A large number of companies offer no-contract cell phone plans as of 2015, including major carriers such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint, AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile. Companies specializing in no-contract cell phones include Virgin Mobile, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS and TracFone.
Most no-contract phones are prepaid phones, meaning that customers pay for the amount of cellular minutes and data access before the plan month begins. Many prepaid providers allow customers to pay for additional minutes or start a new month if they run out of minutes or data before the end of the plan month. Other no-contract phones are sold as post-paid phones; these phones are billed similarly to wireless phones on contract, but customers are not required to maintain service for any specific length of time.
No-contract phones are often only a generation behind the phones offered by contract carriers, with some prepaid providers offering newly-released phones as soon as they are available. The major drawback to most no-contract plans is the need to purchase a phone up front, which can be a significant expense for the latest phones. Additionally, not all phones can transfer from one provider to another due to differences in network infrastructure between cell networks, so a phone used on one network might not work with a different no-contract provider even if the no-contract provider supports its own version of the same device.