The best prepaid plans for iPhone

Due to inflation, the pandemic and various other factors, many folks today find themselves looking to cut down their monthly expenses. There are obviously several ways to do this, but there’s one simple move you can make that could save you over $50 per month: switching to a prepaid wireless plan.

Did you know that you can actually get full service with unlimited talk, text, and 5G data for just $30 per month? These plans run on the country’s largest networks, will work with your current smartphone, and they offer free trial periods so you can test out their services. No more excuses! Here are the best prepaid plans available right now.

Cheap prepaid plans for iPhone

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The best prepaid plans for March 2023

Mint Mobile

  • Lowest price: $15/month
  • Unlimited everything: $30/month
  • Hotspot included? yes
  • Network: T-Mobile 5G

Does actor Ryan Reynolds really own Mint Mobile? Yes (roughly 25%), and it seems like the carrier has taken on his goofy personality — it calls pre-paying for plans the “no bill chill life.” Coverage-wise, it uses T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network, so if T-Mobile has good coverage in your area, MM should too.

Mint Mobile best prepaid plans

It’s worth noting that after the first 3 months, your costs will go up, unless you’re ok with paying for a full year at once. Essentially, after the initial 90-day promotion expires, you’re subject to the regular prices, which vary depending on how much you ware willing to pay at once. It’s a bit convoluted, but it does give you a variety of payment options, which is likely why Mint Mobile is one of the largest MVNOs.

See more details at Mint Mobile

Visible by Verizon

  • Lowest price: $25/month
  • Unlimited everything: $25/month
  • Hotspot included? yes
  • Network: Verizon 5G

If you prefer a simpler solution, and Verizon has great coverage in your area, Visible is the way to go. Look at this, clean and simple — just two plans to choose from. Both of them come with unlimited talk, text, 5G data, and Hotspot, with the more expensive plan giving you access to faster Ultra Wideband 5G data (which is high speed data available in select areas on Verizon’s network) and better international support.

A chart showing Visible's best prepaid plans

See more details at Visible

Boost Mobile

  • Lowest price: $15/month
  • Unlimited everything: $50/month
  • Hotspot included? yes
  • Network: T-Mobile 5G

Boost Mobile has been around for a long time, and thanks to the Sprint-T-Mobile merger, it operates on the T-Mobile network. So Boost recently overhauled its wireless plan offerings, and they are considerably more expensive. I think there is still room here for some promotions, and maybe an autopay discount, but standing on their own they don’t look great. They do get points for including mobile hotspot in every plan, though, and being upfront about throttling data speeds in their unlimited plans after 35GB.

a chart of Boost Mobile's best prepaid plans

See more details at Boost Mobile

AT&T Prepaid

  • Lowest price: $25/month
  • Unlimited everything: $50/month
  • Hotspot included? yes
  • Network: AT&T 5G

If you’d rather get your prepaid plan directly from a carrier, AT&T has some solid options. Their lowest-priced plan, which is $25 per month, must be prepaid a year in advance, but it does include a healthy 16GB of data and mobile hotspot. A lot of folks claim they need “unlimited data,” but the reality is most don’t use more than 10 or 12GB.

See more details at AT&T

Verizon Prepaid

  • Lowest price: $35/month
  • Unlimited everything: $50/month
  • Hotspot included? yes
  • Network: Verizon 5G

As with AT&T, Verizon sells prepaid plans directly. They’re a bit on the expensive side, but Verizon does give you a $10/month discount if you enable Auto Pay, and an additional $10/month discount after 9 months of service ($5 off after 3 months, another $5 after 9). So while the prices of other services can go up as the months go on, Verizon will actually get cheaper.

See more details at Verizon

Metro by T-Mobile

  • Lowest price: $40/month
  • Unlimited everything: $40/month
  • Hotspot included? no
  • Network: T-Mobile 5G

Metro does things a little bit differently. Their monthly plans start at $40 per month, the lowest of which doesn’t include hotspot, but they do include some nice perks that you typically only see with postpaid plans (T-Mobile Tuesdays, Google One, etc). It’s difficult to recommend this at the higher price tag, with no mobile hotspot, but if T-Mobile coverage is great in your area, and you’re not a big Ryan Reynolds fan, this is certainly an option.

See more details at Metro by T-Mobile


What is an MVNO?

Many of the carriers in this list are MVNOs, which stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. This is essentially a wireless carrier that doesn’t own or operate its own network infrastructure, but rather buys access to a network from a larger carrier. This saves them a ton of money on overhead costs, allowing them to offer much cheaper wireless plans, while still providing reliable coverage. MVNOs also typically offer more streamlined, online account management, meaning you can say goodbye to lengthy, confusing billing statements, and most of them don’t require credit checks at signup.

