No contract monthly cell phone plans offer users inexpensive cell phone usage with clear connections. They work with a wide range of smartphones and regular feature phones.
In this review, we explain what monthly no contract plans are, how they work, pros and cons, their cost, cell phone choices and other related important consumer information. To jumpstart your shopping, check out the monthly plans comparison chart here.
Best No Contract Monthly Plans
The best monthly no contract cell phone plans include companies like Tracfone, Verizon Wireless, Simple Mobile, and StraightTalk. Their phone connections are clear and coverage is extensive. This is because the cell phone calls are routed through the biggest and most reliable cell phone networks in the country like those from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Another option is a free cellphone plan by FreedomPop.
In the following chart, you can compare various plans that are offered, including their pricing and features.
Monthly No Contract Cell Phone Plans Comparison
|TracFone||FreedomPop||Total Wireless||Straight Talk||Verizon|
|Basic Monthly Plan Cost||$15||Free||$35||$35||$35|
|What’s Included in Basic Plan||200 minutes talk time/500 text /500 MB||200 min, 500 Texts, 500 MB||Unlimited talk, text, 5 GB high speed data||Unlimited talk, text, 2 GB high speed data||Unlimited talk, text, 2 GB high speed data|
|Advanced Monthly Plans||$50 for 90 days incld. 750 minutes/ 1500 texts/ 2 GB high speed data||$34.99 for unlimited talk, text, 4GB high speed data||$100 for 4 lines with unlimited talk, text and shared 25 GB high speed data||$55 for unlimited talk, text, 15 GB high speed data||$85 for unlimited talk, text and high speed data|
|Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|
|Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website|
Note: Some companies use 30-day periods in place of calendar months. We do our best to share our research but cannot guarantee this information. Plan pricing and features change over time, so please verify before purchasing.
Why Monthly Plans?
No contract monthly cell phone plans are ideal in the following scenarios:
- Lots of inexpensive plan options to suit different usage preferences.
- Great range of cell phones available, including iPhones, Androids and regular feature phones (non-smartphones).
- It’s easier to manage compared to standard Pay As You Go prepaid phone plans, as users can set it to renew monthly. Users can also choose to recharge manually.
No contract monthly cell phone plans are month-to-month subscriptions that will continue as long as the user keeps it active. Users are free to cancel whenever they do not need the service anymore. There are no penalties such as early termination fees (ETF).
With a plan subscription, an agreed upon amount of airtime credits is automatically added to the phone each month. To receive the flow of monthly airtime credits, customers will need to prepay for their monthly cell phone services on or before the first day of the monthly or 30-day period.
The monthly recharge is usually done online, over the cell phone, or through monthly automatic payment set-ups. Another way is to purchase physical airtime cards in retail stores and then activating them online or over the phone.
For more general background information on no contract phones and plans, check out our main homepage guide.
Monthly vs. Pay As You Go
No contract monthly plans are sometimes referred to as Pay As You Go monthly plans. Monthly plans work similarly as regular Pay As You Go plans, with the additional parameter that airtime credits are deposited on a monthly basis and auto-billing can be activated. Pay As You Go plans are typically 3-month of longer update cycles, and there is no automated billing.
Topping Up Your Account
Some months, more cell phone activity is needed. If customers have used up their airtime usage credits for the monthly period, they could either purchase additional airtime credits, or else renew/upgrade their monthly plans before their due date.
Cell phone companies usually make it easy to keep track of their airtime credit balance, so that customers can conveniently purchase what they need and keep monthly spend within their budget.
The costs of these plans start at $10 a month with enough airtime credits for light use, and goes up to about $50 a month for unlimited plans. For light users, TracFone has a monthly plan that costs $10/month. It provides for 100 minutes/150 minutes a month of talk time, or 333/500 text messages. Straight Talk has an unlimited monthly plan for $45/month for talk, text and data (2.5 GB high speed).
There are typically no roaming fees or long-distance charges. Some plans will allow for international calling at the same rate, while others may require additional fees or airtime charges in order for the cell phone to call internationally.
No contract monthly plan costs vary, and we advice all readers to carefully compare the features of different plans to find one that is most suitable.
Cell phones that work with these monthly phone plans can be purchased directly from the cell phone company. Users who want to use their existing cell phones may also be able to activate service for them, if the cell phone company offers a bring your own phone option.
Fortunately, buying cell phones upfront is affordable. They can cost as little as $5 for a basic one, to $100s and more for smartphones. For more expensive phones such as the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S3, the initial cost of the phone can be $400 and more.
If you are not sure where to buy a cell phone from, or don’t already own an unlocked phone you want to use, it is easiest to just buy a phone direct from the cell phone companies. The same models usually cost 10% to 20% cheaper than buying them separately from unlocked phone websites or stores. You will also have less problems with compatibility issues. Some companies like StraightTalk will even offer rebates when you trade in an old cell phone.
To see what’s cell phone choices are available, check out the No Contract Phones guide.
What Is Included In No Contract Monthly Phone Plans
Monthly no contract or prepaid cell phone plans allows users to do just about everything one would expect a normal cell phone plan to do. Voice calls, texting, web browsing, facebook updates, emails, music streaming, multimedia mms are typically included in these plans. Voice mail, caller ID are also typically part of the package.
Ringtones, wallpapers and game downloads are not included. These will require extra payments.
No contract phone plans also have strict limits on data usage. For example, Net10 restricts the practice of tethering mobile data connectivity to laptops ie. using the phone as a modem to connect to the internet. Cell phone companies typically restrict the level of high speed data use as well, whether it is a prepaid no contract plan or postpaid 2-year contract plan. However, plans will be advertised as having unlimited data because data will continue to flow but at snail speeds.
Note that there can be other limits to what can be done, though, just because the cell phone itself may not support it. For example, older basic models of cell phones may not have be able to do facebook updates or music streaming. In contrast, a present day smartphone will be able to do all these things, and more.
For prepaid monthly phone plans with stipulated airtime limits, such as 200 minutes or talk time or text messaging a month, some cell phone providers (eg. TracFone) will allow for these credits to be carried over to the next months. This is so as long as the cell phone remains in service. For other providers like Net10, rollover or carryover airtime is only reserved for its Pay As You Go service, not for its monthly plans.
Customers who may not use their phones a lot could end up with a massive amount of credits after a year or so. The credits can come in handy for months where extensive cell phone usage is needed. Customers who accumulate a lot of rollover minutes could consider downgrading to a lower volume plan. There are no contracts so they are free to choose.
No Contract Unlimited Cell Phone Plans Guide – These are monthly cell phone plans that offer unlimited text, talk and data.
No Contract Family Cell Phone Plans Guide – These are monthly cell phone plans that incorporate family discounts because multiple people are grouped into one account.
Pay As You Go Cell Phone Plans Guide – Standard Pay As You Go plans are the cheapest way to enjoy cell phone service. They work similarly to Monthly plans but airtime updates are not done monthly.