8 Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans That Will Save You Money

Looking for a extra dependable strategy to scale back your mobile phone invoice? It may very well be time so that you can change wi-fi carriers.

Fortunately, low-cost mobile phone plans abound. Prepaid plans usually value lower than month-to-month plans, particularly in case your utilization is low. And a lot of price range carriers supply cheaper protection, some whereas working as subsidiaries of the “Big Three”  — Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile — or utilizing these firms’ networks as online-only “mobile virtual network operators” (MVNOs).

Read on for our checklist of the most effective low-cost mobile phone plans in the marketplace as we speak.

Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans

These are the most effective low-cost mobile phone plans out there proper now. 

Each excels at one explicit factor, whether or not it’s providing favorable pricing for folks keen to pay for six or 12 months of service upfront or holding vacationers related in distant areas. Our high total choose, T-Mobile Connect, affords a really perfect mixture of affordable pricing, limitless discuss and textual content, beneficiant knowledge, and value-adds like a free smartphone while you join.

Best Overall: T-Mobile Connect

T-Mobile Connect has two category-leading pay as you go plans beginning at simply $15/month. The $15/mo base plan gives limitless discuss and textual content plus 2.5GB knowledge, whereas the $25/mo premium plan retains limitless discuss and textual content and provides 3GB knowledge (for five.5GB whole every month). And in case you want much more knowledge, improve to T-Mobile Simply Prepaid to seek out data-rich plans beginning at $40/mo.

Additional options:

  • Add-on knowledge cross out there for buy in case you run via your month-to-month allotment
  • Annual knowledge improve of 500MB annually via 2025
  • Purchase a $150 Simply Prepaid credit score to get a free smartphone 

For up-to-date plan pricing and options, see T-Mobile Connect’s plans web page.

Best for Value-Added Features: Metro by T-Mobile

Metro by T-Mobile is the previous MetroPCS, a well-known title to seasoned pay as you go wi-fi shoppers. Now a subsidiary of T-Mobile, this service stands out for its unusually extensive lineup of included and non-compulsory value-added options and providers:

  • A 5G cellphone for as little as $9.99 while you add a brand new line
  • $200 off the newest iPhone with a brand new cellphone line on a vast plan
  • A free eligible pill while you add a pill line to a vast plan
  • Exclusive entry to tickets for a rotating lineup of A-list exhibits and festivals

For up-to-date plan pricing and options, see Metro by T-Mobile’s plans web page.

Best for Data Network Speed: US Mobile

Us Mobile Logo

US Mobile’s plan pricing isn’t a lot totally different from Visible’s Party Pay pricing, although its extra normal family-style plan construction has extra strings hooked up. The actual US Mobile distinction lies in its 5G knowledge speeds, which — per neutral third-party pace assessments — are finest at school. To make the purpose, US Mobile dubs its 5G service “Warp Speed 5G.”

Additional options:

  • Unlimited knowledge plans come along with your alternative of add-ons like Netflix, Disney+, Spotify, and PS Plus
  • Free worldwide knowledge roaming plans with limitless knowledge in choose nations, together with the U.Okay. and Germany
  • 24/7 buyer assist

For up-to-date plan pricing and options, see US Mobile’s plans web page.

Best for Unlimited Data: Visible

Visible Wireless Logo

Visible has one of many lowest-priced limitless knowledge plans of any cell provider, pay as you go or in any other case. 

The secret is a novel social shopping for function referred to as Party Pay, the place you and as many family and friends members as you want can pool your buying energy to pay for Visible service. 

Party Pay’s worth maxes out for teams of 4 or extra; members pay $25/mo/line, in contrast with $40/mo/line for one-party prospects. Importantly, Party Pay doesn’t imply sharing knowledge, minutes, or the rest — not in contrast to group medical health insurance, it’s merely a method to leverage bulk shopping for for particular person financial savings.

Additional options:

  • Verizon 5G community
  • Unlimited discuss, textual content, and knowledge
  • Free WiFi hotspot and calling on suitable units
  • Free calling to Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands

For up-to-date plan pricing and options, see Visible’s plan web page.

Best for Multi-Month Discounts: Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile Logo

Mint Mobile is a well-liked MVNO that runs on the T-Mobile community. While it has lots going for it, the standout function is a beneficiant pricing construction that rewards prospects keen to pay for longer service phrases upfront. 

Every new Mint Mobile buyer will get 3 months free after they join 6 months of preliminary service, no matter plan alternative. So the bottom 4GB plan ($15/mo) prices $45 for six months as a substitute of $90; the limitless knowledge plan prices $90 for six months as a substitute of $180.

The catch is that while you renew your plan, your plan value will spike — until you commit to purchasing one other 12 months’ service upfront.

