Let’s compare the prepaid plans

by jovan1984

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In a post on February 28, we compared the postpaid plans of the five major carriers.

In this post, we will compare the prepaid plans of those five carriers, plus some mobile virtual network operators such as MetroPCS and Tracfone.

Below the fold, we will start.

Verizon:

Unlimited plan price: $86.22

Pros:

Most reliable network data overall (tied with AT&T for most reliable LTE network)

Cons:

The Lumia 735 is the only Windows Phone available from Verizon and it is not optimized for Facebook or Messenger.
Mobile tethering is expressly prohibited (via The Verge)
Taxes and fees are excluded.
Savings of 80¢ per month are very negligible.

Notes: If you can do without a high end Windows phone or mobile tethering, consider this your best option.

Sprint:

Unlimited plan price: $64.82

Pros:

Second fastest LTE network (only behind T-Mobile)
Only carrier with mobile tethering at LTE speeds

Cons:

No current Windows phones
Signal is horrific in Barnwell County
Taxes and fees are excluded.
Unlimited plan is $7.70 more expensive on prepaid than postpaid.

Notes: If you are not mobile OS-conscious, consider this your best option.

AT&T GoPhone:

Unlimited plan price: $70.17

Pros:

Largest LTE network in the US
Tied with Verizon for most reliable LTE network nationwide
Most reliable LTE network in Barnwell County
Unlike postpaid, data is not throttled on GoPhone
Unlocked Windows phones work

Cons:

Mobile tethering is expressly prohibited like it is on their postpaid unlimited plan
Taxes and fees are excluded
Plan is $4.75 more expensive than their postpaid plan

Notes: If you do not need mobile tethering (and if you do not mind paying an extra $4.75 per month), GoPhone’s plan is the best prepaid plan because your Windows phone works on this network.

US Cellular:

Unlimited plan price: $75.52

Pros:

Good signal in Barnwell County

Cons:

Has not sold a Windows phone since the Autumn of 2012
No native LTE coverage (which means that data will not work when signal drops below three bars)
Service can be terminated since the Aiken Area is a non-licensed market for US Cellular
Taxes and fees are excluded
Savings of 70¢ per month are very negligible.

Note: If you accept the possibility of having service terminated and you don’t care about the lack of Windows phones, have at it with this plan.

T-Mobile:

Unlimited plan price: $80.87

Pros:

Coverage in Barnwell County is improving – the county will get indoor coverage via Extended Range LTE soon™, followed by Band 71 support once WJBF-DT and some religious channel (Channel 49) are moved to other channels below Channel 36.
Fastest LTE network
Mobile tethering included, albeit with 3G speeds

Cons:

T-Mobile One is the only plan on prepaid as they have phased out Simple Choice.
There are no current Windows Phones as T-Mobile discontinued selling the alcatel Idol 4s earlier this month.
T-Mobile’s unlocked phone policy is very hostile towards unlocked phones that are not IPhones or popular Android phones
Wi-Fi Calling and Voice on LTE (VoLTE) are only guaranteed on T-Mobile locked phones (except for IPhones and select Android phones)
Taxes and fees are excluded
Plan costs between 10¢ and $10.87 more than T-Mobile One Postpaid (price of postpaid ranges from $70 to $80.77)

Notes: Be forewarned, if you are using a Windows phone on T-Mobile, make sure it is the carrier variant of the Lumia 640 or the Alcatel Idol 4s. The good news is that both of these phones support the recently released Creators Update and they can be found on third party e-commerce sites such as eBay and Swappa.

MetroPCS

Unlimited plan prices: $50 and $60

Pros:

Coverage in Barnwell County is improving – the county will get indoor coverage via Extended Range LTE soon™, followed by Band 71 support once WJBF-DT and some religious channel (Channel 49) are moved to other channels below Channel 36.
Runs off T-Mobile towers, therefore, it boasts the fastest LTE network
One of only four MVNOs with mobile tethering (CREDO Mobile, Mint and Ting are the other three)
Mobile tethering included with $60 plan
Taxes and fees are included in both plans
Windows phones that are locked to T-Mobile (Microsoft Lumia 640, alcatel Fierce XL and alcatel Idol 4s) work on MetroPCS without the need to unlock the device

Cons:

