Prepaid Phone Plan Reviews

The Best Prepaid Phone Plans

We compiled a list of 34 prepaid cell phone companies and selected 12 of the best to review based on 38 of the most important features.

Editor's Choice

Net10 With everything from unlimited family plans, affordable pay-as-you-go minutes, and entry-level plans that are among the most affordable in the industry, Net10 has something to tempt every cell phone user.

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Choosing the right prepaid plan for you

While all of the companies reviewed here offer a nice selection of prepaid plans, the companies below stand out from the competition in one area or another. These lists are a good place to begin for individuals who are looking for a specific type of prepaid phone plan.

The 4 Companies with the Best Prepaid Phones

November 11, 2015

The best companies in the industry have a wide selection of basic and smartphones to choose from so you can find something you like regardless of your budget.

The 4 Best Cheap Prepaid Phone Plans

November 11, 2015

Pay-as-you-go plans are great for the infrequent cell phone user who doesn't want to spend the money for an unlimited plan.

What prepaid phone plan features matter and why

Messaging

Messaging refers to the text messaging capabilities of the prepaid cell phone. Basic SMS text messaging is commonly offered, and the best prepaid phone plans also send and receive MMS messages, which include picture and video messages. International text messaging is also a possibility with some prepaid phones. With text messaging becoming a more and more common means of communication, this category is likely to be particularly important for the majority of consumers.

The most important messaging features
  • International Text Messaging – You can send and receive text messages to international numbers.
  • Picture – You can send and receive picture messages.
  • Text Messages – You can send and receive text messages.
  • Video – You can send and receive video messages.

Plans

Plans describes the different types of prepaid phone plans available for purchase. The most common types are the Pay-As-You-Go and monthly plans. With Pay As You Go plans, an individual purchases a set number of minutes or pays a predetermined fee for each minute spent on a phone call and for each text. Monthly plans enable customers to pay for a month’s worth of minutes and text messages upfront. This type of plan is often unlimited and comes with a data allowance as well.

The best prepaid cell phone companies also have daily plans. With these, customers pay a daily access fee for using their phone and sometimes an additional charge for calls or texts. This is another important category because it’s essentially what separates a traditional cell phone provider from a prepaid one. Individuals looking for a specific type of plan will want to pay close attention to this category.

The most important plan options
  • Daily – Daily phone plans are available.
  • Data – Plans include data allowances.
  • Monthly – Monthly phone plans are available.
  • Pay-As-You-Go – Pay-as-you-go plans are available.
  • Unlimited – Unlimited plans are available

Voice

Voice is a central category that covers all aspects of making calls from the prepaid phone. Most providers allow customers to use their prepaid minutes at any time of the day or night. Many also offer voicemail, call waiting, and three-way calling with their prepaid phones. International calling is another option found with the majority of companies, though additional charges may apply. In some cases, customers have to pay an additional monthly fee to enable international calling at all. Most companies perform well in this category, however, so it’s not a deciding factor for most customers.

The most important voice features
  • Anytime Minutes – You can purchase voice minutes that can be used at any time.
  • Call Waiting – Call waiting is available.
  • International Calling – You can make international calls with your phone.
  • Three-Way Calling – Three-way calling is available.
  • Voicemail – The phone plan includes voicemail.

Mobile Phones

Mobile Phones lists the types of phones available for purchase with the prepaid phone plans. Basic cell phones can be found with any company, but some also have Android, BlackBerry, and even iPhones available. Some also grant access to 4G LTE networks for improved speed and quality.

The best prepaid cell phone plans allow customers to bring their own phones as long as they’re compatible. This is a nice option for customers who already have a phone they like, or don’t like the limited selection of phones available with prepaid plans. For those with a certain type of phone in mind, this category is a good place to begin.

The most important mobile phone options
  • 4G LTE – 4G LTE capable phones are available.
  • Android – Android mobile phones are available.
  • Basic Phone – Basic mobile phones are available.
  • BlackBerry – BlackBerry mobile phones are available.
  • iPhone – IPhones are available.
  • Use Your Own Device – You can add the phone you currently have to your prepaid plan.

Payment Options

Payment Options discusses the different ways customers can purchase minutes for their prepaid cell phones. The fastest way is to sign up for an auto-refill or auto top-up program, which automatically charges consumers when their minutes are running low.

Many of the best prepaid cell phone companies also allow customers to make a one-time payment. This can be done online, in person at a retail location, or through the mobile phone on the prepaid plan. While this information is important to know, it’s generally the same with all major companies, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern for most people.

The most important payment options
  • Auto Top-Up – Your minutes can automatically be topped off when you run out.
  • In Person – You can top-up your account in person at a retail location.
  • Mobile Phone – You can use your mobile phone to top-up your account with a debit or credit card.
  • One-Time – You can make a one-time payment as needed.
  • Online – You can top off your minutes online.
  • Top-Up Cards – You can top-up your account with pre-purchased top-up cards and PINs.

Signing Up

Signing Up explains how consumers can sign up for a prepaid phone plan and any fees related to the signup process. Some companies have retail locations where customers can sign up, and dealer locator tools are often found on the company’s website. Purchasing online or over the phone are also options. The best prepaid cell phone providers don’t require consumers to sign a contract or undergo a credit check in order to make a purchase. They also don’t charge for shipping or activating service.

This category is relatively important because it explains the ins and outs of signing up for a prepaid phone plan and what individuals can expect to be charged for.

The most important signing up features
  • Dealer Locator Tool – The company website has a dealer locator tool to help you find the nearest retail store.
  • Free Shipping – Free shipping is available.
  • No Activation Fees – There are no activation fees.
  • No Contract – The prepaid phone plan does not require you to sign a contract.
  • No Credit Check – You can sign up for a plan without a credit check.
  • Online – You can sign up for a plan online.
  • Phone – You can sign up for a plan via telephone.
  • Retail Location – You can sign up for a plan at a retail location.

Support

Support encompasses the different ways consumers can contact the prepaid phone company with questions or concerns. Typically, customer support for prepaid plans is not as high-quality as the support found with a traditional two-year contract plan, but most companies still answer customer questions by phone, email, or live chat. FAQs are common on company websites as well and can be a good source of answers to common questions.

While this category can certainly be useful if an issue arises, chances are, most people won’t use customer support services often. For this reason, it’s unlikely that Support will be a significant factor in determining which prepaid cell phone provider to choose.

The most important support feature
  • Email/Ticket – You can contact the company through an email or ticket system.
  • FAQs – Answers to frequently asked questions are available.
  • Live Chat – You can contact the company via live chat.
  • Phone – You can contact the company via phone for support.

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