What is the downside of a prepaid plan?

The disadvantages of prepaid phone plans really depend on what you’re looking for in a carrier. Some MVNOs don’t have physical retail stores, meaning customer service is relegated to chatting online and over-the-phone, and they don’t typically offer the perks that larger companies do.

Then there’s data speed and reliability. Since MVNOs purchase their network access from larger carriers, they aren’t always given priority when the network gets congested. The good news is, most MVNOs offer free trials, meaning you can take their service for a spin before committing to anything.

Prepaid vs. postpaid plans

The obvious difference between prepaid and postpaid plans is how they are billed. As the names suggest, prepaid plans are paid for in advance, and postpaid plans are billed at the end of a monthly billing cycle, similar to other utility services. The biggest discrepancy between the two is price — the cheapest prepaid plan is significantly cheaper than the cheapest postpaid plan. But, as outlined in the sections above, those savings do come at cost of customer service, a reliable data connection when the network is congested, and other perks. So is it better to have a prepaid or postpaid plan? Again, it depends. If you just have an individual plan, and you are on Wi-Fi most of the time (home or work), then yes, stop waisting your money and go prepaid. But if you have a family plan, with several lines, and in-person customer service is super important to you, then postpaid is probably the way to go.

Is it easy to switch carriers?

It’s surprisingly simple! As long as your phone is compatible (and if it’s newer, there’s a good chance it is), all it takes is swapping out your SIM card. Each carrier provides step-by-step instructions for doing this, and once you have the actual SIM, it only takes a few minutes. You can even keep your old number — so long as it’s portable.

What does ‘bring your own device’ mean?

Bring your own device, or BYOD, simply means that you use the same cell phone or smart phone when you switch to a new prepaid carrier (or postpaid carrier). Not only does this make the transition easier, but also much less expensive, as you don’t have to incur the costs of a new smartphone. Compatibility will vary depending on your phone and the type of network the new carrier uses, but most newer phones are fairly universal. The only caveat here is you have to make sure the device is unlocked. If it’s not, it’s fairly easy to request an unlock from your previous carrier, so long as you don’t still owe them money on the device.

The truth about unlimited data plans

Technically, yes. If you have unlimited data, you can use cellular data on your phone as much as you you’d like — however, it may slow down at some point. Most carriers have what’s called a monthly data limit, which means after you pass a certain amount of data (usually measured in gigabytes), they will reduce your data speed to take some pressure off their network. This threshold can be set anywhere from 5GB to 50 GB of data, so if you use a lot of cellular data (meaning you’re not on Wi-Fi), it’s something worth looking at before deciding to go with a carrier.

What is mobile hotspot data?

Mobile hotspot is a feature, present on most newer smartphones, that lets you harness your cellular data connection and turn it into a wireless network for devices around you. You can use it to give your laptop wireless internet access when you’re away from Wi-Fi, or to beam internet access to a friendly mobile device that may have already used up their monthly data allotment. It’s a super handy feature, that’s easy to use, and it’s a big bonus when a prepaid carrier includes it in their plans. As with unlimited data plans, unlimited mobile hotspot plans are typically throttled after a certain amount of data is used.

What about international calls and coverage?

Surprisingly, most MVNOs and prepaid plans do offer unlimited calling and texting from both Mexico and Canada. Some include data as well, although this is much more of a toss up. Data speeds can vary from 3G to LTE (maybe 5G), depending on what part of the country you are in, and there may be a lower usage cap and additional fees. As for further international coverage, such as Europe and beyond, that is going to be reserved to the more premium prepaid plans. If you intend to travel outside of the continental US frequently, and using your phone while abroad is a must, you might find better coverage and features in a postpaid plan, or looking for a carrier more local to the area.

About this roundup

We put together this roundup with the intention to highlight the best and cheapest prepaid plans available for the iPhone (and other smartphones). I think prepaid plans still have this negative connotation of having to load up minutes of talk and data blocks every few weeks, but that’s just not the case anymore. You can purchase a prepaid plan in which you pay $30 every single month, just like you would a more expensive postpaid plan. We focused our picks on single-line plans, with unlimited data and 5G, but there are many tiers to choose from. If you just need a basic plan, and you don’t care about download speeds, or need a ton of data usage, there are options available starting at just $10 per month

Want to save even more money? Check out our best AirPods deals roundup, updated daily, and our Latest Deals hub, for the latest discounts on iPhone accessories and other tech.