Rather than trying to cover every Sprint MVNO, which would make this post very long and boring, I've limited it to listing the most interesting and/or best value ones. Except as noted, plan prices include all taxes and fees except state sales tax.
Sprint itself is a huge player in the prepaid market with its Boost and Virgin Mobile brands. I've included their plans in the table below. For more information about Sprint's prepaid brands see Prepaid Phone News' Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile profile pages.
Chit Chat Mobile (855-440-3464) launched in the fall of 2012. They have BYOSD with the usual caveats (no Palm, BlackBerry, Boost, Virgin or PTT phones). Chit Chat is notable for its $19.99 unlimited talk and text plan. However that low price is marred by high fees including a $15 activation fee and $2.75 month in additional monthly taxes and fees. Plans do not include data but data addons are available. LTE is available with any data addon
EcoMobile (855-825-8855) is another relative newcomer, going live in Oct. 2012. They have BYOSD with the usual limitations. EcoMobile is able to activate Sprint WiMax and LTE phones. LTE works, WiMAX did at one time but reportedly doesn't anymore. EcoMobile has a wide range of plans including a pay as you go plan with good rates, 5¢ voice minutes, 2¢ texts and 10¢/MB data. Unlimited voice messaging and 2.5GB of 3G data is $50/month. EcoMobile's $60/month plan includes 5GB of 4G LTE. For more about EcoMobile see, Ecomobile Revamps Monthly Plans - No More Unlimited Data
Español Mobile (866-265-9473) is one of the newest Sprint MVNOs launching in Nov. 2014. Español Mobile offers a range of monthly plans and has US based customer support in English or Spanish. LTE data is available with all plans.
Expo Mobile (800-818-1597) launched in Sept. 2013. All monthly plans, which start at $19, include unlimited international texts, Expo has 24/7 phone support, no added taxes or fees and BYOSD with working LTE.
FreedomPop's FreedomPhone (no phone support) is a fremium phone service. The free plan includes 500MB of 3G or WiMAX data, 200 voice minutes and 500 texts. Paid options with more minutes, data and texts are available.
FreedomPhone is primarily a data only service. Voice calls use VOIP, which uses the network's data transport rather than the voice channel. A FreedomPop messaging app handles texting.
Kajeet (866-452-5338) Launched in 2006, Kajeet specializes in "smart phones for kids". It's really targeted at parents with parental controls and a GPS phone locator. But you don't have to have children to use Kajeet, especially now that they are offering BYOSD. Kajeet can activate Sprint LTE phones and LTE works on Kajeet. Plans are geared toward light voice and data usage and lots of text messaging. Kajeet is one of the few operators that still offers an unlimited text plan which is $14.99/month and also includes 60 voice minutes. Kajeet adds a 10% transaction fee to the price of all airtime.
NetZero (800-851-7908), a dialup and DSL broadband provider since 1998 began offering Sprint based phone service in November 2014. BYOSD and LTE are available. There's a $20 activation fee for all phones.
Real Mobile ( 877-316-0493) launched Sprint based service in 2013, supports BYOSD with 4G LTE available on all plans.
Red Pocket Mobile (888-993-3888 - English, Spanish, Chinese and Filipino support) which has been an AT&T MVNO since 2006, added Sprint service in December, 2013. It's BYOSD only with support for bringing your own Sprint phone with the usual restrictions. LTE is available, WiMAX is not.
Republic Wireless (email only support) which launched in late 2011, is notable for unlimited voice, SMS and 1 GB of data with free off-network voice and extra cost data roaming, for $25/month plus about $7.50/month in taxes and fees. The low price is made possible in part by custom phone firmware which shifts voice, SMS and data traffic to WiFi, if it's available.
Republic is unique in offering Republic Refund which gives customers a $15/GB credit for unused data.
Republic doesn't offer BYOSD and there's no phone support, only email and a user forum.
