April 25, 2024

Benjamin Better

Better Get Computer

Best Prepaid Internet Providers 2021 | No Contract

Popular Internet Service Providers

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that many low-income households in the U.S. either didn’t have internet at all or relied on free access provided through schools and businesses. If you’re accustomed to accessing the internet from home, you may not think of the service as an amenity or a scarce commodity. However, setting up internet service can require a credit check, equipment fees, and installation costs that can seem daunting – perhaps even more so if you have a low or fixed income. To address this issue, the Federal Communications Commission implemented the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help eligible low-income families who are struggling to afford broadband internet. The program helps provide access to the internet through prepaid services, which may include more flexible, lower-cost plans.

Keep reading to learn more about plans from Xfinity Internet and Cox, the two companies to make our Best Prepaid Internet Service Providers of 2021 rating. Other companies, such as Verizon and CenturyLink, also offer prepaid plans.

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Best Prepaid Internet Service Providers of 2021

Xfinity Internet  »

Xfinity Internet

Best Overall

Monthly Cost
$45 and Up
Connection Type
Fiber, Cable
Download Speed
50 Mbps – 2,000 Mbps
Internet, TV, Phone, or Home Security

Xfinity: Xfinity Internet is owned by Comcast and has 33 million internet subscribers. It serves most of the U.S., although it doesn’t have much of a presence in the Midwest. Xfinity provides mostly cable internet but has two plans that include fiber. Costs begin at $45 for its prepaid plan and increase to $299 for its Gigabit top-tiered fiber plan. It places No. 1 in our Best Prepaid Internet Service Providers of 2021 and is the Best Internet Service Provider of 2021.

Cox Internet  »

Cox Internet844-913-7278
Monthly Cost
$44.99 and Up
Connection Type
Fiber, Cable
Download Speed
25 Mbps – 940 Mbps
Internet, TV, Phone, or Automation/Security

Cox: Cox has been in the internet space for more than 50 years. It provides cable and fiber options to 19 states with coverage in the West, Midwest, Southeast, and a few states in the Northeast. Cox ranks No. 2 in our Best Prepaid Internet Service Providers of 2021 rating. Its prepaid internet plan starts at $50 per month, and its top-level Gigablast plan costs $119.99.

A prepaid internet service provider offers internet service that is paid upfront before the service is delivered. Many of the providers in our ratings of the Best Prepaid Internet Service Providers of 2021 and the Best Internet Service Providers of 2021 allow customers to get internet access if they would not normally be able to. In particular, Xfinity, Cox, Verizon, Suddenlink, and CenturyLink offer plans that do not require a credit check or monthly agreement. Some of these plans also do not require a deposit. Instead, plans are paid every month or as you use the service. They may offer a modem as a part of the package or allow you to lease or buy one. Pricing for prepaid services depends on the provider, location, and speed.

Companies that make our Best Prepaid Internet Service Providers of 2021 rating offer DSL, cable, and fiber. Neither of the two major satellite internet providers – HughesNet and Viasat – offers prepaid plans. Although they didn’t make our best prepaid rating, Verizon and CenturyLink (No. 2 and No. 7 on our Best Internet Service Providers of 2021 rating, respectively) both include prepaid options. Verizon offers DSL and fiber, while CenturyLink offers DSL and fiber plans as well. If you need to connect to the internet and are unable to enroll in a prepaid service contract, look at cell phone plans with a large allocation of hotspot data.

Companies in our Best Prepaid Internet Service Providers of 2021 rating offer prepaid and pay-as-you-go internet services from $45 to $50 per month. Other providers such as CenturyLink and Verizon charge from $49.99 up to $80 per month for prepaid plans. Xfinity’s Prepaid Internet costs $45 for 30 days of internet and includes download speeds of up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps). There is a $35 one-time fee for the modem you will need to connect. You can also purchase service through Xfinity for just seven days of internet access.

Cox will provide you with a month-to-month internet plan starting at $50 per month and that includes the Wi-Fi modem. They do require you to make your payments on time to keep the rate at $50. The plan is contract-free and includes download speeds of up to 25 Mbps.

Verizon Fios offers three pay-as-you-go plans: $39.99 per month for 100 Mbps, $59.99 per month for 300 Mbps, and $79.99 per month for up to 940 Mbps download speed and 800 Mbps upload speed. Verizon charges $199 for the router and $99.99 for the setup, but they will give you a $79.99 credit for your first month of service. Autopay and paperless billing are required.

CenturyLink offers its Price For Life plan for a limited time. The plan is month-to-month and remains the same price no matter how long you keep it. You can get up to 100 Mbps for $49 per month or up to 940 Mbps for $65 per month. Speeds advertised aren’t available in all areas, and you need to set up paperless billing to get the monthly rate. You must also purchase or lease a modem to get the service.

Prepaid internet service allows customers to get service who are not interested in a term agreement or a contract for financial reasons Because many prepaid packages tend to include equipment for getting set up quickly, prepaid services can help extend internet options to more customers. For the service to work, customers pay upfront before receiving the service. Some of the plans offered through companies in our ratings are not true prepaid services but are month-to-month ones that can be canceled at any time.

If you have a set income and do not wish to be subject to a credit check or sign a contract for internet service, then a prepaid internet plan may be for you. Depending on which provider is available in your area, you can select from DSL, cable, or fiber internet plans that you pay for upfront. Some plans do not require a deposit, and the equipment cost can be included as well. One key feature of prepaid internet is that there aren’t typically any extra fees. This works well if you have a set income or want to better control where your money goes.

The right prepaid internet service provider for you will depend on which service is available in your area, what kind of internet activities you perform, and how much you can budget for internet service each month. Use these steps to narrow down and choose a company and plan:

  1. Which companies provide service in your area? Check our local city guides if you need help.
  2. Which types of internet options are available through a provider you are considering? Can you choose DSL, satellite, cable, fiber, or a hybrid?
  3. For which activities will you use the internet? For example, streaming high-definition videos and gaming may require more bandwidth than browsing the internet, streaming music, or video conferencing.
  4. How many people will access the internet at once? The more devices or appliances that will use the internet, the more bandwidth you will likely need.
  5. What amount can you budget each month? Keep in mind that a prepaid service is paid upfront before receiving access to the service.
  6. Is the internet service provider reliable?
  7. How can you contact customer service if you have a problem with your internet connection? Does the internet service provider have 24/7 customer support or an online help center?
  8. Compare plans that include the speed and cost you can afford, and then choose the best fit for you.

  1. Decide what you need the internet service for and how much money you can spend.
  2. If you are interested in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, visit the website for more information on the application process and participating broadband providers.
  3. Check to see which providers are available in your area. If you are not sure you can visit our guides and local pages to see which providers come up.
  4. Visit the website for the company and search for a prepaid internet plan. Follow the steps on the website to initiate your service.

To see which providers are available in your area visit our local pages.

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Other Products to Consider

In addition to the companies in our rating of the Best Internet Service Providers, here are some others to consider:

We explain what matters when it comes to internet service by sourcing experts and professional reviewers. Then we provide an unbiased evaluation of internet service providers. Our goal is to empower consumers with the information and tools they need to make informed decisions. More information about our 360 Reviews methodology for evaluating internet service providers is here.

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