T-Mobile Prepaid (*Est. $30 per month and up) is our Best Reviewed pay-as-you-go cell phone plan. T-Mobile boasts a broad coverage map, and users give it high marks for customer service in polls by J.D. Power and Associates and PCMag.com. Its touch-screen phone offerings are less advanced than Virgin Mobile's -- but if you already have an unlocked Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) phone, T-Mobile Prepaid sells a prepaid SIM card (*Est. $7) that you can insert into your phone (including an iPhone) to enable it on T-Mobile's prepaid cell phone network.
T-Mobile Prepaid charges $50 per month for unlimited talk and text, but it caps Internet use at 100 MB ($70 per month raises it to 2 GB). But if you mainly want a phone for emergencies or occasional use, T-Mobile Prepaid has the best deal. Pay As You Go plans start at $10 for 30 minutes; you'll need to add minutes only every 90 days, instead of every 30 days as some other providers require. Unused minutes roll over, as long as you keep your account active. Better yet, $100 gets you 1,000 minutes that are good for a full year.
TracFone has a similar plan, but 1,000 minutes cost $160, and the choice of prepaid phones is very basic. Virgin Mobile offers cheaper PayLo pay-as-you-go prepaid plans, but only with basic flip or candy-bar phones. Plans start at $20 for 400 minutes of talk and go up to $40 for one month with unlimited talk and text and 50 MB of data.