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Cheapest Prepaid Cell Phone Plans

Finding the best prepaid cell phone plan can mean slightly different things to different people, but this guide will discuss the best and most affordable prepaid cell plans or wireless phone service for a few different types of cell phone users.

While prepaid cell phone options have long been known to offer some of the cheapest cell phone plans available, at one time prepaid cell phones and prepaid wireless plans were somewhat limiting, but that has changed. Prepaid cellular plans, otherwise known as pay as you go plans or no contract cell phone plans, are now a legitimate option for almost anyone, even people looking for cheap family cell phone plans. Some providers even offer smartphones with unlimited voice, texting and data plans in a prepaid or pay as you go plan. These days it is easier to get full service without getting locked into a contract. This is great news for people looking for either full service or cheap cell phones without plans.

Prepaid Cell Phone Basics

Most prepaid cell phone plans or pay as you go plans sell packages of minutes or monthly plans. In most cases these minutes have an expiration date typically 30, 60 or 90 days, however some offer annual plans. To keep the phone active you need to buy more minutes before the set time expires. In most cases the unused minutes will rollover if you replenish your account before the other minutes expire. But it is important to compare prepaid plans and make sure you know the pros and cons of each before making your decision on which may be the best cell phone plans for you and your needs.

Cheapest Prepaid Cell Plans For The Occasional User

If you are looking for the cheapest prepaid cell service just for occasional use or as an emergency phone there are a few good, affordable options available.

T-Mobile has couple of good options for prepaid wireless service. They have a very affordable annual plan that provides service for a full year with 1,000 available minutes for around $100 (at the time of this article). This is a good option for anyone searching for cheap low use cell phone plans. They also have a very affordable pay as you go plan where the minutes don’t expire for 90 days. The down side is they have spotty coverage in certain areas.

TracFone also offers a couple of annual packages and a better coverage area; they start at around $100 per year, but to get more minutes for the year you’ll have to pay more than $100. TracFone cheap cell phone plans also include a basic monthly plan at around $10 per month for 50 minutes. They also offer pay as you go plans with the cheapest costing $20 for 90 days of service; that’s under $7 per month, but you only get 60 minutes.

Net10, an arm of TracFone, also has a couple of decent options. Among Net10 cheap cell phone plans, the best low use cell phone plan they offer for the occasional user is probably the $30 pay as you go plan, which provides 60 days of service and 300 minutes or 600 texts — that’s basically $15 per month. Their plans are very straightforward and some plans now have cheaper rates than their signature 10 cents a minute rate.

The best plan or the cheapest plan varies depending on how many minutes you need per month or per year, but there are some good options available.

Cheapest Prepaid Cell Phone Plans For Basic Service

For a basic cheap prepaid wireless plan TracFone rates pretty well. They offer a few different plans from annual plans to pay as you go and monthly plans. They have a reliable network and service. They offer free long-distance to a variety of other countries and they offer versions of prepaid cell phone family plans. The plans are pretty straightforward. The downside is they have a limited choice of cell phones, but they do offer a couple of smartphones and the phones they have are generally pretty reasonable.

As mentioned earlier T-Mobile also has some good basic plans and they offer smartphone prepaid wireless plans. The minutes for these prepaid phones also typically last for 90 days instead of 30.

Virgin Mobile offers a set of basic plans they call PayLo; for $30 per month you get 1,500 minutes of talk, 1,500 texts messages and 30 MB of web access. They also have a $20 plan that includes 400 minutes of talk, text messages are fifteen cents per text with this plan.

Cheapest Prepaid Cell Phone Plans For Frequent Users

If you are looking for the cheapest prepaid cell plan with unlimited coverage there are a few good choices. The most popular are probably Boost Mobile, Straight Talk and Virgin.

When it comes to the best unlimited prepaid cell phone plans Boost Mobile gets high ratings. They offer a cheap unlimited prepaid plan with a relatively low cost monthly service, good selection of features and a good choice of prepaid cell phones. The unlimited prepaid wireless service includes talk, messaging and data. The down side is some of their phones are a bit pricey and their network can be patchy.

Straight Talk is the cheapest unlimited prepaid cell plan, for a few dollars less per month than Boost. Straight Talk, from TracFone, offers unlimited talk, messaging, data and 411 calls. They have the solid network of TracFone, but they have limited options when it comes to phones.

Virgin Mobile also has an unlimited prepaid cell plan option but it costs more than both Boost and Straight Talk. They do, however, offer relatively cheap monthly plans with limited voice time but unlimited web, email and data messaging and they have a decent selection of phones. The best plan all depends on your needs and preferences.


These phone plans were chosen as the best prepaid cell phone plans based on reviews conducted by JD Power and Associates, and Consumer Reports.

Overall both Verizon and AT&T rank lower in the area of cheap prepaid cell phone plans. Their prepaid options are more expensive then other options available.

This is an ever-changing market so it is good to check the current competition before settling on prepaid cell phones and providers. Doing your own prepaid cell phone plan comparison is worth the time to find a good fit because it may save you frustration down the road. You can check for reviews at other sites like PrepaidReviews.com and CNET as well when you are looking for the best and cheapest prepaid cell phone plans that will fit your needs. Although at least with cheap prepaid cell phones it is a little easier to switch plans if you decide you don’t like the provider or service.