ATT MVNO Cell Phone Plans Compared

7/28/2015
      ATT MVNOs offer some of the best overall nationwide coverage maps per dollar so pay close attention to what you see here.  Other carriers 4G MVNOs may offer cheaper wireless phone plans but their nationwide coverage isn’t top notch like AT&T’s.  Since AT&T operates on a GSM based network, bringing your own cell phone to their MVNOs tends to be easier than moving a Verizon or Sprint phone to one.
      Something to be aware of though is that AT&T appears to play favorites with it’s data pipeline favoring it’s direct customers over it’s MVNO subscribers as outlined here.  Also, many MVNOs refer to HSPA+ as 4G though they do not provide LTE.  In order to make it into this price comparison database, any plans that offered less than 1 GB of data were excluded, as that simply isn’t enough data for a majority of users.  The current list best describes cell phone plans suited for single lines.  If family plans are all you are interested in you can have a look at them here.  In some cases though, the below single line prepaid cell phone plans will suffice and be what’s most cost effective for you, particularly if you are a couple or a family of less than 4.
  ATTENTION:  If you are an iPhone user you may have trouble getting data and MMS working with many of these MVNOs. Please read this post for more information.
If you are considering Consumer Cellular, please read this post, as they may send you a T-Mobile SIM card at their discretion.
 

The Best AT&T MVNOs and Prepaid Cell Phone Plans (The plans listed represent what we feel is each AT&T MVNOs best offering for smartphones)

All providers listed allow you to bring your own device (BYOD), although some providers may have limited support for Blackberry devices.
 Prepaid ProviderMinutes/Texts includedDataPrice ($)Mobile Hotspot
Cricket Wireless (3)unlimited/unlimitedUnlimited first 2.5 GB LTE, after throttled 128 kbps35No
H2O Wireless (9)unlimited/unlimited/
unlimited international text to 50+ countries, and $20 international call credit
1 GB 4G LTE, unlimited 128 kbps thereafter36No
Pure TalkUSA (2)unlimited/unlimited1 GB at 4G LTE34.95No
AirVoice Wireless (1)Unlimited/Unlimited/unlimited international SMS and Voice to select countries2.5 GB high speed + 2.5 GB reduced speed50No
Jolt Mobile(4)unlimited/unlimited/ 100 international sms1 GB 4G 40No
NET10 wireless (8)unlimited/unlimited5 GB LTE then throttled to 64 kbps
45.00No
Consumer Cellular (10)250/unlimited3 GB LTE45No
Straight Talk (7)unlimited/unlimited 5 GB LTE then throttled to 64 kbps
45No
Black WirelessUnlimited/Unlimited/unlimited international text $10 international call credit2 GB no LTE50No
Good 2Go Mobileunlimited/unlimited/100 mms/300 international minutes2 GB HSPA+50No
Red Pocket Mobile6unlimited/unlimited/
Up to 200 min international talk
Unlimited first 3 GB at 4G HSPA+ 59.99No
AT&T Go Phoneunlimited/unlimited/unlimited talk  + text to Mexico/unlimited global text to 100 countriesUnlimited firt 4 GB LTE throttled to 128 kbps60Yes
Boss Cellularunlimited/unlimited1 GB $60.00No

 

Not sure which is right for you?  Maybe this MVNO List can help.  Looking for a cheaper plan than what’s listed?  You may find another AT&T MVNO listed on our Cheapest No Contract Cell Phone Plans of 2015 page.

 

The Fine Print

1= AirVoice Wireless.  Initially 500 mb is deposited into your account. Once you reach that limit, you must call customer service to get remaining 500 MB added. Data can be throttled at any time at Airvoice’s discretion

2= PureTalk USA. If your use of unlimited services for conference calling or call forwarding exceeds an excessive amount per month, Pure TalkUSA may, at its option, terminate your service or change your plan to one with no unlimited usage components.
There are no overages unless you request to be allowed overages which occur at a rate of $10 per 100MB or 100 MMS.

