Compare Prepaid Cell Phone Plans
No contract and prepaid cell phone plans, also known as pay-as-you-go plans, are an increasingly popular choice, preferred by those looking to avoid a 2-year contract or those who only need a phone for emergency use. Pricing is competitive with, and sometimes better than, contract plans. However, no contract and prepaid cell phone plans vary significantly, and can be very expensive if the wrong choice is made. The tools in this section will help you quickly identify the best no contract option for your specific needs from across the spectrum of carrier offers.
Prepaid wireless phone plans provide you with the standard service that you expect from your wireless phone without a binding contract. You can get a prepaid wireless phone plan with most of the major telephone service providers like AT&T or Verizon, but there are also many wireless service providers who only sell prepaid wireless plans like Tracfone or Virgin Mobile.
Prepaid plans are a good choice for anyone who doesn’t want to commit to a wireless plan on an annual basis. A prepaid plan allows you the freedom to change your plan or your service provider quickly if you are unsatisfied with your service.
Check out some prepaid wireless phone plans below to see if a prepaid wireless service is a good choice for you.
Why choose a prepaid wireless phone plan?
Many people feel that a prepaid wireless plan gives them more control over how much they are paying for wireless service. With a no contract cell phone, you can change your plan at the end of each month until you find a service that fits you. You can also easily adjust the minutes and features included in your plan at the end of the month.
It is also easy to cancel a prepaid phone service after a month if you are unsatisfied. Many people feel that this is a good way to try different service providers because a prepaid wireless plan allows you to try a service provider without committing to a year-long contract.
Imagine that you have found a service provider that looks great: you like the features, the rates are good, and you can get the smartphone that you’ve been wanting. You sign an annual contract with that service provider only to discover that you get terrible reception in your house with that provider. Whenever you are at home and you want to use your cell phone, you have to go stand out in the front yard in order to get a signal.
If you signed a year-long contract, you either have to pay until the end of the term and accept the bad reception or cancel your service and pay extra fees for early cancellation. If you have service with AT&T, you have a 30-day period in which you can cancel your service without consequence. However, if you miss those 30 days, then you have to pay either $325 (minus $10 for each month of completed service) or $150 (minus $4 for each month of completed service). If you sign up with that service provider with a prepaid plan, you can cancel at any time without issue.
How do prepaid wireless phone plans work?
When you choose a prepaid wireless plan, you can choose one of the following:
- Individual plan (just for you)
- Family plan (for you and your dependents)
- Business individual plan (choose plans for a business based on costs for individual users)
- Business shared plan (share minutes among the different phones covered on a business plan)
These plans can cover talk, talk and data, or just data. Data refers your phone’s ability to text, email, store picture files, etc.
You can get an unlimited plan or choose a plan that covers a certain amount of minutes and data. For example, a standard individual plan with Virgin Mobile costs $35/month for 300 minutes and unlimited data. A completely unlimited plan with Virgin Mobile costs $55/month.
Frequently, you have to buy a phone with a particular service provider in order to use a prepaid wireless plan. Check with your particular prepaid service provider first to see if you have to buy one of their phones or if you can use your own.
With Cricket, the most basic phone and plan bundle, the Basic Plan costs $64.99 and includes Cricket’s cheapest phone, the Kyocera Domino. This includes the first month of service and the phone. Monthly service thereafter costs $35/month.
Pay As You Go
Some prepaid wireless phone companies allow to choose a pay as you go option.
With a pay as you go plan, you don’t have to pay every month. Rather, you keep a prepaid account. Every time you make a call, the cost of the call is debited from the account. So you have to be sure to keep your account full, but a prepaid account is a good way to save money if you don’t do a lot of calling in a month.