Best Prepaid Wireless Internet 2022

Use our research to help you find the best prepaid internet deals.

Home internet is a must-have these days, but if you’re not interested in a traditional service contract or don’t want to deal with a credit check, consider looking at prepaid internet plans. With a prepaid internet plan, you won’t have the fastest internet speeds, but you’ll get flat-rate and pay-as-you-go pricing.

Many major internet service providers (ISP) offer prepaid internet plans alongside their standard internet plans. Let’s break down the biggest pros and cons when it comes to prepaid wireless internet plans.

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Prepaid wireless internet plans

ISPs like Cox and Xfinity have a handful of prepaid internet options available. Although they’re far from the best plans, you’ll get decent internet speeds and bundled hardware for an affordable price. Check out our internet speed guide and prepaid internet walkthrough if you’re shopping for internet for the first time.

Cox StraightUp Internet

Price:
$50.00/mo.
Download speeds:
Up to 100 Mbps
Upload speeds:
Up to 3 Mbps
Data cap:
1.25 TB
Contract:
N/A

Cox StraightUp Internet is as straightforward as its name. With the plan, you’ll get 50 Mbps download speeds, a lengthy three-year price guarantee, and a bundled combo modem/Wi-Fi router.

Comparing Cox internet plans

Cox package Price Max download speeds Details
Internet Essential 50 $49.99/mo.* 100 Mbps View Plan
StraightUp Internet $50.00/mo. 100 Mbps View Plan
Internet Preferred 250 $59.99/mo.* 250 Mbps View Plan

*For 12 mos. w/ 1-yr. term agrmt.

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

With StraightUp Internet, you’ll be paying slightly more compared to Cox’s standard plans during your first year, but you’ll also avoid Cox’s second-year price hike (around $15 to $28). Cox’s bundled equipment is also a nice add-on to help lower the sticker shock—you’ll have to pay extra for equipment on Verizon and Xfinity.

We’d recommend Cox StraightUp Internet if you’re looking for prepaid internet that’s easy to set up. Although Cox StraightUp costs $5 more monthly compared to Xfinity’s prepaid plan, you’ll also get a longer price guarantee and a bundled modem (you’ll still need to pick up a router for Wi-Fi).

Visit our Cox internet review to learn more about StraightUp Internet and Cox’s standard internet plans.

Xfinity Prepaid Internet

Price:
$15.00–$45.00/mo.
Download speeds:
Up to 50 Mbps
Upload speeds:
Up to 10 Mbps
Data cap:
1 TB
Contract:
N/A

Xfinity’s Prepaid Internet program makes customers jump through a few more hoops compared to competing prepaid internet plans.

With Xfinity Prepaid Internet, you’ll get one week of internet service for $15 or pay $45 for 30 days of service. On top of this base rate, you’ll also have to pay $35 for a combo modem/router. Although Xfinity’s upfront hardware costs are a pain, you’ll be saving $5 monthly compared to Cox’s StraightUp Internet.

We’d recommend Xfinity Prepaid Internet if your house uses the internet only for emails or YouTube videos and if you’re interested in long-term budget internet service. Thanks to Xfinity Prepaid Internet’s flat-rate pricing, you’ll have the same bill every month and won’t be subject to Xfinity’s standard second-year price hike.

Check out our Xfinity Prepaid Internet review for a full breakdown of the service.

Don’t wanna be locked to a contract?

Read our best no-contract internet providers guide for the best internet plans that don’t require a one-year agreement.

Verizon Fios Prepaid

Price:
$39.99–$79.99/mo.
Download speeds:
Up to 100–940 Mbps
Upload speeds:
Up to 100–940 Mbps
Data cap:
Unlimited
Contract:
N/A

Verizon’s Fios Prepaid packages are slightly slower than its standard Fios plans and—for the most part—you’ll be paying around the same price for slower internet speeds. Verizon Fios has 300 Mbps, 500 Mbps, and 940 Mbps plans compared to Fios Prepaid’s 100 Mbps, 300 Mbps, and 940 Mbps packages.

Comparing Verizon internet plans

Verizon Fios Prepaid package Price Max download speeds Details
100 Mbps $39.99/mo. 100 Mbps View Plan
300 Mbps $59.99/mo. 300 Mbps View Plan
Gigabit Connection $79.99/mo. 940 Mbps View Plan

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

With Fios Prepaid, you’ll get far better download speeds compared to Xfinity or Cox thanks to Verizon’s fiber internet network. Fiber internet has faster download speeds and better reliability compared to cable ISPs.

