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Cheapest Cell Phone Service Providers in 2021

Compare the best cheap cell phone companies

Check Coverage

With everything going on, the last thing you need right now is to be stung by a supersized cell phone bill.

There are over 50 cell phone carriers in the United States. Known as MVNOs, these alternative carriers are powered by one or more of the big four networks.

Stay on the same network, keep your phone and number, plus get greater flexibility. Everything you need comes at a much better price with a low-cost carrier.

Find your next cell phone plan from the best service providers out there today.

Tello SIM Card - Best phone provider for prepaid plans - TelloTello SIM Card - Best phone provider for prepaid plans - Tello
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
1 GB
Price
$7.50/mo*
* 25% Off for 6 Months
Editors Take
5 / 5
Plans
Plan Minutes Texts Data Price

Tello Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$6*

* 25% Off for 6 Months

Tello 1GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$7.50*

* 25% Off for 6 Months

Tello 2GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

2GB

$10.50*

* 25% Off for 6 Months

Tello 4GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

4GB

$14.30*

* 25% Off for 6 Months

Tello 6GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

6GB

$18*

* 25% Off for 6 Months

Tello 8GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

8GB

$21.80*

* 25% Off for 6 Months

Tello Unlimited Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$29.30*

* 25% Off for 6 Months
Features
Benefits

Pros

  • 24/7 customer support

  • No contracts

  • Budget friendly family plans

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

Mint Mobile SIM Card - Best phone provider for unlimited data - Mint MobileMint Mobile SIM Card - Best phone provider for unlimited data - Mint Mobile
Minutes
Unlimited
Texts
Unlimited
Data
Unlimited
Price
$30/mo*
* $90 for 3 months Service
Editors Take
4.5 / 5
Plans
Plan Minutes Texts Data Price

Mint Mobile 4GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

4GB

$15*

* $45 for 3 Months Service

Mint Mobile 10GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

10GB

$20*

* $60 for 3 Months Service

Mint Mobile 15GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

15GB

$25*

* $75 for 3 months Service

Mint Mobile Unlimited Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$30*

* $90 for 3 months Service
Features
Benefits

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

Red Pocket SIM Card - Best phone provider for kids - Red PocketRed Pocket SIM Card - Best phone provider for kids - Red Pocket
Minutes
500
Texts
500
Data
0.5 GB
Price
$10/mo
Editors Take
4.5 / 5
Plans
Plan Minutes Texts Data Price

Red Pocket 3GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

3GB

$10*

* 50% Off First Month

Red Pocket 500MB Data

500

500

0.5GB

$10

Red Pocket 10GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

10GB

$15*

* 50% Off First Month

Red Pocket 22GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

22GB

$20*

* 50% Off First Month

Red Pocket 50GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

50GB

$25*

* 50% Off First Month
Features
Benefits

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

US Mobile SIM Card - Best provider for hotspot plans - US MobileUS Mobile SIM Card - Best provider for hotspot plans - US Mobile
Minutes
0
Texts
0
Data
2 GB
Price
$10/mo
Free Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM
Editors Take
4.5 / 5
Plans
Plan Minutes Texts Data Price

US Mobile Unlimited Talk & Text

Unlimited

Unlimited

0GB

$8

US Mobile 1GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$12

US Mobile 5GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

5GB

$15

US Mobile 12GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

12GB

$20

US Mobile 18GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

18GB

$25

US Mobile 30GB Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

30GB

$30

US Mobile Unlimited Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$45

Free Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM

Features
Benefits

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

The cheapest cell phone service in September

Check Carrier Coverage

Cheap cell phone provider benefits

We love Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs. If you're on the lookout for cheap cell phone plans, they're the best route to go down.

Want to stay on the same network, keep your phone and number, plus get greater flexibility?

Yep. You've got it. Forget the major carriers. Plans include everything you need but come at a much better price with an MVNO.

  • Same great nationwide coverage: These cell phone carriers operate on the very same networks as the big four carriers.

