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Comparing Verizon and AT&T prepaid plans

As we learned at the end of last week, Verizon Wireless has added new prepaid calling plans that mimic their monthly calling plans. For $5 more than a postpaid plan, you can enjoy Verizon service on a prepaid basis. This gives Verizon two prepaid ends, their pay-as-you-go side which requires a daily access fee for most plans, and their new monthly plan side. Their biggest competitor, AT&T, has a similar setup. So let’s see which company offers the better deal.


Both companies offer four tiers of pay-as-you-go, but for our purposes we’re going to move AT&T’s unlimited plan over to the prepaid monthly side, just for easier comparison.That means three for AT&T, four for Verizon.

The plans are pretty comparable, with Verizon adding in the Plus plan, though I’m not sure how many people use it. The biggest advantage is that in addition to 5 cents per minute, it also charges only 5 cents per text message.

Prepaid monthly

Now onto the monthly plans. Again, I’m moving AT&T’s unlimited plan from pay-as-you-go to monthly for easier comparison.

Again, imagine AT&T’s plan having a $60 unlimited talk and text plan added onto that. That clearly beats Verizon’s comparable plan, by $35. Otherwise, we can compare the voice-only pricing, since AT&T’s Pick Your Plan deals also have an unlimited texting option for $20. Already AT&T has two plans cheaper than Verizon, which is good for customers who use their phones less frequently.

On the next level plan, Verizon wins with 50 more minutes for $5 cheaper. It wins even bigger on the top tier, as it offers 250 more minutes for $5 cheaper. Verizon’s plans presumably include unlimited nights and weekends — they were created to mimic contract plans — or else that might change the analysis. AT&T’s lesser plans do not include unlimited nights and weekends. The $49.99 plan comes with 3,000, and the $39.99 plan comes with 500.

For the more expensive plans, it looks like Verizon wins out. They offer more minutes for less money than AT&T’s top tier plans. AT&T does offer two more monthly plans, which can be good for consumers who don’t use their phones as much. On the pay-as-you-go side, Verizon’s edge is its additional daily access plan. It’s not the best, though, and otherwise the services are comparable.

So which will it be? Or will you go with a smaller carrier and leave the big dogs to serve their contract customers?

4 Responses

  1. mike freeman Says

    Att Pick your plans have a hybrid network that is between the skeletal Gophone paygo network (which their unlimited talk/text $60 plan runs on) and the more full figured regular postpaid Att network.

    Verizon prepaid has all their plans run on the prepaid version of Verizon’s network but they do allow roaming at 20 cents a minute. Not an option with Att Paygo or unlimited talk/text.

    Also, the Verizon monthly plans DO have unlimited nights, weekends and Verizon to Verizon mobile.

    Overall, the Pick Your Plans coverage approach Verizon prepaid much more then their daily access/paygo plans do.

    Verizon prepaid offsets its network advantages by conceding the phone advantage to Att. Verizon prepaid does not allow any smartphone or html browser device, which are increasingly numerous and desirable.

    Att Gophone does allow any Att or gsm unlocked phone, though their new orange/white gophone sim simlocks to one phone for six months after actiation. And you have to fiddle with the iphone sometimes to get it on the Att prepaid network.

    Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 12:25 am
  2. Ryan Says

    You also have to understand, and this is from my personal experience, AT&T wether a gophone of contract has alot better coverage than verizon. I started with a prepaid verizon phone, and i live in new orleans, and my signal quality was crud, and as soon as i switched to a contract i have a good signal. Recently i moved, and got absolutly no signal because i moved to the countryside, so i switched to AT&T gophone, and havent been anywhere on the entire eastern seaboard that i can get a signal… even 7 miles out in the ocean. They really need to reserch their “Maps” better.

    Posted on January 20th, 2010 at 7:22 pm
  3. Lindsay Says

    Straight Talk is the best prepaid service around HANDS DOWN! $45 for Unlimited texts and calls, plus you get amazing coverage with it being on the Verizon network. I got my phone from Walmart and couldn’t be happier. More people need to know about this wonderful plan, it is just too good of a deal to pass up!

    Posted on February 14th, 2010 at 11:07 pm
  4. ATT unlimited limits are not worth it! Says

    At&t may be cheaper but that old saying you get what you pay for is true when comparing ATT to Verizon if verzion is truly unlimited. AT&T is unlimited as long as you dont use AT&T unlimitly! If they feel your using their service alot they will disconnect your service and take what ever money you have on your account. Yes you read it correctly TAKE not REFUND!
    Im just saying with AT&T’s “LIMITED” unlimted service why pay more? You might aswell go with a cheaper service like MetroPCS, Boost etc…. if one is going to deal with ATT CRAPPY restrictions! I haven’t had verzion cell service but $20 more is nothing if their service is truly unlimited.

    Posted on April 15th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

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