Additional options:

  • Free 5G WiFi hotspot with the limitless plan
  • Free 3-in-1 SIM card (not normal with many different carriers)
  • WiFi textual content and calling at no extra cost
  • Free calling to Canada and Mexico

For up-to-date plan pricing and options, see Mint Mobile’s plans web page.

Best for Non-Smartphone Users: Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular Logo

Consumer Cellular is likely one of the few low cost carriers that also advertises a data-less plan. At simply $15/mo, that plan is a giant hit. Throw in award-winning customer support and intensely dependable nationwide protection, it’s the most effective wager for anybody with no smartphone.

Additional options:

  • Unlimited discuss/textual content plans with knowledge allowances begin at $20/mo for 1GB knowledge
  • Unlimited discuss/textual content/knowledge for $55/mo
  • Free 5G entry the place out there
  • Discounted roadside help service ($3/mo) with Signature Motor Club Roadside Assistance, a service of Allstate

For up-to-date plan pricing and options, see Consumer Cellular’s plans web page.

Best for Frequent Travelers: Google Fi

Google Fi Logo

Google Fi has the broadest worldwide discuss, textual content, and knowledge allowance of any of the suppliers on this checklist. 

Its $50/mo Unlimited Plus plans contains 3 traces at no extra value and free limitless knowledge in additional than 200 nations worldwide, making it ultimate for customers who commonly spend time overseas. The $17/mo Flexible plan affords free limitless discuss and textual content in 200 nations, so it’s probably the most cost-effective alternative for customers who don’t use a lot knowledge overseas.

Additional options:

  • High-speed hotspot tethering with Flexible and Unlimited Plus
  • Unlimited knowledge within the U.S., Canada, and Mexico with the Unlimited plan
  • 100 GB of Google One cloud storage with Unlimited Plus

For up-to-date plan pricing and options, see Google Fi’s plans web page

Best for International Calling: Ultra Mobile

Ultra Mobile Logo

Ultra Mobile’s plans aren’t notably aggressive in the case of U.S.-based discuss, textual content, and knowledge allowances. But they actually shine for U.S.-based customers who steadily place worldwide calls. All plans include:

  • Free world textual content
  • Free limitless calling to 80-plus nations
  • Free WiFi calling and texts
  • Free 3-in-1 SIM card

One extra function price noting: substantial pay-in-advance reductions for longer-term plans. Depending in your plan, it can save you as much as 33% per thirty days while you pay upfront for a 12-month plan.

For up-to-date plan pricing and options, see Ultra Mobile’s plans web page.

Methodology: How We Select the Best Cell Phone Plans

We use 7 key metrics to judge wi-fi carriers and mobile phone plans. Each impacts the person expertise, whether or not objectively (like value or community protection, that are what they’re) or subjectively (like plan and {hardware} choices, about which affordable folks can disagree).

Pricing

These low-cost mobile phone carriers all evaluate favorably to main carriers’ plans in the case of pricing. But no two price range carriers’ pricing constructions are the identical.

To perceive a plan’s true worth or lack thereof, it is advisable to perceive the precise prices you’re prone to incur as a person. That is determined by how a lot you discuss, textual content, and surf the online, and the way a lot your provider prices for these respective actions. 

Network Coverage and Reliability

It’s important to have a community that retains you lined within the areas the place you spend probably the most time. Verizon’s community was the strongest total in a 2019 examine by RootMetrics, but it surely’s not price paying extra for it if your property territory is roofed simply as effectively by one other provider’s. Check out protection maps, and likewise ask your neighbors how good their reception is with the suppliers they use.

If you spend most of your time in densely populated areas that fall below the umbrella of Wi-Fi, it’s attainable you may get by with Wi-Fi solely and also you don’t want to fret about community knowledge protection. On the opposite hand, in case you journey lots, Google Fi’s versatile community affords a great way to ensure you’re lined wherever you go.

Network Speed

The community you employ doesn’t simply decide your space of protection. It additionally impacts your add and obtain speeds. 

Depending in your location, 4G LTE and/or 5G speeds matter most with uploads, so in case you spend a whole lot of time importing, entry to a 4G LTE or 5G community ought to be a precedence for you. On the opposite hand, in case you use your cellphone principally for speaking and texting, it’s probably you may get by with 3G and even slower speeds.

At this level, most populated areas of the United States have dependable 4G LTE protection. And the key carriers are quickly rolling out 5G protection throughout a lot of the nation, to the profit each of their direct prospects and prospects of low cost carriers that use their networks. That stated, in case you reside in an remoted space removed from any vital inhabitants middle, your default knowledge pace could be 3G.

