Skip to main content

The best prepaid phone plans for May 2022

best prepaid phone plans
(Image credit: Getty)

The best prepaid phone plans don't just offer excellent value, but also offer a convenient way to cut down on those lengthy service contracts. In a nutshell, prepaid phone plans are lightweight, cheaper, and work great if you happen to have an unlocked device ready to go. For those interested, our roundup of the best prepaid phone plans is here with some handy recommendations to check out including options for individuals, families, and even cheap unlimited data options.

Our picks for the best prepaid phone plans this month are based on what we consider to be the most important criteria - price, coverage, and data allowance. That said, we're also factoring in bonuses like freebies and perks where applicable and we've included as much information as possible on each one in a mini-review just below.

Since it's quite difficult to pin down the best prepaid phone plans for each user, we've tried to include options for a wide array of requirements. Each carrier on the list has its advantages and drawbacks, and we've made sure all points are covered on each one so you know exactly what you're getting. 

If you find yourself stuck when choosing the best prepaid phone plans for you, then at the bottom of the page is a handy 'FAQ' section that's there to provide a bit of extra guidance.

Firstly, here's a quick overview of the best prepaid phone plans with links to the relevant carrier pages. Below that, you'll find a detailed breakdown for each one with the specific reasons why we picked it. If you'd like to see more options - including what the big carriers are offering - then we recommend heading on over to our main best cell phone plans to see an overview of the market as a whole.

The best prepaid phone plans: top picks

  1. Mint Mobile - best for overall value
  2. Visible - best for unlimited data on a budget
  3. AT&T prepaid - best for big carrier value
  4. Verizon prepaid - best for coverage and perks
  5. Boost Mobile - best for flexible family options

The best prepaid phone plans

best prepaid plans cheap mint mobile

(Image credit: Mint Mobile)

1. Mint Mobile

Best for overall value

Pricing: $15/mo - $30/mo | Data options: 4GB, 10GB, 15GB, Unlimited | Talk & Text: Unlimited | Perks: 5G, mobile hotspot, free Mex & CA calling | Network: T-Mobile

Exceptional value
5G and excellent perks
Flexible plan choices
Have to buy in bulk to get the best rates

No list of the best prepaid phone plans right now is complete without Mint Mobile. High-profile celebrity ads aside, this relatively new company offers a fantastic array of excellent value prepaid plans that pretty much offer the most bang-for-the-buck going currently.

Ranging from $15 a month for the entry-level 4GB data plan to $30 a month for the unlimited plan, Mint Mobile has a bit of everything for everyone - and at dirt cheap rates. Unlike other prepaid carriers, you pay upfront for a multi-month plan with Mint Mobile (3, 6, or 12 months), with the longer service options averaging out to the lowest prices. While this can mean a fair bit of cash leaving your account at once, there are still no contracts to sign here, and on the plus side, you won't be paying each month for upwards of a year at a time.

Mint Mobile operates on the T-Mobile network, and all its plans offer uncapped 5G data speeds where applicable. Note - the unlimited data plan does, however, have a cap of 35GB of 5G data. If you want truly uncapped unlimited data on a budget, we recommend Visible (just below).

Read more about our service in our Mint Mobile plans guide.

best prepaid plans cheap mobile visible

(Image credit: Visible)

2. Visible

Best for unlimited data on a budget

Pricing: $40mo | Data options: Unlimited | Talk & Text: Unlimited | Perks: 5G, mobile hotspot, free Mex & CA calling | Network: Verizon

Simple pricing with no hidden charges
Unique party pay features
Verizon coverage
Slightly more expensive than Mints unlimited

For those data-hungry folks strictly on a budget, we strongly recommend Visible Wireless - easily one of the best prepaid phone plans on the market for cheap unlimited data specifically.

Starting at $40 a month, Visible's prepaid plan offers completely unlimited 5G data, text, talk, and even free mobile hot-spotting (up to 5Mbps). Even better still, there are no hidden fees with Visible - which makes it extremely competitive unlimited prepaid phone plan cost about half of those offered over at Verizon, Visible's parent company.

