We Help You Decide: You’re The New Guy Or Gal

Moving is always an uncomfortable situation. You basically have to put your life in a truck and make some new place your permanent residence. Left behind are your friends, family, and property. Worse yet, you're headed for a place where you likely don't know anyone.
These can be trying times for an individual. They can also be expensive times. Think about all of the costs associated with moving: hiring movers, buying those little things that you need to live in the house, closing costs, etc. All the while, there's your cell phone bill, mocking you because you don't really use the thing much any more.
Sure, you call your old friends to check in, and you probably maintain contact with your family. But those calls usually take place on nights and weekends, where minutes are usually free, anyway. So what are you going to do with those 600 anytime minutes? In most cases, they rot. And that's no way to go spending your money.
When moving to a new area, pay-as-you-go is an excellent choice. You only pay for the minutes you use, which are probably very few at first. However, after you settle in, you might find yourself using more and more minutes as you meet people. So we're looking for providers that have both pay-as-you-go and plan options. That way, you can switch to a plan when you start using enough minutes. Unlimited nights and weekends is a big bonus, since those are the times you can talk to family and friends without worrying about minutes.
Plus, this way, you'll get into the mindset that contracts suck. That can only benefit you in the long run.
(read the review) Yes, AT&T has both pay-as-you-go and flat rate prepaid plans. However, we're not sure that this is the best option. Their pay-as-you-go rate is 25 cents a minute, which is just ridiculous. However, they offer a plan where you pay $1 per day ($30, $31 per month) and calls are now 10 cents per minute. That only works in your favor if you're using more than 200 minutes per month. You do, however, have the option to add 3,000 night and weekend minutes to the $1 per day plan for an additional $20, putting your bill automatically at $50, $51. Now, this might work for some people, and honestly, you can manipulate it to be a good deal. But for someone who just moved to an area and doesn't know many people, this option is just a bit expensive. Actually, if you're going to do the $1 per day plan with the 3,000 night and weekend minutes, you might as well just get the $50 per month Pick Your Plan and get 400 anytime minutes with unlimited nights and weekends.
(read the review) Boost's pay-as-you-go plan is kind of a hybrid, charging 20 cents per minute from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 cents per minute on nights and weekends. So if you plan to use just nights and weekends, it's one of the better true pay-as-you-go plans out there. Once you're ready for a flat rate plan, Boost has 30, 50, and 70-dollar plans, though only the 70-dollar one has unlimited nights and weekends built in. Whether you want to stick with Boost for a flat-rate plan really depends on how much you talk. If you become a social butterfly in your new environment, the $70 plan will work out well. If not, the $50 plan might not be enough.
(read the review) STi doesn't have much in the way of flat-rate plans, but they do have one, so they fall into this category. When you're starting off with pay-as-you-go, you have two options: 10 cents a minute and a 10-cent per day access fee, or 7.9 cents per minute and a 25-cent per day access fee. If you're using over 200 minutes per month, the latter option is less costly. Once you're ready to graduate to the flat-rate plan, you've got once choice: $50 per month for 100 anytime minutes, unlimited nights and weekends (begins at 7 p.m.), 10 cents per overage minute, and no access fee. It's not great, but it's do-able — plus, STi has a very comprehensive coverage map.
(read the review) Here we go again with the access fees. It's a dollar a day with Verizon, and it's not optional like AT&T. However, you don't have to pay an extra $20 per month to get night and weekend, and mobile-to-mobile minutes. Those are included with regular INpulse service. You might be out $30 per month minimum, but this plan could make sense if your friends and family also use Verizon. It's so close to being a flat-rate plan that it's tough for us to refer to it as “pay-as-you-go.” Then we move to the flat-rate plans, which both (yes, there are only two) have unlimited nights and weekends and mobile-to-mobile. Fifty dollars gets you 350 anytime minutes, and $70 per month gets you 700 anytime minutes. So you might actually be better off sticking with the INpulse plan, even after you make friends in your new city.
(read the review) At first glance, Virgin Mobile's pay-as-you-go rate is scary: 18 cents per minute. However, you can knock that down to 10 cents per minute with a $7 access fee, which is a huge upgrade over what AT&T does (25 cents per minute, but $30 per month to reduce that to 10 cents per). After that, they have tons of flat-rate plans, starting at $15 per month for 100 anytime minutes. Actually, depending on your situation, that might be more worth it for you than the pay-as-you-go option. The more expensive options give you more anytime minutes, and once you get to $30, you get unlimited nights and weekends. We definitely like Virgin's plans, at least in terms of flexibility.
Don't offer either pay-as-you-go or flat-rate prepaid
But hey, maybe you want to keep your pay-as-you-go service, even after you make friends. The following services don't offer both pay-as-you-go and flat-rate plans, but some can be of value. We'll list their per-minute rates if applicable. If you find it enticing enough, you might just want to stick with the true prepaid.
Cricket: They only offer flat-rate unlimited calling, If you live in a Cricket-covered area, though, you might want to switch to them when you're ready for a flat-rate plan. That is, if you don't mind buying another phone.
Jump Mobile: Pay-as-you-go only: 10 cents per minute within your local calling area, 69 cents while roaming.
Kajeet: Pay-as-you-go only: 10 cents per minute, but there is a 35 cents per day access fee.
Liberty Wireless: Flat-rate plans only.
Locus: Pay-as-you-go only: their GSM plan charges the first five minutes of calling per day at 15 cents per minute, with the rate dropping to nine cents per after that. Don't even think about their CDMA service: 18 cents per minute during peak hours, 9 cents per minute off-peak.
MetroPCS: Flat-rate plan only. See Cricket for our take on this.
Mojo Mobile: Pay-as-you-go only: the rate depends on the prepaid card you buy. It ranges anywhere from 33 cents per minute to 15 cents per minute. Cards expire in 30 days, so a less than frequent user will end up paying 25 or 33 cents per minute. Yeah, there are better deals out there.
Net10: Pay-as-you-go only: 10 cents per minute, all day, every day.
Omni: Pay-as-you-go only: 14 cents per minute, all day, every day.
Page Plus: Pay-as-you-go only: between 7 and 12 cents per minute, depending on the card you buy. You have 120 days to use the minutes, so even an infrequent user can probably get the 7-cent rate — the card is only $50.
Simple Freedom: Pay-as-you-go only: 15 cents per minute in your home calling area, 50 cents per minute outside.
T-Mobile: Pay-as-you-go only: if you buy the $100 card, you become a Gold Rewards member, which gives you more minutes on the cards you buy. The minutes also don't expire for one year, so you can buy the $100 card and enjoy 10 cents per minute calling. You can surely use all those minutes within a year, right?
Tracfone: Pay-as-you-go only: there are plenty of ways you can manipulate a Tracfone to give you rates as low as 10 cents per minute. However, if you're just buying the lower denomination cards, you'll probably be paying 33 cents per minute.
US Cellular: Flat-rate plan only.
Venture Mobile: Flat-rate plan only.
Xtreme Mobile: Pay-as-you-go only: 15 cents per minute, unlimited nights and weekends, 60 cents per day access fee.