Mobile tethering is excluded from $50 plan
There are no current Windows phones
T-Mobile’s unlocked phone policy is very hostile towards unlocked phones that are not IPhones or popular Android phones
Wi-Fi Calling and Voice on LTE (VoLTE) are only guaranteed on T-Mobile locked phones (except for IPhones and select Android phones)
Data is de-prioritized during peak usage

Notes: Be forewarned, if you are using a Windows phone on MetroPCS, make sure it is the MetroPCS variant of the Lumia 640 or the T-Mobile variant of the Lumia 640, alcatel Fierce XL or the alcatel Idol 4s. The good news is that all of these phones support the recently released Creators Update and they can be found on third party e-commerce sites such as eBay and Swappa.

Page Plus

Plan price: $75.47

Pros:

Runs off Verizon’s towers and therefore, most reliable network data overall (tied with AT&T for most reliable LTE network)
Can use the Verizon Microsoft Lumia 735 for optimal performance

Cons:

The Lumia 735 is the only Windows Phone available from Verizon and it is not optimized for Facebook or Messenger.
Mobile tethering is expressly prohibited
Taxes and fees are excluded.

Notes: If you can do without a high end Windows phone or mobile tethering, consider this your best option among MVNOs.

Straight Talk

Plan price: $59.47

Pros:

Runs off AT&T and Verizon towers. The phone and SIM card determines which tower coverage you will get. For example, a white SIM card with red writing indicates that the SIM card is a Straight Talk SIM card designed to run off Verizon’s towers. Conversely, the lack of CDMA radio on a phone means that you will need a Straight Talk SIM card that runs off AT&T’s towers. This means that the Verizon Lumia 735 is the only Windows phone that will work with a Straight Talk/Verizon SIM. All GSM Windows phones will work fine with a Straight Talk/AT&T SIM.

Cons:

If you are looking for a Straight Talk/T-Mobile SIM, you are outta luck here as they no longer sell such SIM cards. Ditto for SIM cards running off the Sprint and US Cellular towers.
Mobile tethering is expressly prohibited on all plans from Tracfone-owned companies.
Multi-SIM phones are incompatible with Net 10, Straight Talk and Tracfone
Plans and phones are only available at Wal-Mart.

Notes: If the ‘no tethering’ rule is no biggie for you and you do not need a multi-SIM phone, feel free to get onboard with the new face of wireless.

Net 10

Plan price: $80.87

Pros:

Runs off AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon towers. The phone and SIM card determines which tower coverage you will get. For example, a white SIM card with red writing indicates that the SIM card is a Net 10 SIM card designed to run off Verizon’s towers while a yellow SIM card is a Net 10 SIM designed to run off Sprint’s towers. Conversely, the lack of CDMA radio on a phone means that you will need a Net 10 SIM card that runs off AT&T or T-Mobile’s towers. This means that the Verizon Lumia 735 is the only Windows phone that will work with a Net 10/Verizon SIM. All GSM Windows phones will work fine with a Net 10/AT&T SIM.
Plans and phones are not limited to a single retailer.

Cons:

Mobile tethering is expressly prohibited on all plans from Tracfone-owned companies.
Multi-SIM phones are incompatible with Net 10, Straight Talk and Tracfone

Notes: If the ‘no tethering’ rule is no biggie for you and you do not need a multi-SIM phone, feel free to get onboard with the new face of wireless.

Tracfone

Plan price: $22.02

Pros:

Runs off AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon towers. The phone and SIM card determines which tower coverage you will get. For example, a white SIM card with red writing indicates that the SIM card is a Tracfone SIM card designed to run off Verizon’s towers while a yellow SIM card is a Tracfone SIM designed to run off Sprint’s towers. Conversely, the lack of CDMA radio on a phone means that you will need a Tracfone SIM card that runs off AT&T or T-Mobile’s towers. This means that the Verizon Lumia 735 is the only Windows phone that will work with a Tracfone/Verizon SIM. All GSM Windows phones will work fine with a Tracfone/AT&T SIM.
Plans and phones are not limited to a single retailer.

Cons:

Mobile tethering is expressly prohibited on all plans from Tracfone-owned companies.
Multi-SIM phones are incompatible with Net 10, Straight Talk and Tracfone
The $20 plan is the only monthly smartphone plan

Notes: If the ‘no tethering’ rule is no biggie for you and you do not need a multi-SIM phone, feel free to get onboard with the new face of wireless.