3= Cricket Mobile.  LTE speeds limited to 8mbps and HSPA+ 4mbps, over data limit speeds throttled to 128kbps

4= Jolt Mobile.  UNLIMITED voice services may not be used for conference calling, 3-way calling or call forwarding. Data can only be applied in 500mb increments. Once you hit 500mb you must call to get other 500mb activated

5= SkyView Wireless.  No call forwarding or 3 way calling. No MMS. No sms short codes. Text between 2 individuals only

6= Red Pocket Mobile.  No call forwarding, or 3 way calling. No streaming audio or video or games

7= Straight Talk Wireless.  No sms short codes. No unusually long and repeated phone calls. Data usage that is excessive and above average could result in termination

8= Net10 Wireless.  Limited sms short code. Data usage above the average customer can result in termination. Price is with auto pay enabled.

9 = H20 wireless. Price is with autopay enabled

10 = Consumer Cellular.  In certain situations Consumer Cellular may ship out T-Mobile sims without informing you.

  • Techie

    Blackwireless throttles data to 2G speed after initial 1GB usage (this is for $50 plan) .. not worth using this provider.

  • Nicholas Landry

    i am on straight talk’s att sim card byod plan and i get LTE. your chart needs updating!!!

    • http://www.bestmvno.com/ Bestmvno.com

      Thank you. I changed 4G/3G to LTE to avoid any confusion.

  • mike

    Are the AT&T go phone LTE speeds limited?

    • http://www.bestmvno.com/ Bestmvno.com

      LTE speeds are the same as on postpaid

  • Spencer Walker

    Cricket wireless is the best deal hands down

    • Mike

      Unless you need international calls included…

      • Spencer Walker

        True cricket only offer international texting and free calls to Canada and Mexico if you need more some other carrier will be a better deal

  • esc0

    @bestmvnocom:disqus
    As of last week I started noticing a few words under my pictures when sending an MMS via AirVoice Wireless. The words are “Queued for Sending”. As you mentioned above it seems ATT plays favorite with its pipeline when servicing its postpaid and prepaid customers versus their MVNO customers.

    It is my first time seeing the words in the two month’s of service with AV. It doesn’t seem to matter what time of the day it is or whether weekdays or weekends. Just thought I would share.

    • http://www.bestmvno.com/ Bestmvno.com

      Thanks for sharing.

      I only used Net10 as an ATT MVNO myself and for a few months. I remember having my messages delayed at times as well. Generally it was tolerable unless I was in need of a quick response.

      I have talked to a few others about it as well in other parts of the country. My issues weren’t experienced by everyone. I think it really does depend on how busy the network is. This phenomenon is usually mentioned in the MVNOs TOS.

  • benodiktine

    @bestmvnocom:disqus in the fine print above it says “9 = H20 wireless. Price is with autopay enabled”, omitting that they do not support short code. I just chated with H20 support and confirmed that H20 does not support short code. This is driving me nuts! I wish there was a list of MVNOs that support and do not support short codes.

  • Subhani

    Does the AT&T Roll over data work with any of these MVNOs? I’m looking for Cricket, Straight Talk or Net10.

    • http://www.bestmvno.com/ Bestmvno.com

      I’m not sure I understand your question. AT&Ts rollover data cannot be transferred to an MVNO if that’s what you’re asking. If you have ATT now you would lose your rollover data if you transfer to an MVNO. Some MVNOs do have their own rollover data programs though.

  • esc0

    @bestmvnocom:disqus
    As of my last monthly renewal with AirVoice I noticed that my full monthly data allotment has been issued to me. I have two lines with them on the $30 monthly plan and both show 500MB after payment.

    I can’t say whether this applies to all plans but I am sure they wouldn’t just do it for one plan which is the cheapest and not the others.

    Maybe they were inundated with calls for adding the other half of data?? And, if yes I am sure their guys can spend more time resolving more important issues for customers and their service.

    Anyone else on AV with a higher monthly tier plan and can verify my findings??

    • esc0

      Correction:
      One still has to call in to AirVoice CS to have the other half of their data allotment issued. The reason I am seeing 500MB on the $30 monthly plan is due to AV upping the monthly data limit to 1GB total for the month.

