Ditch Phone Contracts With the Top 4 Prepaid Plans

Man excited about his phone plan
Photo by Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

Prepaid cellphone plans allow users to completely avoid contracts and operate purely on a pay-as-you-go structure.

You pay for your cellphone plan at the beginning of the month, you get whatever you pay for and the service terminates at the end of the billing period.

Other than avoiding long two-year contracts, the best part about prepaid plans is that they generally cost less than their postpaid plan counterparts.

Consider AT&T, for example. Check out the price difference between AT&T’s basic unlimited plan as a prepaid and postpaid option:

You can save $15/month by opting for the AT&T prepaid unlimited plan as opposed to the postpaid Unlimited Starter plan.

All you need to do is sign up for the AT&T Prepaid $65 Monthly Plan and agree to the Auto-Pay system (where you automatically pay for another month’s service at the beginning of the pay period), and you’ll get a $15 discount on your bill.

There are a few caveats worth considering, like the fact you can’t access AT&T’s 5G network on a prepaid cellphone plan, but if you want to save money on a cellphone plan, prepaid is the way to go.

Now that we’ve established why prepaid cellphone plans make sense, let’s take a look at the most popular prepaid cellphone plans available right now.

T-Mobile Simply Prepaid Unlimited

Currently, in 2021, T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid Unlimited is the top unlimited plan.

It costs the same as the previously discussed AT&T’s prepaid unlimited plan, but it comes with access to T-Mobile’s 5G network.

You won’t get much in the way of perks, like free calls to Mexico or Canada (that will cost you an extra $5 a month), but such is the nature of bare-bones prepaid plans. If you want an inexpensive unlimited plan that grants you access to 5G, T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid Unlimited is your best bet.

Verizon Unlimited Prepaid Unlimited Smartphone Plan

Verizon’s basic prepaid unlimited plan isn’t as cheap as what you’ll find with T-Mobile or AT&T, but it makes up for it with excellent coverage, along with unlimited talk, text and data in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

If you have any interest in combining international coverage with your prepaid plan, then Verizon’s prepaid unlimited plan makes a lot of sense.

AT&T Prepaid $65 Monthly Plan

As mentioned previously in this article, AT&T’s basic unlimited prepaid plan costs significantly less than the basic unlimited postpaid plan, with the main downside being you can’t access AT&T’s 5G network.

For some, the lack of 5G coverage will be a major deal-breaker, but for those of us who don’t even have a 5G-ready phone, it’s not the biggest issue in the world. Especially considering the fact that 5G coverage isn’t even widely available yet.

In a couple of years, we’ll all scoff at the idea of not having 5G service, but for now, it’s a manageable tradeoff.

U.S. Cellular Prepaid Basic Plan

U.S. Cellular is a stand-alone wireless carrier and network that specializes in providing excellent coverage in the Midwestern U.S.

For folks who struggle to find reliable coverage in the more rural areas of the Midwest, U.S. Cellular was basically built with you in mind.

Beyond the niche coverage, U.S. Cellular doesn’t offer much in the way of features or major discounts. If you don’t live in the Midwest, you would probably be better off choosing one of the prepaid plans listed above.

Other Prepaid Plans

There’s a whole world of Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) carriers out there that specialize in offering prepaid cellphone plans. All MVNOs operate on major networks, like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

The caveat with all MVNOs is that your data speeds can be throttled out of the blue as the network favors its own customers over MVNO users. Usually this will occur during peak usage periods or in crowded areas where the network is congested.

As long as you’re prepared for occasional slowdowns with your data speeds, you can get a serious bargain by going with an MVNO carrier. Here are the most popular MVNO prepaid cellphone plans right now:

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings
7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings

You can make your retirement money last a lot longer by avoiding these costly mistakes

Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card
Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

8 Things I Always Buy at Target
8 Things I Always Buy at Target

I grew up shopping at the original Target store and am a lifelong fan. Here are my favorite purchases.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

3 Ways to Get Paid for Searching the Web
3 Ways to Get Paid for Searching the Web

If you’re already doing it anyway, why not get rewarded for it? Here are three great opportunities.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
12 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.