reply to wirelessdog
@wirelessdog: the name of the forum is CELLPHONES, providers and plans. That pretty much makes it sound like a forum for phones, at least to the casual viewer...
@DelmarPip: the answer to your question in complicated; with many variables. You named two: available phones and pricing of minutes. But to others the valuable elements might be coverage, or free roaming, or cheap data, or unlimited, or GSM vs CDMA, etc. So, rather than ask a very broad question, make sure we know what you are interested in.
If you live in a major metro area, and rarely leave it, coverage provided by T-Mo and Sprint resellers/MVNOs may be just fine. Heck, even a Clear 4G reseller (ugh). Me, I travel to lots of places where it's pretty much just Verizon and maaaaaybe AT&T. So, like @AMDUSER, I use Page Plus (Verizon MVNO). I used to be on the Standard Plan (paygo) and would buy one $80 PIN that lasted me for a year with minutes at $0.04. If I used minutes only, I got 2000 of them for my $80. Or, I could spend some of that money on $0.05 texts. I eventually graduated to a $12/mo plan that gives me 250min/250txt/10mb data (plenty, as it turns out, to occasionally check email) and now overages are $.0.05/0.05/0.10. Way more than I usually need...
So, "it depends".
Edit to add: re available phones, the phones sold directly by Page Plus aren't too hot. I bought myself a brand-new-in-box Verizon-branded Palm/HP Pre 2 from Amazon. Fantastic smartphone for $65 new. Orphan? Sure. But can I still get any type of app that I would EVER need (weather; tweaks; angry birds, e-readers, fandango, opentable, etc.)? Yup.