      This plan last month was sitting at 500MB of data total. So 250MB would be issued initially at signup or renewal then one would need to phone CS to have the second half released.

  • Wunder

    Cricket Wireless also offers free Mexico calling and texting with the smart and pro plans.

  • mattand

    Great article, thanks for the info.

    I’ve got a question about switching to a GSM MVNO. I’m currently with Virgin Mobile (which is CDMA) and using an iPhone 5s. Per the new government regulations and VM’s own guidelines, I can at least get the GSM part of the phone unlocked.

    I’m actually happy with their service, but they recently grandfathered my plan (2.5 GB LTE, 1200 minutes for $40 a month), and the new plan at that price point is only 1GB of data. I’m gathering info now in case they pull the plug on my plan.

    Does anyone have any experience with using unlocked, GSM-capable VM phones on a GSM network? VM is issuing this kind of weasly “Welllll, we *can* unlock your phone, but it probably isn’t going to work with anyone else” statement.

    TIA for any help.

    • http://www.bestmvno.com/ Bestmvno.com

      Thanks. Yes, carriers will often make those kind of statements to try and retain you.

      Since it’s an iPhone, as long as they do unlock it, it should work fine on any carrier network. I’m not sure about Virgin Mobile’s other offerings though.

      • mattand

        Hey, folks:

        Thanks so much for the response! It is greatly appreciated. Especially when you compare the “help” I got by posting the same question on Apple’s own iPhone 5s board. Ugh.

        I also read your addendum regarding not all ATT MVNOs being created equal. Very informative.

        One final comment along those lines: I actually tried contacting Straight Talk about whether my phone, when unlocked, would work on their service. They insisted it wouldn’t, and when I pressed them for details, they abruptly ended the chat session.

        That was probably equal parts language difficulties and asking questions above the rep’s pay grade. Still, it’s starting to seem like that the only way to get a truly unlocked iPhone is to purchase it that way direct from Apple.

        • esc0

          As of January this year Apple started selling the iPhone 6 model number A1586 as a true global factory unlocked phone.

          If bought from Apple it is factory unlocked as I mentioned and will work On Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-mobile and all their MVNOs.

          If you purchase model A1586 through Sprint it will be locked not to mention the 2yr agreement.

          Not that it matters unless you travel overseas much, but the A1586 model also supports some LTE & CDMA bands dependent on country you visit and carrier.

          Hope this helps. Link below for an in depth explanation.

          http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/iphone/iphone-faq/differences-between-iphone-6-models.html

          • mattand

            Excellent. Thanks for the info.

            My phone is actually the 5s, which I’m guessing is the US/Japan CDMA model 1453: http://www.everymac.com/systems/apple/iphone/specs/apple-iphone-5s-a1453-cdma-sprint-kddi-softbank-specs.html

            If I’m reading the opening paragraph correctly, if the GSM portion is unlocked, the phone should be compatible with any GSM network using the cited LTE frequencies.

            I also noticed in the opening paragraph they have “CDMA” in quotes; not sure if that means anything.

            It’s looking like my biggest hurdles in switching would be:

            1. trying figure out if any of these GSM MVNOs operate in those specific bands.

            2. figuring out if Virgin Mobile/Sprint gimps the GSM part of the phone, even after unlocking.

            As cited above, the Straight Talk people ended the conversation instead explaining why the phone wouldn’t work. I’m sure much of that is “Sorry, above my pay grade.” Still, I’m wondering if a lot if it based on theories the phone wouldn’t work, as opposed to actual exprience.

            Thanks again to you and the people who run this site. Incredibly informative.

          • esc0

            Not to bash Straight Talk but to simply put it, they spent too much time answering your question and didn’t sign you up. I am sure some supervisor was monitoring the call time. (of course just my two cents here).

            I haven’t personally upgraded my iPhone as of yet but when I do I will be sure to go with the factory unlocked Global version. I am currently using the 5S as well, my model is the A1533 (GSM Only) version. I can use it on any GSM carrier of my choosing stateside and overseas.

