When it comes to cell phone plans, it’s easy for prices to creep up over time. But prepaid cell phone plans make it easy to save money and switch plans if your provider jacks up the price.
When it comes to prepaid cell phone plans, you have lots of options. And each of the companies offering these plans have different strengths and weaknesses.
We’ve ranked some of the best prepaid cell phone plans based on their top strengths and pricing. Here are the top prepaid cell phone plans for 2021.
Our Top Three Picks For Best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans In 2021
Here's our picks for the top three prepaid cell phone plans for 2021.
- Unlimited talk, text, and data for $30 per month!
- Unlimited calling to Mexico and Canada
- 5 GB of Mobile Hotspot
- $40 per month for 5 GB of data
- Unlimited data for $65 per month
- 5G nationwide coverage
- $100 for four lines with unlimited data
- Runs on AT&T's network
- $50 account credit for switching
Best For Moderate Data Users
Moderate data users tend to be connected to WiFi for most of their phone usage. They’ll typically download podcasts before streaming them and only play games or use social media apps when they're not using mobile data. However, when they are on the go, they may use GPS, messaging apps, or do a few quick online searches.
Mint Mobile 3GB Plan
The Mint Mobile 3GB plan offers unlimited talk and text with up to 3GB of data per month. Additional data can be purchased separately. This plan costs $15 per month, but the pricing depends on paying in bulk. You’ll need to put up $180 for a full year worth of coverage to get the $15 per month pricing.
I’ve personally been happy with Mint’s coverage capabilities. I can even get a signal in fairly remote areas. Users who are a bit heavier on the data usage may want to upgrade to the 8GB per month plan which is $20 per month.
Google FI starts at $20 per month with no data. Then you pay $10 per 1 GB of data, only paying for the exact amount that you actually use.
The plan has some nice bells and whistles for moderate data users. First, it comes with free international texting, and international calling at just 1 cent per minute. Moderate data users are likely to come away with fairly inexpensive bills most months.
Best For Heavy Data Users
Heavy data users aren’t careful about data consumption on their phone. Their phone habits are the same whether they are connected to WiFi or not.
They may send and receive emails on their bus commute, stream podcasts while on a walk, browse Instagram at the park, or watch a movie on a road trip. Heavy data users may also want to turn their phone into a hotspot from time to time.
The Mint Mobile unlimited plan costs just $30 per month which comes with 5GB of hotspot tethering. If you’re a heavy data user, it is hard to go wrong with such a great deal. The only drawback is that you’ll need to pay for 12 months up front to get the $30 per month pricing. That $360 payment can be tough to swallow.
Visible runs on Verizon’s network and offers unlimited talk, text and data for $40 per month for single lines. Plus, the carrier also offers party plans.
People with two people on a bill can get coverage for $35 per month. Three users cuts the cost to $30 per line per month, and four users cost just $25 per month. This is a great way to share costs with your family, significant other, or friends.
Best For Family Plans
Family plans (or party plans) are ideal for those who want to save money on several lines. Both companies listed offer four lines for $25 per line. They both offer unlimited text, calls and data.
Cricket Wireless runs on the AT&T network and offers great multi-line discounts. The best deal for four lines is the $100 monthly unlimited talk, text, and data plan. Speeds are limited to 8 Mbps, but that's more than fast enough for most cell phone activities.
As mentioned above, Visible runs on Verizon’s network and offers unparalleled coverage in the United States. At $25 per line (for four lines), their unlimited Party Plan even beats Mint Mobile’s unlimited pricing.
Best For Crossing International Borders
While most people are relatively stationary during the Covid-19 pandemic, some people still need to travel across borders for work or personal reasons. These plans offer coverage outside of the US for competitive prices.
Remember, you can always connect your phone to WiFi to use messaging apps or to use video chat. But the plans below will be a necessity for people who need to use data or make calls internationally.
Google FI is $20 per month (with no data) and the unlimited plans cost $45 to $70 per month (depending on your number of lines).
If you’re a frequent international traveler, you may chew through data quickly on trips. However, with Google FI, international texting and calling won’t run up your bill. international texting is free and international calling costs just $.01 per minute.
T-Mobile Simply Prepaid
T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid plan includes unlimited talk, text and 10GB of data per month, for $40. For an additional $5 per month, users can get unlimited calling to and from Canada and Mexico. You can also add international calling (including to landlines) for $15 additional per month.
Best For Rural Areas
Those living in rural areas are likely to experience spotty coverage unless they’ve got a great prepaid plan. This plan maximizes coverage area while keeping costs moderate.
Verizon still has the best coverage network in the United States (70% 4G Coverage). As a Verizon customer, you can expect coverage in all but the most remote parts of the country. A single line starts at $40 per month for 5 GB of data and unlimited data costs $65 per month.
Xfinity Mobile is an ideal plan for existing Xfinity customers. Those who aren’t customers need to pay an additional $20 per month per line.
It offers unlimited talk and text (all over Verizon’s coverage network), plus 1 GB of data for $15 per month (3 GB is $30 and unlimited is $45 per month). Additional lines (such as your watch or a tablet) can be added for $10 per month. One drawback to this plan is that it comes with limited BYOB (bring your own device) options.
Best For No Data
The plans below are bare bones talk and text plans designed for people who really don’t need much data. If you’ve got solid WiFi at home, and don’t rely on GPS, these plans could save you a lot of money in 2021.
Tello’s basic plan includes 500 minutes, unlimited text and no data. The carrier operates on Sprint’s network, so coverage can be spotty except in Urban areas.
Despite being bare bones, Tell comes through on cost. The basic plan runs you just $7 per month. During this pandemic (and potentially beyond), it is possible to keep data costs extremely low by using WiFi all the time.
Best For Limited Phone Use
Some parents buy a phone to keep at home for kids who are too young for their own cell phones. Others use a work cell phone but may want to keep their personal number active. Regardless of the reason, the below plans are for people who rarely use their phones.
For $3 per month you get 100 minutes of talk, 100 texts, and 100 Mbps of data (enough for a few iMessages per month). Additional talk minutes cost $.03 per minute and additional texts are $.01 per text.
Data has to be purchased on a per-day basis. 500 Mbps can be purchased for $5, but is only usable for 24 hours. A 7 day, 1 GB pass costs $10. It’s easy to see how these costs could add up. However, $3 per month is a steal for those who need a phone but rarely use it.
The basic plan includes 500 minutes of talk, unlimited text, and costs just $7 per month. Those who rarely use their phone except for two-factor authentication or making plans with friends will appreciate the low costs.
Most of us fit into the category of "moderate to heavy data user living in a suburban or metro area." If that's you, you should probably check out Mint Mobile.
However, if you live in a rural area, you'll probably want to go with Verizon due to their superior coverage. If you're planning to add more than one line to your plan, Cricket and Visible are strong choices. But if you do a lot of international traveling or use your phone sparingly, one of the other prepaid plans listed above may be a better fit.
Looking for more options beyond prepaid cell phone plans? We've got you covered. Check out our full list of the best cell phone plans.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.