Plan Options

Not all of those carriers have plans. For people who do, a very powerful issues for would-be customers embody:

  • How a lot knowledge you need to use on a month-to-month foundation
  • How a lot free discuss and textual content you get every month
  • How a lot it prices so as to add a line (and the way including a line impacts your whole month-to-month plan value)

Data Usage

If your cellphone is actually for emergencies solely, then you may get by with a bare-bones plan that provides a restricted variety of minutes and little or no knowledge use. If you do a whole lot of calling and texting however little internet browsing, it is best to go for a plan with limitless discuss and textual content however not fear an excessive amount of about knowledge limits. 

By distinction, in case you spend a whole lot of time listening to music or watching video in your cellphone, the most effective plan is the one that offers you probably the most knowledge at the most effective value. AT&T’s knowledge utilization calculator will help you determine how a lot knowledge you want in your plan.

Hardware Options

If you will have your coronary heart set on a specific mobile phone, or in case you’re strongly hooked up to the cellphone you will have now, you then want a provider that helps that cellphone. However, in case you’re keen to change telephones to get the bottom month-to-month price, that opens up a wider vary of low-cost choices.

International Calling and Coverage

If you typically make calls to associates overseas, you want a plan that features worldwide calling. 

If you steadily spend time overseas your self, it’s necessary to decide on a supplier that may maintain you related when you’re in another country. This means you want 4G LTE protection, the present worldwide normal. 

You additionally want to ensure the cellphone you’re utilizing is suitable with the precise frequencies used within the nations you go to most frequently.

Become a Wireless Carrier Expert: Your Cell Phone Plan Questions Answered

You have questions on low-cost mobile phone plans. We have solutions.

Why Do Cheap Cell Phone Plans Cost Less Than Major Carriers Like Verizon?

It is determined by the plan. Generally talking, low-key manufacturers have decrease overhead prices than manufacturers that spend thousands and thousands on promoting and working retail storefronts yearly, and so they can cross the financial savings on to prospects.

That solely explains a part of the distinction although. Besides, among the carriers on this checklist promote closely and have a lot of storefronts. 

A bigger a part of the reply pertains to how these carriers deal with the core merchandise they provide: knowledge, discuss, and textual content. 

Prepaid and pay-as-you-go plans primarily ration these merchandise. This permits prospects who don’t use their telephones very a lot to maintain their prices low by paying just for what they use.

Meanwhile, cell digital community operators (MVNOs) create their “virtual networks” by shopping for and reselling minutes and knowledge from the three main carriers. Their plans supply elevated flexibility and, in lots of instances, decrease prices. The draw back is that they don’t supply the identical dependable customer support because the main suppliers — one other think about these suppliers’ larger prices.

Which Cheap Cell Phone Carriers Have the Best Coverage?

All of a budget mobile phone carriers on this checklist have dependable mobile protection inside the United States. Data protection is far more variable and relies upon largely on the extent of the 4G LTE and 5G networks to which the provider has entry.

The pace of the 5G rollout is such that any definitive solutions about “who has the best 5G coverage” develop into outdated nearly instantly. What meaning for customers such as you is that, at any given time limit, you’ll need to evaluate low cost carriers’ knowledge protection in your geographical space — not on a zoomed-out map of the United States. That’s one of the best ways to discover a provider that you may belief to maintain you on-line with out ripping you off.

How Do You Choose the Best Cheap Phone Plan?

Decide which options and capabilities are most necessary to you, then select a provider that ticks as many packing containers as attainable at an affordable value. Use our key mobile phone plan metrics to information you:

  • Network protection and reliability
  • Network pace
  • Plan choices and price so as to add traces
  • Data utilization allowance
  • Hardware choices
  • International calling and protection overseas
  • Overall pricing and worth

Do These Plans Work With Unlocked Phones?

Yes. In truth, some low cost carriers require you to convey an unlocked cellphone to the connection. This is as a lot a technological necessity as the rest — in case your low cost provider runs on T-Mobile’s community, you’ll be able to’t very effectively anticipate it to work with a Verizon-locked cellphone.

Fun Facts About Cellular Services

  • Engineer Martin Cooper made the primary mobile phone name in 1973 utilizing a noncommercial prototype community. Cell telephones wouldn’t develop into out there to most people for an additional decade.
  • Ameritech’s Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), the world’s first business mobile community, debuted on October 13, 1983. Ameritech president Bob Barnett marked the event with a name to Alexander Graham Bell’s grandson.
  • Cell telephones may ship and obtain textual content messages as early as 1991, when the world’s first SMS-enabled 2G community rolled out. But the follow didn’t actually catch on with shoppers till the flip of the century.
  • The first pay as you go mobile phone plans got here on-line within the early to mid-Nineties. In some nations, like Ireland, pay as you go cell service is now extra widespread and better-liked than monthly-paid service.