RingPlus (310-919-0915) launched in August, 2013 with a unique free ad-supported plan. Early adopters got 300 minutes and 50 texts per month free "for life" in return for listing to ads instead of the usual ringing tones during the time between when a call is placed and the called party or voicemail answers. Even better free plans have been offered recently as limited time promotions
RingPlus' regular plans, which start at $9.99/month (plus taxes averaging 15%) are a good value. RingPlus supports LTE but not WiMAX.
The table below lists only RingPlus' regular plans, for current promotional plans check the RingPlus site or Prepaid Phone News' Current Refill and Plan Deals tracker.
Sprint Prepaid (866-866-7509) is sold through Sprint branded stores, big box retailers like BestBuy and Sprint telesales. Plan choices are similar to those of Boost and Virgin Mobile. The top plan includes unlimited voice and messaging and 6GB of data for $55/month. There's no BYOSD option and handset choices are limited.
Ting (855-846-4389) Launched Feb 2012. BYOSD is available. Sprint WiMAX and LTE phones can be activated with working WiMAX or LTE. Ting also sells LTE phones with working LTE at prices starting around $300. Ting also offers "iconic" devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3 that can't be BYOSD'ed. No-extra cost voice and SMS roaming is included and there is no extra charge for international texts.
Ting is a no-contract, postpaid operator with an unusual pricing model that's sort of a hybrid between pay as you go and a monthly plans. There's a $6 monthly fee plus separate buckets (Ting calls them tiers) of voice minutes, messages and data. There are five tiers for each type of usage. Minute tiers run from $3 for 100 minutes to $52 for 3000. Data tiers are from $3 for 100 MB to $60 for 3 GB. Prices average around 2¢/minute, 1¢/text and 5¢/MB. Ting is a good value for moderate users. The sweet spot seems to be about 75-1000 minutes, 75-1000 messages and under 500 MB of data which costs between $15 and $41 before taxes and fees which run between $1 and $10/month. For more information including details of the Ting pricing model see the Ting site or Prepaid Phone News' Ting Operator Profile.
Here are tables comparing all the plans offered by the operators mentioned.
|FreedomPop||Free||yes||200||500||N/A||500 MB, overage 2.5¢/MB 14|
|Kajeet $4.99||$4.99+ 1||yes||10 (overage 10¢)||10¢||25¢||4/¢MB 2 LTE|
|Español Mobile||$4.99+ 19||yes||30||30||5¢/ea||add-on 20|
|Expo Mobile||$5||yes||100 minutes or texts||100 minutes or texts||N/A||N/A|
|Ting||$6 and up + 3 fees||yes||2¢ 4||1¢ 4, 16||Text + data cost||5¢ / MB 4 |
|FreedomPop||$7.99||no||500||unlimited||500 MB, overage 2.5¢/MB 14|
|RingPlus Sweet||$9.99+ 17||yes||700 overage 2¢/min||300 overage 2¢/ea||4¢/ea||1 GB LTE, overage 2¢/MB|
|Chit Chat Basic||$9.99+ 5||yes||250||unlimited||unlimited $3/mo 13||$5/100MB, |
$10/250MB, $20/600MB, $30/100MB 10
|Republic Wireless||$10+ 6||no||unlimited||unlimited||none||none|
|Español Mobile||$10+ 19||yes||100||100||5¢/ea||add-on 20|
|FreedomPop||$10.99||no||unlimited||unlimited||none||500 MB, overage 2.5¢/MB 14|
|Kajeet 14.99||$14.99+ 1||yes||60||unlimited||25¢||4/¢MB 2 LTE|
|Republic Wireless||$17.50+ 6||no||unlimited||unlimited||none||0.5 GB 7|
|Español Mobile||$17+ 19||yes||400||unlimited||5¢/ea||add-on 20|
|Expo Mobile||$18||yes||500||500||N/A||200 MB @ 256 Kbps|
|Expo Mobile||$19||yes||500||unlimited 16||N/A||N/A|
