Best US carrier prepaid plans 2018: AT&T vs T-Mobile vs Verizon vs Sprint

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TL;DR 

All major US carriers have had those scrappy prepaid phones since ages, for folks who didn’t really have the wherewithal to endure two-year contracts, or the credit history to get a subsidized expensive phone with set monthly outlays. The death of two-year contracts forced them to rethink the prepaid conundrum, too, and these are now very enticingly priced, plus the phones offered on prepaid are no longer scraping the bottom of the specs barrel.

We’ve compared the current prepaid offerings from each major carrier below with more detail for your convenience. These plans include unlimited talk and texts, but who’s talking these days, it’s the data that counts, as well as other perks. Sprint maintains the lowest unlimited data price here as well, while Verizon is no longer the most expensive carrier for prepaid, but its network offers the most expansive coverage, and a few other extras as well. 

Check out the current prepaid plan prices for easier comparison when you shop around the big four and eventually settle down for whichever is the one that covers your area best.
*prepaid plan prices are after an auto-pay discount, where available

AT&T has the most balanced prepaid offers

The second-largest US carrier also has very expansive coverage outside of big cities, casting a bit smaller net than Verizon, and has a bit cheaper prepaid prices to reflect on that, and we’d especially point out the $25 8GB plan, and the $45 a month unlimited as the ones that do the job without breaking the bank. AT&T’s GSM network also means a much wider range of compatible phones.

Verizon – no longer too expensive, and still with great coverage

America’s largest carrier will grant you at least a bar or two from the cornfields of Illinois, to sweet home Alabama, but that superior network of towers will cost ya, starting at $40 for 6GB of prepaid data (AT&T’s unlimited is just $5 more). Verizon’s unlimited prepaid plans are priced only a tad above comparable T-Mobile and AT&T ones, though, plus the carrier offers carryover data if you haven’t blown through your allotment for the month.

T-Mobile – former underdog is getting expensive

Ever since T-Mobile started a plan price war with the big guys, the combination of aggressive marketing and great phone/plan discounts, propelled it to new heights in subscriber growth. That phase seems to be abating now, though, and its prices ($60 for a single prepaid unlimited line) reflect what’s on offer – fastest average download speeds, but still, a tad weaker coverage outside big metropolitan areas, compared to AT&T or Verizon. Again, AT&T’s 8GB for $25 holds the fort on its own here.

Sprint – only granfathered prepaid

The fourth-largest US carrier had good prepaid plan prices, including unlimited, but these are for legacy customers only. Sprint Forward, the company’s prepaid plans, are no longer accepting new customers as of now. The merger with T-Mobile may be just around the corner, though.

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