The table below lists mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and prepaid carriers operating in the U.S.
In rows with asterisks, additional information can be viewed by clicking the plus icon. Carriers I recommend are marked with bold text.
What is an MVNO?
An MVNO or mobile virtual network operator is a company that doesn’t own it’s own network hardware. Instead, MVNOs pay wholesale rates for access to other companies networks. MVNOs then resell that access to their customers. MVNOs sometimes offer service that’s far cheaper than comparable coverage purchased directly from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon.
What are flanker brands?
In the U.S., there are several carriers that operate under their own brand names while being owned by major networks. For example, AT&T is behind Cricket Wireless, T-Mobile is behind Metro, and Verizon is behind Visible. While these carriers that are owned by major networks are sometimes called MVNOs, it may be more accurate to refer to them as flanker brands.
In most cases, carriers that offer service over multiple networks will only work with a single network that a subscriber chooses when signing up.1 Google Fi is a notable exception; Fi-enabled phones can work with multiple networks simultaneously.
On other web pages, I share simpler tables that list MVNOs on individual networks:
Estimates of subscriber numbers are often extremely rough. In many cases, I rely on estimated subscriber numbers Dennis Bournique shares in the operator profiles on predpaidcompare.net.
Some of the links in the list of prepaid carriers and MVNOs are affiliate links. See my transparency page for details about the financial relationships I have with carriers.