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Best prepaid phone plans of May 2021

We've sorted through the most popular providers and highlighted the 9 best plans.

Looking to go prepaid? Shopping for prepaid phone plans opens you up to a massive range of data packages, prices, deals and features. We cut through the noise to find the plans that distinguish themselves above the rest.

We looked at prepaid plans from big companies like Verizon and AT&T and smaller brands like Mint Mobile and Cricket Wireless. After analyzing each plan’s pricing, data allowance, features and fine print, we identified the nine best prepaid cell phone plans.

9 best prepaid plans of May 2021

Prepaid planBest forPrice
AT&T prepaid 15GBBest overall$40/monthGo to AT&T
Mint Mobile UnlimitedBest value$30/monthGo to Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile 12GBBest plan under $30$25/monthGo to Mint Mobile
Cricket Wireless UnlimitedBest for families$55/monthGo to Cricket Wireless
T-Mobile Unlimited PlusBest unlimited data plan$60/monthRead review
Verizon UnlimitedBest 5G plan$65/monthGo to Verizon
T-Mobile Simply Prepaid:Best for customer perks$40/monthRead review
Verizon prepaid 5GBBest for international travel$40/monthGo to Verizon
Boost Mobile 1GBBest for seniors$10/monthGo to Boost Mobile

The best overall: AT&T prepaid 15GB

This AT&T plan gives you the best of both worlds — a great network at a good price point. The 15GB plan clocks in at $40, which is cheaper than Verizon’s $50 15GB plan but also a better deal than T-Mobile’s $40 10GB plan.

Pros

  • AT&T has been ranked the best US network since 2018, according to Global Wireless Solutions’ 2020 US Nationwide Test of Mobile Networks.
  • Mobile hotspot is included.
  • Unlimited talk, text and data in Mexico and Canada.
  • Unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada.
  • Data rollover is permitted.

Cons

  • Not eligible for additional discounts, including AutoPay and paperless billing.

Read AT&T prepaid review

The best value: Mint Mobile Unlimited

Mint Mobile has the best price for an unlimited talk, text and data prepaid plan we’ve seen yet. For $30 a month, it reigns king over AT&T’s $30 5GB plan and Verizon’s $30 plan, which doesn’t come with any high-speed data.

Pros

  • Free calls to Mexico and Canada
  • Free SIM card
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Covers 99% of users on the T-Mobile network

Cons

  • Commit to a 12-month plan to pay $30 per month
  • No physical stores
  • Data speeds reduced after 35GB
  • Mobile hotspot is limited to 5GB

Read Mint Mobile prepaid review

The best plan under $30: Mint Mobile 12GB

Mint Mobile’s 12GB option gets you a sizeable amount of data for under $30, especially when you compare it to T-Mobile’s $40 10GB plan. It’s a good option for customers who don’t want to commit to its unlimited plan but want consistently fast speeds on a mobile hotspot — as long as your total data is less than 12GB.

Pros

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Free calls to Mexico and Canada
  • Free mobile hotspot
  • Free SIM card
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Covers 99% of users on the T-Mobile network

Cons

  • To pay $25 per month, you’ll need to commit to a 12-month plan.
  • No physical stores

Read Mint Mobile prepaid review

The best for families: Cricket Wireless Unlimited

Many prepaid plans don’t offer discounts for family plans. But Cricket Wireless charges you less per line with the more lines you need. For example, one line on its unlimited plan costs $55 every month, but having four lines drops the monthly cost to $25 per line.

Pros

  • Award-winning customer experience, according to J.D. Power
  • Uses AT&T’s network, which ranked first in data reliability, according to Global Wireless Solutions
  • Monthly taxes included — no surprises at checkout
  • Unlimited texts to 37 countries

Cons

  • May slow your speeds during peak periods
  • Mobile hotspot costs extra
  • Fees for in-store transactions

Read Cricket Wireless prepaid review

The best unlimited data plan: T-Mobile Unlimited Plus

T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan sets itself apart because you can hotspot as much as you want at faster speeds than its competitors. Most companies cap you on how much your phone can hotspot and then drop your speeds to 128Kbps or 2G. But T-Mobile gives you 10GB at 4G LTE speed and then drops you to 3G, which is four times faster than 2G.

Pros

  • Customize your plan with add-ons, including an international calling plan to Mexico and Canada
  • Scam-blocking protection
  • Caller ID
  • Unlimited licensed music streaming

Cons

  • Not eligible for discounts like AutoPay
  • Not eligible for T-Mobile perks reserved for its postpaid plans

Read T-Mobile prepaid review

The best 5G plan: Verizon Unlimited

Verizon currently has the fastest 5G speeds in the world — that’s nearly 10 times faster than T-Mobile and AT&T’s 5G speeds. Although T-Mobile may have more 5G coverage than Verizon, T-Mobile doesn’t offer 5G on its prepaid plans yet. Fortunately, Verizon’s 5G coverage is rapidly expanding.