|RingPlus Cherry||$19.99+ 17||yes||unlimited||unlimited||4¢/ea||2 GB LTE, overage 2¢/MB|
|Chit Chat Unlimited||$19.99+ 5||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited $3/mo 13||$5/100MB, |
$10/250MB, $20/600MB, $30/100MB 10
|Kajeet 19.99||$19.99+ 1||yes||150||unlimited||unlimited||4/¢MB 2 LTE|
|Virgin Mobile payLo Talk 10||$20||no||400||15¢||25¢||$1.50/MB|
|NetZero Talk & Text||$24/3 months||yes||100||100||N/A||N/A|
|Kajeet $24.99||$24.99+ 1||yes||500||unlimited||unlimited||500 MB 2 LTE|
|Virgin Mobile Talk & Text||$25||no||500||unlimited||unlimited||none|
|NetZero Basic||$25||yes||500||1000 (SMS & MMS)||1000 (SMS & MMS)||100 MB|
|Republic Wireless||$25+ 6||no||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||1 GB 7|
|Español Mobile||$25+ 19||yes||unlimited||unlimited||5¢/ea||add-on 20|
|Red Pocket||$29.99||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||500 MB slow 15|
|RingPlus Dolce||$29.99+ 17||yes||unlimited||unlimited||4¢/ea||3 GB LTE, overage 2¢/MB|
|Virgin Mobile payLo Talk &Text 10||$30||no||1500||1500||25¢||30 MB|
|EcoMobile Talk & Text||$30||yes||unlimited||unlimited||none||none|
|Real Mobile||$30||yes||unlimited||unlimited 16||100||250 MB, including LTE, WiMAX 18|
|Español Mobile||$30+ 19||yes||unlimited||unlimited||5¢/ea||500 MB 20|
|Expo Mobile||$30||yes||unlimited||unlimited 16||none||N/A|
|Red Pocket||$34.99||yes||300||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited 2 GB HS 15 LTE|
|Kajeet $34.99||$34.99 + 1||yes||1000||unlimited||unlimited||1 GB 2 LTE|
|Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk||$35||no||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited 1 GB HS 9|
|Sprint Prepaid||$35||no||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited 1 GB HS 9|
|Boost Mobile Monthly Unlimited||$35 ($30 with auto-pay)||limited 8||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited 2 - 5 GB 11 HS 9 LTE|
|NetZero Pro||$39||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited, 1GB HS 9|
|RingPlus Ruby||$39.99+ 17||yes||unlimited||unlimited||4¢/ea||4 GB LTE, overage 2¢/MB|
|ChitChat||$39.99+ 5||yes||250||unlimited||unlimited $3/mo 13||3 GB 3G|
|Expo Mobile||$40||yes||unlimited||unlimited 16||unlimited||1 GB|
|Virgin Mobile payLo Unlimited Talk & Text 10||$40||no||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||50 MB|
|EcoMobile Talk, Text and 3G Data||$40||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||500 MB, no LTE|
|Republic Wireless||$40+ 6||no||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||2 GB 7|
|Real Mobile||$40||yes||unlimited||unlimited 16||100||unlimited, 1 GB HS, including LTE 18|
|ChitChat||$44.99+ 5||yes||250||unlimited||unlimited $3/mo 13||3 GB LTE|
|Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk||$45||no||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||3 GB 9 LTE|
|Boost Mobile Monthly Unlimited||$45||limited 8||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited 5 - 8 GB 11 HS 9 LTE|
|Sprint Prepaid||$45||no||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited 3 GB HS 9|
|Español Mobile||$45+ 19||yes||unlimited||unlimited||5¢/ea||2 GB 20|
|Red Pocket||$49.99||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||1 GB HS 15 LTE|
|Kajeet $49.99||$49.99 + 1||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||2 GB 2 LTE|
|RingPlus Crème||$49.99+ 17||yes||unlimited||unlimited||4¢/ea||5 GB LTE, overage 2¢/MB|
