Abstract art about the idea of updates

Verizon’s Updates To Prepaid Plans

Verizon recently updated the structure of its prepaid plans. This update was needed. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, Verizon’s old structure for prepaid plans was confusing and difficult for consumers to make sense of.

Main new phone plans

Verizon now offers three primary prepaid phone plans. All three plans come with unlimited minutes and texts. The plans vary in their monthly data allotments:

  • Unlimited – $65 base price
  • 15GB – $50 base price
  • 5GB – $40 base price

Several discounts are available. Customers that enroll in automatic payments can save $5 per line each month after the first month of service. Verizon has also introduced loyalty discounts on these plans. After three months of service, a $5 per line discount kicks in each month. The loyalty discount jumps to $10 per line each month after nine months of service.

Here are the monthly prices a long-term customer eligible for all the discounts would end up paying (before taxes and fees):

  • Unlimited – $50
  • 15GB – $35
  • 5GB – $25

Verizon has dropped the multi-line discounts it used to offer on prepaid accounts with more than one line.

Other plans

Verizon offers a somewhat-hidden talk and text plan (no high-speed data) with a base price of $35 per month. The plan is eligible for the automatic payments discount but is not eligible for loyalty discounts.

Three data plans are available for tablet and hotspot devices. Customers on these plans are eligible for a $5 per month autopay discount.

  • 6GB – $40 base price
  • 16GB – $50 base price
  • 30GB – $70 base price

Switching promo

Verizon is offering an online-only promo on the 15GB plan. Customers that switch to the plan can get a $60 bill credit. Here are the terms:[1]

Requires new port in phone activation. Must be active on a 15 GB or Unlimited Verizon Prepaid plan for the first 2 months. $60 service credit applied to Account Owner immediately after 2nd monthly plan payment. Offer not available for tablets or Jetpacks.
Picture of a confused person looking at bills

Verizon Prepaid’s Confusing & Awesome Promotions

Verizon Prepaid is offering some great deals right now. Notably, a single-line plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 16GB of data is now available for as low as $35 per month.

Multiple promotions and discounts are stacking on top of each other. This has been baffling for some consumers. A price calculator on Verizon’s website that fails to take some of the promotions into account has contributed to the confusion.

To sort things out, I’m going to run through the promotions and discounts one by one.

Double data

For about a year, Verizon has been running a double data promotion. The prepaid plans regular allotments of data have been doubled at no extra charge:

  • The usual 500MB plan become a 1GB plan
  • The usual 3GB plan became a 6GB plan
  • The usual 8GB plan became a 16GB plan

Auto Pay discount

Customers who sign up for Auto Pay can get a $5 per month discount. This discount is only available (a) after the first month of service and (b) on lines of service with base prices of at least $40 per month.

Multi-line discounts

On multi-line plans, Verizon offers discounts on added lines. These discounts do not apply to the first line on a plan. The size of the discount depends on the data allotment subscribers opt for:

  • 1GB: No discount
  • 6GB: $10 per month discount
  • 16GB: $15 per month discount
  • Unlimited: $20 per month discount

$10 off first line

A recent, online-only promotion offers $10 per month off the first line of service on either a 16GB or unlimited plan. This discount only applies after the first month of service.

Examples

A single-line on the 16GB plan has a base price of $50. In the first month, no discounts apply. After the first month, the $5 Auto Pay discount and the $10 discount on the first line of service come into effect. As a result, the ongoing price (before taxes and fees) comes out to $35 per month.

Two-lines of service on the 16GB plan would cost $85 in the first month ($50 for the first line and $35 for the second line thanks to a $15 multi-line discount). After the first month, the ongoing rate would fall to $65 per month (the $10 discount on the first line would kick in along with two $5 Auto Pay discounts).

Commentary

$35 for a single-line with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 16GB of data on Verizon’s extensive network is a great deal. If Verizon wants to make its prepaid plans easier for consumers to understand, I see a few steps it could take:

  • Fix the price calculator to include a $10 discount on the first line of service if a 16GB or unlimited plan is selected.
  • Keep the current pricing and data allotments but drop all the complexity of double data. Forget having a 3GB plan that actually comes with a 6GB data allotment. Just call that a 6GB plan.
  • Let the Auto Pay discount kick in for the first month if customers set it up Auto Pay immediately.
Cell phone in use

AT&T Prepaid 8GB Promo Plan

Disclosure: At the time of writing, I have a financial relationship with AT&T. However, I don’t believe I receive commissions on prepaid service plans.


