Are you tired of phone contracts keeping you tied to a plan that you don’t like? Have you been paying for perks or add-ons you don’t use? If so, a prepaid plan, paid month by month, at the beginning of your billing cycle, for a set amount of talk, text, and data, may be right for you.
Prepaid plans are worth considering if you are looking for a flexible, affordable cell phone plan. Also, in 2023, there are options for unlimited and 5G data prepaid plans, meaning you do not have to give up unlimited data or great coverage for monthly plan flexibility.
Why Should I Care About Prepaid Plans?
Prepaid plans are right for you if you are looking for a flexible, affordable cell phone plan. By choosing the amount of talk, text, and data you want to pay for, you can save money by not paying for benefits you will not use.
Prepaid plans also do not require a credit check, making them a great wireless option if you are still working on your credit score.
Be sure to visit the Navi website for more about prepaid phone plans, including plan comparisons, mobile reviews, and more. If you are curious whether to choose a postpaid or prepaid plan, use our find a phone plan navigator.
What Are Prepaid Plans?
Before we answer this question, let’s get some definitions out of the way:
What Is a Billing Cycle?
A billing cycle is the time between the end date of one billing statement and the next billing statement's end date. Basically, it is how long you need to wait between bills for goods or services, including cell phone plans.
What Is Talk and Text?
The amount of Talk and Text your plan has means how many texts and minutes of phone conversation you can use per month. Many plans, including prepaid ones, now have unlimited talk & text.
What Is Data?
Essentially, cellular data is the data your phone uses to access the internet. There are a variety of data plans, including prepaid ones.
What Are Prepaid Plans?
Prepaid plans are cell phone plans that are paid before a billing cycle, month by month. This means you pay as you go before months of service. Unlike postpaid plans, your bill does not come at the end of every billing cycle and is not determined by your talk, text, or data usage. This means there will be no penalties for going over a data allowance.
Most cellular carriers offer prepaid plans, including T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. You can also purchase prepaid phone plans from stores like Walmart.
How Do Prepaid Plans Work?
With prepaid plans, you pay for a set amount of talk, text, or data, choosing how much you can use for a set month. This means that if you run out, you have to wait until the start of your next billing cycle for more talk, text, or data.
Since there is no contract, you can switch plans if a certain prepaid plan is not right for you. Also, if you are a gamer, streamer, or simply use the internet on the go, there are prepaid unlimited data plans.
T-Mobile Prepaid Plans
T-Mobile is the wireless carrier with the nation’s most expansive 5G coverage, at 53% nationwide coverage. They offer many different postpaid and prepaid plans.
T-Mobile offers three different prepaid plans:
- Unlimited Plus
All T-Mobile prepaid plans give customers unlimited domestic talk and text, scam-blocking protection, and wifi calling. Use our Phone Plan navigator to see if one of these plans is right for you.
Price: $40 a month for one line with Autopay
Benefits: unlimited domestic talk and text, up to 10GB domestic handset data, and a domestic mobile hotspot shared with the 10GB data.
Price: $50 a month for one line with Autopay
Benefits: unlimited domestic handset data and an unlimited domestic mobile hotspot at 3g speeds.
Price: $60 a month for one line with Autopay
Benefits: unlimited domestic handset data and up to 10GB high speed domestic mobile hotspot data, then unlimited data at 3g speeds.
With T-Mobile prepaid plans, you can add on Stateside International Calling for $15 more a month and Talk, Text, and up to 5GB of 4G data in Mexico and Canada for $5 more monthly. Additionally, the more lines added to these plans, the more you will save.
During times of congestion, heavy data users and users with lower priority data may see their data speeds temporarily slowed.
T-Mobile Prepaid Plan Deals
- If new customers choose to buy a new phone at T-Mobile, the network will currently pay off their old device (up to $800).
- You can get a new smartphone via 24 monthly bill credits when you add a new line.
- New and existing T-Mobile customers can get new Samsung Galaxy devices for a $0 down payment.
- Currently, the iPhone 12 mini is Buy One Get One (BOGO) $700 off.
Clickhere for T-Mobile’s most current deals.
How Do I Switch to a T-Mobile Prepaid Plan?
First, you need to choose whether or not to buy a new phone or bring your own device (BYOD). If you bring your own device, make sure it’s compatible with the network, and learn how to transfer your SIM card. Then, enter your zip code and choose the Prepaid Plan that is right for you. If you are still searching for the right plan, try Navi’s phone plan navigator.
Verizon Prepaid Plans
Verizon is a cellular network that has been cited as having the best overall network performance and reliability. Verizon is the big three carrier with the best 4G LTE network coverage, at more than 70% nationwide, though they rank lower where 5G network coverage is concerned, at 12% nationwide.
Verizon offers three prepaid plans:
- 15 GB
- Unlimited Plus
Price: $35 a month with Autopay
Benefits: 15 GB of data, unlimited talk and text, nationwide 5G and 4G LTE, a mobile hotspot, international texting to more than 200 countries, and Mexico and Canada talk, text, and data.
Price: $50 a month for one line with Autopay
Benefits: Unlimited data, unlimited talk and text, nationwide 5G and 4G LTE, a mobile hotspot, International texting to more than 200 countries, and Mexico and Canada talk, text, and data.
