When you're shopping for prepaid cell phones, you'll probably want a service provider that gives you options. Some people want the newest and hottest devices; others want contract-free, unlimited service plans. With both on tap, Boost Mobile is the best prepaid cell phone provider we reviewed. It even gives most contract-based plans some stiff competition.
Boost has monthly and daily service plans, and both are unlimited. You can pay a flat fee for an unlimited plan with any phone, or choose a plan that costs more initially, but that shrinks its payments over time to eventually cost less than one of the flat-rate options. For its low prices, flexibility and superb selection of phones, Boost Mobile wins our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award.
Boost offers its users three types of plans, all of which feature unlimited talk and text without contracts or activation fees. The daily plan comes in a $2 flavor for feature phones and a $3 flavor for smartphones. Both would be ridiculously expensive if you used them all month long, but for a day here or there or dedicated weekend use, they're quite affordable.
The company also offers two types of monthly plans: Monthly Unlimited Select and Shrinking Payments. While they're technically unlimited – you can talk and text as much as you want, and browse the web as long as you like each month – the plans have caps on their high-speed data rates. Once you hit those caps, you can still browse the web and download files, but only at 2G or 3G speeds – significantly slower than 4G LTE.
The Monthly Unlimited Select plan comes in three variants, with prices that vary with the amount of high-speed data you want. Spending $40 a month will get you 500MB of 4G LTE downloads, $50 will get you 2.5GB, and $60 will get you a hefty 5GB. If you don't browse the web and never stream music or movies, 500MB should see you through the month without issue. If, however, you're a heavy downloader who loves listening to Spotify or Pandora and watching Netflix movies on the go, expect to spring for the $60 plan.
Boost also offers a second series of monthly unlimited plans, which offer Shrinking Payments. All Shrinking Payments plans offer 2.5GB of monthly high-speed data, and all will drop in price by $5 for every six months of payments you make on time, up to a maximum of $15 in monthly savings. The only difference between the four Shrinking Payments plans is the phones available with each. iPhones and Android phones are available on the $55 monthly plan (which could theoretically go down to just $40 if you make on-time payments for a year and a half), while certain BlackBerry phones are tied to the $45 plan (which would eventually drop down to just $30).
Assuming that you want a modern smartphone, go with a Shrinking Payments plan, and make your payments on time every month, you'd be out more money than you would on an equivalent Unlimited Select plan for the first 18 months. After those 18 months, however, you'd be saving yourself $10 a month going forward. If you're in it for the long haul and trust yourself to make those payments, the Shrinking Payments plan is ultimately the better option. If, however, you're either a very light or very heavy data user, stick to Monthly Unlimited Select.
Contract-based phone providers will always have the advantage over prepaid providers when it comes to phone selection. However, Boost Mobile offers some excellent current-generation phones, including both the Apple iPhone 5s and the Samsung Galaxy S5. You won't find any modern HTC phones or the latest Google Nexus device, but there are plenty of older options available.
Keep in mind that whatever phone you buy, you'll have to pay its full, up-front retail cost. Unlike contract carriers, Boost doesn't subsidize the cost of phones, which means the Galaxy S5 costs almost $600, rather than the $200 it would if you bought it on contract from a carrier.
All of Boost's unlimited plans include a bevy of free features, including 411 directory assistance, caller ID, call waiting and three-way calling. Thanks to the Sprint nationwide network, you be able to enjoy free long distance, free roaming and of course, free voice mail.
Boost Mobile's online offerings are fantastic, and you can complete all of your shopping without ever stepping into a store. Should you prefer to talk with someone in person, however, the company's website has a store locator. Either way, before you buy a phone you can browse the website's FAQs section, and customer service agents are available by email or over the phone.
Boost Mobile offers the best prepaid cell phone plans on the market and has a large list of available devices, including brand-new ones like the Samsung Galaxy S5. Given the features you get and the data caps available, its prices are rock-bottom, while its Shrinking Payments program gives you affordable flexibility with certain phones. Simply put, if you're in the market for prepaid, there's nothing better.
Boost Mobile's pricing structure is appreciably cheap, while its phone selection is as good as you can find on the prepaid market.
Despite technically offering unlimited data, expect your download rates to drop significantly once you hit your pricing tier's high-speed data cap.
With great prices and great phones, Boost Mobile is the best prepaid cell phone provider around.