Prepaid plans are plans that you pay for at the beginning of each billing cycle, as opposed to the end of the month like traditional postpaid plans. Prepaid plans typically allow you to forgo a credit check, and are usually less expensive than postpaid plans, making them a great choice for anyone looking to save money. Major carriers (Verizon and AT&T) and small carriers (Cricket Wireless and Metro by T-Mobile) alike sell prepaid plans. The best prepaid plan for you is going to depend on your priorities, such as data allowance, hotspot, international calling, travel perks, and more. Check out the best prepaid cell phone plans for December 2020 and take advantage of some seriously good deals.

In this guide:

Best Cheap Prepaid Plans

Not everyone wants to spend an arm and a leg on their cell phone plan, so we’ve compiled a list of the best affordable options, all of which cost $35/month or less.

  • Cricket Wireless’ $35/month plan with 5GB of data
  • Mint Mobile’s Medium plan for $20/month (for 3 months) with 8GB of data
  • Twigby’s $25/month plan with 5GB of data

Cricket Wireless $35/Month Plan

Cricket Wireless, a well-known MVNO that runs on AT&T’s robust network, offers cheap prepaid plans and has over 4,000 storefronts across the country. The Cricket Wireless $35/month plan includes:

  • Unlimited calls and messages
  • 10G of 4G LTE data
  • All-in pricing (taxes and fees included)

Mint Mobile Medium Plan

Mint Mobile, a small carrier on T-Mobile’s network, offers three-month package plans. The Medium Plan costs $20/month for three months for customers switching to Mint Mobile, and it includes:

  • Unlimited calls and messages
  • 8GB/month of data
  • Unlimited calls to Canada and Mexico
  • Mobile hotspot

Right now, when you switch to Mint Mobile and buy three months, you’ll get three months FREE! This is a perfect time to try out Mint if you’ve been thinking about it.

Twigby 5GB Plan

Twigby, an MVNO that primarily operates on Sprint’s network but also relies on Verizon’s for text and talk, offers customizable plans. The 5GB plan includes:

  • Unlimited text and talk
  • 5GB of 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited international texting
  • Unlimited calls to Mexico, China, Canada, UK, India, Australia, and more

Keep in mind that this price of $16.50/month is a limited-time promotion for 50% off the monthly bill for six months. Once the six months are up, the price increases to $33/month. Still, it’s one of the best choices for an affordable prepaid plan.

Best Unlimited Data Prepaid Plans

Some of us want it all, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Here are the best prepaid plans that include unlimited data for all your streaming and browsing needs.

  • Tello’s unlimited data plan for $39/month
  • Visible’s unlimited plan for $40/month
  • Metro by T-Mobile’s unlimited plan for $50/month
  • T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid unlimited plan for $50/month

Tello Unlimited Data

Tello is a small carrier on Sprint’s network that offers build-your-own plan options so that customers can choose exactly how much talk, text, and data they need. For just $39/month, you get:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 25GB data deprioritization threshold
  • Mobile hotspot
  • Free calls to Canada, Mexico, and China

This Tello unlimited plan is one of the most affordable unlimited prepaid plans around. If you live on the East Coast where Sprint has to most coverage, this may be the prepaid unlimited plan for you.

Visible $40 Unlimited Plan

Visible, a no-frills MVNO running on Verizon’s powerful network, offers just one phone plan—a $40/month Unlimited plan. And for a limited time, Visible is offering a deal in which you get the first month for just $25 when you switch. This is clearly one of the best unlimited prepaid plans on the market today. This stellar plan includes:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Unlimited data (speeds slowed anytime during congestion)
  • Hotspot
  • All-in pricing

For a limited time, new customers pay just $25 for the first month when switching to Visible. There’s no way around it; that’s a darn good deal.

Metro by T-Mobile Unlimited Plan

Metro by T-Mobile (formerly MetroPCS), a prepaid carrier and subsidiary of T-Mobile, has over 10,000 stores nationwide. Metro by T-Mobile’s $50 Unlimited Plan includes:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 35GB data deprioritization threshold
  • 5GB of 4G LTE hotspot
  • 100GB Google Cloud storage
  • All-in pricing

T-Mobile Simply Prepaid Unlimited

T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid Unlimited plan costs $50/month and includes:

  • Unlimited calls and messages
  • Unlimited data (50GB data deprioritization)
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot (3G speeds)

This prepaid plan is a great way to access T-Mobile’s excellent network and receive a whopping 50GB of premium data without having to go through a credit check. Plus, you save a bit of money—T-Mobile’s postpaid unlimited plans range from $60/month to $85/month.

Best Mobile Hotspot Prepaid Plans

Not many prepaid plans include dedicated mobile hotspot allowances, but we’ve done the research so that you don’t have to and found the top hotspot prepaid plans.

  • Boost Mobile’s 35GB plan for $60/month with 30GB of hotspot data
  • T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus plan for $60/month with 10GB of hotspot data
  • Cricket Wireless’ More Unlimited plan for $55/month with 15GB of hotspot data

Boost Mobile 35GB Plan

Boost Mobile, a small carrier operating on Sprint’s network, is one of the few MVNOs offering dedicated hotspot allowances with their plans. The 35GB Plan costs $60/month and includes:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 35GB of high-speed data (then slowed to 2G speeds)
  • 30GB of 4G LTE hotspot
  • HD streaming
  • All-in pricing
  • Six months of TIDAL

T-Mobile Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus Plan

T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus Plan costs $60/month and includes:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 50GB data deprioritization
  • 10GB of 4G LTE hotspot

Cricket Wireless More Unlimited + 15GB Mobile Hotspot Plan

Cricket Wireless’ More Unlimited + 15GB Mobile Hotspot Plan costs $55/month and includes:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data (slowed anytime)
  • 15GB of 4G LTE hotspot
  • Unlimited texts to 37 countries
  • Unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada

As with the other Cricket deal, they’re currently offering 10GB of bonus data for the first two months of service.