  • Much lower prices: Save up to $600 per year on your cell phone plan. Why are MVNOs so much cheaper? They don't have the huge overhead and advertising costs the big guys do.

  • No contracts: Don't get trapped into a two-year agreement. Switch carriers when you decide to with a no contract phone plan.

  • Same cell phone service: Just because you're paying less, that doesn't mean you have to scrimp on features. Plans with unlimited everything are easy to find from these prepaid carriers. Usually, a low cost carrier plan comes with unlimited talk and text as standard, high speed data, and even mobile hotspot data features.

  • Keep your phone and number: You can bring your own phone and keep your phone number. No need to sign up for pricey device payments.

  • Customize your plan: You decide how much data you need. Choose to pay as you go, opt for unlimited or no data, minimal minutes, or unlimited talk text and data. Unlimited data plans come at a much better price with an alternative carrier. Pick the plan options that fit your budget - not the one your carrier thinks you need.

  • Great customer support: Smaller mobile providers are known for their attention to their customers. Stop feeling like an anonymous number getting lost in the crowd! Check out our carrier user reviews before switching.

Best cheap Verizon service provider

US Mobile 5GB data planFree Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM

Unlimitedmins

Unlimitedtexts

5 GB

4G data

$15

per month

Powered by: Verizon & T-Mobile

Verizon vs US Mobile Plan Comparison

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

Carrier

Network Coverage

4G LTE Data

Price

Annual Cost

Verizon

Verizon 4G LTE

Unltd*

$80/mo

$960/yr

US Mobile

Verizon 4G LTE

5GB

$15/mo

$180/yr

*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$65/mo$780/yr

Compare: best cheap Verizon phone plans


Best cheap T-Mobile service provider

Mint Mobile 4GB data plan* $45 for 3 Months Service

Unlimitedmins

Unlimitedtexts

4 GB

4G data

$15*

per month

Powered by: T-Mobile

T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile Plan Comparison

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

Carrier

Network Coverage

4G LTE Data

Price

Annual Cost

T-Mobile

T-Mobile 4G LTE

Unltd*

$70/mo

$840/yr

Mint Mobile

T-Mobile 4G LTE

4GB

$15/mo

$180/yr

*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$55/mo$660/yr

Compare: best cheap T-Mobile phone plans


Best cheap AT&T service provider

Pure Talk 4GB data plan* 25% Off for 3 Months

Unlimitedmins

Unlimitedtexts

4 GB

4G data

$18.75*

per month

$25/mo

Powered by: AT&T

AT&T vs Pure Talk Plan Comparison

Keep your AT&T phone, number & coverage: Save $619 per year

Carrier

Network Coverage

4G LTE Data

Price

Annual Cost

AT&T

AT&T 4G LTE

Unltd*

$75/mo

$900/yr

Pure Talk

AT&T 4G LTE

4GB

$25/mo

$281/yr

*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$50/mo$619/yr

Compare: best cheap AT&T phone plans


Cheap cell phone service features

  • 4G LTE data speeds: Since MVNOs operate on the big four cellular networks you'll pay less without sacrificing speed. More and more are adding 5G coverage all the time so you can expect high-speed data.

  • Unlimited talk and text messaging: Finding a new unlimited plan has never been easier. Virtually all small carriers include unlimited text and calls in their plan options. Compare cheap talk and text plans with or without data.

  • International calls to Canada and Mexico: International calling is a must for many people. Luckily MVNOs offer some of the best international phone plans, with free calling to certain countries like Canada and Mexico, and discounted rates on others.

  • Multiline discounts: Low-cost carriers also offer some of the cheapest family cell phone plans, with multi-line discounts.

  • Wi-Fi calling: This feature is handy when you're out of your service area, allowing you to make calls over the internet instead of on your cellular connection.

  • Tethering/hotspot data: Many low-cost carriers allow you to use your phone as a hotspot. Pick an MVNO with the best mobile hotspot plans so you can share your mobile hotspot data with other devices.

  • HD video streaming: Just like the big guys, some MVNOs offer HD video streaming and some don't. Read the fine print to find the option you want.