CREDO Mobile

Price plan: $86.22

Pros:

Ardent supporter of Planned Parenthood
Runs off Sprint’s towers, which boasts the second fastest LTE network (only behind T-Mobile)
One of only four MVNOs with mobile tethering (MetroPCS, Mint and Ting are the other three)

Cons:

No current Windows phones
Lack of diverse phone selection
Signal is horrific in Barnwell County
Taxes and fees are excluded.

Notes: If you are not mobile OS-conscious, consider this your best option.

Ting

Plan price: $22.02 (+ $6 line fee)

Pros:

One of only four MVNOs with mobile tethering (CREDO Mobile, MetroPCS and Mint are the other three)
Runs off the towers of the two fastest LTE networks – T-Mobile and Sprint
Windows phones that are locked to T-Mobile (Microsoft Lumia 640, alcatel Fierce XL and alcatel Idol 4s) work on Ting without the need to unlock the device

Cons:

No current Windows phones
There’s no service in Blackville or Hilda
There are no big data plans for power users
T-Mobile’s unlocked phone policy is very hostile towards unlocked phones that are not IPhones or popular Android phones
Wi-Fi Calling and Voice on LTE (VoLTE) are only guaranteed on T-Mobile locked phones (except for IPhones and select Android phones)
Taxes and fees are excluded.

Notes: Notes: Be forewarned, if you are using a Windows phone on Ting, make sure it is the MetroPCS variant of the Lumia 640 or the T-Mobile variant of the Lumia 640, alcatel Fierce XL or the alcatel Idol 4s. The good news is that all of these phones support the recently released Creators Update and they can be found on third party e-commerce sites such as eBay and Swappa.

Mint Wireless

Plan price: $64.82

Pros:

Coverage in Barnwell County is improving – the county will get indoor coverage via Extended Range LTE soon™, followed by Band 71 support once WJBF-DT and some religious channel (Channel 49) are moved to other channels below Channel 36.
Runs off T-Mobile towers, therefore, it boasts the fastest LTE network
One of only four MVNOs with mobile tethering (CREDO Mobile, MetroPCS and Ting are the other three)
Mobile tethering included
Windows phones that are locked to T-Mobile (Microsoft Lumia 640, alcatel Fierce XL and alcatel Idol 4s) work on Mint without the need to unlock the device

Cons:

There are no current Windows phones
T-Mobile’s unlocked phone policy is very hostile towards unlocked phones that are not IPhones or popular Android phones
Wi-Fi Calling and Voice on LTE (VoLTE) are only guaranteed on T-Mobile locked phones (except for IPhones and select Android phones)
Taxes and fees are excluded

Notes: Be forewarned, if you are using a Windows phone on Mint, make sure it is the MetroPCS variant of the Lumia 640 or the T-Mobile variant of the Lumia 640, alcatel Fierce XL or the alcatel Idol 4s. The good news is that all of these phones support the recently released Creators Update and they can be found on third party e-commerce sites such as eBay and Swappa.

Cricket

Unlimited plan price: $60.62

Pros:

Runs off AT&T’s towers, therefore, boasts the largest LTE network in the US
Tied with Verizon/Page Plus for most reliable LTE network nationwide
Most reliable LTE network in Barnwell County
Taxes are included
Data is throttled at 8 mbps
Unlocked Windows phones work
Windows phones locked to AT&T work

Cons:

Mobile tethering is expressly prohibited
Fees are excluded

Notes: If you do not need mobile tethering (and if you do not mind the limited speeds), Cricket’s plan is the best prepaid plan because your Windows phone works on this network.

Consumer Cellular

Price plan: $75.52

Pros:

Runs off AT&T’s towers, therefore, largest LTE network in the US
Tied with Verizon/Page Plus for most reliable LTE network nationwide
Most reliable LTE network in Barnwell County
Unlocked Windows phones work
Windows phones locked to AT&T work

Cons:

Mobile tethering is expressly prohibited
Taxes and fees are excluded
Only people 50 years of age or older can sign up

Notes: If you do not need mobile tethering (and if you are at least 50 years old), Consumer Cellular’s plan is the best prepaid plan because your Windows phone works on this network.

Finally, readers. Which prepaid plan is the best in your opinion? Discuss!

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