Lots of people like to get prepaid plans because they are a way to get phone service without having to sign a contract. This means that you can end your service with a carrier at any time without consequence. If you have a yearly contract with a carrier and you want to cancel service before the end of the contract, you usually have to pay a fee for each of the remaining months in your contract. No contract cell phone plans typically require you to pay the full price of the phone. However, many companies will now let you pay off the phone over 24 months.
AT&T’s $80 Unlimited & More Premium plan gets you 15 GB hotspot use and HD video for $5 less than Verizon’s Beyond Unlimited rate, but its network trails T-Mobile’s in OpenSignal’s and PCMag’s studies. And we don’t think anyone should get its $70-per-month, no-hotspot-allowed Unlimited & More option. Like Verizon, it requires automatic payments for you to get its advertised prices but won’t let you make those on a credit card, and it disqualifies all of its discounts except its military/veterans deal from that plan.
We first used it to call the U.S from Ethiopia. And it worked beautifully! Even though Ethiopia was listed as a country with coverage, I just could not believe that it would actually work there. We called our daughter (and families) in Montana and in Wisconsin. I called United Airlines in the U.S. to work out a flight schedule problem. It all worked.
Lots of people like to get prepaid plans because they are a way to get phone service without having to sign a contract. This means that you can end your service with a carrier at any time without consequence. If you have a yearly contract with a carrier and you want to cancel service before the end of the contract, you usually have to pay a fee for each of the remaining months in your contract. No contract cell phone plans typically require you to pay the full price of the phone. However, many companies will now let you pay off the phone over 24 months.
Most cellular customers in the United States subscribe to plans that are set up as post-pay, which means they are billed monthly and obtain service if they have good credit. A growing number of subscribers are also choosing prepay services (Pay-as-you-go) which provide both advantages and disadvantages in comparison to prepay, but for some it is the only way they can have a phone.
If you have eyes only for your budget, we’d suggest avoiding the Big Four entirely and instead choosing a cheaper MVNO provider like Cricket or Republic Wireless. MVNOs do not operate their own networks and instead offer access to one or several of the major carriers’ networks at a reduced cost. Choosing the right MVNO requires knowing which network it uses and whether that network works well where you live.
Why we love it: Sprint's new Unlimited Plus plan improves upon the carrier's now-scrapped Unlimited Freedom plan with a 15GB hotspot, texting to 185 countries, 10GB of data in Mexico and Canada, and a Tidal subscription. This in addition to the perks of the previous plan, which include a Hulu subscription and unlimited HD streaming. When you bring your existing phone or buy one at full retail price from Sprint, you can all of this for an incredible $60—which is pretty great. 
Use a tablet with cell capabilities — If you already own a 3G/4G tablet, there’s a chance it was unlocked when you bought it. If so, you can use this when you travel instead of a phone — just buy a data-only SIM locally, and use Skype and WhatsApp for your phone and SMS requirements. You can also use the tablet as a hotspot, to share the connection among your other devices.

*Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which Deals2Buy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). Deals2Buy.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers.
Look for more tie-in deals from the carriers that throw in one video service or another, along the lines of T-Mobile’s free Netflix subscription with two-line plans, Sprint’s Hulu deal, AT&T’s WatchTV bundle, and Verizon’s $20 discount on a bundle of unlimited wireless and a triple-play of Fios Internet, phone, and TV service. (These media tie-ins are essentially another way carriers try to keep you around without the handcuffs of two-year contracts. Watch for new-lease or early-upgrade deals, but treat them with a fair amount of skepticism; buying your phone independent of service gives you far more leverage.)
If you’d like to save some money with a prepaid or resold plan (we talk about the differences below), we like Verizon Prepaid, which costs about a third less than Verizon’s postpaid service for a 7 GB plan ($50) on the same excellent network. As with Verizon’s postpaid plans, you’ll still get unlimited 2G data after you hit your plan’s data cap, but Verizon Prepaid bests the company’s postpaid plans in one way: It doesn’t limit streaming video speed. However, the prepaid plans don’t include calling and texting to Canada and Mexico unless you upgrade to the 10 GB plan or buy the international-roaming TravelPass at the postpaid rate.
Although prepaid and MVNO plans are cheaper, data is typically limited to around 3 GB; the highest cap we were able to find was 10GB. In other words, these plans are only going to work if you use very little data. You also won’t have access to lightning-fast load times or recently released smartphones. You’ll need to stick with a major carrier for either of these perks.
If you're looking to really save money on your monthly bill, nearly a dozen low-cost carriers are competing for your business by letting you mix-and-match your talk, text and data limits. Republic Wireless offers the best mix while keeping your plan under $30. Every plan features unlimited talk and text for $15 a month; just tack on $5 for each gigabyte of LTE data you use, meaning you can get 2GB along with talk and text for a grand total of $25 every month.
Clean Slate (formerly contract buyout) offer: Clean Slate: Amount based on ETF (early termination fee) charged or remaining phone balance. Req. port from other carrier to Sprint, remain active & in good standing for 30 days before card issuance & buyback of working phone in good condition (the device is unlocked, powers on and there are no broken, missing or cracked pieces) tied to offer. Phone must be deactivated & all personal data deleted. Device will not be returned. Reg, & submit final bill with ETF or phone balance w/in 60 days of switching at sprint.com/joinsprint. Allow 15 days after registration approval for Reward Card arrival. Excl. discounted phones, 100+ Corporate-liable, prepaid & ports made between Sprint or related entities. Prepaid Mastercard: Card is issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. No cash access or recurring payments. Unused funds will forfeit after the valid thru date. Card terms and conditions apply.

