Guide to the Best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans

Make Room in Your Budget for Family, Education & Fun!

Are you looking for the best prepaid cell phone plans to save a few hundred dollars more a year? You can invest those savings in your family or yourself.

You've come to the right place.

I've compared the various companies by looking at what their plans cost, the areas they cover, and the phones they offer. So relax, sit back, and take advantage of what I've found out.

Why Choose a Prepaid Cell Phone Plan?

So you may be wondering:

  • Is it worth the hassle of switching?
  • Will you save enough?
  • Will you still be able to use your cell phone when you need to make a call, send a text or surf the web?

With the best plans, the answer is: Yes, yes and yes!

But first let's go over...

The Problem

We used to pay more than $50 a month per phone for a standard monthly cell phone contract. We got a few hundred daytime minutes, no roaming charges, and free nights (after 9 pm) and weekends. Text messages cost a little bit extra. It was a $40 plan, but the cost kept going up as you added the taxes and fees.

It was nothing fancy, and it still cost us more than $600 a year each.That was more than the yearly cost of ballet classes for a five-year-old.

Nowadays, for many people, smartphones are a necessity, but the data charges on contract plans drive costs even higher. No-contract smartphones are available for as little as $100 and can cost less than $50 a month including data!

ballet skirt

Though we tried to save money by using our cell phones for long distance, we still needed to have a landline.

We lived in Tarheel country, land of college basketball and freak storms. We’ve lived through hurricanes and ice storms, and just plain heavy rains which have knocked out power for up to a week.

Only the landline seems to keep functioning. The landline (AT&T via Bell South) cost us at least $40 a month.

In other words, the landline cost almost $500 a year.

The solution

We could have switched to Gophone, but we initially chose our prepaid cell phones from Tracfone and combined them with an unlimited calling plan for our landline.

This works well if, like us, you tend to have your long talks on the phone during your free time at home. When you're with your friends, you can spend time with them and NOT on the phone.

Note: If your usage is a little higher or you want a smartphone, you can also consider a no-contract plan from Straight Talk or Boost Mobile which both offered unlimited everything plans. Other companies like Virgin and Cricket offered varying degrees of unlimited-ness (if that's a word). And there are others.

If you're looking for a cell phone for seniors or for your kids, you have options there as well.

What about airtime cards or other fees?

You may be worried about getting the airtime cards to refill your phone. Don't worry, you can get them online or in the store. Also, unlike prepaid calling cards or debit cards, you can bank on the fact that there are no outrageous fees for activating or using them.

In fact, the lack of hidden charges with most of these phones and plans is a big advantage.


You can get these phone and cards both online direct from the provider or from various places. Big box stores like Walmart and Target carry a pretty good selection.

Online, Amazon has good prices, and you can even find them on eBay though you have to be a little careful there. Sometimes the phone companies also arrange special deals on sites like the Home Shopping Network.

What matters

You can still do all the things you need to do with a cell phone such as:

  • Share your latest photos or status
  • Check on the babysitter
  • Find your friends in the shopping mall
  • Report back from that unexpected visit to the doctor
  • Juggle your errands
  • Get directions

And, (in this economy) you still have money in your budget for:

  • Paying the bills
  • Taking art and music classes
  • Working out at the fitness center
  • Making day trips to a local farm or winery
  • Going out with friends and family

So check out my reviews of the phones and plans. I go over the features and the yearly costs of each so you can decide.

Read on to find out if these are right for you.

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Back to the Top of the Page

Hi, Thanks for checking out this site! Go to the menu on the left for the plan write-ups. From there you'll find links to the individual phone reviews as well as other topics.


A Straight Shooter

Just discovered your site last night. I really like its plain language and simple layout. You seem like a straight shooter, and I admire your advanced education. I have a low budget Tracfone w/a slide out keyboard I’ve used for at least two years. It’s a piece of junk and embarrassing to pull out in public, but it’s affordable and doesn’t drop coverage when I’m at my buddy’s house in a rural part of North Carolina.

Jay (Virginia Beach, VA)

Thanks a Million!

I am so thrilled that I found You on this website. It's filled to the brim with helpful information re: pre-paid phones! I have owned a TracFone (LG500) for a long-time now. It is my only cellular so this why I was fortunate enough to find out how to DELETE all of my messages ALL at once (instead of one at a time). I learned to do it through this website . . . Thanks a Million!


Emergency Cell

Thank you, I am glad I found your website. It has been very informative. I have been thinking about getting a prepaid cell, small enough to carry in a little purse mainly for emergencies. The search goes on, and I'll spend time looking through your site.


The Process

Recent Pages

The LG Optimus Dynamic and ZTE Valet (Android 4.0) are basic smartphones under $20.

There is now a free plan that actually works, FreedomPop, though they tempt you with the paid options.

Okay, here are a couple of QWERTY phones, the LG 530g and the Samsung S425g.

The Jitterbug5 easy to use phone now has a dedicated 5star button.

The LG Optimus Elite was an affordable thin white smart phone with an LED flash camera.

Republic Wireless offers phones that use WiFi for calling when in range and cellular otherwise. They just launched the MotoX and new plans starting at $5 per month.

Yes, Android phones are finally available from Tracfone.

LG 840g 3G touchscreen phone with WiFi capability and a 2 MP camera

Easy to use Alcatel A382  handset for Seniors