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Last Update: 10/05/2014 10:16 AM

 


Prepaid Pay As You Go (PAYG) Comparison Chart
 


Last Update: 10/05/2014 10:15 AM


PAYG is the best value in managing lower cost per month wireless. If you use less than 150 minutes a month, PAYG can be very attractive.  All prepaid plans include voicemail and domestic long distance. PAYG is attractive if you do not use a lot of minutes or texts. If you do then there are unlimited prepays you can look at.  This chart does not compare those plans.

This chart contains what I consider the best deals in PAYG. You'll also find some of the "big guys" so that you can compare them, such as AT&T and Virgin Mobile.

Check out any special offers on my special offers page.  Many times you can get refills from 5-12% off!  I better fix this soon!

Plan Airvoice PAYG AT&T PAYG h2o Minute Plan Net10 Page Plus Cellular PTel Lycamobile RingPlus Mobile "Kate" T-Mobile PAYG Tracfone CDMA Tracfone GSM Truphone TR1
Vendor
Website
Airvoice AT&T GoPhone h2o Net10 Page Plus Cellular PTel Lycamobile RingPlus Mobile T-Mo
 Prepaid
Tracfone Tracfone Tru
System GSM GSM GSM GSM CDMA GSM GSM CDMA GSM CDMA GSM GSM
Lowest Monthly Cost $3.33 $8.33 $3.33 $15.00 $2.50 $5.00 NONE $2.50 RP1 $3 TM1 $5.99 TF1 $5.99 TF1 NONE
Activation fee $5 for SIM starter kit; ~99c/eBay None with phone kit; SIM typically free if you buy airtime $10 for SIM starter kit; ~99c/ eBay NONE $10 (free if you call/chat) NONE NONE (free SIM via Website) NONE None with phone kit; SIM-only kit $free-$10 online NONE NONE $30 (including $15 credit) TR2
Monthly Fee $1 account maint. fee None CG1 None None 50c PP1 NONE None if billable event made every 90 days None $3 None None None if billable event made every 90 days;  $3/month otherwise
Minimum Use           1 billable call/text every 60 days 1 billable call/text every 90 days          1 billable call/text every 90 days 
Port Your Number IN? YES YES YES YES NT1 YES PP1 YES YES (limited areas) YES, $8 FEE YES YES YES YES
Airtime 10c 10c 5c 10c NT2 4-10c 5c 2c 2c 10c 20-33c TF2 20-33c TF2 9c (free incoming)
Free Airtime? No No No No NO No No No Up to 30 min No No No
Local
Service
Area
AT&T
GSM
network
AT&T
GSM
network
AT&T
GSM
network
AT&T or T-Mobile
GSM
network
Verizon
Network
T-Mobile
network
T-Mobile
network
Sprint
network
T-Mobile
network
various various T-Mobile 2G/3G; AT&T 2G networks
Voice/Text Roaming Area N/A Very little in USA, CA&MX roams N/A USA
GSM
Networks
USA
Networks
N/A T-Mobile USA only; Roams worldwide N/A USA
GSM
Networks, CA, MX
TM3
USA
CDMA
Networks
USA
GSM
Networks
T-Mobile & AT&T USA; Roams worldwide
Roaming Cost Can't
Roam
39c CA
25c MX
Can't
Roam
Included 29c
(60c CA)
Can't
Roam
Various outside USA Can't
Roam
59c CA
$1.79 MX
Included TF6 Included Various
USA Data Roaming AT&T only AT&T only AT&T Only Selected provider only Verizon only T-Mobile only T-Mobile only Sprint only T-Mobile only Selected provider only Selected provider only T-Mobile (HSPA) & AT&T (EDGE)
Double Dialing when Roaming N/A N/A N/A NO YES N/A NO NO NO NO NO NO
Special Phone Required NO NO NO YES NO NO NO NO NO YES YES NO
Refill periodAA 30-365 days 30-365 days
CG3
90-365 days 30 - 180 days 120 days - 1 yr PP2 60-365 PT1 None None or 30 days RP2 N/A
TM4
90 days - 1 yr TF3 90 days - 1 yr TF3 None
Recharge Values $10/20/
30/50/100
$15/25/
50/75/100
$10/20/
30/100
$15/30/
60/100
$10/25/
50/80 PP2
$10-100 $10-$100 Min $5 $10/30/
50/100
$20-$140 $20-$140 $15/30/45/
75/150 TR2
Voicemail deposits use airtimeBB NO NO CG4 NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
Charged for busy/no answers NO if < 30 sec NO if < 30 sec NO if < 30 sec YES NT3 NO NO NO NO NO NO if < 14 sec YES TF4 NO
Call Waiting? YES YES YES YES YES YES YES NO YES YES YES YES
Call Forwarding YES YES YES NO YES NO   NO RP3 NO NO NO YES
SMS rcv/sndCC 10c 20c CG5 5c 5c 5c 2c free/4c 2c 10c
TM5
(US&CA)
TF5 /
0.3 min
 TF5 /
0.3 min
free/9c
MMS
(picture SMS) rcv/sndCC
10c 25c CG5 10c   5c plus 10c/MB 10c N/A 7c plus data 10c ~1.5 min TF7 ~1.5 min TF7 N/A
Int'l SMS
rcv/snd
20c 20c/25c| 10c  5c 20c  10c 12c 2c 10c/50c
TM5 MX
N/A N/A 9c
Data
DD
6c/MB NONE
CG5
10c/MB NO 10c/MB 10c/MB 6c/MB (200kb minimum) 2c/MB None
TM6
uses minutes uses minutes 9c/MB (7KB minimum)