While costing more than Mint Mobile's unlimited data plan at the base rate of $40 per month, Visible also operates a unique 'Party Pay' feature that allows you to reduce your bill. Bundle your plan together with three other users and you'll pay just $25 a month. Better still, Visible's unlimited prepaid plan doesn't ever cap out after a certain amount of data usage - it really is completely unlimited.

Read more about our service in our Visible wireless plans guide.

Visible Wireless: first month $5 with code FUTURE

Visible Wireless: first month $5 with code FUTURE
Exclusive -
Use the code FUTURE at checkout to get your first month at Visible Wireless for just $5. That's a full $35 saving on one of the best cheap prepaid plans on the market currently. Note, this particular Visible deal is actually semi-exclusive to TechRadar so you've landed on the right page if you're looking to try out a decent prepaid carrier on the cheap!

best prepaid plans cheap mobile AT&T

(Image credit: AT&T)

3. AT&T prepaid

Best for big carrier value

Pricing: $25/mo - $75/mo | Data options: 5GB, 8GB, 15GB, Unlimited | Talk & Text: Unlimited | Perks: 5G, mobile hotspot, free Mex & CA calling | Network: AT&T

Data rollover
Good value, for a big carrier
No 5G on basic plans

AT&T stands out amongst most major carriers by offering some really competitive prepaid options to go along with its other more traditional post-paid options. Unlike its major competitors, AT&T has the option for both upfront multi-month subscriptions (like Mint), or the more usual pay-per-month options that you normally see with prepaid options.

Its buy upfront options include a 12-month subscription that can net you 8GB of data for just $25 a month - not a bad option if you'd prefer to go with a major carrier but still want to keep those plan bills down. Of course, you could also opt to go for the monthly service, which while being pricier, does resemble its post-paid plans in that they offer better perks like 5G access, family plan savings, and free calls to Mexico and Canada (on the 15GB plan and up).

We have a separate page on the best AT&T prepaid plans if you'd like to read more. 

best prepaid plans cheap mobile verizon

(Image credit: Future)

4. Verizon prepaid

Best for coverage and perks

Pricing: $25/mo - $75/mo | Data options: 5GB, 15GB, Unlimited | Talk & Text: Unlimited | Perks: 5G, mobile hotspot, free Mex & CA calling | Network: Verizon

No deprioritization
5G on all plans
Excellent coverage
Need to commit to get the best rates

Another great major carrier to consider is Verizon, which, while not having the lowest prices across the board generally has the best coverage as well as perks - even for its prepaid customers.

5G access comes as standard for all Verizon prepaid plans, as does free mobile hot-spotting, although free calling to Mexico and Canada is reserved for the 15GB data plan ($35/mo) and upwards. You can also opt to go for one of two unlimited plans, starting at $50 a month, although it's definitely beaten out by Visible for value in our eyes.

Another slight downside to Verizon is its loyalty discount scheme - which lowers your plan price when you both stick with the service for over four months and opt-in to the autopay feature. On the surface, this is great because it can lower your bill down to just $25/mo at the lowest, however, it does mean you're having to commit to a longer period and also have to go a few months with higher bills too, which makes Verizon slightly more inflexible than most of the best prepaid plans.

Want to see a more detailed guide? See our article on the best Verizon prepaid plans for more.

best prepaid plans cheap boost mobile

(Image credit: Future)

5. Boost mobile

Best for flexible family options

Pricing: $10/mo - $60/mo | Data options: 1GB - Unlimited | Talk & Text: Unlimited | Perks: 5G, mobile hotspot | Network: T-Mobile

Flexible options for additional lines
Lowest prices after 6-months
Cheapest plans for BOYO customers only

If you're looking to sign all your family or multiple people up to the same prepaid plan for maximum savings, Boost Mobile offers an absolute ton of great options. Not only does it allow you to mix-and-match various prepaid plans of different data allowances to create your own plan, but you can also get three 35GB plans for just $90 a month - excellent value.

Being on T-Mobile's network gives you plenty of good coverage too, and there are also options for bringing your own device over to the network. 

Where Boost Mobile gets less generous, however, is its solo-prepaid phone plan options, which while not outrageously expensive, do sit somewhere in the middle in regards to overall value. Like Verizon, its best value option (15GB, $35/mo) only comes down in price after 6 months, and its cheapest plans are for new customers bringing their own devices over only. Definitely one for the family and plan sharers then.