|ChitChat||$49.99+ 5||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited $3/mo 13||3 GB 3G|
|Expo Mobile||$50||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||2 GB 12|
|EcoMobile Talk, Text and 3G Data||$50||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||2.5 GB, no LTE|
|ChitChat||$54.99+ 5||yes||250||unlimited||unlimited $3/mo 13||3 GB LTE|
|Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk||$55||no||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited 8 GB HS 9 LTE|
|Sprint Prepaid||$55||no||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited 6 GB HS 9|
|NetZero Platinum||$55||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited, 2GB HS 9|
|Real Mobile||$55||yes||unlimited||unlimited 16||100||unlimited, 2 GB HS, including LTE 18|
|Red Pocket||$59.99||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||3 GB HS 15 LTE|
|Boost Mobile Monthly Unlimited||$60||limited 8||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited, unthrottled LTE|
|Real Mobile||$60||yes||unlimited||unlimited 16||100||unlimited, 3 GB HS, including LTE 18|
|Expo Mobile||$60||yes||unlimited||unlimited 16||unlimited||Unlimited, throttled after 3.5 GB 12|
|EcoMobile Talk, Text and 4G Data||$60||yes||unlimited||unlimited||unlimited||5GB including LTE|
2 Kajeet: Additional data available: 50 MB/$4.99/mo, 500 MB/$14.99/mo, 1 GB/$24.99/mo
3 Ting: Taxes and fees run from $1 - $10 month
4 Ting: average prices based on using half the middle tier of minutes, texts and data
5 Chit Chat $15 activation fee, $2.75/month taxes and fees on all plans.
6 Republic adds about 10-30% in taxes and fees on all plans.
7 Republic: Customer receives credit for unused data. Additional data available at $15 per GB or $7.50 for 0.5 GB.
8 Boost: BYOSD is limited to 25 non-smartphones and three very old Android models (HTC Hero, Samsung Moment and Intercept). See the Boost Mobile Profile page for a list.
9 Data is throttled to 128 Kbps or less for the rest of the plan month after the high speed (HS) allotment is used up.
10 3G data only with base plan, $5/month extra for LTE
11 Boost Mobile plans with growing data. For every three on-time payments, the customer gets an additional 500 MB going forward, up to 3 GB of growing data after 18 on-time payments.
12 Expo unlimited data is throttled to 128 Kbps after 3.5 GB
13 Chit Chat: MMS requires both the $3 MMS plan and a data plan.
14 FreedomPop; $19.99 BYOP activation fee. For an extra $9.99/month you can upgrade any of the plans to 1 GB of data per month with 1¢/MB overage data. Visual Voicemail is available as a $2.49/month add-on.
15 Red Pocket throttled (slow) data speed is 64-128 Kbps
16 International texts included
17 RingPlus taxes and fees average 20% and are charged in states like California and New Hampshire that don't normally tax prepaid airtime.
18 Real Mobile: additional data 500 MB for $10
19 Español Mobile adds taxes and fees to airtime purchases. In California, taxes and fees on the $30 plan are $4.81 (16.04%)
20 Español Mobile add-ons (called "Recharge" on the Español website) good for 30 days, no rollover :
Talk minutes: $23 unlimited, $18 750, $13 500, $7 250, $4 100, $1.50 30, overage 3¢/min
Texts: $10 unlimited, $7 750, $5 500, $3 250, $2 100, 75¢ 30. overage texts 2¢/ea
Data: $44 2 GB, $34 1,5GB, $23 1 GB, $18 750 MB, $13 500 MB. $7 250 MB, 1.50 30 MB. overage data 5¢/MB
Pay as You Go: $15 3¢ min, 2¢/text, 3¢/MB; $10 4¢ min, 3¢/text, 4¢/MB; $5 5¢ min, 4¢/text, 5¢/MB.