AA The recharge period is the number of days that the airtime is good for. If you recharge your account within this period your current account balance will carry over to the new period. Some plans include a grace period before losing minutes and phone number, but the phone will not work during that period.  For example, the grace period for Virgin Mobile is 60 days.
BB
This indicates whether you will be charged airtime when someone calls your cellphone and leaves a message on voicemail, This also includes retrieving voice mail deposits from a landline.
CC
SMS = Short Message Service (sending & receiving text messages)
DD
WAP = Wireless Application Protocol (surfing the web on the cell phone)


BO1
You need to re-boost from the website using a credit/debit card in order to re-boost for $10 ($3.33/month minimum).

CG1 AT&T is charging a monthly e911 fee in many states
CG2
(deleted)
CG3
$15 card expires in 30 days, $100 card expires in 365 days, all other cards expire in 90 days.
CG4
AT&T should not charge for voice mail deposits or checking from a landline. However there have been issues over the years.
CG5
No data available on PAYG for Smartphones.

NT1
Although Net10 says they will port your number, many people have had problems doing so. Beware.
NT2
You get an initial 300 minutes or airtime good for 60 days included with the phone..
NT3 Sometimes you are charged for busy/no answers, sometimes you are not. It may be market dependant.


PP1
The monthly fee is deducted on the 25th of each month.
PP2
The $80 card is a great deal (4c airtime), but is not available on the vendor website. Airtime good for one year.

PT1 PlatinumTel airtime rolls over for only one year.  This is different from other prepays. This is not the same thing as airtime expiration.  Your airtime can be extended, but any loaded airtime will only roll over for a max of one year.

RP1 The cheapest RingPlus Plan is the Kate at $1.99 plus tax (so I am estimating $2.50). The free plan is available from time to time which would of course make the monthly minimum $0.
RP2 If you are on a plan the the plan airtime is good for 30 days and does not roll over.  However, if you have a cash balance, that does not expire. If you are on the free plan whatever cash balance you have does not expire.
RP2 RingPlus does not support call forwarding IN or OUT. You can't forward another number to the RingPlus phone, or at least the ones I have tried.

TF1 For the $5.99/month you keep service active but get no additional airtime.
TF2
If you buy the pricy double minute card ($50, zero minutes), future airtime cards are 10c-17c (and if you use that many minutes you are better off with Tracfone's Net10 plan).
TF3
Every airtime card you add extends the due date that many days. There is no limit to how far out you can extend the due date!
TF4
Sometimes you are charged for busy/no answers, sometimes you are not. It may be market dependant.
TF5 Older phone models have different texting rates.
TF6
Some older CDMA phones have a 2x roaming rate (e.g. 2126, 2285, 5180i)
TF7
Only newer model camera phones have picture messaging (MMS). It's also network dependant.

TM1 You are charged $3 a month regardless of minimum use.  That gives you up to 30 voice and/or texts.
TM2
<deleted>
TM3
T-Mobile Prepaid has roaming available in some locations around the USA at no cost. Check the T-Mobile Coverage Map Tool for details. Roaming in Canada costs 69c/minute.
TM4
Your balance never expires as long as you continue to pay the $3/month.
TM5 Text is 10c to send and receive. Same rates while roaming in Canada.
TM6
PAYG is limited to the T-Mobile Prepaid WAP Deck which includes account info, downloads (extra cost), ABC, limited games. There are no data add-ons to the T-Mobile PAYG plan.  You can however switch to the $2/day plan (unlimited minutes, unlimited text, unlimited 2G data limited to download of approx 200 kbps on EDGE or 60 kbps on UMTS), or the $3/day plan (unlimited minutes, unlimited text, 200MB of high speed data then throttled to 60kbps 2G).  These plans are charged on days when voice, text or data is used. A day is defined as 12:01AM - 11:59PM in the time zone of the city the phone number is based in.  Hard to say what happens for the 59 seconds before and after midnight.

TR1
Truphone is also an international SIM that works throughout the world.  Rates are competitive with other global SIMs but typically not close to the deal you would get when purchasing a local SIM in-country. You can also add an additional phone number to the SIM by paying an additional $8/month.
TR2 Truphone is a UK company and any purchases are considered an international sale which will likely incur an additional fee on your credit card.





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