            In the future when and if I do upgrade my iPhone I will go with the Global unlocked iPhone, whatever version it is at the time I decide to upgrade. Apple should continue to sell them from here on out seeing that this year’s model was the first time they offered such version online. So if you were to take your globally factory unlocked iPhone to either Verizon or Sprint none of them can’t say it won’t work. And if they give you push back I can only think of one reason and it means they want you to buy their iPhone.

            Going with the Global iPhone will take the hassle out of calling/chatting with any carrier’s CSR folks to see if it will work. Only those iPhones that support both GSM and CDMA that were locked per 2yr agreement need to worry if it will work on another carrier’s, especially on a CDMA network.

            If you decide that the Global iPhone is for you, then you would need to pay full price for it via Apple’s website. I am willing to do just that to have freedom with my iPhone.

            Recently the moderator posted the comeback of Helio; a Sprint MVNO I believe it was. And as a added perk they offer “FREE” domestic “ROAMING” for your calls, data and sms. No other prepaid or MVNO carrier is doing so if my memory serves me right.

            If Big Red has good coverage where you at it’s definitely worth a try. And if cost is your deciding factor then GSM is your next route with AT&T or one of their MVNOs being your first pick. T-Mobile still has spotty coverage outside major cities and in buildings. Thought they tend to be cheaper than AT&T and AT&T’s MVNOs.

            About the frequencies and LTE bands I would suggest you google based on your home city. Most carriers from what I’ve read seem to be offering LTE coverage in the following bands. 12,13,17&19.

            The bands tend to vary by city due to spectrum ownership. Below is another link I use to see what bands any phone offers not just the iPhone and the other is a listing of LTE bands for carriers worldwide, which I am sure have been updated since then. The last link if you haven’t seen it yet is geared towards T-Mobile’s LTE deployment. This is not an official T-Mobile site. Hope this helps.

            http://www.gsmarena.com/apple_iphone_5s-5685.php (click on expand to the far right under Network)
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_LTE_networks#Americas

            http://www.tmonews.com/700mhz-lte-map/

          • http://www.bestmvno.com/ Bestmvno.com

            In regards to Helio, just remember data speeds are limited to 128 kbps

          • esc0

            @bestmvnocom:disqus
            Would you say that 128Kbps will suffice when using Google Maps for directions when driving?

            Would it also suffice for just web surfing and MMS? I am not a heavy data user but do use gps, read news when away from home and send an occasional picture.

          • http://www.bestmvno.com/ Bestmvno.com

            I can only guess. MMS will surely be fine, maybe just a little slow to send and receive. MMS size is usually pretty limited by carrier, generally to 1 MB or less, so I don’t see that being much of a problem.

            I’ve never been throttled before to speak from experience, all I can say is ROK Mobile says they throttle to 128 kbps, and they say that is fast enough to stream their music platform.

            It’s probably fine for Google maps but what would worry me is if you miss a turn and need to be rerouted, might be an issue their if you need a quick reroute.

            As far as webpage loading goes might depend on your patience. With graphics off I would imagine it’s ok.

            With your iPhone are you able to change to a 2.5G network and see how that is? Or maybe do a speedtest on 3G to see how close that is to 128Kbps (should quite a bit faster)? Perhaps somebody else with experience can better answer how it works for them.

          • esc0

            I hope someone else can add to it. Unfortunately from what I can see when using AT&T MVNO AirVoice Wireless, there is no way for me to tell if I can force my iPhone to use 3G only.

            There seem to be two factors here. The carrier network and in my case ATT/AV Wireless. When I have my T-Mobile/Ptel SIM inserted in my iPhone I am able to choose LTE or just Voice or Data. This tells me that the iPhone should be forced to use 3G.

            Unfortunately with Apple’s new iOS since version 7 there is no way to force an iPhone to use 3G or 2G if the carrier still supports it in one’s coverage area.

            So Apple might be giving certain carriers the ability to restrict one manually forcing their iPhone to use anything below LTE.

