Prepaid Data

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Last Update: 05/31/2015 04:39 PM



Prepaid Pay As You Go (PAYG) DATA Comparison Chart

Last Update: 05/31/2015 04:31 PM

OK, who uses voice anymore?  Text, maybe, maybe not.  What we want is DATA!  We do not want to pay $30+ a month just to be able to use data.  We do not want to be tied down with the "voice tax". where you have to have a voice plan in order to get data.

PAYG at this point is only a good deal below a few hundred MB a month.  Once you get beyond 500-700 MB there is a lot of competition out there (and you get minutes and text thrown in at that price point).  However if you are normally on Wi-Fi, but want data when you are out and about (and do not stream) then it's crazy to pay big bucks every month. The big guys know this, so they are trying to prevent data on PAYG as long as they can.  The times are a changin' tho!

One of the huge advantages of PAYG data is that it rolls over as long as you keep your account and airtime active.  So if you use data sparingly most of the year (or on Wi-Fi for the most part) it can accumulate and you can use it for your vacations!

Things are improving slowly.  The last holdout seems to be Verizon MVNOs.  Tracfone is run away the price leader at the PAYG end of the spectrum.

RingPlus is now the PAYG data leader if (1) you can live with native Sprint coverage and (2) you have the proper Sprint compatible device.


The following chart is for using smartphone and/or tablet data. 

Provider/Plan Name Network Access Cost/MB Speed Min/Session Roll-over  Min Monthly Cost Voice Cost Text Cost
T-Mobile 200MB free data for Life for tablets (1) T-Mobile EDGE/HSPA/LTE FREE No cap None N/A N/A N/A N/A
TracFone BYOD (2) Verizon 1x/EVDO/LTE 2.3c-10c Capped ~5Mbps None Yes $5.99 Varies Varies
RingPlus (3) Sprint 1x/EVDO/LTE 4c No Cap None Yes 99c plus tax 4c 4c
Lycamobile (4) T-Mobile EDGE/HSPA 6c Capped ~1-2MB/s 200kb Yes None 2c 4c (free in)
Airvoice PAYG ATT EDGE/HSPA 6c Capped ~1-2MB/s None Yes $3.33 ($1 maint fee) 10c 10c
Truphone (5) Tmo EDGE/HSPA, AT&T EDGE/HSPA 9c No cap 7kb Yes None 9c (free in) 9c (free in)
h2o Minute Plan ATT EDGE/HSPA/LTE 10c No cap None Yes $3.33 5c 5c
PTel GSM PAYG T-Mobile EDGE/HSPA/LTE 10c No cap None Yes $5.00 5c 2c (incl intl)
PagePlus Verizon EVDO 10c No cap None Yes $2.50 (50c maint fee) 4-10c 5c

(1) T-Mobile 200MB free data for life is limited to certain tablets. You can only use the data in the device you activated it in. I added this here because free data is free data!  You can buy data passes and plans as well but that would not make it PAYG. This is the only PAYG data (free in this case) that gives access to LTE!

(2) With Tracfone's three bucket system for smartphones, it is hard to come up with a cost for just for the data.  For the minimum cost/month, that is for the $19.99 card with a 10% auto renew discount.  There are many ways to calculate the data rate with various airtime and data cards. Currently there is nobody else that has Verizon PAYG data at anywhere near this price point.

(3) If you get on the RingPlus free plan you have some base data for free (depends on the current deal). Otherwise you would need to be on at least the $1.99/month Kate Plan that comes with 50 minutes and 10 text but no data) plus tax.  So I estimate the minimum monthly cost about $2.50/month. If you get in on the free plan then there is no monthly minimum.

(4) PAYG data only available on the old-style SIMs. Must execute a billable event every 90 days.

(5) Must execute a billable event every 90 days.  There have been no indications that someone was charged for non-use, but I would not want to test it.



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