But considering that Verizon’s standard Fios plans are also no-contract, it makes the value of Fios Prepaid a little muddy. If you can get Verizon’s 300 Mbps plan for $39.99 monthly, why would you downgrade to Fios Prepaid’s 100 Mbps plan for the same price?

We’d recommend Fios Prepaid if you need fast internet speeds and don’t want to do a credit check for internet service. Check out our Verizon Fios review to learn more about Verizon fiber internet.

Prepaid mobile hotspot plans

Mobile hotspots can work in a pinch for prepaid wireless internet, but we wouldn’t suggest making them your home’s primary internet option.

4G speeds are much slower than most cable internet plans, and hotspot data caps are much smaller than those on major ISP plans. In most situations, you can expect maximum download speeds of around 20 to 30 Mbps on 4G. If more than a few people are using the internet at once, your internet connection will quickly choke.

Still, a mobile hotspot can be a potential option if you’re traveling cross country, need short-term internet access, or live by yourself and don’t want to sign up with traditional cable internet provider.

Best prepaid mobile hotspot plans

Provider Hardware price Data cap options Download type Details
Verizon Prepaid $59.99
  • 5 GB–$40.00/mo.

  • 25 GB–$60.00/mo.

  • 100 GB–$80.00/mo.

  • 150 GB–$100.00/mo.
4G View on Best Buy
Simple Mobile $49.99
  • 15 GB–$34.99/mo.
  • 40 GB–$50.00/mo.
4G View on Best Buy
AT&T $249.99
  • 20 GB–$25.00/mo.*

  • 15 GB–$50.00/mo.
4G/5G View plans
T-Mobile $336.00
  • 2 GB–$10.00/mo.

  • 5 GB–$20.00/mo.

  • 10 GB–$30.00/mo.

  • 30 GB–$40.00/mo.

  • 50 GB–$50.00/mo.
4G/5G View plans

*When you pay in advance for 12 months.

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Interested in free internet?

Visit our free and low-income internet guide to learn more about free internet programs and see if you qualify for affordable internet service.

What to look for

Prepaid internet plans are designed for convenience, but they’re not without their limitations. Here’s what you need to know if you’re looking into prepaid internet service.

Download speeds

Generally, prepaid internet plans have middling download speeds. For example, Xfinity’s prepaid plans top out at 50 Mbps. At this speed, you’ll run into problems if more than two people want to use the internet at once. If you’re getting internet service for a whole family, you may need to upgrade to a non-prepaid plan.

Check out our internet speed guide if you need help figuring out your home’s ideal internet plan.

Contract-free internet

One of prepaid internet’s traditional advantages has been contract-free plans, but many ISPs have stopped using contracts that lock you in with an expensive early termination fee. It’s not a coincidence that Cox and Xfinity are among the few ISPs that still have contract internet plans.

Thankfully, prepaid plans don’t have the scheduled second-year price increase that’s commonplace for most internet plans. Cox even offers a three-year price guarantee on its StraightUp Internet plan. Still, if you’re looking for contract-free internet service, you don’t have to limit your search to prepaid internet plans.

Final take

Prepaid internet plans are convenient, but for better or worse, you’ll get what you prepay for. Don’t expect the best internet performance, but if you’re looking for the cheapest possible internet service that doesn’t require a credit check, you’ll want to look at a prepaid internet plan.

Methodology

We spent several days analyzing the top prepaid internet plans from major US ISPs. Our analysis focused on areas including cost, data caps, and availability from major retailers.

For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.

Prepaid wireless internet FAQ

Are there prepaid cards for wireless internet?

ISPs like Xfinity and Cox don’t offer cards for their prepaid wireless internet plans, but you can go into a store to extend your internet plan. But if you’re shopping for a prepaid mobile hotspot, you’ll be able to get a prepaid card from providers like Simple Mobile.

Is Xfinity Prepaid Internet wireless?

You can get wireless internet with Xfinity Prepaid Internet. Xfinity offers a modem/router combo that’ll provide wireless internet coverage in your home.

Is there any prepaid Wi-Fi?

Some providers, like Verizon and Xfinity, offer prepaid internet service that includes a Wi-Fi router for wireless internet service.

Can I use Xfinity Prepaid Internet anywhere?

You can use Xfinity Prepaid Internet anywhere within your home thanks to Xfinity’s combo router/modem. If you’re located within the range of your Xfinity router, you’ll have internet access.

But if you’re outside of your house, you can’t use Xfinity Prepaid Internet. Xfinity Prepaid customers won’t have access to features like Xfinity’s Wi-Fi hotspot network.

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