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4G/5G data
mins
texts
/mo
Same coverage - massive savings!YOU SAVE:
T-Mobile
Magenta - $70/mo
$840/yr
AT&T
Unlimited Extra - $75/mo
$900/yr
Verizon
Play More Unlimited - $80/mo
$960/yr
$0$20$40$60$80
Monthly cost
Average monthly data usage is only between 3-5GB
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    Cheap cell phone plans starting at $10/mo -Compare Now

    GSM vs CDMA Carriers

    CDMA vs GSM coverage

    GSM prepaid plan
    1GB 4G/5G data
    $10/mo
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    GSM unlimited plan
    Unltd 4G/5G data
    $15/mo*$30/mo
    Powered by:

    See Deal

    * Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    CDMA unlimited plan
    Unltd 4G/5G data
    $35/mo
    Powered by:

    See Deal

    * Free 10 Day Trial

    Best CDMA and GSM carriers in 2022

    By Rob Webber - Last updated on

    You have probably heard a lot of talk about GSM and CDMA but maybe you're not exactly sure what that means for you and your cell phone? Let me help clear that up!

    Verizon run on the CDMA network whereas AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. There are also numerous low cost carriers which use these big major networks that can save you money whichever network you are covered by.

    Read on and we'll show you how you could save up to $600 per year on your cell phone bill without sacrificing cell phone service coverage.

    Check Carrier Coverage

    GSM vs CDMA: carriers

    Best GSM carrier for prepaid plans

    See Deal
    Tello SIM Card - Tello 1GB $10/moTello SIM Card - Tello 1GB $10/mo
    Minutes
    Unlimited
    Texts
    Unlimited
    Data
    1GB
    Price
    $10/mo
    Powered by:
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    Tello 1GB plan includes unlimited mins, unlimited texts and 1GB data for only $10 per month. Tello plans offer wireless coverage on the T-Mobile 5G and 4G LTE network. To learn more about why this is one of the best cell phone plans, check out MoneySavingPro's Tello review

    Plans
    PlanDataPriceView plan

    Tello Unlimited Talk & Text

    0GB

    $8

    View Plan

    Tello 1GB

    1GB

    $10

    View Plan

    Tello 2GB

    2GB

    $14

    View Plan

    Tello 5GB

    5GB

    $19

    View Plan

    Tello 10GB

    10GB

    $24

    View Plan

    Tello Unlimited Data

    Unlimited

    $29

    View Plan
    Review
    5

    Pros

    • No contract. No bulk buying.

    • 24/7 friendly customer support

    • 4G LTE/5G nationwide coverage

    • Free Hotspot & Wi-Fi Calling

    • Free international calls to 60+ countries

    Cons

    • No roaming

    • Coverage in rural areas

    Benefits

    • Service on the nationwide T-Mobile network

    • Money-back guarantee on phones (no refunds on plans)

    • Prepaid - no contract, credit check, or activation fee

    • Bring your own phone or choose from a modest selection of new or refurbished devices

    • Keep your current phone number

    • Use of your plan data as a mobile hotspot through your phone is allowed

    • Use your minutes to call Canada, China, and Mexico

    • Minutes to other countries available as add-on

    • 24/7 customer service

    Best GSM carrier for unlimited data

    See Deal
    Mint Mobile SIM Card - Mint Mobile Unlimited $15/moMint Mobile SIM Card - Mint Mobile Unlimited $15/mo
    Minutes
    Unlimited
    Texts
    Unlimited
    Data
    Unlimited
    Price
    $15/mo** Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    Powered by:
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    Mint Mobile Unlimited plan includes unlimited mins, unlimited texts and unlimited data for only $15 per month. Mint Mobile plans offer wireless coverage on the T-Mobile 5G and 4G LTE network. To learn more about why this is one of the best cell phone plans, check out MoneySavingPro's Mint Mobile review

    Plans
    PlanDataPriceView plan

    Mint Mobile 15GB

    15GB

    $15*

    * Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    View Plan

    Mint Mobile 10GB

    10GB

    $15*

    * Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    View Plan

    Mint Mobile 4GB

    4GB

    $15*

    * Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    View Plan

    Mint Mobile Unlimited Data

    Unlimited

    $15*

    * Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    View Plan
    Review
    4.5

