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Reviews: Prepaid from the 'Big 3' Carriers
Prepaid wireless services owned and operated by the 3 largest US wireless carriers, listed alphabetically.
About Our Reviews:   These reviews are mostly data from the wireless carriers themselves.  We include a certain amount of opinion from our wireless experts to further distinguish among prepaid services, for which we receive no compensation.  We also have an affiliate relationship with most of these carriers, and if you click on their link and make a purchase we may receive a commission.
PREPAIDS FROM AT&T:
AT&T Prepaid
AT&T PREPAID
AT&T Prepaid gives you all the benefits of the entire national AT&T wireless network without the commitment. Choose Pay As You Go for as low as .10 a minute, or several levels of Unlimited voice, Text and Data. AT&T Prepaid's Unlimited plans are offered at a competitive price. Canada and Mexico Roaming is available, Mexico roaming is only .25/minute. If you have an Unlocked or AT&T GSM phone you can just purchase a new AT&T SIM and try it out.


Cricket Wireless
CRICKET WIRELESS
Cricket offers a competitive prepaid service on the AT&T network with Unlimited Voice, Text & Picture Messaging, Long Distance and Data. Plans start at $30 with discounts for Auto-Pay, but not much discount for multiple users. Cricket offers a selection of GSM phones and allows you to bring your own phone. Cricket phones can roam in Mexico for Talk, Text and Data but not in Canada and there is no off-network roaming available in the US. Cricket has the  advantage of using the AT&T Mexico network with roaming available there at no increase in price over their $50 and $60 plans. You can switch up to the higher plan for your trip and switch back when you return.



PREPAIDS FROM T-MOBILE:

Metro by T-Moble
METRO BY T-MOBILE
Metro by T-Mobile, formerly MetroPCS, is an alternative to T-Mobile's own prepaid. Metro's coverage includes Voice, Text and Data Roaming in Mexico and Canada, however, there is no off-network roaming in the US. The Metro network offers both 4G LTE and 5G. Plans start at a low price point and Family plans are cheaper than average. They have no activation fees and don't charge extra taxes and fees. All plans include Unlimited Web access with different thresholds for "throttling" data speeds. Metro offers a "Bring Your Own Phone" plan that includes certain iPhone models. They have a good selection of phones. We have never dealt with MetroPCS customer service but it should on the same above-average level as T-Mobile. Metro has their own stores which adds some benefit when you need help with returns and adjustments. Occasionally, Metro stores have promotional deals that are not available online, and vice versa.


T-Moble Prepaid
T-MOBILE PREPAID
T-Mobile has been a good value for Prepaid. Their 30-day "Connect" plans with Data start at $10/month for 1,000 Talk minutes, 1,000 Texts and 1Gb of Data. Data is "capped" which means when you have used all your monthly data allotment, services requiring Data will not be available until your next billing cycle unless you connect to wi-fi or purchase additional Data. They have a number of price steps with increased features to tailor your plan to your usage. The $15 and $25 plans automatically increase the amount of Data by 500 Mb each year for the next few years. If you have an unlocked GSM or existing T-Mobile phone you can just activate a new T-Mobile SIM and try it out.



PREPAIDS FROM VERIZON

Prepaids that are owned by Verizon, listed alphabetically. Verizon has acquired the Tracfone prepaids from America Movil. For now, those prepaid services are being maintained as before. We expect all prepaids not already using Verizon's own network to be eventually converted over. There could be other changes coming such as consolidation of brands or a reduction of off-network roaming. Verizon also operates Prepaids that were not part of the TracFone acquisitions.


GoSmart Mobile
GOSMART MOBILE
GoSmart limits their phones to 3G coverage. With the end of 3G in the US, we predict GoSmart Mobile will be absorbed into one of Verizon's other Prepaid networks, so we have moved it to our Secondary Prepaids page. If you want to switch to a similar Prepaid, consider Simple Mobile which has the same Latin America roaming capabilities, or Tello which has similarly low prices. Both support 5g coverage and currently use the T-Mobile network.



NET10
NET10
NET10 was originally developed as a pure 10 cents a minute wireless experience but has evolved to a network that has a slight benefit toward families. NET10 has very good coverage with no extra charges for Roaming or Long Distance. You can get Local numbers and coverage almost anywhere in the US. NET10 uses the top cellular networks available. They can also automatically refill your account monthly. Net 10 also has a no contract Unlimited plan and a "Bring-Your-Own-Phone" plan. NET10 is nearly identical to its sister service, StraightTalk, but differs by being available at retailers other than Walmart and that plans are available at different data caps and price levels, especially for "family" plans. NET10  charges local sales tax.