Compare the cheapest cell phone providers

Carrier

Network

Minutes

Texts

Data

Price

Ultra Mobile

T-Mobile

Unltd

Unltd

2GB

$11** Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20

Mint Mobile

T-Mobile

Unltd

Unltd

4GB

$15** $45 for 3 Months Service

US Mobile

Verizon & T-Mobile

Unltd

Unltd

12GB

$20Free Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM

Tello

T-Mobile

Unltd

Unltd

Unltd

$29.30** 25% Off for 6 Months

Good2Go Mobile

AT&T & T-Mobile

Unltd

Unltd

1GB

$7.50** 50% Off for 3 Months

Phone service provider 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

NETWORK

OVERALL

RELIABILITY

SPEED

DATA

CALL

Verizon Coverage

95

96

94

96

94

AT&T Coverage

94

94

95

96

92

T-Mobile Coverage

86

88

82

89

82

Source: Rootmetrics

Find Cheap Cell Phone Plans in Your Area

Cheap cell phone provider customer service

Concerned that low-cost carriers won't have good customer service? Don't be, on average MVNOs score much higher customer ratings than the big networks as you'll see in the comparison chart below:

CARRIER

TRUSTPILOT USER RATING

Reach Mobile

4.9

Tello

4.6

US Mobile

4.6

T-Mobile

1.5

Verizon

1.3

AT&T

1.2

Cheap cell phone service plan types

  • Unlimited plans: Looking for unlimited talk text and data? Alternative carriers have got you covered. Data hungry users looking for unlimited plus plans can save serious money by switching to one of the cheapest unlimited data plans. Not sure how much data you need? Check out our data usage calculator.

  • Basic plans: If you (or a loved one) only use a cell phone to make a few calls, send a couple of messages and rarely go online then you can opt for a simply prepaid plan. You get basic cell phone functions, an allowance for minutes of talk, and usually around 2GB of data at a great price. Once you run out of your data allotment, speeds slow, but it's usually very easy to add on more.

  • Family plans: Need four lines or more? Many MVNOs offer group plans. Compare the cheapest family phone plans so you can pick and choose what each family member needs.

  • Bring your own phone plans: BYOP plans are the norm with smaller carriers. Compare cell phone prices and get a great deal to go with your cheap cell phone plan!

  • Single line plans: Stop paying a premium rate just because you only need one line. Find the best phone plans for individuals.

  • Talk and text only plans: Don't need data? No problem - compare cheap talk and text plans. Bonus, you'll save a ton of money if you're not paying for data!

  • Tablet plans: Find the cheapest data plan for your tablet or iPad.

  • Kids plans: MVNOs offer the best phone plans for kids because you can tailor them to exactly what you want your child to have.

  • Senior plans: Senior citizens often have different cell phone needs. Compare cheap cell phone plans for seniors for the perfect fit.


Cheap cell phone providers pros & cons

Pros

  • No commitment: with cheap phone plans there are no contracts. No long-term commitment is necessary, pay month to month, and if you're not happy you can cancel at any time without the worry of early termination fees.

  • Plans to fit you: customize a plan that works for you. Whether you're looking for an unlimited data plan, plenty of calls and texts allowance, or a family plan you'll be able to find cheap phone plans from MVNOs to suit you.

  • Cheaper plans: say goodbye to expensive plans and only pay for what you need. Stay in control of your cell phone bill with customizable products and services, you can have the coverage you love and save money while getting the best value.

Cons

  • Deprioritization: cheap phone plans from MVNOs run on the same networks as the big three, so at certain times your wireless service can be slowed. This normally only happens during busy periods to help avoid congestion.


Considerations when comparing cell phone providers

We know choosing the best cheap cell phone provider can be overwhelming, and that's where we can help. With such a variety only a few providers will be suitable for your needs.

Money Saving Pro has all the latest up-to-date industry knowledge and we're here to break it down for you. To help narrow your search and provide the tools you need to understand your phone usage and make sure you only pay for the features you really need.