    Pros

    • Offers the latest phones with 0% finance

    • Prepay months in bulk for more savings

    • Reliable network coverage

    • Works with most GSM phones

    Cons

    • No family plans

    • Minimum 3 months

    Benefits

    • Operates on the nationwide T-Mobile network

    • 7-day money-back guarantee

    • Prepaid - no contract, credit check, or activation fee

    • Bring your phone or buy a Mint Mobile device

    • Keep your phone number

    • Using your phone as a mobile hotspot is permitted

    • Free calling to Canada & Mexico, affordable rates to 160+ other locations

    • Flat-rate international roaming available as an add-on feature

    • Customer service by phone on weekdays and weekends, 24/7 by virtual chat

    Best CDMA carrier for unlimited data

    See Deal
    US Mobile SIM Card - US Mobile Unlimited $35/moUS Mobile SIM Card - US Mobile Unlimited $35/mo
    Minutes
    Unlimited
    Texts
    Unlimited
    Data
    Unlimited
    Price
    $35/mo* Free 10 Day Trial
    Powered by:
    See Deal

    US Mobile Unlimited plan includes unlimited mins, unlimited texts and unlimited data for only $35 per month. US Mobile plans offer wireless coverage on the Verizon & T-Mobile 5G and 4G LTE networks. To learn more about why this is one of the best cell phone plans, check out MoneySavingPro's US Mobile review

    Plans
    PlanDataPriceView plan

    US Mobile Unlimited Talk & Text

    0GB

    $8

    View Plan

    US Mobile 1GB

    1GB

    $12

    View Plan

    US Mobile 5GB

    5GB

    $15

    View Plan

    US Mobile 12GB

    12GB

    $20

    View Plan

    US Mobile 18GB

    18GB

    $25

    View Plan

    US Mobile Unlimited Data

    Unlimited

    $35

    View Plan

    * Free 10 Day Trial

    Review
    4.5

    Pros

    • Flexible, no contract plans

    • 24/7 customer service

    • 5G coverage available

    Cons

    • No international calling

    • Phone selection

    Benefits

    • Coverage on either the T-Mobile or Verizon network

    • Risk-free trial: Full refund within 14 days or before 1000 talk, text, or MB's is used

    • Prepaid - no contract, credit check, or activation fee

    • Bring your own GSM or CDMA phone or choose from a small selection of phones for sale

    • Keep your own phone number

    • Mobile hotspot use available as add-on option with unlimited data plans

    • International roaming plans available with eSIMs

    • Add-ons available for talk, text, and data, with rollover

    • 24/7 customer support

    Best CDMA carrier for family plans

    See Deal
    Reach Mobile SIM Card - Reach Mobile 5GB $20/moReach Mobile SIM Card - Reach Mobile 5GB $20/mo
    Minutes
    Unlimited
    Texts
    Unlimited
    Data
    5GB
    Price
    $20/mo** $10 Off First 3 Months
    Powered by:
    See Deal

    Reach Mobile 5GB plan includes unlimited mins, unlimited texts and 5GB data for only $20 per month. Reach Mobile plans offer wireless coverage on the T-Mobile 5G and 4G LTE network. To learn more about why this is one of the best cell phone plans, check out MoneySavingPro's Reach Mobile review

    Plans
    PlanDataPriceView plan

    Reach Mobile 2GB

    2GB

    $10*

    * $10 Off First 3 Months
    View Plan

    Reach Mobile 5GB

    5GB

    $20*

    * $10 Off First 3 Months
    View Plan

    Reach Mobile 10GB

    10GB

    $25*

    * $10 Off First 3 Months
    View Plan

    Reach Mobile 15GB

    15GB

    $30*

    * $10 Off First 3 Months
    View Plan

    Reach Mobile 25GB

    25GB

    $35*

    * $10 Off First 3 Months
    View Plan
    Review
    4

    Pros

    • 5G coverage available

    • 24/7 live customer support with helpful humans

    • No contract, no bulk-order commitment

    • Hotspot enabled

    • A socially conscious provider who gives back

    Cons

    • Small selection of handsets

    Benefits

    • Powered by the Verizon network

    • Service is postpaid with no credit check

    • Only upfront payment is shipping for SIM card

    • Bring your own compatible phone

    • Keep your phone number

    • Hotspot enabled on all plans

    • 24/7 customer support by phone or chat

    Best cheap CDMA carrier

    See Deal
    Red Pocket SIM Card - Red Pocket 500MB $10/moRed Pocket SIM Card - Red Pocket 500MB $10/mo
    Minutes
    500
    Texts
    500
    Data
    500MB
    Price
    $10/mo
    Powered by:
    See Deal

