If you currently have your cell phone plan on a contract through a provider such as Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, or T-Mobile… you’re probably paying too much.
Before I switched to a prepaid plan, I was sending Verizon a ridiculous $70 per month for 350 minutes, 250 texts, and 2 GB of data. Now I get 4 times as many minutes, 12 times as many texts, and more than enough data for the average smartphone user for $29.95 per month (total savings of over $40 per month).
Additionally, since prepaid plans are typically contract-free, I have the flexibility to change my plan or switch to a different provider at any time without any type of penalty.
Granted, prepaid phone plans aren’t for everyone. While prepaid plan providers have come a long way in offering a variety of options for both smartphone and “dumbphone” users, many people are still hesitant to leave their current providers due to early termination fees, all-in-one family plans, and generous phone subsidies (although there are rumblings that such subsidies will be phased out in the near future). My husband is still clinging to his unlimited 4G data plan for $80 per month, although I’m hoping we can find something comparable for less once his 2-year contract is up.
Here are some of the best prepaid cell phone providers out there, in no particular order:
Page Plus Cellular
Page Plus is the largest prepaid cell phone plan provider out there and is especially popular amongst former Verizon users. Why? Because they allow you to keep your current phone, port your phone number, and keep the exact same coverage you had through the Verizon network. You can pay as little as $80 per year for 2,000 minutes, or go with a monthly plan for as little as $12 per month. A couple of down sides to Page Plus are that there are no unlimited data plans and 4G is not yet supported.
Note: I have used Page Plus for almost a year now and absolutely love it… especially when they periodically increase my monthly data allowance at no extra charge. (I started with 100 MB and now have 500 MB.)
Straight Talk Wireless
Like Page Plus, Straight Talk generally allows you to keep your current phone and port your number. The biggest difference is that Straight Talk only really offers two types of plans: a basic talk/text plan for $30 per month, or unlimited talk/text/data for $45 per month. Straight Talk’s unlimited plan is great for heavier users, as you can get more of everything at a lower price than Page Plus. They also now support 4G on the Samsung Galaxy SIII through Sprint.
Note: Depending on which phone you use, Straight Talk operates on just about every major cell network. Be sure to ask which network your phone uses, to ensure you get the best coverage possible in your area.
If you’re looking for a really simple, bare-bones prepaid cell phone plan, you may want to check out TracFone. They operate almost exclusively on dumbphones, and everything is billed in minutes. (Text messages are 1/3 of a minute each.) You can pay as you go, or choose a monthly plan for as little as $9.99 per month.
I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz lately about Republic Wireless, which offers a completely unlimited talk/text/data plan for only $19 per month. How is that possible? Republic operates on something called “hybrid calling” which uses WiFi for just about everything – with the Sprint network as a backup for times when you don’t have internet access. The down side is that only one phone is currently supported (the Motorola DEFY XT). Thus, in order to switch to Republic Wireless, you’ll need to spend about $200 on a new phone.
Are you on a prepaid plan? Which provider do you use?