These less well-known, more affordable cell phone plans could be the answer if you’re trying to cut costs on your cellular bill. The majority of Americans either use an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, or the somewhat less popular UScellular cell phone plan. However, US clients seeking for a deal have access to a huge variety of options. Numerous prepaid carriers and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) use the major networks to provide substantial savings.
Pay attention to the networks that these providers employ as well as their track records for customer service. While some MVNOs confine you to a single carrier, others let you select from a variety of networks. On some phones, one provider, Google Fi, switches between the T-Mobile and UScellular networks; however, when purchasing a SIM card, you must specify which network you want.
To help you evaluate the finest solutions within your price range, we’ve arranged our recommendations according to their individual monthly costs. Keep in mind that this advice is for a single line of service. Some of the below plans’ monthly prices may be reduced by bundling two or more lines on the same account. See our articles on the top mobile networks in the US and Canada for the best carrier service in your area.
What mobile devices support these networks?
Some of the smaller carriers don’t even offer phones, or they might just provide budget models that are compatible with their network. Therefore, we advise getting a low-cost, unlocked phone that works with several providers. You should still make sure that your carrier supports the phone before you buy it, even if a phone is labelled as compatible with all major carriers:
Due to the rising popularity of 5G, several MVNOs are picky about the devices they support. Something on our list of the best phones for seniors may be a suitable fit for you if you’re on a fixed income. To see if your current phone is compatible with the carrier’s network, you may also contact the carrier. Most unlocked phones should function with any MVNO or prepaid carrier that utilises AT&T, T-Mobile, or one of their other default network partners.
Consider any factory-unlocked iPhone of the 2018-era XR or later, the Samsung Galaxy S9 or later, the Google Pixel line, or the Moto G series if you’re seeking for an unlocked phone that supports all three of the US’s main mobile operating systems. Or, check out our ranking of the top unlocked phones.
How Does Customer Service Fare?
The less well-known carriers typically don’t offer the same degree of customer support that the big networks do. The most common problems we hear about are with invoicing and new service activations. You must contact a call center or online support desk to handle any issues because some smaller carriers have few or no retail shops.
Agents frequently lack the resources or knowledge necessary to resolve certain problems. We’ve done our best to thoroughly study our suggestions, but you should double-check them yourself before acting. Check out Consumer Cellular if you care about receiving good customer service. Consumer Cellular has been voted as the top carrier in this category by our readers for nine years.
You may also use the fully owned brands of the major carriers, Cricket by AT&T and Metro by T-Mobile, both of which have a network of physical storefronts. Despite the absence of any physical locations, Verizon continues to support Visible. These well-known, carrier-backed prepaid brands can have a higher price.
The Finest Free Mobile Plans
Let’s face it, nowadays, hardly much is available for free. However, there are two good free smartphone options available if all you want to do with your phone is the very minimum. Freemium service from Freedom pop(Opens in a new window) includes 10 minutes of talk time, 10 texts, and 25MB of high-speed data per month.
If you spend the most of your time at home and connected to Wi-Fi, you should be able to get by with Freedom pop’s free service even though you don’t receive 5G or any other bells and whistles.
Another choice is the Text Now starting plan(Opens in a new window). You receive unlimited speak and text without using any data, but because nothing is truly free, you must put up with advertisements on the calling and texting software. The cost of an activation kit, which includes a SIM card, is $1 upfront, but that is all you have to pay.
The Best Mobile Plans for Ten Dollars or Less Per Month
Even while it is still feasible to receive mobile service for $10 a month or less, the number of carriers that do so is fast declining. Even when plans are about $10, the majority do not include taxes and other costs that, depending on where you reside, can significantly raise the cost. We now endorse three carriers that provide dependable service at a bargain price.
The best value is offered by Tello(Opens in a new window), which utilizes T-network. Mobile’s For $10 per month, you may design a personalized package on its website that includes unlimited calls, messages, and 1GB of data. If you want to buy an unlocked phone that works with different carriers or have an outdated phone, this is a good price.
The $10 monthly basic plan from RedPocket(Opens in a new window) includes 500 talk minutes, 500 text messages, and 500MB of data. Additionally, it is the only MVNO in this price range with connections to all the major carriers, allowing you to choose the one that offers the best service in your location.
The best choice is Unreal’s (Opens in a new window) 2GB plan if you want to receive the most data for $10 or less. You must pay for a year in advance to acquire 2GB for $10 per month, which might be a significant disadvantage for certain users. As the T-Mobile LTE network is the only one used by this plan, check that your area has enough coverage.
Best Monthly Cell Phone Plans for between $11 and $20
Consumer Cellular(Opens in a new window) is one of our readers’ favorite small carriers because of its straightforward, senior-focused plan, good customer service, and reasonable price, which may be somewhat more than that of other small carriers. You can anticipate reliable service across the nation thanks to the network’s AT&T and T-Mobile backbone.