    Red Pocket 500MB plan includes 500 mins, 500 texts and 500MB data for only $10 per month. Red Pocket plans offer wireless coverage on the AT&T, Verizon & T-Mobile 5G and 4G LTE networks. To learn more about why this is one of the best cell phone plans, check out MoneySavingPro's Red Pocket review

    Plans
    PlanDataPriceView plan

    Red Pocket 500MB

    500MB

    $10

    View Plan

    Red Pocket 3GB - 12 Mths

    3GB

    $15*

    * $180 for 12 Months Service
    View Plan

    Red Pocket 3GB

    3GB

    $20

    View Plan

    Red Pocket 10GB - 12 Mths

    10GB

    $22.50*

    * $270 for 12 Months Service
    View Plan

    Red Pocket 25GB - 12 Mths

    25GB

    $30*

    * $360 for 12 Months Service
    View Plan

    Red Pocket 10GB

    10GB

    $30

    View Plan

    Red Pocket 100GB - 12 Mths

    100GB

    $37.50*

    * $450 for 12 Months Service
    View Plan

    Red Pocket 25GB

    25GB

    $40

    View Plan

    Red Pocket 100GB

    100GB

    $50

    View Plan
    Review
    4.5

    Pros

    • Nationwide coverage

    • No contracts

    • Latest selection of phones

    Cons

    • Account dashboard needs work

    • No 0% financing options on latest phones

    • Customer service

    Benefits

    • Operates on all four networks - AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon

    • Prepaid cell phone plans - no contract, credit check, or activation fees

    • Bring your own GSM or CDMA device and keep your phone number

    • Mobile hotspot/tethering allowed with your plan data

    • Free international calling to 70+ countries

    • Customer service available in English, Chinese, Filipino, and Spanish via chat or phone

    CDMA & GSM carrier benefits

    • Save Money: MVNO's which work off of the four main carrier networks can offer you much lower rates, they offer the same great service but at nearly half the price!
    • Customized Plans: Most of the big guys' plans offer unlimited data. This sounds great, but the average smartphone user only uses about 3GB a month. This means you may be paying for data that you don't use. With MVNO's you can build your own plan to what you use.
    • No Contracts: All low-cost carriers offer prepaid plans. So you are free to leave anytime you want! You don't have to go through a credit check or get tied into a two-year contract.

    GSM vs CDMA: plans

    CarrierNetworkMinutesTextsDataPrice
    TelloT-MobileUnltdUnltd1GB$10
    Reach MobileT-MobileUnltdUnltd2GB$10** $10 Off First 3 Months
    Mint MobileT-MobileUnltdUnltd10GB$15** Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    TelloT-MobileUnltdUnltdUnltd$29
    Mint MobileT-MobileUnltdUnltd4GB$15** Only $45 for 3 Months Service

    Best T-Mobile GSM plan

    Mint Mobile4GB plan* Only $45 for 3 Months Service

    Unlimitedmins

    Unlimitedtexts

    4GB

    4G/5G data

    $15/mo*

    $3.75 per GB

    Powered by: T-Mobile

    T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile comparison

    Keep your T-Mobile phone, number & coverage: Save $660 per year

    CarrierNetwork Coverage4G/5G DataPriceAnnual Cost
    T-MobileT-Mobile 4G & 5GUnltd*$70/mo$840/yr
    Mint MobileT-Mobile 4G & 5G4GB$15/mo$180/yr
    *Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$55/mo$660/yr