To be sure your cell phone is always ready to go when you are, you may want to select one of the different types of phone chargers. For instance, charger cases have proven popular because they provide some device protection while also keeping your phone charged. Other security options that will help maintain a like-new appearance include a screen protector that fights off scratches and fingerprints, and phone cases, which not only allow you to add your personal style, but can also protect your investment against water, weather and impact.
Tablet Offer: Credits end at end of term, early termination, early payoff or upgrade, whichever occurs first. Taxes and svc charges excluded. No cash back. May not be combinable with other tablet offers. Requires activation at point of sale. Available to new and existing customers who have an active Sprint wireless phone line. Req. qualifying data plan and new activation. Only 1 Tablet Offer per account during this offer. CL accounts req. active smartphone line and is not limited to 1 free tablet.
Verizon’s 5 GB pricing barely beats that of T-Mobile and Sprint’s unlimited plans, but those two carriers’ options (and even Verizon’s own $75 Go Unlimited plan) limit what you can do with that data in ways that Verizon’s plan does not—most notably, by limiting streaming video to DVD resolution and limiting either the speed or the volume of hotspot use. This 5 GB plan includes full-speed mobile hotspot use and allows HD streaming video, albeit capped at 720p resolution on phones and 1080p on tablets. (That streaming video limit remains undocumented as of August 2018 outside of a brief mention in the second-to-last paragraph of a press release.) So as long as you—like a large chunk of the wireless population—don’t use more than 5 GB in a month, Verizon’s continued network advantage still makes this plan a good deal.
Clean Slate (formerly contract buyout) offer: Clean Slate: Amount based on ETF (early termination fee) charged or remaining phone balance. Req. port from other carrier to Sprint, remain active & in good standing for 30 days before card issuance & buyback of working phone in good condition (the device is unlocked, powers on and there are no broken, missing or cracked pieces) tied to offer. Phone must be deactivated & all personal data deleted. Device will not be returned. Reg, & submit final bill with ETF or phone balance w/in 60 days of switching at sprint.com/joinsprint. Allow 15 days after registration approval for Reward Card arrival. Excl. discounted phones, 100+ Corporate-liable, prepaid & ports made between Sprint or related entities. Prepaid Mastercard: Card is issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. No cash access or recurring payments. Unused funds will forfeit after the valid thru date. Card terms and conditions apply.

These companies usually configure their SIMs with two phone numbers: one for use in North America and one that will work everywhere else. Dual-number SIMS can be a problem if you want to receive text messages while outside North America via your U.S. number. These systems only allow subscribers to log in with their alternate phone number (usually assigned in the UK) when overseas. This means that unless text messages are directed to that number, they cannot be received.
If you travel internationally, Verizon’s TravelPass can seem tempting. That option costs a reasonable $5 a day in Canada and Mexico to use voice, text, and data drawn from your domestic allowance, $10 a day in much of the rest of the world (with a few exceptions, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar). But Verizon phones are all sold unlocked, so you can (and should) save money by using a local prepaid SIM when traveling internationally.
The one place where AT&T holds a competitive advantage is in its bundles. In mid-2015, AT&T merged with satellite TV provider DIRECTV, making bundling discounts available for the first time. In 2018, the DIRECTV live streaming service is paired with its unlimited phone plans, providing more than 30 live TV channels that you can stream on any platform.
Gem! Phone works great. Needs nano SD card, I had to get an adapter kit but once I put in my ATT sim card, no issues at all! I don't know why anyone would spend $700 on the S7 when you can get this for $220 and its virtually the same phone. I previously had the S6, and I see virtually no performance difference between the two. Buy this if you need a good US or international phone.
Sprint: Sprint currently has some big discounts on Android and Apple devices, letting you get $450 back when you buy an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus if you add two new lines or one new line with a one-line upgrade — no trade-ins required. Sprint is also offering the best iPhone XS deal of all the carriers right now, letting you score an iPhone XS totally free or an XS Max for just $75 ($4.17 per month) with the trade-in of an eligible last-gen flagship. Android deals let you score the Samsung Galaxy S9 for $270, the Galaxy S9 Plus for $324, or the Galaxy Note 9 for $360 when you purchase one on an 18-month rent-to-own Sprint Flex lease.
If you'd prefer to use a different Android phone or an iPhone, T-Mobile remains a strong alternative, letting T-Mobile One subscribers use data in more than 210 countries, though at 2G speeds. You can talk and text for free in Canada and Mexico, though T-Mobile limits you to 5GB of LTE data in those countries. (Be aware that the carrier's new T-Mobile Essentials unlimited plan doesn't include these international perks.)
I write about all things "cyber" and your right to privacy. Before joining Consumer Reports, I spent 16 years reporting for The Associated Press. What I enjoy: cooking and learning to code with my kids. I've lived in the Bronx for more than a decade, but as a proud Michigan native, I will always be a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan no matter how much my family and I get harassed at Yankee Stadium. Follow me on Twitter (@BreeJFowler). 

Hulu: Req. registration from Sprint phone at hulu.com/sprint. Incl. access to one Hulu Limited Commercials plan per each eligible Sprint acct. (excl. other Hulu plans & add-ons) while eligible Sprint plan is active in good standing. Valid for new or returning Hulu subscribers or certain existing Limited Commercials subscribers. Select Hulu content streams in HD on supported devices subj. to connectivity. Tablets may stream Hulu content via incl. Sprint Hot Spot or may subscribe to separate unlimited data plan for tablets. Not redeemable or refundable for cash or gift subscriptions. Hulu may place acct. on inactivity hold based on Hulu usage. Cancel Hulu anytime. See full offer terms at sprint.com/hulu.
×