Page Plus Prepaid
PAGE PLUS
Page Plus uses the Verizon network and some roaming partners, but has not been favored among the recent Verizon acquisition of Prepaids from America Movil. Their plans do not include 5G coverage. We predict Page Plus customers will be absorbed into one of the other Verizon Prepaids shown on this page. As a result, Page Plus customers who want to switch to other carriers need to know their Page Plus account number, which is not easy to find. It is no longer your phone number, it is now your phone's IMEI number (available at *#06#). We recommend switching to Net10 to stay within the Verizon family, or Twigby for a better bargain, and still stay on the Verizon network.


Reviewer's Choice Reviewer's Choice

Simple Mobile
SIMPLE MOBILE:
Simple Mobile phones were confined mostly to the T-Mobile network and give you lower rates in return for more restricted network access, including during congestion, Simple Mobile customers may notice reduced speeds vs. T-Mobile customers. Simple Mobile plans allow FREE calling to 69 other countries and a credit of $10 or $20 per month to call 100 more. FREE international roaming is included to 16 Latin America countries including Mexico. The name "SIM-PLE" originated as a "SIM-only" service, but now they offer several Simple Mobile-branded phones. You are still invited to bring your own phone and they'll send you a SIM card to start service. SIM's are also available at many retailers for as little as $1. Data is indeed "Unlimited" but it is slowed to 2G speeds after your monthly allotment is depleted. All plans have Unlimited Calls and Texts. Watch for substantial promotional prices especially for Auto-Refill.

Simple Mobile earns our "Reviewer's Choice" award as one of the best values among Prepaids from the Big 3 carriers with a monthly charge of $24 (+tax) which gets you all the above features and at least 3GB of Data. Simple Mobile SIM's are easy to find at local stores but prices can vary from $1 to as much as $10. We also like free roaming in Mexico and 15 other Latin America countries. We expect Simple Mobile to eventually start using the Verizon network.


Straight Talk
STRAIGHT TALK
Originally offered as an exclusive product to be sold at Wal-Mart, Straight Talk now offers their phones and service online. They offer single-network phones which allows a choice of one of the national carriers, and a Bring-Your-Own-Phone plan that offers access to multiple networks. We expect the home network will eventually be limited to Verizon. Straight Talk also offers Hot Spots and Wireless Home Phone Systems.


Total Wireless
TOTAL WIRELESS
Total Wireless was created to be sold with limited retail distribution but is available online. Coverage is limited to the Verizon network and not their roaming partners. You can get Unlimited Talk & Text plans starting at $24 and a large amount of Data for about $10 more. Total Wireless is operated by Verizon and sales tax and local fees are added. If you live and travel within Verizon's wireless network, Total Wireless can be a good value if you.  


TracFone
TRACFONE
TracFone has been one of the most popular prepaids in the country and offers a wide variety of payment options. They offer the option of having the charges deducted from your credit card or checking account automatically, eliminating the need to renew on an exact expiration date. TracFone offers Free international calls to about 60 countries by calling a special access number, and with their International Neighbors features, they can provide a local number in Mexico or Canada for incoming calls from those countries at local rates for both callers. Tracfone's customer service is fairly easy to access, however, their agents have a wide variety of experience. It may take multiple calls to solve a problem. TracFone charges local sales tax.


Verizon
VERIZON PREPAID
Now that Verizon owns all the Tracfone carriers, it should be assumed that they all have, or will have, a cooperative realtionship. Verizon Prepaid was never a strong product by itself so there is a chance it could be eliminated in favor of one of the other networks, or it could become the 'catch-all' for any of the other Tracfone carriers that could cease to exist and have their operations and customers switched to Verizon Prepaid. Having Verizon Prepaid is like having Verizon's regular plan, so we recommend looking at one of the other associated Verizon Prepaids for better value.


Visible Wireless

VISIBLE

Visible gives you access to the entire Verizon wireless network. Visible has two plans trhat both include Unlimited Talk, Text and Data. Their $40 plan gets you FREE roaming in Canada and Mexico, international calls and text and something they call, "Premium Network Experience." The $30 plan gives you everything except the international access and the Premium Experience. Taxes and fees are included in each plan and they evn give you few weeks to try it out for FREE. Visible uses the Verizon network which is a partial owner of Visible.


Walmart Family Mobile
WALMART FAMILY MOBILE
Walmart created their own brand of wireless using the T-Mobile Network. America Movil acquired the Walmart Family Mobile service and now has been taken over by Verizon. While the phones should continue to use the T-Mobile network in the near term, expect them to be switched over to the Verizon Wireless network, or could be sold or discontinued. Their service is competitive with other prepaids and may be offered at price points that better fit your usage.



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