What every best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans has:
- Good selection of phones.
- Wide coverage.
- Responsive customer service.
This press release details the results of the latest J.D. Power and Associates survey of user satisfaction with their carrier's customer care. For non-contract full-service carriers, Boost Mobile takes first place. J.D. Power also evaluates non-contract "value carriers," but the first place finisher is a post-paid carrier, Consumer Cellular, covered in our report on standard cell phone plans, where it's a Runner Up choice. The survey is based on responses from nearly 10,000 cell phone plan users (both prepaid and postpaid) that had contacted their carrier's customer service department in the previous three months.
The 2016 J.D. Power and Associates' Wireless Purchase Satisfaction Study lets survey participants rate their purchase experience over the phone, in-store and online. According to the press release announcing the study results, Consumer Cellular ranks again first among non-contract providers, though it's a post-paid service. However, prepaid operators Cricket, MetroPCS and Net10 all score above the industry average, at least according to survey participants.
Consumer Reports polls about 90,000 cell phone users, asking prepaid and traditional wireless customers to rate their services for voice quality, text performance, data performance, customer support, and value. Editors then rank services from best to worst.
This reader survey of cell phone users includes both prepaid and postpaid services. Google Project Fi and Consumer Cellular (a postpaid provider) are the top two finishers and are co-Reader's Choice winners. Details are provided on the areas in which providers do well, and where there's still room for improvement in their users' eyes.
PCMag identifies a number of less-well-known carriers that are worth considering for cell phone service. Sascha Segan doesn't pick a favorite, but he briefly describes each plan and its pros and cons. Picks are broken out by monthly cost, ranging from less than $10 to $30-$40 per month, along with carriers that offer unlimited data and those that donate a percentage of the bill to charity or to political causes. Carriers that just missed the cut -- and why -- are also listed.
In this report, RootMetrics looks at mobile network performance in metropolitan areas, rural areas, while driving and indoors and outdoors. Testing is comprehensive in scope, and while RootMetrics only tests the four major nationwide cellphone networks, nearly all prepaid carriers provide service using the same ones. Elsewhere on the site, test reports for individual cities can be found.
As part of its larger coverage of cellphone plans, Tom's Guide rates and ranks postpaid and prepaid carriers. Performance is rated based on tests the site itself does in six major cities, along with its own undercover research on the carriers' customer support (which is the subject of another rating article). That's combined with staff evaluations of each carriers' plans, phone selection and any available "extras." Elsewhere on the site you can find articles on the best cellphone plans, best cheap cellphone plans, and a number of reviews of individual carriers.
Prepaid Phone News offers prepaid provider profiles, plus coverage of deals and plans for users interested in voice and text only services, for mobile data users, and for visitors from other countries looking to use their phones in the U.S. Coverage is continuously updated, and helpful information -- such as which carrier is providing service -- is included. Lists name the providers that site owner Dennis Bournique considers to have the best deals, but specific recommendations are not provided.
Howard Forums is a news and discussion site with active user forums covering prepaid cell phone plans. Several popular carriers get their own subforums, while a larger general subforum will find some threads dealing with nearly every prepaid carrier.
OpenSignal provides crowd sourced coverage maps based on data from Android and iOS (iPhone) apps users have downloaded and installed on their devices. Based on that feedback, the editors report on the availability and data speed (4G) in various regions in the country. Elsewhere on the site, you can download the coverage maps themselves. Only the major nationwide cell phone networks are listed, but these are the same ones that most prepaid providers depend on for service.
Sensorly also gets its data from apps downloaded by users. It lists several major prepaid providers in addition to the major networks, though coverage maps for those is typically sparse and better information can be found looking at the coverage maps of the national providers instead.