Best Prepaid Phone Operators


In switching our prepaid phone service to a new provider, I found that Consumer Cellular has much to recommend, especially for those who use little talk, text, and data. They are selling to older consumers, and others. Order online or at Sears and Target stores.

My plan is 250 minutes at $15-/month, plus 2,000 texts and 200 MB of 4G LTE data for $5-/month. Data is throttled after 5 GB in a month. Talk, text, and data are shared by two or more users for $10-/month per additional user. My total is $30-/month for two users in a light month.

If 200 MB/month of data is exceeded, it bumps automatically to the next step which is 500 MB for $10-/month, and so on. You can bump down manually online. Plans explained:

They sell many phones at a discount, including smartphones. I like the Motorola Moto G4 Play - a value-priced phone for $100. This phone is locked to Consumer Cellular. The unlocked version is on the Motorola website for $150-.

To start out we just ordered SIM cards which work in an unlocked GSM phone or most phones from AT&T and T-Mobile, including iPhones. Verizon and Sprint phones are probably not supported.

Which provider is all-important. Consumer Cellular started out with AT&T and in 2015 T-Mobile was added. A Consumer Cellular AT&T SIM card will roam to T-Mobile and vice-versa. It is rare for MVNOs to allow roaming.

The default SIM for any order from Consumer Cellular is T-Mobile. The only way to get an AT&T SIM is to call Customer Service, who will gladly send you one free with free shipping.

They are proud of their Customer Service, US-based in Portland, OR. My experience with them is 100% positive!

dobs108 smile

I have been using

Consumer Cellular for the past 17 months and they are the best cell company that I have ever used. They have good coverage, great customer service and are a whole lot cheaper than my old one was. I have recommended them to several people and they all like their service.

It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible. ----George Washington


I've been using the ATT Gophone system for a couple years now on an iPhone. I'm into it for $8.50/month. I don't/won't pay for data. I've got access to the xfinity hot spots or I can connect to free wifi when available. I never use up my phone minutes and I've got all the texting I could possibly use. I think Consumer Cellular is probably a better value IF you need a lot of phone minutes. I've looked at and compared their plans to the Gophone plan which is called "10 cents/minute".

(2) Nuvi 1450LMT + 3597LMTHD + 2557LMT + DS61LMT-S Boston MA

Tracfone and FreedomPop

I know there are a few of us Tracfone folks here with smartphones. They offer quite the mix of phone choices and occasionally offer refurbs at great prices. With a bit of care, low-use folks like me can get by for a tad under $6/month. My Android Tracfone uses AT&T towers and is a GSM phone.

FreedomPop can even be cheaper for low-use folks. The phones available seem to vary from time to time and the purchase price of the phone can be somewhat high. But for low-use folks, you can't beat free minutes/data/texts at $0/month! These phones use Sprint towers. The downside to FreedomPop is that when purchased, you receive a short-term subscription to several paid services and it can be a one-time hassle to find how to drop the paid subscriptions to obtain free service. Also, Voicemail can only be had with a paid service so if choosing this provider as a primary cell phone, you really should figure on paying a little each month for the Voicemail.

Customer Service for each seems to have improved over the years but I expect it's still not as good as Consumer Cellular based on the ads I see in AARP publications that offer the phones.

For the average driver with a Garmin GPS and the Garmin Smartphone Link app, a no-monthly-fee FreedomPop phone may offer totally free data for the GPS plus having a cell phone available for making occasional calls and having the phone's camera available for taking pictures. There's nothing preventing a current cell phone owner from purchasing a FreedomPop phone as a second backup phone and using the FreedomPop one for Garmin's Smartphone Link for its free data.

I've been using Republic Wireless

I've been using Republic Wireless for about 3 years now. There newest plans are a little more than I used to pay (average bill <$14 / month) but now have unlimited talk/text and 1GB data for $20/month + taxes (last bill $23.25) If you don't need cell data, the plan drops to $15/month then you can use data when connected to WiFi.

Depending on your location, they use T-mobile or Sprint as their main cell provider. For T-Mobile, they even offer Bring-your-own-phone then you just have to get a $5/sim card from them.

The best part, I have a few places I have to go with very poor cell reception (especially if you go inside.) If you have a WiFi connection, you can still make and receive receive all your phone calls and texts.

Garmin Nuvi 2450

Not Pre-paid but similar

I use Ting which is similar in it's use of Sprint or T-mobile as carrier. It's good for people who don't need a lot of data. The fee's are divided among the service usage of talk, text and data. Last month my bill was about $25.00. That included minimal talk, over 1000 text msgs and about 500MB of data.

I haven't had any problems with Ting itself, but occasionally I have delayed texts due to T-mobile's system. Nothing too concerning though.


Consumer cellular customer service

Our two phones have been ported to Consumer Cellular and are now in operation. Altogether, five customer service reps helped in the porting and setup, and they were all experts who explained everything clearly and solved any problems quickly. Due to customer service alone, they are lightyears ahead of other providers.

dobs108 smile

Consumer cellular data

Consumer Cellular's pricing structure is designed for the user of a light to medium volume of talk, text, and data. I was incorrect to say that there is no data throttling. They throttle the data starting at 5 GB per month, and remember that data is shared among all users on each account. After 10 GB of data is used, data is suspended for the rest of the month.

dobs108 smile

AT&T Gophone

I use the prepaid At&T plan. $40 for auto pay with 6GB high-speed data and after that unlimited slow speed.
Today I tried to set up sync messaging. I did a chat with AT&T then they called me and when they couldn't help me and wanted to send me to the third person after an hour and a half I said I had to go. I surfed and found prepaid phones are not allowed to use AT&T Messenger app. No one on phone support knew this. This is the second thing I have wanted but couldn't do because I am not on post pay..
But the price is great and I will keep prepaid.

Mary, Nuvi 2450, Garmin Viago, Honda Navigation, Nuvi 750 (gave to son)