Here're some things to think about when considering your options.

Coverage

The most common concern is how will coverage be affected. The good news is it won't.

Low-cost carriers piggyback on the big three networks offering the same quality coverage, so if you love the coverage from your current provider AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile, there's a range of prepaid plans operating on these networks. Alternatively, if you're looking to change you can use your ZIP code to check coverage in your area.

Data allowance

To narrow down your search further it's worth figuring out the amount of data you use. Do you need to get unlimited or can you save money with set data per month?

If you spend a lot of time online, streaming HD video, or browsing the internet you may want to go for a data plan with unlimited data. However, be sure to check the small print as unlimited never really means unlimited and your data speeds will be slowed once the agreed data limit is reached. The good news is choosing an unlimited data plan is still cheaper with carriers like Mint Mobile and Tello.

But why pay a premium if you don't need to? Use our data calculator to see how much you need. Most of us only use around 3 to 5GB per month and choosing a set data plan will save you even more.

Perks and add ons

Choosing a cheaper cell phone provider doesn't mean missing out on all those extras. Most low-cost carriers include taxes and fees in the cost, plans commonly include unlimited talk and text messages and some mobile offers include perks like discounts for multiple lines, multi-month discounts for three months or more, and international calling and roaming.

Number of lines

Are you looking for more than one line? Many low cost carriers offer multiple lines for a family plan.

A multi-line plan can be beneficial for a number of reasons. Most alternative carriers provide a discount per line added to your plan, which is a much cheaper option than buying individual plans. Some include apps to help you manage all of the accounts in one place.


How to find the best cell phone plan

So how do you choose between all of these cheap cell phone providers? If you're still not sure which alternative carrier is right for you, there are plenty of checks you can do to find the right phone plan.

Look at how you use your phone

Do you need to have unlimited everything? A great place to start is by working out what you use your phone for and the features you really need. There are international calling options if you have family living abroad, or a basic plan if you just need it for calls and texts.

You can save more money by only paying for what you need on these customizable plans.

What's your budget

Deciding what you want to spend on your monthly phone bill can help you narrow down your top picks. Alternative carriers provide the same benefits as the big 3 but with a more affordable price tag.

Unlimited data isn't for everyone

We're not big fans of unlimited data. Most plans with AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon use unlimited data as their main selling point, but we don't believe it's really necessary.

You can check your estimated data use with our free tool to see if you really need an unlimited data plan. On average we only use around 3 to 5GB of data per month so by choosing a set data plan you'll be able to save money on your monthly bill. However, if you really want unlimited data you'll find some affordable options with carriers like Tello and Mint Mobile but make sure to check the small print as unlimited never really means unlimited. Most plans have a set data limit that once reached, although there's no overage charge, your data speeds will be significantly reduced.

Best is personal

There's no one size fits all when it comes to cell phone plans. There's a wide range of plans to choose from whether you're looking for a basic phone with just talk and text, a family plan, or lots of data for hotspot use and streaming HD video. You can also check your ZIP code to see whether T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon's network is best in your area.


How to switch to a cheaper cell phone provider

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.

Bring your own phone & save

You need simple in your life. The great thing about MVNOs is that switching carriers is easy.

You need an unlocked phone (meaning your carrier has released it for use on another network). Once you've checked with your new provider about phone compatibility the rest is a breeze.

Most low-cost carriers simply provide you with a prepaid SIM card. You pop it into your mobile phone and follow the provider's instructions. Just make sure you don't cancel your current phone plan until you've ported your phone number over to the new carrier.

