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Prepaid Reviews & Ratings: Major Carriers
The Top 10 Prepaid Cellular Services Offered by the Major Wireless Carriers
Listed alphabetically



AT&T GoPhone
AT&T GO PHONE
■ Our Rating: (3 Out of 4 Stars)
■ Operated by: AT&T
Network: AT&T Only
GoPhone 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, Mobile to Mobile and Nights and Weekends, and Unlimited Text. GoPhone's Unlimited plans are now 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.

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Boost BOOST MOBILE
■ Our Rating: (2 Out of 4 Stars)
Operated by: Sprint
Network: Sprint Only, some Talk & Text on roaming partners
Boost gives you a unique choice of plans and good nationwide coverage. Boost phones use the Sprint network and normally do not roam off that network, however you are allowed a cetain number of minutes to make roaming calls so you're not really out of touch. Their Unlimited plan is a great alternative to those from the other carriers at a good price. Boost Mobile has the same coverage as Virgin Mobile and Sprint Prepaid so you might check their plans and features to see if they match your usage better.  Boost has a history of adding a progressive reward to customers...the longer you stay with them, the lower the price or, recently, the greater the amount of data allowed.



CRICKET WIRELESS
■ Our Rating: (3 Out of 4 Stars)
Operated by: AT&T
Network: AT&T Only
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 and they offer discounts available for Auto-Pay and multiple users at higher price levels. Cricket offers a modest 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 network at a discount price and gets credit for making Mexico roaming available at no increase in price over their $50 and $60 plans.

Click to Get More About MetroPCS METRO PCS
■ Our Rating:
(3 Out of 4 Stars)
Operated by: T-Mobile
Network: T-Mobile Only
Metro PCS has been acquired by T-Mobile but continues to be offered as a separate product. With both carriers combining spectrum there is greater bandwidth capabilities. MetroPCS is the "value" flavor of T-Mobile service with prices starting as low as $25 for Talk & Text, and $30 per month with data. MetroPCS users can access the entire expanding T-Mobile network and while roaming is availbale in Mexico and Canada, there is no off-network roaming in the US. Most of the MetroPCS network is 4G LTE. 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 also offer 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. 
MetroPCS has opened their own stores which adds some benefit when you need help with returns and adjustments. Occasionally, MetroPCS stores have promotional deals that are not available online, and vice versa.


Sprint SPRINT PREPAID
■ Our Rating: (1 Out of 4 Stars)
Operated by: Sprint
Network: Sprint Only
Sprint offers their own prepaid plans which is very much like their postpaid plans. They offer very few phone models, and sometimes none. Smartphone plans include unlimited data with various levels of throttling, and unlimited messaging and talk while on the Sprint network. 
Better prepaid phones and plans are offered by Sprint under the Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile brands using the same Sprint network but with slightly different deals.

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T-MOBILE PREPAID
■ Our Rating: (3 Out of 4 Stars)
Operated by: T-Mobile
Network: T-Mobile and Others
T-Mobile has been a good value for Prepaid. Their Data plans start at $40/month. Their cheapest Talk & Text plan at $3 per month allows you to go over your monthly allotment at the same rate if you sign up for "auto-pay." T-Mobile Prepaid allows you to roam off their own network (except Data) without additional charges, and will also roam in Canada, Mexico and over 200 foreign countries. Roaming in Canada and Mexico can be included in your prepaid plan including Data. Foreign roaming charges may be quite pricey but they offer Wi-Fi Calling that enables you to make Voice calls through Wi-Fi in any country at the same rate as local calls in the US. Since T-Mobile is now offering 'No Contract' rates for their normal plans, you should consider them as an economical way to buy a top model phone. This also means you need to hunt to find their actual pay-as-you-go plans. Also, if you have an Unlocked or existing T-Mobile GSM phone you can just activate a new T-Mobile SIM and try it out. T-Mobile also operates MetroPCS which may offer you more, and cheaper, Prepaid options.

T-Mobile No-Contract Phones @ Less than Retail
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U.S. Cellular US CELLULAR PREPAID
Our Rating: (1 out of 4 Stars)
Operated by: US Cellular
Network: US Cellular and Others
US Cellular, the 5th larger wireless carrier in the US, operates one of our preferred wireless services, but their prepaid plans have some limitations. While Talk and Text is available nationwide, Data is limited to their own regional network. They currently offer only monthy prepaid plans instead of pay-as-you-go. US Cellular Prepaid is a good choice if you live in an area where US Cellular is the only service available.

Verizon Wireless VERIZON PREPAID
■ Our Rating: 
(1 Out of 4 Stars)
Operated by: Verizon Wireless
Network: Verizon and some roaming partners
While Verizon has an excellent network and several different levels of Prepaid plans, they are not encouraging Prepaid customers and they have eliminated some of their lower-priced plans.  They are happy to support their affiliated Prepaid re-sellers. Roaming off the Verizon network incurs additional roaming charges. Fortunately, Verizon's network is extensive. There is a limited number of phone models that Verizon will allow current customers to convert to Prepaid.  Our favorite Prepaid alternative that uses the Verizon network is Total Wireless.
Online Deals For Verizon Wireless Prepaid
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Virgin Mobile VIRGIN MOBILE
■ Our Rating: (1 Out of 4 Stars)
Operated by: Sprint
Network: Sprint Only,
some Talk & Text on roaming partners.
Virgin uses the Sprint network but they don't give you much reason to choose them over any other Sprint re-sellers. They support good features all across the country, but you cannot roam off the Sprint network except for a small number of Talk minutes. They have a nice selection of phones including the Apple iPhone, other Smart phones and broadband air cards. They offer data plans at good rates. Virgin is owned by Sprint and they have the same coverage as Boost Mobile and Sprint Prepaid so you might check those plans and features to see if they match your usage better.
Online Deals for Virgin Mobile
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REGIONAL PREPAIDS:
There is a number of US carriers who offer prepaid service either as separate plans or as their only plans and serve a specific geographic area. Examples include US Cellular, Choice Wireless, C Spire and others. They are reviewed in the Mountain Wireless State-Specific Pages and in the Cellular Network Reviews.


- Our Ratings: We rate each service based on Coverage, Price, Roaming, Customer Support and Features, 1 to 4 stars.
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