    Best Verizon CDMA plan

    US Mobile5GB plan* Free 10 Day Trial

    Unlimitedmins

    Unlimitedtexts

    5GB

    4G/5G data

    $15/mo

    $3.00 per GB

    Powered by: Verizon & T-Mobile

    Verizon vs US Mobile comparison

    Keep your Verizon phone, number & coverage: Save $780 per year

    CarrierNetwork Coverage4G/5G DataPriceAnnual Cost
    VerizonVerizon 4G & 5GUnltd*$80/mo$960/yr
    US MobileVerizon 4G & 5G5GB$15/mo$180/yr
    *Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$65/mo$780/yr

    Best AT&T GSM plan

    Good2Go Mobile3GB plan* 50% Off for 3 Months

    Unlimitedmins

    Unlimitedtexts

    3GB

    4G/5G data

    $10/mo*

    $20/mo

    $6.67 per GB

    Powered by: AT&T & T-Mobile

    AT&T vs Good2Go Mobile comparison

    Keep your AT&T phone, number & coverage: Save $690 per year

    CarrierNetwork Coverage4G/5G DataPriceAnnual Cost
    AT&TAT&T 4G & 5GUnltd*$75/mo$900/yr
    Good2Go MobileAT&T 4G & 5G3GB$20/mo$210/yr
    *Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$55/mo$690/yr

    GSM vs CDMA: coverage

    Which prepaid carrier is best for you? That depends on which network has the best coverage in your area.

    Whether you go with a GSM carrier (T-Mobile and AT&T) or a CDMA carrier (Verizon) you'll enjoy national coverage, just like with the major carriers.

    Network performance ratings

    NETWORKOVERALLRELIABILITYSPEEDDATACALL
    Verizon Coverage9596949694
    AT&T Coverage9494959692
    T-Mobile Coverage8688828982

    Source: Rootmetrics

    Find Cheap Cell Phone Plans in Your Area

    Which carriers are GSM?

    T-Mobile GSM carrier list

    CarrierNetwork(s)
    Boost MobileAT&T & T-Mobile
    Boom! MobileVerizon & T-Mobile
    Consumer CellularT-Mobile
    FreeUP MobileT-Mobile
    Metro by T-MobileT-Mobile
    Mint MobileT-Mobile
    Red PocketAT&T, T-Mobile & Verizon
    Republic WirelessT-Mobile
    Simple MobileT-Mobile
    Straight TalkT-Mobile, AT&T & Verizon
    TelloT-Mobile
    TingT-Mobile & Verizon
    TracfoneVerizon, AT&T & T-Mobile
    Ultra MobileT-Mobile
    Unreal MobileAT&T & T-Mobile
    US MobileVerizon & T-Mobile
    Gen MobileT-Mobile
    WingAT&T, Verizon & T-Mobile
    Good2Go MobileAT&T & T-Mobile
    Hello MobileT-Mobile
    GoSmart MobileT-Mobile
    Reach MobileT-Mobile
    LycamobileT-Mobile
    Walmart Family MobileT-Mobile
    Speedtalk MobileT-Mobile

    AT&T GSM carriers list

    CarrierNetwork(s)
    Boost MobileAT&T & T-Mobile
    Cricket WirelessAT&T
    FreedompopAT&T
    H2O WirelessAT&T
    PureTalkAT&T
    Red PocketAT&T, T-Mobile & Verizon
    Straight TalkT-Mobile, AT&T & Verizon
    TracfoneVerizon, AT&T & T-Mobile
    Unreal MobileAT&T & T-Mobile
    WingAT&T, Verizon & T-Mobile
    Good2Go MobileAT&T & T-Mobile
    Black WirelessAT&T
    easyGO WirelessAT&T
    Airvoice WirelessAT&T
    Optimum MobileAT&T

    Which carriers are CDMA?

    Verizon CDMA carriers list

    CarrierNetwork(s)
    Boom! MobileVerizon & T-Mobile
    CREDO MobileVerizon
    LivelyVerizon
    Net10 WirelessVerizon
    Page Plus CellularVerizon
    Red PocketAT&T, T-Mobile & Verizon
    Spectrum MobileVerizon
    Straight TalkT-Mobile, AT&T & Verizon
    TingT-Mobile & Verizon
    Total WirelessVerizon
    TracfoneVerizon, AT&T & T-Mobile
    TwigbyVerizon & Sprint
    US MobileVerizon & T-Mobile
    VisibleVerizon
    Xfinity MobileVerizon
    WingAT&T, Verizon & T-Mobile
    Affinity CellularVerizon
    Selectel WirelessVerizon

    What is CDMA and GSM?