Cheap cell phone companies list

AT&T

T-Mobile

Verizon

Red Pocket

Mint Mobile

US Mobile

Good2Go Mobile

Ultra Mobile

Red Pocket

Unreal Mobile

US Mobile

Reach Mobile

Pure Talk

Tello

Twigby

h2o Wireless

Red Pocket

Spectrum Mobile

FreeUP Mobile

Metro by T-Mobile

Net10 Wireless

Boom! Mobile

Consumer Cellular

Page Plus Cellular

Black Wireless

GoSmart Mobile

Total Wireless

Kroger Wireless

Republic Wireless

Xfinity Mobile

easyGO Wireless

Simple Mobile

CREDO Mobile

Optimum Mobile

Lycamobile

Affinity Cellular

Freedompop

Selectel Wireless

GreatCall

Boost Mobile

Walmart Family Mobile

Gen Mobile

yahoo! Mobile

Wing

Ting

easyGO Wireless

Speedtalk Mobile


Cheap cell phone deals

So what if you do want to upgrade your phone? It's all good - with a prepaid carrier you can save a ton of money by choosing one of a couple of great money-saving options:

  • Buy a new phone from the carrier: More and more MVNOs are offering a selection of affordable phones. Some even give you the choice of making device payments instead of paying all at once. We've gathered the best cell phone deals for you to compare all in one place.

  • Buy a refurbished cell phone: If you'd rather own your phone outright, compare refurbished phone deals to save over 50% on top models in great condition.

Compare the cheapest cell phone prices

Model

Condition

Memory

Compatibility

Price

Apple iPhone 11

New

128GB

AT&T

$549

Apple iPhone 11 Pro

New

64GB

AT&T

$599

Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max

New

64GB

AT&T

$699

Apple iPhone 12

New

128GB

AT&T

$779

Apple iPhone 12 mini

New

64GB

T-Mobile

$729

Apple iPhone 12 Pro

New

128GB

Verizon

$999

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

New

128GB

T-Mobile

$1,099

Apple iPhone SE

New

64GB

T-Mobile

$399

Apple iPhone XR

New

128GB

T-Mobile

$549


Cheap cell phone providers FAQs

What's the cheapest cell phone plan?

Prices vary depending on the carrier and what you're looking for from your cell phone package. With a low-cost carrier, plans start from around $10 a month.

What are good options for prepaid phone plans?

MVNOs offer great value prepaid cell phone plans. Saving you money on your monthly bill, while receiving the same quality coverage as they piggyback on the big US networks.

What's the best cell phone carrier?

The best carrier provides you with what you need from a cell phone plan and good coverage in your area. MVNOs offer a selection of plans suitable for everyone.


Recap

Paying over $80 a month for a cell phone plan that doesn't give you what you need doesn't make sense. Dodge the rising costs of cell phone plans from the big four carriers.

There are so many low-cost carriers emerging in the wireless industry. Offering cheap cell phone plans, they can save you hundreds of dollars each year.

Don't sacrifice cellular coverage you know and trust. Find out which of the four big networks offer the best coverage in your area, and find the best low-cost carrier for you. Bring your own phone to save even more and check user reviews before you sign up to get the best switching experience.

Each low-cost carrier is tailored toward specific needs and there's a great range out there. Finding that next great plan has never been easier.

MoneySavingPro methodology

We're here to bring transparency to telecoms, putting power back in your hands. This guides everything we do.

  • We've got high standards. We use our industry expertise to find carriers that reach these standards. We all deserve the best value for money, choice and customer experience.

  • We care about accuracy. MoneySavingPro is run by cell phone geeks and money saving obsessives. Our content team researches everything thoroughly so that information you read here will give you the whole picture. Everything we do is backed up by the data.

  • We keep things simple. It's our job to break down what you need to know, so you can make informed choices.

Carrier

Best for...

Mins

Texts

Data

Price

Tello SIM Card - Best phone provider for prepaid plansTello

Best prepaid plan

Unlimited

Unlimited

1GB

$10/mo

Mint Mobile SIM Card - Best phone provider for unlimited dataMint Mobile

Best unlimited plan

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

$30/mo

Red Pocket SIM Card - Best phone provider for kidsRed Pocket

Best kids plan

500

500

0.5GB

$10/mo

US Mobile SIM Card - Best provider for hotspot plansUS Mobile

Best hotspot plan

0

0

2GB

$10/mo

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.

The best prices on the best networks