Price: $60 a month for one line with AutoPay
Benefits: Unlimited 5G Ultra wideband data, unlimited talk and text, talk, text, and data with Canada and Mexico, and a Mobile Hotspot.
Every Verizon prepaid plan includes Unlimited Talk and Text, 4G LTE and 5G nationwide, Call Filter Spam Blocker, Digital Secure (basic), International Texting, and Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin Islands talk, text, & data.
How Do I Switch to Verizon Prepaid?
You must choose whether or not to buy a new phone or bring your own compatible device. Verizon will ship you a SIM card at no extra cost. Then, choose the best prepaid plan for you, and enjoy your prepaid phone service. If you are still determining if a Verizon prepaid plan is right for you, visit our resources page for plan comparisons, mobile reviews, and more.
Verizon Prepaid Plan Promos
Customers who start an unlimited Verizon prepaid plan can get a free Samsung Galaxy A03S or Motorola Moto G Pure. Also, subscribers to Verizon’s prepaid unlimited plans can save $300 on the Apple iPhone 14 pro.
AT&T Prepaid Plans
AT&T is one of the largest phone carriers in the United States.
AT&T offers four different prepaid plans:
- 8GB 3 Month
- 16GB 12 Month
Price: $30 with Autopay
Benefits: Unlimited talk and text, 5GB of high-speed data, and Standard Definition streaming
8GB 3 Month
Price: With autopay, $33 a month for three months, $99 total
Benefits: Unlimited talk and text, 8GB high-speed data, 5G access, unlimited text to more than 230 countries, unlimited talk, text, and data with Mexico and Canada, AT&T Active Armor Mobile Security, a mobile hotspot that uses the plan’s data allotment.
Price: $40 a month with Autopay.
Benefits: Unlimited talk and text, 15GB high-speed data, 5G access, unlimited text to more than 230 countries, unlimited talk, text, and data with Mexico and Canada, AT&T Active Armor Mobile Security, a mobile hotspot that uses the plan’s data allotment.
16 GB 12 Month
Price: $25 a month with autopay for 12 months, $300 total
Benefits: Unlimited talk, text, and 16 GB high-speed data, 5G access, unlimited talk, text, and data with Mexico and Canada, unlimited text to more than 230 countries, High Definition video streaming, AT&T Active Armor Mobile Security, and a mobile hotspot are included in the plan’s data allotment.
Price: $50 per month with autopay
Benefits: Unlimited talk, text, and high-speed data, AT&T 5G access, unlimited talk, text, and data with Mexico and Canada, unlimited text to more than 230 countries, Standard Definition streaming, AT&T Active Armor Mobile Security, a 5G mobile hotspot (for a limited time, and included in the plan’s data allotment).
With AT&T, you can get up to $20 off if your prepaid plan is a family plan. Additionally, unused data rolls over from month to month for prepaid plans that are not unlimited.
How Do I Switch to AT&T Prepaid?
You will need to choose to either buy a new device or bring your own capable device. You will need to buy an AT&T prepaid SIM card and pay an activation fee as well.
At&T Prepaid Deals
If you bring your own phone to AT&T for a prepaid plan, you will receive a free SIM card and have your $15 activation fee waived. Be sure to use our find a phone plan feature to see if one of their plans is right for you.
Eligible T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T users can also save $30 a month with the affordable connectivity program.
Other Prepaid Options
To save money, consider using a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), a smaller network that uses a bigger carrier’s network but has plans at lower prices to save more. Mint Mobile and Boost Mobile are examples of MVNOs. They both use T-Mobile’s network (Mint Mobile uses AT&T’s too, but their plans are cheaper than those at T-Mobile itself. They come with fewer benefits, however.
Tracfone Wireless is also an MVNO, using Verizon’s network, and offers a plan that is $20 with Autopay and comes with unlimited talk, text, and 3GB of data.
Cricket Wireless is another example, on AT&T’s network, with cheap plans and many benefits, including phone deals, nationwide 5G, and HBO MAX. For only $10 more than AT&T’s basic unlimited plan, Cricket Wireless’s unlimited plan comes with HBO MAX, cloud storage, and more extras.
What Prepaid Plan is Right For Me?
This depends on what you are looking for in a prepaid cell phone plan. If you want to save the most money, AT&T’s 5GB prepaid plan will get you unlimited talk and text and 5G of high-speed data for only $30 a month with Autopay. $30 a month for unlimited talk and text is a great deal!
If you are looking for an unlimited prepaid plan, the big three’s prices are similar across the board, though each carrier offers different benefits for prepaid customers. For example, Verizon will ship a new SIM card for free, AT&T will waive your activation fees, and T-Mobile will pay off your old device. If you want a prepaid plan with many benefits, Cricket Wireless may be right.
Finding the phone plan that best fits your needs can be challenging. Our find a phone plan navigator makes it easy. All you need to do is enter your current carrier and zip code, and we will find the wireless plan for you.
There are a variety of both set data amounts and unlimited prepaid plans from the big three carriers, and you can also consider using an MVNO to save more money. Most Prepaid plans are also unlimited talk and text plans.
If you are looking for even more savings, check out our website. Make sure to use our navigators if you are looking for a new device or mobile plan.
What is a Billing Cycle? How it Works, How Long it Is, and Example | Investopedia