mobile prepaid plan comparison 2021
Telecom News

Prepaid Mobile Is Usually Cheaper Than Mobile Plans

June 8, 2021 - Ralf Beyeler

A study of Swiss prepaid mobile offers by independent online comparison service shows that prepaid offers are usually cheaper than mobile plans – even when special promotional offers for mobile plans are accounted for.

Mobile plan or prepaid mobile? When choosing a mobile service, many consumers only account for mobile plans. That is a mistake, because in most cases prepaid offers are significantly cheaper.

Independent online comparison service performed a detailed study to find out whether mobile plans or prepaid mobile offers are the cheaper option. Depending on the mobile user’s profile, prepaid offers can work out as much as 100 francs per year cheaper than mobile plans.

Comparison based on four user profiles

In June 2021, telecom expert Ralf Beyeler used the interactive mobile service comparison to compare the costs of Swiss mobile plans and prepaid offers based on four user profiles (light mobile user, average mobile user, average mobile data user, heavy mobile user). The study compared the costs for the first year, accounting for basic ongoing fees, incidental fees for calls and other services, and one-time costs (SIM card costs, for example). The comparison did not account for plans with very slow data connections of 5 Mbps or less.

Profile 1: Light mobile user

The light user profile is based on a person who makes just five two-minute phone calls per month and uses 200 megabytes of mobile data. Light users take care to connect to Wi-Fi connections for any significant Internet use.

There is a clear winner for this profile: There is just one mobile plan out of the 15 cheapest offers.

The cheapest prepaid offer costs just 51 francs in the first year and comes from Coop Mobile – a joint venture between Swisscom and retailer Coop. The user pays around 4 francs per month. Second place goes to the All in 5 prepaid offer from Yallo – a Sunrise subsidiary – with a cost of 60 francs for the first year. It is followed by a prepaid offer from Salt subsidiary Das ABO with a cost of 74 francs for the first year.

The eight cheapest prepaid offers for light mobile users all cost less than 100 francs for the first year. The cheapest mobile plan costs around 85 francs for the first year – landing it in fifth place for light mobile users. The second-cheapest mobile plan is already notably more expensive at around 157 francs.

Profile 2: Average mobile user

Average mobile users make 30 phone calls per month, with an average length of 3 minutes per call, and uses 2 gigabytes of mobile data.

Prepaid mobile takes the lead for this profile too: Five of the cheapest offers are prepaid mobile.

The cheapest offer for average mobile users comes from ALDI Suisse mobile – a collaboration between Sunrise and retailer ALDI Suisse. A person matching the average mobile user profile would pay 169 francs in the first year – or 14 francs per month. The cheapest mobile plan – not accounting for promotions – costs around 70 percent more at 288 francs.

Profile 3: Average data user

Because many mobile phone users primarily use mobile data and make few or no calls, this profile focuses on data use. The user with this profile makes just one three-minute phone call per month, but uses 2 gigabytes of mobile data.

The cheapest prepaid offer for people matching this user profile is from Mucho Mobile and costs 134.60 francs for the first year. That comes to around 11 francs per month.

Of the 15 cheapest offers for this profile, 14 are prepaid mobile offers. But one mobile plan comes in at third place with a cost of 167 francs for the first year.  

Profile 4: Heavy mobile user

The notion that prepaid mobile is not worth getting if you need unlimited data and calls within Switzerland is widespread. Because of that, the study’s results come as a surprise. While first place for this profile goes to a mobile plan, second place goes to a prepaid mobile offer.

Without accounting for special promotional offers, the cheapest offer (408.40 francs) is a plan from Lidl Connect – a joint venture between Salt and retailer Lidl. In second place is a prepaid mobile offer from Sunrise for 479.90 francs in the first year. Third place is shared by three almost identically priced prepaid mobile offers from Wingo and Yallo – at 480 francs for the first year.

What is surprising is that prepaid offers from Sunrise, Swisscom and Wingo work out cheaper for this user profile than mobile plans from the same service providers. The reason is that Swisscom offers its prepaid mobile users unlimited data and calls for a flat fee which comes to 50 francs per month. Sunrise offers prepaid users unlimited data and calls for 40 francs per month.

Even the biggest mobile service providers have cheaper prepaid than plans

The results are surprising with regards to two of Switzerland’s biggest mobile service providers. In the cases of both Swisscom and Sunrise, prepaid mobile is cheaper than the most affordable mobile plans for all four of the user profiles.

This same pattern can be seen across other mobile service providers as well. But there are also cases for which mobile plans costs less than the most affordable prepaid mobile offers from the same providers.

Even promotional plans are often more expensive than prepaid

Mobile service providers are rolling in special promotional offers. In extreme cases, these promotions knock up to 75 percent off standard price tags. Most of these promotions are for mobile plans, with prepaid mobile promotions being much scarcer. Because special promotional offers change frequently and often run for just a short period of time, they are not accounted for in this study.

But a look at past promotional offers clearly shows that some prepaid mobile offers are often still more affordable than the cheapest special promotional offers.

  • The cheapest special promotional offer for light mobile users in recent months had an advertised price of 7.95 francs per month. This total cost of this bargain offer over one year is 155 francs (including a one-time charge of 60 francs). That is three times as expensive as the cheapest prepaid offer at standard rates.
  • The cheapest promotional offer for average mobile users and average mobile data users in recent months was advertised for 9.95 francs per month. In the first year, the total cost would be 179 francs (including the activation fee). The cheapest prepaid offer for this profile is still cheaper at 135 francs for the first year (average mobile data user) or 169 francs per year (average mobile user).
  • The cheapest recent special promotional offer for heavy mobile users cost 20 francs per month excluding the activation fee. Costing 240 francs for the first year, this offer was clearly cheaper than the cheapest prepaid mobile offer. The same applies to offers from some mobile service providers which advertise prices of 20 francs per month, but add a one-time activation fee of 60 francs.

Useful tips

As a mobile user you should avoid focusing on just prepaid mobile offers or mobile plans. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages. You can find the best tips in the guide to prepaid mobile.

Comparing all prepaid mobile and mobile plan offers based on your specific needs before you settle on a mobile service is always a sensible move. You can easily compare all offers using the interactive mobile service comparison on Differences are major, and also vary based on your personal mobile habits.

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.