! Yes, it’s the same one we included above, but it’s still relevant. Check out Verizon’s coverage (again):
What we don’t like about Verizon Wireless
Pricier than other carriers
Of course, the amazing coverage and data speeds come with a catch—Verizon costs a bit more than the competition. You pay around $15–$20 more than you would with another carrier. If that sounds too rich for your blood, check out the alternative best prepaid plan picks that also offer unlimited data.
Here are some cheaper prepaid unlimited plans that might make sense if you want the perks of unlimited data but don’t want to pay quite that much.
TracFone Wireless: Best budget prepaid plan
Get the amount of data, talk, and text that you need.
- Plenty of low-data options
- Unlimited talk and text
- No large data options
- Only compatible with older phones
What we like about TracFone Wireless
Low data options for cheap
We recommend going with the 1 GB of data plan with TracFone, but you can always go with less data and get a cheaper deal. Take a look at all of your prepaid data plan options with TracFone:
Look at all those prices with two as the first digit. Paying under $30 for a cell phone plan that includes unlimited talk and text along with a couple of gigs of data is kind of a steal. If you can live without unlimited data and the latest smartphone devices, you can get a decent prepaid cell phone plan for cheap.
Unlimited talk and text
A few years ago, you couldn’t even find a TracFone plan that included unlimited talk and text. Now you have three options that included unlimited talk and text, and they cost a whopping $20, $25, or $30 a month. You only pay an extra $5 or $10 a month to jump from 500 minutes and texts to unlimited. Unlimited is clearly more (and better) than 500.
Do yourself a favor and pay the few extra bucks for the unlimited talk and text.
What we don’t like about TracFone Wireless
No large data options
As of right now, the plan with the most data available with TracFone maxes out at 3 GB. Data is life for many of us (including myself, who is writing this thanks to a mobile hotspot connection), and 3 GB may not cut it.
Check your data usage and think about how much you use in an average month. If you frequently use video streaming, mobile hotspot data, or play online gaming, this prepaid plan might not work for you.
Only compatible with older cell phone models
Sadly, you cannot get the latest iPhone and Android devices and expect them to work on your TracFone prepaid plan. As Liz Lemon from 30 Rock would say, “That’s a dealbreaker, ladies.” Well, for some of you. Here are some examples of phones compatible with TracFone plans:
- iPhone 6
- iPhone 6s
- iPhone 7
- Samsung Galaxy J3
- Samsung Galaxy J7
- Samsung Galaxy S7
- LG Premier Pro LTE
- Motorola Moto G6
None of these smartphone devices are the very newest, but they can get the job done. My Mom still rocks her iPhone 7 and sends me many emojis every day.
Not feeling the vibe of TracFone? Here are some other budget-friendly prepaid phone plans.
Pure TalkUSA: Best prepaid family plan
It’s the best value for the whole family.
- Up to 20% off with a family plan
- AT&T network
- No unlimited data options
What we like about Pure TalkUSA
Family plan discount
If there’s anything that families love, it’s shopping at Costco, sneaking candy into the movie theaters, and of course, getting a discount on wireless plans. Pure TalkUSA’s plans definitely seem to have families in mind.
You get up to a 20% discount on your family plan when you have three or more lines. We set up a family plan with Pure TalkUSA, and they gave us a 20% discount. If they don’t give you a 20% discount, you should demand one.
Pure TalkUSA piggybacks off the AT&T network, which is probably good news for you. I’ve been on AT&T for years, and it’s fairly rare for my data to drop completely. If you decide to get your family hooked up on a Pure TalkUSA plan, you should expect decent coverage and video streaming on the go.
Here’s a look at what AT&T’s/Pure TalkUSA’s coverage looks like around the country:
What we don’t like about Pure TalkUSA
No unlimited data options
You won’t find any unlimited family plans with Pure TalkUSA, unfortunately. You risk incurring extra fees if your family exceeds their data limit. If you have kids with smartphones, then you know how hard it feels to keep those kids off of the internet.
Here are some alternative family plans that probably won’t save you as much money but might get you some other perks.
There are loads of prepaid cell phone plan providers out there, and we’ve narrowed it down to the best of the best. Here’s a reminder of everything you need to know.
- Best value plan: The Visible Wireless $40 Unlimited Plan offers an affordable prepaid unlimited plan that just so happens to be on Verizon’s reliable network.
- Best unlimited plan: The Verizon Wireless $65 Prepaid Unlimited Smartphone Plan isn’t the cheapest prepaid plan, but it offers the fastest data speeds and uninterrupted access to the best network.
- Best budget plan: The TracFone Wireless Unlimited Talk, Text & 1GB Data Smartphone Plan is one of the cheapest prepaid plans you can find on the market that still offers decent coverage.
- Best family plan: The Simply Smarter Family Plan will give you a discount if you add three or more lines to your plan.
Prepaid cell phone plans can save you money if you like paying as you go rather than locking into a postpaid contract plan. Good on you for taking control of your wireless plan.
So, what prepaid wireless plan did you decide to go with? What’s your experience been like? Let us know in the comments below!