Pros

  • Eligible for AutoPay and loyalty discounts
  • Unlimited high-speed data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Calls to Mexico and Canada

Cons

  • 5G service not available everywhere
  • Mobile hotspot costs extra
  • Most expensive prepaid we’ve seen so far
  • Mediocre customer service — ranked higher than Sprint but lower than T-Mobile on the American Customer Satisfaction Index

Read Verizon prepaid review

The best for customer perks: T-Mobile Simply Prepaid

If you want more from your company, T-Mobile is the way to go. You’ll get unlimited talk and text, with 10GB of high-speed data to share from your mobile hotspot. It’s the lowest tier that lets you stream licensed music to your heart’s content without eating away at your data allotment.

Pros

  • Scam-blocking protection
  • Caller ID
  • Unlimited licensed music streaming
  • Mobile hotspot included

Cons

  • Not eligible for discounts like AutoPay
  • Not eligible for T-Mobile perks reserved for its postpaid plans
  • Gets less data than AT&T’s 15GB plan at the same price

Read T-Mobile prepaid review

The best for international travel: Verizon prepaid 5GB

If you’re a jet setter, Verizon’s 5GB plan is probably right up your alley. You’ll get unlimited talk and text, 5GB of high-speed data and unlimited text to 200 international destinations.

Pros

  • Mobile hotspot included
  • Eligible for AutoPay and loyalty discounts
  • Add calls to Mexico and Canada for $5 a month
  • Call, text and use data when you’re in Mexico and Canada for $5 a day — add it when you need it

Cons

  • Pricier than its competitors’ 5GB plans.
  • Mediocre customer service — ranked higher than Sprint but lower than T-Mobile on the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Read Verizon prepaid review

The best for seniors: Boost Mobile 1GB

Boost Mobile has the best range of plans for customers with lower data consumption. Choose from 1GB of monthly data to unlimited.

Pros

  • Taxes and fees included
  • Offers the least expensive prepaid plan we’ve seen so far
  • Uses T-Mobile’s network, which has 99% of nationwide coverage

Cons

  • Website isn’t intuitive
  • Not all phones are eligible for Boost Mobile service — you may need to purchase a compatible phone to switch providers.

Read Boost Mobile prepaid review

How to choose the best prepaid plan for you

If you’re in the market for a prepaid plan, consider the following criteria before signing up:

  • Data allotment. Unlimited talk and text generally come standard. Data is the key to determine what plan you need. Data packages range from 1GB to unlimited.
  • Mobile hotspot. If you want to share your data with other devices, you’ll want a plan that includes mobile hotspot. Some companies charge extra, while others cap on how much you can share before they drop you to a snail’s speed.
  • Coverage. Use a company that has strong network coverage where you live.
  • International calls and texts. While you can use apps to text or call over Wi-Fi, you might need to add this to your plan if you need to reach a landline or text an international number.
  • Service in Mexico and Canada. If you travel to Mexico or Canada often, you might want a plan that includes service in those countries. Or find a provider that lets you add it when you need it.

3 alternatives to prepaid phone plans

If a prepaid plan isn’t right for you, consider these options.

  • Pay-as-you-go plans. Only pay for what you use and buy refill cards when you need a top-up.
  • Data packages. Get rid of the traditional call and text plans and do everything over Wi-Fi.
  • Postpaid plans. If you’re willing to sign a contract, you might get better deals and perks.

Bottom line

Prepaid plans give you absolute control over your budget. You pay up front, so there are no overage fees or surprise charges unless you choose to buy add-ons like data top-ups.

Since big cellphone giants and smaller companies are competing for your business, be sure to compare prepaid plans to find one that has all the right features and fits your budget.

Compare prepaid plans

Name Product Plans start at: Data Autopay discount Keep your phone numbers Rollover data Mobile hotspot
Verizon
$40/per month
5GB, 15GB, Unlimited
Yes, $5/month off monthly bill
Yes
Yes
Yes
AT&T
$25/per month
5GB, 8GB, 15GB, Unlimited, Unlimited plus
Yes, $15/mo. for new customers, and $10/mo. for existing customers
Yes
Yes
Yes
Cricket
$30/per month
2GB, 10GB, Unlimited, Unlimited + 15 GB mobile hotspot
Yes, $5/month off monthly bill
Yes
No
Yes
Mint
$15/per month
4GB, 10GB, 15GB, Unlimited
No
Yes
No
Yes
Boost
$10/per month
1GB, 2GB, 5GB, 10GB, 15GB, 35GB
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
T-Mobile
$15/per month
2GB, 5GB, 10GB, Unlimited, Unlimited plus
Yes, $5/month off monthly bill
Yes
Yes
Yes
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