    GSM (Global System for Mobiles) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) are two technologies used in cell phones. They are an older form of 3G technology which helps to fill in the gap when you are in an area without 4G signal.

    Older cell phones will either be a GSM phone or a CDMA phone and be locked to the carrier network, which is why it is harder with older phones to move from a GSM carrier to a CDMA carrier or vice versa. However, phones made in the last few years normally have both technologies built into them making it easier to switch carriers.

    The GSM network is more well known as the technology is used worldwide, whereas CDMA networks are only used in the US. This means if you travel a lot having a phone that uses a SIM card is the best way to check if it is compatible with the GSM network.

    Switch to a cheap CDMA or GSM carrier

    It's never been easier to switch. Let's break it down.

    1. Customize your plan. Whether you're looking for a truly unlimited plan, or in the market for something more basic, choose a plan to suit your cell phone needs.
    2. Prepare to make the switch. Make sure your old bills are paid up and your phone is unlocked. If you're getting a new device, transferring data from one to another is simple. Even if you're going from an iPhone to Android, and vice versa.
    3. Set up your new plan. Keep your current carrier account open until your number has ported over. Once you're sure your new plan is up and running, cancel your old account. If you've got a new device with your Tello plan, it should be ready to use when it arrives. If you're bringing your own phone then you'll need to follow the instructions with the new SIM card kit that Tello will send to you in the post.

    GSM vs CDMA: phones

    PhoneStorageNetworkConditionPrice
    Apple iPhone SE (2nd Gen)128GBVerizonNew$384
    Apple iPhone 1164GBAT&TNew$499
    Apple iPhone 12 mini64GBVerizonNew$599
    Apple iPhone 1264GBAT&TNew$729
    Apple iPhone 13 mini128GBT-MobileNew$729
    Apple iPhone 13128GBVerizonNew$799
    Apple iPhone 13 Pro128GBVerizonNew$984
    Apple iPhone 12 Pro256GBAT&TNew$999
    Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max128GBAT&TNew$999
    Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max128GBVerizonNew$1,080

    Is my phone GSM or CDMA?

    Most modern iPhones and Samsung phones are compatible with both 3G networks but the very simplest way to be sure is that if you're currently with T-Mobile or AT&T, it's GSM compatible and if you're currently with Verizon, it will be CDMA compatible.

    Phone compatibility checker

    Phone compatibility checker
    Dial *#06# on your phone to access IMEI

    CDMA & GSM unlocked phone benefits

    • Freedom: Having an unlocked phone gives you the freedom to choose whichever carrier you want as you will be able to use it with any carrier or network.
    • International Service: If you have an unlocked phone you have more flexibility when traveling abroad. You can buy a SIM card for your destination Country to use on your phone to avoid expensive roaming charges.
    • Save Money: You can also save money by buying a refurbished unlocked phone and save over 50% off the cost of a brand new phone.

    CDMA vs GSM FAQs

    Is AT&T GSM or CDMA?

    AT&T operates on the GSM network. AT&T unlocked phones should work with GSM carriers.

    Is T-Mobile GSM or CDMA?

    T-Mobile operates on the GSM network. T-Mobile unlocked phones should work with GSM carriers.

    Is Verizon GSM or CDMA?

    Verizon operates on the CDMA network. Verizon unlocked phones may only work with CDMA carriers.


    Recap

    Whether you choose a carrier on the CDMA or GSM network is down to preference and what your needs are. Bearing in mind that it is easier to change carriers with a GSM unlocked phone.

    As technology is moving forward both CDMA and GSM are working alongside 4G, but still, play a part in giving you cellular coverage when you're in an area not covered by 4G.

    When you're looking for a new plan, you don't have to just go for one of the main carriers. You can find a much cheaper deal by using one of their MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) because they use the main carrier networks you get the same great service, but for half the price!

    Rob Webber
    Rob Webber

    Rob has 15+ years experience in the US and UK running price comparison sites for cell phone plans, smartphone deals, TV, and internet. He loves thinking outside of the box to build tools that empower consumers to make more informed decisions.

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