We took a look at two of the most popular prepaid cell phone brands, Boost Mobile and MetroPCS, and compared them side by side to give you some insight about which provider might be right for your needs.
Even though larger companies like T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T are offering unlimited plans with no contracts, there are still good reasons to go with prepaid plans from services like MetroPCS or Boost Mobile – most notably, you can reduce your monthly bill and avoid a credit check, plus you won’t get stuck paying additional fees to own a fancy cell phone with features you don't need.
The monthly plans from Boost Mobile and MetroPCS are reasonably priced and won't tie you down. The plans also both include talk, text and some amount of highspeed data. Aside from these basic features, there are other factors to consider, like the availability of coverage, the quality of the cell phones that are available from the providers and the cost of the monthly plan.
Changes in Prepaid Wireless Plans
While you can still pick up a prepaid minutes card and activate any cell phone that you own, most prepaid service providers, including Boost Mobile and MetroPCS, have switched over to monthly plans with unlimited talk and text. The change from the previous per-minute or per-text options is mostly a good one because prepaying for each service has been, on average, more expensive than the current monthly service fees.
Even though MetroPCS and Boost Mobile have done away with prepaying for minutes, you still pay upfront for a full month of service when you pick up your phone. You can enroll in an automatic payment system that charges your account once a month, and plans often reward you with a lower monthly fee if you choose this option. While there are no official contracts, you must continue to pay each month or the companies will stop your service.
Boost Mobile vs MetroPCS Monthly Plans
We looked at what these providers offer for their most inexpensive individual plans as well as what prices they offer when their plans become truly unlimited to see which phone company has the better deal.
At the time of publication, Boost Mobile's plan is $35 a month for unlimited talk, text and data, but only 2GB of that data are at the higher 4G LTE speed. Boost Mobile also gives you a $5 discount if you enroll in a monthly payment program. MetroPCS charges $30 dollars for the same unlimited features, but the data is at higher speeds for only the first gigabyte.
If you go with a limited-data option, you’ll want to check on the coverage of the 3G and 2G networks because, after the first few gigabytes of 4G run out, you’ll be relying on these other networks for service.
Boost Mobile and MetroPCS both become truly unlimited – in talk, text and data – at $50 a month.
Right now, Boost Mobile offers the cheapest monthly plan, as long as you're willing to enroll in an automatic payment system. It’s also worth mentioning that Boost, according to our colleagues over at Tom’s Guide, has scored a little higher in overall customer service.
Which One Has the Best Cell Phone Coverage?
In addition to downloading videos and music and browsing at the higher 4G LTE speeds, most service providers have switched over to using their 4G LTE networks for phone calls. Because 4G LTE currently offers the fastest service available and because providers use it for almost everything, including phone reception, it helps to know who has the largest 4G LTE Network when determining whether to go with Boost Mobile or Metro PCS.
When we compared the coverage maps of both services, we found that, while Boost Mobile covers a lot of the U.S. with its talk plan, the 4G LTE network isn't nearly as broad or far-reaching as MetroPCS's. This is because T-Mobile owns MetroPCS, so MetroPCS works off T-Mobile's large 4G LTE network.
MetroPCS also works when you travel internationally. It has this flexibility because T-Mobile works off the GSM network, which is the international standard. Boost Mobile works off Sprint's CDMA network, which means it can be more difficult to switch from its service to another provider as you travel.
Overall, MetroPCS offers better 4G LTE coverage all over the United States.
Which One Works with More Phone Types?
Monthly payment plans can be expensive because providers often fold in the cost of the phone. With Boost Mobile and MetroPCS, you purchase your cell phone outright. Because you’re buying your phone upfront, these companies only stock phones that, for the most part, you can knock out in a single payment. This usually means that the cell phones don't offer as many features as the phones available from other providers, but it can also save you a lot of money, especially if you don't need all the bells and whistles of flagship smartphones.
They both do keep the latest iPhones in stock, but you have to put a lot of money down upfront. In addition to Apple phones, both providers also carry Android models.
Overall, MetroPCS can be a bit more flexible than Boost Mobile when it comes to the phones you can use. Because MetroPCS has an international (GSM) network, there are more phones that meet the required specifications. Boost Mobile works with Sprint, and it’s compatible only with phones that are specially made for Sprint’s (smaller CDMA) network. Frequently, you can’t use a Boost mobile phone on MetroPCS, and vice versa.
What Is the Best Prepaid Wireless Plan?
Recently, quite a bit has changed in the cell phone business. These changes are empowering the consumer to get the cell phone service that is right for them. The truth is that cell phone plans change very frequently in order to remain competitive in the market.
After taking these recent developments into consideration and comparing these two cell phone providers, our current recommendation is to go with MetroPCS, especially if you're looking for a lot of flexibility. The service does cost a bit more overall, but you’ll get better coverage and more cell phone selection because of the GSM network, plus the company’s individual plans become truly unlimited at the same price as Boost Mobile.
Boost Mobile is currently the less expensive option and is a good fit if you don’t travel much. We recommend checking on the coverage in your area.