The Five Best Unlimited No-Contract Cell Phone Plans
No-contract, unlimited cell phone plans are an easy way to get great service without commitment. Years ago, no-contract phone plans were expensive and limited to second-tier carriers. Now, no-contract service is available from nationwide carriers, who also offer plans without talk, texting or data limits.
When evaluating cell phone plans, it's important to search for additional fees and other costs. Some carriers require that you purchase a new phone to use their network. Other carriers charge activation fees. Also, even though all of these carriers offer unlimited data, high-speed data usage is capped with a monthly allowance. Users who exceed their high-speed data allowance will find that their download speeds will slow considerably.
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AT&T ($50 per month for non-smartphones )
AT&T offers several Pay-as-You-Go plans to consumers, but only offer plans with unlimited data to users without smartphones. These plans are $50 per month without an activation fee, and free SIM cards are also currently available. This means that users can switch a compatible, unlocked phone to AT&T's network without paying extra.
The nation's second largest carrier also offers Pay-as-You-Go plans to smartphone users, but data usage is capped at $60 for 2 GB per month. Talk and texting is currently unlimited. Consumers who exceed their allowance can purchase extra data at $10 per month for 1 GB. However, due to the data limit, it can't be considered an unlimited cell phone plan.
Boost ($35 to $60 per month with 2.5 GB of high-speed data)
Unlike other cell phone carriers on this list, Boost offers incentives to loyal customers. New customers will receive unlimited talk, texting and 2.5 GB of high-speed data for $45 to $60 per month, depending on the phone they use. However, after six months of on-time payments, Boost will drop the monthly fee by $5 per month. After 18 months of on-time payments, users could save $15 per month for the same service.
Unfortunately, Boost requires customers to buy a Boost phone before opening an account. The company offers popular smartphones, like the iPhone 5s, but consumers pay extra to use smartphones on the Boost network. Boost does not offer phone payment plans, so a new iPhone will cost several hundred dollars.
Cricket ($45 to $70 per month with 2.5 to 10 GB of high-speed data)
For users without a smartphone, Cricket offers unlimited high-speed data, talking and texting for $45 per month. However, smartphone users will have to pay $50 per month for unlimited talking, texting and data. High-speed data usage is capped at 2.5 GB per month, but users willing to pay $70 per month can have 10 GB of high-speed data. There's also a $15 activation fee for each line. Cricket will allow unlocked CDMA-compatible phones on their network, but the company will not guarantee that all phones will work on its network.
T-Mobile ($50 to $70 per month with 500 MB to unlimited high-speed data)
T-Mobile's no-contract plans have lured many consumers away from other top providers, like AT&T and Verizon. For $50 per month, users have a plan with unlimited talk, texting and data. High-speed, 4G data is available in some areas but is capped at 500 MB per month. Users can have truly unlimited high-speed data for $70 per month. Unlike other providers, users can move a compatible, unlocked phone to T-Mobile's network. They'll only have to purchase a SIM card, which currently sells for $10.
The most attractive part of T-Mobile is the company's family plans. Users can add an additional line for $30 and up to two additional lines for $10 each without a credit check. A total of five lines can be issued to one account with approved credit.
Virgin Mobile ($55 per month with 2.5 GB of high-speed data)
Virgin Mobile helped pioneer the no-contract, unlimited plans, and the company is still a popular option for many cell phone users. For $55 per month, consumers receive unlimited talk, texting and data. Virgin Mobile also offers 4G speeds in some coverage areas. However, high-speed data usage is capped at 2.5 GB per month. Users who exceed their allotment will have slower, yet still usable, data service until the next month. There's also no activation fee, but consumers will have to purchase a Virgin Mobile phone to use their cell phone service.
All five of these carriers offer great service at a low price, but the right contract will depend on each consumer's individual needs. Large families can save with T-Mobile's family plans, while individual users may prefer the larger high-speed data allotments available from other carriers. Before switching to any new carrier, it's important to read the fine print carefully and check for hidden fees and other one-time costs.