Best prepaid phone plans: FAQ

best prepaid plans cheap mobile

(Image credit: Getty)

What is the best prepaid phone plan?

Mint Mobile and Visible Wireless are the standout options right now if you're looking for the best prepaid phone plans. 

Mint Mobile is the one we'd go for if you're looking for excellent value on a single line and flexible data allowance options. Based on price, simplicity, and the generosity of its data allowances, we think Mint Mobile is really killing it right now when it comes to value.

If you're going unlimited, however, then you may want to consider Visible Wireless. This service's 'Party Pay' feature can get your monthly bill down to just $25 a month for a completely unlimited 5G data plan. That's absolutely incredible value, although you will need to find a group of three other Visible customers to group up with.

How do prepaid phone plans work?

In a very brief nutshell, prepaid plans differ from the traditional 'postpaid' options by not tying you down to a long-term contract. The name prepaid itself refers to the way in which most prepaid companies will charge you upfront at the beginning of the month for a plan. Generally speaking, with postpaid plans you'll sign up to a long-term plan and pay it in installments, whereas with a prepaid plan you'll renew your plan each month.

However, the lines have blurred in recent years and some prepaid companies (like Mint), offer longer-term options across multiple months, meaning the distinction between 'prepaid' and 'postpaid' has lessened somewhat in recent times.

So, these days, prepaid plans generally refer to those being offered by smaller companies - or 'MVNOs' to give them their official designation. On the whole, these smaller companies offer much cheaper plans than the big three (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) with no lengthy contracts, but don't actually operate the networks they run their services on. Put simply, they rent service from one of the big three - a policy which has both benefits and drawbacks. The most obvious benefit of not operating your own network is far lower running costs. By not paying for expensive upkeep or things like physical stores, MVMOs can normally get away with charging a lot less for their prepaid plans. The downside of this, however, is that the bigger carriers will always prioritize their own customer's cellular service when the local network is busy. This can mean prepaid plan users are often subject to slower data speeds on average - a process that's called 'deprioritization'. 

Note, while deprioritization is common on all prepaid phone plans, your mileage is going to vary a lot depending on your local area.

Are prepaid phone plans worth it?

If you're looking to save money then the answer is definitely yes. On average, most prepaid phone plans come in at around half the price of the equivalent cell phone plan at one of the 'big three' networks. That's a saving that simply cannot be ignored if you're budget-conscious, and you also won't be subject to credit checks or lengthy contracts - which means you're much more able to switch up your service should you want to.

However, before you sign up for a prepaid phone plan you'll definitely want to consider the potential drawbacks. We've already briefly mentioned deprioritization - which means you can potentially get slower data speeds when the local area is experiencing heavy traffic. If you're a data-heavy user especially then this one could be an issue, depending on your location.

It's also worth mentioning that prepaid phone plans generally don't have many customer perks like free streaming service subscriptions. You also don't tend to get access to big deals on handsets. The best Verizon deals, for example, offer options for free devices and trade-in rebates, which you might not get by going with a smaller company.

Who has the cheapest prepaid phone plan?

Currently, the cheapest prepaid plan we've found which has a bit of data is Tello, which goes as low as just $5/mo currently for the first three months. Tello has a really flexible custom plan designer too, which allows you to really narrow down what you need and what you don't for maximum savings. 

Of course, if you can spend a little more, we would recommend going with one of the five choices we've already covered in this article, as you'll generally get more 'bang for the buck' if you spend a bit more (1GB of data isn't much after all!).

If you're looking for a guide on this subject specifically, we'd also recommend heading on over to our page on this month's best cheap cell phone plans for not just recommendations, but also some handy tips on saving money too.

Alex Whitelock
Alex Whitelock

Alex is deals editor at Future PLC and an all-around expert at one thing - saving readers as much cash as possible while scoring them the best products for their needs. With content that's always packed full of helpful information, no-nonsense expertise, and of course deals, Alex has also written for other leading sites such as T3 and GamesRadar. At work, you'll find him mostly covering computing, gaming, and advising people on how to save on their cell phone plans. Outside of work, you'll find him playing guitar, indulging his love for music, or down at the local climbing gym mostly hanging off boulders far too difficult for his abilities.