|Operator / Plan||Minimum Monthly Cost||Minutes||Texts||MMS||Data|
|Real Mobile Pay As You Go||$2.50 ($10/120 days) or $1.66 ($20/yr)||5¢||5¢||N/A||5¢/MB|
|Expo Mobile Pay As You Go 1||$3.33 ($10/90 days)||2¢||2¢||5¢||5¢/MB|
|Red Pocket PayGo||$8.33 ($25/90 days)||10¢||10¢||10¢||none|
|EcoMobile Pay As You Go||$10 ($10/30 days)||5¢||2¢||10¢||10¢/MB|
Sprint now allows its MVNOs to activate any Sprint postpaid phone except BlackBerrys, Palm OS and WebOS phones. Boost Mobile, Sprint Mobile and Virgin Mobile phones are also allowed, provided they have been used on the service for which they were sold for at least 12 months.
However all BYOSP phones must pass a Sprint "Financial Eligibility Check" (FEC) which is supposed to block phones whose current or previous owner owes money to Sprint. Unfortunately, the FEC has lots of issues. Most phones are failing to pass, even brand new iPhones from the Apple Store and Nexus phones from the Google Play Store that have never been used on Sprint. I've heard estimates that up to 50% of used Sprint phones from eBay or Swappa are also failing the FEC check. See Updated: Sprint MVNO BYOSP is Badly Broken and Sprint Partially Fixes the BYOSP Mess It Created for more about the FEC issues.
The Coverage Question
Sprint, like T-Mobile, has a much smaller network than AT&T or Verizon. Service is available in cities and most medium sized and some small towns and along major interstates. Boost, Virgin Mobile and most Sprint MVNOs do not offer roaming. the few that do are:
Republic: Extensive free voice and extra cost data roaming.
Ting: Voice and SMS only roaming
Sprint Prepaid: 50 minutes per month of voice roaming
Here are a couple of maps comparing Boost Mobile Prepaid's coverage, which doesn't include roaming with that of Sprints's, which does. Ting (voice only), Republic coverage is similar to the Sprint Postpaid map. The other MVNOs, Sprint Prepaid and Virgin Mobile have coverage identical to Boost's. Click the links below the maps to view full sized interactive version that let you zoom in to see block level coverage.
Boost Mobile Prepaid
Sprint Postpaid including roaming
Recommendations: Virgin and Boost Mobile are leaders in the unlimited monthly plan space. They have some of the most affordable monthly unlimited plans in the business, better than average customer support and a large selection of affordable, subsided smartphones in every price range except the high end where their only current flagship is the iPhone 5S. It's hard for MVNOs to compete against Sprint itself in the unlimited arena. If you need gigabytes of data or truly unlimited voice and texting and are OK with Sprint native coverage, Boost or Virgin Mobile are hard to beat.
The best of the MVNOs do compete effectively against Boost and Virgin for some types of usage:
Pay as you go: Boost and Virgin Mobile no longer offer pay as you go plans to new customers. Red Pocket and EcoMobile do and have much lower per minute and per message rates than Boost and Virgin Mobile ever did and Ecomobile also has relatively affordable pay per use data. Republic, RingPlus, FreedomPop and Ting aren't don't offer traditional pay as you go plans but they are competitive at the low priced end of the market where pay as you go is dominant.
Roaming: Ting (voice only),and Republic (voice and data) have it, the other MVNOs. Boost, Sprint Prepaid and Virgin Mobile don't.
BYOSP: Sprint has imposed strict financial eligibility checks on BYOSP activations. Prospective BYOSP customers need to check that the ESN or MEID of any phone they intend to buy passes either the Ting ESN checker, RingPlus checker or FreedomPop checker. Other checkers, may not have been updated to be aware of Sprint's new financial eligibility requirements.
Updated 26-Oct-2015: Sprint Prepaid adds unlimited throttled data to all plans.