Over the past few years, several low-cost carriers have stepped up to offer competition and cheapest prices to customers looking to cut down their monthly bills. In some cases, they are able to offer comparable plans for just a fraction of the cost and often with the same high quality of service offered by the big players within the industry.
Looking for a low-cost alternative to your pricey cell phone plan? These five options offer a lot of bang for your buck while providing almost the same service as the big guys:
One of the cheapest cell phone plan options is to go the prepaid route. Prepaid phones are where you pay a certain amount for the phone plus the minutes, text and data. Once you go use up the prepaid amount, then you have the option to buy more, or stop using the phone. There are also prepaid plans where you can use the current phone you have you simply prepay for the amount of talk, text, and data. Normally, people like to estimate the amount they will need for that month and pay for just that amount.
This is a great way to ensure that you are not overpaying for your cell phone service. When you have a contract deal, you agree to pay a certain amount per month. This means that if you don’t use all the text, talk and data, it doesn’t matter –you still have to be that agreed amount. Some people are frustrated with this structure and that is why they turn to prepaid plans. You can read real-life testimonials online from people who have used prepaid plans to learn more about them and see if they are something you are interested in.
The Best Cheapest Cell Phone Plans Available in 2018
Tello is a lesser-known MVNO that uses the Sprint network. One of Tello’s best selling points is their Build Your Own Plan feature, which lets you choose your own monthly voice, text and data minutes.
They also offer predefined plans, which get expensive once you get to higher 4G data allowances. Tello has some of the best pay-as-you-go phone rates around, as well. Tello could be an excellent choice for those who frequently call Mexico or Canada — all of your voice minutes work in all of North America.
When compared with similar other cheap cell phone plans and higher data plans, Tello falls short on all fronts. They charge more for less than all comparable carriers.
The best cheap cell phone plan on our list comes from Mint SIM. The company offers plans that start at just $15 per month with a three-month commitment. The big difference in how it operates is the fact that Mint SIM sends you a SIM card in the mail so you can set up your new phone service yourself.
While Mint SIM has a super low starting price point, you get quite a bit for $15 per month. This basic plan includes unlimited talk, text, and data delivered on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network, 2GB of 4G LTE data per month and unlimited data thereafter, a prepaid SIM card in standard, micro, and nano sizes, and a Smartphone Mobile HotSpot (SMHS) that allows you to turn your device into a WiFi hotspot.
The pricing on these plans lets you pick how much high-speed data you want, and you never have to commit for more than three months at a time. For that reason, we think this is a solid option for people who live within T-Mobile coverage areas.
US Mobile’s best cheap cell phone plan offers 100 minutes and 100 texts, PLUS 100MB of data for just $9. That’s right, a $9/mo cell phone plan with data. That makes this one not just a “best cheap cell phone plan” but actually a best cheap smartphone plan. The plan piggybacks on the T-Mobile 4G LTE network. It uses only T-Mobile compatible phones.
The image above is actually a screen grab from US Mobile’s website. Just go there and click the boxes to build the plan you want. Get their best cheap cell phone plan by clicking the three boxes on the left. That gives 100 minutes of talk, 100 texts and 100 MB of data for $9. Or build a different plan by clicking the other boxes. So simple and actually kind of fun. As you click the boxes, the monthly price changes before your eyes. No surprises anywhere. It’s like Build-a-Bear for cell phone plans.
Page Plus Cellular—which like Net10 and Straight Talk is owned by Tracfone—is a very basic MVNO that provides monthly plans and pay-as-you-go minutes. It’s best as an option for people still using a feature phone: Pay-as-you-go credit lasts for 120 days and rolls over so long as you renew within that four-month window.
Smartphone users seeking a Verizon-based MVNO should look to more cost-effective options from Straight Talk, Tracfone, or Verizon’s own prepaid plans, however. Monthly service starts at $12, but you don’t get much in the way of data. Nothing substantial kicks in until you reach the $29.95-per-month plan, which offers 1GB of data. Modest autopay discounts are available.
Page Plus supports domestic roaming for voice calls at 0.20 cents per minute. There are also incoming and outgoing charges for texts while in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. International roaming is not supported.
Page Plus sells phones on its site. They are mostly low-cost smartphones, but it does have some higher-priced phones that are available for straight purchase or leasing via SmartPay.
Other Cheap Carriers
Net10 Wireless offers a variety of unlimited monthly, pay-as-you-go, flexible monthly plans and international calling plans depending on what you need. They have several plans that offer discounts if you sign up for auto-refill as well.
TracFone has been around since 1996 and owns multiple MVNOs, which it operates on various networks. TracFone is perfect for folks who constantly travel to the U.S. and don’t want to buy a local SIM or pay outrageous roaming fees.
Total Wireless is another TracFone-owned carrier that offers average MVNO rates for data plans. Its cheapest data plan is $35/month for unlimited talk and text and 5GB of 4G LTE. A great add-on feature is 3GB of 4G LTE for $10, and if you don’t use that extra 3GB up by the end of your month, you can carry it over to your next billing month.
Cricket Wireless is a prepaid no contract cheap cell phone service brand that utilizes the AT&T network and is now owned by AT&T too. Back in Spring 2014, AT&T dropped its AIO wireless brand to focus on its acquisition of Cricket which would become the company’s low-cost brand.
Republic Wireless has been improving its Hybrid calling system. All phone calls made from a Republic Wireless cell phone are automatically routed over Wi-Fi first, in case no Wi-Fi network is available, it is going to default cellular service which leads to lower bills, and Republic Wireless plans are clearly affordable.
Boost Mobile uses the same network as Sprint. If you like Sprint’s network coverage in your area, then Boost is the phone carrier for you. The best prepaid plan with Boost gives you 3GB of data for a cheap price of $35 a month. If you sign up for auto pay you can save $5 a month on your bill.
MetroPCS: Take a look around and you’ll see Metro PCS stores popping up everywhere. There’s a good reason for that as they have some of the best prepaid cell phone plans out there. They use T-Mobile’s network so you are getting great network coverage with your plan. When you sign up for auto pay you can save $5 a month off your bill.
Straight Talk is owned by TracFone and is that cell phone section sold at Walmart. It features the latest phones and lets you bring your own Sprint device or really any device since it uses all four of the big networks for coverage.
With so many low-cost options, it’s hard to believe that anyone would shell out $120 or more for their monthly cell phone bill. However, it may only be a matter of time until prices have to come down across the board in order for companies to stay competitive. In the meantime, do some research to see if any of these low-cost alternatives are offered in your area. Once you see how much you can save, you’ll likely be glad you did.