For $20 per month, their cheapest plan gives unlimited talk and text as well as 1GB of data. Since this plan allows you to make unlimited calls, you won’t need a landline any more.
Your best option in this pricing range is without a doubt US Mobile(Opens in a new window). For about $20 a month, the provider offers unlimited call and text along with 12GB of data. Even 5G and international roaming are free with the package.
For $15 per month, Mint Mobile has an introductory package that includes 4GB of data, unlimited texts, and calls. However, a three-month commitment and a deposit are needed. After the promotional time has ended, you must pay for a full year of service if you wish to maintain the pricing.
To acquire the T-Mobile network-backed package, you must pay a sizable chunk of money up front, but it’s a decent value. Because Mint Mobile is our Readers’ Choice for smartphone plans, the investment is unquestionably worthwhile.
The Best Mobile Plans between $21 and $30 Per Month
This price level is ideal if you want an unlimited plan or one with plenty of data. Even though we are no longer considered to be “cheap,” these are nonetheless far less expensive than the normal plans offered by the big three.
For $29 per month, Tello offers unlimited internet, calls, and texts on the T-Mobile network. That is the best you can get for $30 or less. Of course, there are restrictions; depending on where you reside, data rates will be substantially slower beyond the initial 25GB of 4G LTE/5G data. On the plus side, you don’t have to pay for a year up front like you would with the following choice.
Another excellent option if you want completely limitless data is Mint Mobile. You can use T-network Mobile’s for as much call, text, and data as you like for just $30 per month. However, you must pay for one year in advance; this is how Mint is able to charge less.
You can buy US Mobile’s 18GB plan for $25 per month with no upfront payment if you don’t want to spend $30 per month and you’re fine with somewhat less data. For the majority of users, 18GB is more than enough, and $25 a month is a hard bargain.
The Finest Tethering Package
Tethering is not supported by all low-cost phone plans since consumers who do so typically use a lot more data. Red Pocket’s 10GB for $30 per month is the best option if you’re looking for a cheap plan with tethering and lots of data. You may choose the major carrier that has the best coverage in your region during signup because it works with all of them.
Which Cheap Hotspot (Data Only) Plan Is Best?
Straight Talk is your best choice if all you need is data. You may utilize 4GB of data on your tablet or mobile hotspot for $25 per month. The fact that Straight Talk utilizes all of the main carrier networks contributes to its appeal as a choice. You can rest certain that your smartphone will always have a strong connection thanks to this.
The Best Family Phone Plans at Low Prices
The greatest method to maximize your savings on low-cost smartphone plans is to pool your resources with your family. When you add extra lines, some of the greatest MVNOs and carriers give you enormous discounts. If you want to add more lines, Google Fi is one of the finest options because Google significantly reduces the cost for each extra line.
Google’s Simply Unlimited package becomes $20 per line after four lines, down from $50 per line. The cost for three lines is $25 per month for each line. T-Mobile and UScellular both provide 5G, making the connection quick and dependable.
Additionally, Visible by Verizon provides savings for each additional user. And anybody of your friends is welcome to join; they don’t even have to live in your home. If you have four or more people, the price decreases to $25 per line, which is difficult to match for an unlimited plan on Verizon’s network. Normally, an unlimited line costs $40 per month.
The Finest Low-Cost 5G Plans
Are you prepared for the upcoming mobile connection generation? Read our in-depth introduction on the fifth generation of cellular technology before diving in headfirst. Compared to earlier connection standards, 5G is a totally different animal, and most 5G devices in the US are tailored for certain carriers.
As a result, if you decide to change providers, your phone could only give some 5G access or none at all. Check out our list of the top 5G phones we currently suggest, but before you choose a plan, be sure to research the 5G connectivity requirements for each carrier.
The majority of small carriers have a 5G plan, but it’s important to read the tiny print. For instance, carriers frequently cap speeds, restrict 5G contracts to sub-6GHz, or even reduce the amount of data you get with “unlimited” plans. Because of this, we believe Metro and Visible are your best options.
On Verizon’s network, Visible(Opens in a new window) provides the most cheap 5G plan. You may make unlimited calls, send unlimited texts, and use 200Mbps of 5G internet for $40 per month. Visible’s Party Pay(Opens in a new window) plan is a great choice if you want to save even more money.
Up to three extra family members, friends, or roommates may be added, and each additional line will reduce your monthly charge by $5. All lines benefit from the discounts, making a Party Plan with four lines only $25 per month each. Visible bills each member separately, so you don’t have to worry about getting Venmo payments for everyone’s share of the tab.
The cost of Metro(Opens in a new window) is a little higher. Plans with 5G connection and unlimited data cost $50 per month. If you live in a location where T-Mobile has reliable 5G service, this offer is fantastic.