The 9 Best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans to Buy in 2018

Find the prepaid cell phone plans — no contract required!

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The Rundown

  • Best Overall: Metro by T-Mobile, "The Best Overall Rates for prepaid subscribers across the country."
  • Best Unlimited: Boost Mobile, "Unlimited talk, text, and data plans start at $50 for a single line and $110 per month for a family of three."
  • Best Everyday: Republic Wireless, "The opportunity to control completely what you pay makes Republic an incredibly attractive option."
  • Best Basic: GoSmart Mobile, "Unlimited international texting as well as unlimited 4G LTE access to both Facebook and Facebook Messenger."
  • Best Value: Virgin Mobile USA, "Incredible member benefits like buy one, get one movie tickets, 20% off Virgin America airfare or 25% off Reebok shoes."
  • Best Individual: T-Mobile, "The Simply Prepaid option is a great choice for individual shoppers looking for a single line of service."
  • Best Freedom: AT&T Prepaid, "A family of four can have unlimited talk and text, with 8 GB of high speed data per line for $140 per month."
  • Best Coverage: Verizon Wireless, "Best in the country for download speeds and reception where you need it most."
  • Best Seniors: Consumer Cellular, "A middle of the road rate plan for two people will run about $55 per month with 5GB of data."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Metro by T-Mobile

The Metro By T-Mobile logo.

With a bevy of single and family line options available, Metro by T-Mobile offers the best overall rates for prepaid subscribers across the industry.

Whether it’s a four-line unlimited plan for $140 a month or two lines for $80, Metro by T-Mobile includes taxes and videos alongside unlimited talk, text, and data. There are less expensive offerings as well for individuals or families including a $30 offering that adds unlimited talk, text and 2GB of data.

Most Metro by T-Mobile plans also include 4G LTE mobile hotspot connectivity as well as Wi-Fi calling and nationwide coverage thanks to parent company T-Mobile’s coast-to-coast network.

As a prepaid user, you can expect to pay full price for the purchase of a device including flagship smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 or Apple iPhone X. At the same time, you’re welcome to connect your own compatible smartphone to your Metro by T-Mobile line at any time.

Best Unlimited: Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile Logo, White Background

If unlimited data with a bunch of extra perks is what you’re after, look to Boost Mobile for great pricing and unlimited data for the whole family.

Unlimited talk, text, and data plans start at $50 for a single line and $110 per month for a family of three. With the inclusion of unlimited data, Boost customers receive mobile-optimized streaming video as well as 12GBs of mobile hotspot connectivity for future use.

Additionally, Boost customers can add an extra $10 to their monthly rate per line for upping video quality from mobile-friendly 480p to desktop-friendly streaming quality at 1080p.

Adding international calling to Mexico is just $5 per month per line alongside optional offers like Boost Dealz allowing customers to watch ads on their smartphones monthly to help reduce the overall monthly cost of their bill.

Supported by parent company Sprint, the Boost network reaches nearly every corner of the US for nationwide coverage.

Best Everyday: Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless logo, transparent background

For everyday phone users who don’t need fancy extras like streaming video plans, Republic Wireless provides a budget-friendly prepaid option that’s well worth considering.

Beginning at $20 per month for unlimited, talk, text, and 5GB of data, Republic customers can tack on an extra $5 per month for every 1GB of extra data all the way up to 15GB. Fortunately, as a prepaid option, customers can move back and forth each month with data allotments and not be tied to any specific amount every month as you might be with a non-prepaid plan from one of the big four carriers.

The opportunity to completely control what you pay makes Republic an incredibly attractive option for general wireless use and because it operates off both the Sprint and T-Mobile networks, you’re almost always assured of coverage anywhere in the country.

Best Basic: GoSmart Mobile

GoSmart Mobile Cellular Phone Plan Logo

When it comes to the basics, look to GoSmart Mobile for a prepaid plan that offers budget-friendly rates with a few notable extras.

Beginning at $15 per month for unlimited talk, text and 250 MB of 3G data, GoSmart jumps as high as $55 per month which allows unlimited data at 3G speeds while an extra $10 adds mobile hotspot connectivity.

While the 3G speed limitation stands out, so does GoSmart’s unlimited international texting as well as unlimited 4G LTE access to both Facebook and Facebook Messenger.