Best Prepaid Plans for International Calling

If your loved ones live abroad, you may want to look for a prepaid phone plan that includes international calling or has a cheap calling add-on for the country or countries you want to call. Before choosing one of these plans, you’ll want to check which countries are included. Here are the plans with the top international calling features.

  • Ultra Mobile’s Unlimited Data plan for $46/month with unlimited calling to 80+ countries
  • Red Pocket’s $40 Monthly plan that includes 20GB of data and unlimited calls to 70+ countries
  • Simple Mobile’s Unlimited Plan for $40/month that includes 15GB of data and unlimited calls to 60+ countries
  • Ting’s Large Monthly plan for $49/month and includes free calls to 60+ countries and 4GB of data

Ultra Mobile Unlimited Data 3-Month Plan

Ultra Mobile runs on T-Mobile’s network and this three-month plan, which costs $46/month, includes unlimited calling to 80+ countries. It also features:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 32GB of high-speed data (then slowed to 2G data speeds)
  • Unlimited international text
  • Mobile hotspot

Red Pocket $40 Monthly Plan

Red Pocket, which runs on all four major networks, offers an excellent $40/month plan with unlimited calls to 70+ countries. You also get:

  • Unlimited messages and calls
  • 20GB of 4G LTE data
  • Unlimited calls to 80+ countries

For a limited time, when you switch to this plan, you’ll get 15GB of bonus data (they don’t specify how many months this deal is good for, so you should take advantage now).

Simple Mobile $40 Unlimited Plan

Simple Mobile, another MVNO operating on T-Mobile’s network, is an excellent choice for anyone looking to make frequent international calls. This $40/month ($37.50/month with Auto Reup) plan includes unlimited international calls to landlines in 60+ countries, and mobile phones in select destinations. Other features include:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 15GB of data
  • Mobile hotspot
  • Unlimited international texts
  • Roaming in Mexico and other Latin American countries

Ting Unlimited Plan

Ting runs on both Sprint’s and T-Mobile’s networks and offers build-your-own plans in which customers can choose their talk, text, and data allowances, and you only pay for what you use. The Ting Unlimited Plan costs $40/month and includes:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 22GB of high-speed data then slowed to 2G
  • Mobile hotspot capability (up to 12GB)

Holiday deal alert! Switch to Ting, sign up for this plan, and receive a discount of $5/month on your plan for 12 months. Offer ends January 5, 2021 so you’ll want to seize the day.

Best Prepaid Plans for Traveling

Most carriers charge exorbitant prices for international roaming, which is why it’s important to choose a prepaid plan that includes travel perks if you often travel to other countries, particularly to Mexico or Canada. Check out our list of the best prepaid travel plans.

  • Google Fi’s Unlimited plan for $70/month
  • AT&T’s Prepaid Monthly plan for $45/month

Google Fi Unlimited Plan

Google Fi runs on T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular’s networks and the $70/month unlimited plan includes:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 22GB data deprioritization
  • Unlimited texts in 200+ countries
  • Unlimited data in 200+ countries
  • Calls cost $.20/min abroad
  • Mobile hotspot

AT&T Prepaid $55 Monthly Plan

For a limited time, AT&T is discounting their $65 Prepaid Plan by $10, meaning you pay just $55/month for great features, such as:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data (slowed anytime)
  • Unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
  • Unlimited text to 100+ countries

What to Consider When Choosing a Prepaid Plan

With over one hundred prepaid carriers in the U.S. alone, it can be hard to know where to start. To help jumpstart your search, you may want to write down a list of your wireless priorities. Here’s a list of some things to consider:

  • Plan Price: Set a maximum price you’re willing to pay for your prepaid plan.
  • Network coverage: There’s no point in getting a cell phone plan if you can’t use it. Our coverage search tool allows you to input your address and check if you get coverage in your area.
  • Full-speed data: All four major carriers offer full-speed data (typically 4G speeds, although they’ve begun rolling out 5G in select cities, accessible to those with a 5G-capable device). Conversely, some MVNOs deprioritize customer data speeds in favor of customers on their parent network, such as Verizon or AT&T.
  • Amount of data: Some people do just fine with limited data, while others prefer unlimited data plans.
  • Mobile hotspot: Some plans are hotspot-capable, meaning you can use your data to connect other devices to the internet, while others have dedicated hotspots. While some people prefer hotspot plans, others don’t necessarily need it.
  • International calling: If you have family or friends living outside the U.S., international calling capabilities may be a top priority. Some plans include free international calling while others offer cheap add-ons or pay-as-you-go rates.
  • Travel benefits: If you travel frequently, especially to Canada or Mexico, you may want to search for a prepaid plan offering international roaming—otherwise, you may incur huge roaming charges.

Benefits of a Prepaid Plan

Although postpaid plans often include fun features like premium streaming subscriptions, travel perks, and more, prepaid plans are great options as well. Prepaid plans are extremely attractive options for many different reasons, including:

  • No credit checks (usually)
  • Flexibility (many carriers offer build your own plan options)
  • Tend to be cheaper than postpaid plans
  • Can be a great option for children