            T-Mobile doesn’t seem to be enforcing this so I am assuming ATT and Apple are pushing this restriction via “Carrier Updates” when SIMs are inserted and detected by the carrier’s network.

            AV offers 4G at this time and the speedtest app is indicating that my download speeds are anywhere between 5Mbps to 3Mbps on any given day. Uploads are sitting below 1Mbps.

            But I am sure 128Kbps will be slower and you’re right if one misses a turn in a new city and needs rerouting asap.

            AV should of kept the entire data allotment speed the same for the entire month. sigh….

          • mattand

            LOL, with all the info you’ve given me, I’ve become a GSM expert through osmosis! Thanks!

            However, it turns out I’ve been worrying over nothing. I literally got a text a few minutes ago from Virgin. They’re upping my data allotment to 3GB (from 2.5), and my talk time to unlimited (from 1200 a month), for the same price ($40 a month). I think I”m good to go for a while.

            As far as signing up for VM in the first place? I came to the conclusion I think you’re making in this post. If I was willing to buy an iPhone at full price, I should have just gone straight to Apple, rather than through a carrier. Although in my defense, VM was having a sale and I got $150 off.

            As far as buying another iPhone goes, that may be further down the road then you’d think. If I wind up getting an Apple Watch, that will give Apple Pay, which is pretty much the only thing on an iPhone 6 I want right now. That combo should hold me over for a while!

            Thanks again for all of your help!

          • esc0

            anytime. glad it’s all working out in your favor and if VM’s coverage aka Sprint network got you covered then stay. at the end of the day if we can’t get descent signal our data is useless. i have been in parts of the city where i have two bars and my data connection either doesn’t work or creeps along. it is what it is. glad sites like this one exist for us to stay informed.

            drop a line from time to time to the site’s moderator to update us on VM.

            PS: believe it or not but the next iPhone launch is upon us.crazy how time flies.i don’t have a need for apple pay since i don’t have much data on my plan and use it for the ocasional address lookup and mms.

          • esc0

            One note I forgot to pass on if you haven’t read it yet is when utilizing AT&T prepaid or an AT&T MVNO.

            I had to jailbreak my iPhone in order to get MMS to work.

            Link below.

            http://bestmvno.com/do-att-andor-apple-engage-in-anticompetitive-behavior-in-regards-to-select-att-mvnos/

      • mattand

        I posted this in my response to esc0 down thread: turns out I’ve been worrying over nothing regarding VM. I literally got a text a few minutes ago from them. They’re upping my data allotment to 3GB (from 2.5), and my talk time to unlimited (from 1200 a month), for the same price ($40 a month). I think I”m good to go for a while.

        Thanks again for your help!

  • escs0

    @bestmvnocom:disqus
    This morning I decided to take a quick glance at AirVoice Wireless website and to my surprise, their plans have been updated. I also noticed a monthly $5 plan has been added and their $40 monthly plan is no more.

    On a not so good move their data allotment comes with stipulation. Once one hits half their allotted data, your speeds will be reduced. Not sure where but I am assuming 128Kbps since it seems to be the norm with most carriers. I could be wrong here.

    Link below.

    https://www.airvoicewireless.com/PlansA.aspx

    • http://www.bestmvno.com/ Bestmvno.com

      Thanks for the update. It was reported they got changed several weeks ago, however I kept an eye on the site for days after I saw the reports, but they never updated their website until seemingly now. Now I’ll update mine. Thanks again.

      • esc0

        Anytime. Glad your site exist to get the word out to other folks.

        I am waiting on Cricket Wireless to throw in free unlimited global sms in and out so I can jump. Or if Project Fi comes to unlocked phones before Cricket I will jump as well.

        Then again I will age quicker than these guys can offer anything free..sigh…

      • esc0

        One area where AV fails me is their supposedly Unlimited Calling to 80+ countries. They don’t state whether this is at no additional cost or whether an int’l prepaid card needs to be purchased in order to dial these 80+ (which I don’t see listed anywhere) on their site???