Let’s be clear: prepaid unlimited data plans are kind of where it’s at right now. Being locked into anything is so…2000s.
Maybe ten years ago the idea of a prepaid phone plan with a smaller, lesser known carrier (known as MVNOs) seemed dodgy. You saw the kiosk at the local mall and thought, no. No to the unfamiliar carrier name, and no to the guy in so many gold necklaces and that mustache that wouldn’t quit. We all know the scene. Dodgy, right? For so many, the stigma of signing on for a prepaid plan is still there. But things have changed! Prepaid phone plans are almost too good to ignore now and here’s why:
- No contract
- No credit check
- You can switch plans or carriers completely, whenever you want
- Hassle free payments. You pre-pay. Then, you pre-pay again. You repeat until you don’t want to use this plan anymore.
- You can still have access to quality streaming and coverage and never tell the difference between postpaid and prepaid
With prepaid unlimited data plansyou never have to worry about overages, you can stream to your heart’s content, and you can be anywhere. Unlimited data is a big deal. For most people, having unlimited data is more important than texting or talking. And now with VoIP systems like WhatsApp and Skype (apps that allow talk, text, and video communication over your cell carrier’s data plan), some subscribers rarely talk or text and rely solely on their VoIP apps. So now more than ever, there is nothing more important than having dependable access to data.
What is prepaid unlimited data?
When you sign up with any carrier on a prepaid plan, you can customize it based on what they offer. For data, text, and talk, you’ll pre-pay based on the amount you’ll be using.
For an idea of what a simple no-contract unlimited data plan looks like, check out Metro PCS Unlimited Data Plan. For $50 a month, you get unlimited data, talk, and text. The upfront fee is $10 but you can get unlimited data for the whole month for just $50. And while this isn't technically a prepaid plan, you have the convenience of one by never being locked into a contract or hit with overage fees. The takeaway here is to stay open to both prepaid and no contract plans as both allow you to move on to another carrier or phone whenever you want to. If you're the kind of person who needs much more data and enjoy the ease of no-contract prepaid unlimited data plans, you can check out Mint’s Large 12 months plan. It’s an annual prepaid amount of $399 and gives you 120GB for the year. Just recently, US Cellular has jumped in on the prepaid unlimited game. They now have a $70 prepaid unlimited data plan. This new plan is added to their already popular $35 a month for 1 GB of data and $45 a month for 5 GB. U.S. Cellular prepaid customers can also add unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada for an extra $10 a month.
The options for prepaid, much like the data, are unlimited. See what I did there?
Here’s why you’ll want prepaid unlimited data in the first place:
You stream music constantly. If you’re someone who automatically turns their phone on in the morning and streams Spotify or Pandora throughout the entire day, you’ll need prepaid unlimited data without interruptions.
You generally use more than 6GB a month. The average person uses about 2GB of data a month per device. If you are anything but average and want to stream constantly (or at least want to know how much data you use) then prepaid unlimited might be for you.
You travel and need constant access to your emails and websites. Depending on the plan and options you sign up for, you could have tethering and hotspot options. Never ask anyone what their WiFi password is again on your travels. Prepaid and unlimited data? There is nothing keeping you at home, anymore. Get out there.
Prepaid data plan options
Prepaid unlimited data plans are affordable if you can shell out for your phone and prepaid plan all at once. One way to save on this is to look at smaller carrier. If you’re not too concerned with the latest, greatest phone, you could find yourself completely satisfied with a phone that one of these carriers offer. Another way to save is to BYO phone and to find a carrier that works with your phone. This eliminates the need to buy a new, expensive phone.
If there is one downside with prepaid unlimited plans, it’s that you do need to pre-pay so you need to have your cash ready at the time of purchase. Some great options are MetroPCS, and Boost.
Mobile hotspots are growing in popularity as more people want to avoid jumping on WiFi that might seem unsafe. There are prepaid unlimited data options from networks like AT&T's GoPhone starting at $25 a month for 2GB of data for 30 days. This is a great option if you're traveling around and don't want to worry about finding a signal. It's yours and it's safe.
Postpaid unlimited data plans are still a thing. And for many, they are a great thing. If you're not into the idea of prepaid, no-contract options, skip this article and compare unlimited data plans right now. This should help you decide which is best for you.
Is prepaid unlimited really unlimited?
The truth is there is always a limit. It’s just that the technical threshold is so far out there in the universe of data that it feels unlimited. But in reality, getting to that threshold occurs more often and more quickly than you'd think. And when you do reach that "unlimited" data cap (this varies from carrier to carrier) something called de-prioritization happens. That's when you are able to stream, but not in HD and not as fast. So, you’ll never actually reach the absolutely-no-streaming-at-all limit of your unlimited data plan. This is why they call it unlimited.
It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when it was actually unlimited. Here’s the backstory:
In 2010 carriers ended up selling way more smartphones than they could have imagined. They didn’t think they’d sell as many so the unlimited data plans they offered grew to be more unlimited than even they could have envisioned. They initially thought, “Sure. Unlimited data. No big deal. LOL. No one is going to use it all that much.”
Turns out, everyone wanted to use it. All. That. Much.
That’s when carriers began to pull back on the unlimited data plans, offering tiers of data with caps and overage charges. Some people are still grandfathered into these old school unlimited data plans with carriers honoring them. If you sign up with a carrier today, however, you’ll be able to choose from unlimited data plans with certain restrictions. The reason for this is the above mentioned limit on unlimited. That is to say that everyone deserves the super fast speed they pay for, so if you go over that threshold that we do not speak of, carriers will slow down speeds and prioritize users in order to keep the flow of data free of congestion.
Here's our vote for best prepaid unlimited data plan: Boost Mobile
There are plenty of options with other carriers that are also on the Sprint network but Boost stands out because of their optimized video for streaming, 4G LTE network, unlimited talk and text, and their unlimited data that only de-prioritizes during times of heavy data traffic after you've hit 23GB. So, you're golden. You will still be able to stream data, just at a slower speed and only at certain times. At the end of 30 days, you just pay again. No overages, no worries.
Compare Unlimited Data Plans
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