U.S. Cellular Prepaid Plans
Although not as well known as Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, U.S. Cellular is one of the major cell phone carriers in the United States. U.S. Cellular owns its own network and also has roaming agreements with the other major carriers to ensure solid coverage. U.S. Cellular offers a handful of prepaid plans, with both limited data and unlimited options. Prepaid plans differ from postpaid in that you pay for your service upfront—these plans tend to be cheaper than postpaid alternatives and you don’t need a credit check to get started.
Compare U.S. Cellular prepaid plans
U.S. Cellular offers four prepaid plan options, ranging in price from $30/month for unlimited talk and text to $65/month for its top-tier unlimited plan. As we mentioned earlier, U.S. Cellular uses its own network in tandem with the other three major networks—this means robust coverage overall, but be aware that U.S. Cellular reserves the right to terminate your service if you use over 400MB in any given month on its partner networks. Frankly, 400MB/month is not very much data—browsing on Instagram for one hour would put you over that limit. Because of this roaming policy, it’s not a good idea to sign up for a U.S. Cellular plan if you won’t have coverage on its primary network the majority of the time.
An easy way to check if you’ll have coverage in your area is to enter your street address into our coverage search tool. Within seconds, you’ll find out whether U.S. Cellular provides solid coverage near you.
U.S. Cellular prepaid unlimited plans
U.S. Cellular offers two prepaid unlimited plans: the $55 Unlimited Data Prepaid Plan and the $65 Unlimited Plus Prepaid Plan.
While both plans technically fall under the “unlimited” category, the Unlimited Data Prepaid Plan isn’t a true unlimited plan. U.S. Cellular throttles or slows your data to 2G speeds after you use 15GB of high-speed data in any given billing cycle, and you have to wait until the next month for your speeds to increase to 4G LTE. It’s more or less a 15GB plan, which may be a good option if you’re not a heavy data user.
Conversely, the Unlimited Plus Prepaid Plan is a genuine unlimited plan that includes a 22GB data deprioritization threshold, meaning once you’ve used 22GB, your speeds may potentially be slowed during times of network congestion but these reduced speeds will only be temporary.
When compared to unlimited plans offered by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, who have data deprioritization thresholds ranging from 50GB to 100GB, 22GB is pretty low, especially for the price. However, you do get a few nice perks like:
- Unlimited hotspot (at 3G speeds)
- Unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada
- Free Redbox movie rentals.
U.S. Cellular prepaid limited plans
U.S. Cellular offers two prepaid limited plans: the $30 Unlimited Talk & Text Prepaid Plan and the $40 5GB Prepaid Plan. The former includes unlimited talk and text but no data—thus, it’s probably best for young children or senior citizens who need to keep in touch with their loved ones. The good thing about the Unlimited Talk & Text Prepaid Plan is that pay-as-you-go data is available for just $.03/MB in case of emergency, such as needing to use Google Maps when lost.
As for the 5GB Prepaid Plan, the 5GB isn’t a hard data cap—your data speeds will be slowed once you’ve used your 5GB of high-speed data for the month. You can also pay $5/month for MyData Vault, which allows you to carry over your unused data to the next month, although it may not be worth it to pay extra for this service, especially if you’re never going to need that extra data you didn’t use in the first place.
U.S. Cellular prepaid add-ons
All U.S. Cellular prepaid plans have access to the same add-on features, barring the MyDataVault carryover feature—which is exclusively available with the 5GB Prepaid Plan. U.S. Cellular prepaid add-ons include:
- $10 add-on for unlimited talk/text to Canada and Mexico
- $5 add-on for unlimited calling to Mexico and Canada
- $3.99 add-on for unlimited calls to Mexico and discounted rates to select international countries
- $5 MyDataVault carryover add-on (5GB Prepaid Plan only)
U.S. Cellular prepaid family plans
U.S. Cellular family plans comes in the form of multi-line plans that give you a $10 discount per each additional line added—up to five lines. These prepaid multi-line plans still require that you select an individual plan for each line on the account, so be sure to consider all of the features that each line will include on an individual basis.
Compare U.S. Cellular prepaid plans to other carriers
U.S. Cellular offers a decent selection of prepaid plans, all of which are reasonably priced but aside from the Unlimited Plus Prepaid Plan, they’re pretty sparse in the way of features and perks. Plus, U.S. Cellular’s coverage falls far behind the likes of the other majors, with just over 10% nationwide coverage. And although it partners with the other majors, you still run the risk of your service being terminated if you use over 400MB while roaming on the partner networks, which can be stressful, to say the least.
If you’re a light data user living in a location where U.S. Cellular has great coverage, the 5GB plan might be a nice choice for you, but there are plenty of other comparable prepaid options from major carriers, such as T-Mobile and Verizon, and small carriers, such as Ultra Mobile, Simple Mobile, and Mint Mobile.
These carriers also offer more data and perks for lower prices and you’ll benefit from service aboard more robust networks. Plus, if you’re looking for the right unlimited prepaid plan for you, there are plenty of options better than U.S. Cellular’s Unlimited Data Prepaid Plan, which functions more like a 15GB plan. Consider the fact that T-Mobile offers a Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plan for just $50/month and it includes a whopping 50GB data deprioritization threshold. If MVNOs are more your speed, Visible and Metro by T-Mobile both offer $40 unlimited data plans.