No matter which of the GoSmart plans you’re on, every customer receives unlimited use of the Facebook platform. To get 4G LTE access to Facebook, you must have a 4G LTE capable device and must do so on your own as GoSmart only provides the service and the SIM, thus requiring you to bring your own device.

Best Value: Virgin Mobile USA

Virgin Mobile USA Logo, white background

Backed by well-known name and the nationwide network of parent company Sprint, Virgin Mobile USA offers customers an outstanding value in a wildly competitive market.

Virgin’s $60 monthly plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data. You can also add phone insurance for $7 per month, or unlimited international calling to Canada and Mexico with an option for 70+ additional countries, starting at $5 per month.

Adding to the value of this plan is access to incredible member benefits like buy one, get one movie tickets, 20% off Virgin America airfare or 25% off Reebok shoes.

Beyond member benefits, Virgin customers can add an extra $10 per month to their plan to share 2GB of mobile hotspot data with up to 5 devices.

Best Individual: T-Mobile

T-Mobile logo, white background

While competition in the prepaid space is fierce, the Simply Prepaid option is a great choice for individual shoppers looking for a single line of service.

With unlimited talk, text and up to 10GB 4G LTE data for $40 a month, customers on Simply Prepaid have the option of bringing their own device or purchasing one directly from the provider. The kicker is when customers sign up with autopay every month, the rate drops an extra $5 bringing the new monthly total to only $40 per month.

If you wanted to jump just a little bit higher to add 6GB of mobile hotspot connectivity, you can opt for the $55 monthly rate plan which drops to $52 with auto-renew.

A $15 international plan is also available offering unlimited calling to over 60 countries and and extra $5 will net you international roaming in Mexico and Canada.

Best Freedom: AT&T Prepaid

ATT Logo

 AT&T isn't the first company to come to mind when it comes to prepaid mobile service, but they should be a consideration. AT&T has several plans to choose from for both individual users and family users.

The plan that offers the best deal in the AT&T lineup is their $50 per month unlimited, talk and text plan that includes 8 GB of high speed data. AT&T announced in April that it was increasing the discount provided on auto-pay plans, making this plan just $45 per month with the monthly auto-pay. 

If you think you'll need more high speed data, or if you would like to use your mobile device as a wireless hotspot, AT&T also offers an unlimited talk, text, and data plan that includes 10GB of hotspot data for just $85 per month ($75 with auto-pay). 

Additional discounts apply for those who have multiple lines. AT&T now discounts two active lines per month by $10, and four active lines per month by $20. This means a family of four can have unlimited talk and text, with 8 GB of high speed data per line for $140 per month.

Best Coverage: Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless Logo, white background

Their rates may not always be the most competitive, but it’s hard to doubt Verizon’s commitment to their network making it the best choice for prepaid customers.

Verizon’s most popular prepaid plans start at $40 for the first line and offer unlimited, talk, text and 3GB of data and go all the way up to $75 for an individual line with unlimited 4G LTE data.

Each rate plan offers unlimited texting to over 200 countries worldwide while the higher tier plans include unlimited talking to both Mexico and Canada. Family plans are available at all rates though your total costs quickly raise for a family of 5.

Fortunately, the higher cost equates to stronger coverage as Verizon’s network is widely regarded as the best in the country for download speeds and reception where and when you need it most.

Best Seniors: Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular mobile data plans logo, white background

For seniors who just want the bare bones with a prepaid plan, Consumer Cellular is what you’re looking for.

Designed with the older customer in mind, customers can opt for one or two-line plans, 250 or unlimited minutes and data plans that start as low as 250MB per month.

A middle of the road rate plan for two people will run about $55 per month with 5GB of data. The deal gets even more attractive for AARP members who can save 5% on their monthly service bringing their monthly cost down to an even more attractive $52.25 in monthly costs.

Fortunately, you’re never married to just one plan as Consumer Cellular allows customers to change plans every month to address different needs and budgets.

Customers have the option of purchasing devices directly from Consumer Cellular including flip phones designed specifically for an older customer with larger buttons and display as well as newer flagship devices like the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

Want to take a look at some other options for seniors? See our guide to the best senior cell phone plans.