AT&T recently began offering its prepaid plan with 8GB of data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts for only $300 ($25 per month) for those who are willing to purchase 360 days of service upfront. According to AT&T, this promotion is a limited time offer that’s set to end on October 21, 2019.

If you’re willing to purchase nearly a year of service all at once, this is an awfully good deal for a large data allotment on AT&T’s network. My own experience with AT&T’s prepaid service when I trialed it a few months ago was positive.

The $300 base price may not be the final price of 360 days of service. If you need to order a SIM card, that comes with an additional charge. When I went through the checkout process and indicated that I needed a SIM card shipped to Boulder, CO, my final price came to $305.43:

  • $300 for service
  • $4.99 for a SIM card
  • $0.44 in sales tax

In the grand scheme of things, the final price was awfully close to the base price. With a lot of carriers, I’d expect to see more extensive taxes and fees beyond the base price of service.

Additional details about the AT&T plan:

  • Mobile hotspot access is included. Hotspot use draws from regular data allowances.
  • Rollover data is included (only one month of unused data will rollover).
  • AT&T’s Sponsored Data deal is offered. Certain types of data use won’t count against monthly data allotments.

Comparison with Mint Mobile’s pricing

At $25 per month, a year of AT&T prepaid service with 8GB of data is competitive with the cost of a year of Mint Mobile’s 8GB service. Mint Mobile currently charges $20 per month on annual 8GB plans. Taking advantage of a current promotion, customers can get six months of Mint Mobile service for only $60.

While Mint Mobile continues to offer a lower monthly price, it may make sense for many people to spend a few extra dollars each month to access AT&T’s network. At the national level, AT&T’s network offers more extensive coverage than Mint Mobile’s service over T-Mobile’s network.

Verizon’s Double Data Promo on Prepaid Plans

Earlier this month, Verizon improved its prepaid plan offerings by relaunching the double data promotion it has run in the past. As before, all of prepaid phone plans include unlimited talk and text. Plans differ in the amount of high-speed data allotted each month. Here are the current monthly prices for each plan before taxes, fees, or discounts:[1]

  • $30 – 1GB high-speed data
  • $40 – 6GB high-speed data
  • $50 – 16GB high-speed data
  • $65 – Unlimited high-speed data

Streaming video will likely be limited to 480p quality on Verizon’s prepaid plans. Unlimited data at low (2G) speeds is available if a customer uses up all of his or her allotted high-speed data.

Discounts

A $5 per month per line discount is usually available if subscribers pay automatically each month. The discount cannot be applied to the $30 per month plan or the first month of service.

When an initial line is purchased at full price, the following multiline discounts are available:[2]

  • $10 off — Additional line with 6GB high-speed data
  • $15 off — Additional line with 16GB high-speed data
  • $20 off — Additional line with unlimited high-speed data

Terms

The current deals appear to be part of a temporary promotion, but I haven’t seen any indication of an end date for the promotion. When the promotion ends, it looks like customers who’ve already taken advantage of the promotion will continue to receive the deal for the lifetime of their plan:

Limited time offer. Available to new activations only. Bonus data added each month as long as your account remains active. Once activated, customers can move between eligible plans anytime and keep the bonus data. Your promotional data allowance will not appear in your shopping cart, but will be seen in your account after activation.

My thoughts

I’m not aware of any mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) operating on Verizon’s network offering better deals to heavy data-users than Verizon is now offering directly. However, consumers that use small amounts of data each month may still be able to find better deals with MVNOs operating over Verizon’s network.

I’ve been trying Verizon’s prepaid service for a few weeks now, and I’m a fan. While Verizon’s prepaid subscribers may be deprioritized in times of congestion, I believe the prepaid service offers nearly the same coverage as Verizon’s postpaid service.

Potential bias

I have a financial relationship with Verizon. As of 5/28/2019, I’m likely to receive a $24 commission when I refer a new prepaid subscriber to Verizon. I share more details about my relationship with Verizon here.