GSM Carriers: Cheap Phone Plans

Cheap carriers compatible with GSM phones

Best T-Mobile Carrier
8GB LTE Data
$20 per month
Best AT&T Carrier
5GB LTE Data
$30 per month
Cheap T-Mobile Carrier
0GB LTE Data
$10 per month
Cheap AT&T Carrier
1GB LTE Data
$20 per month
Cheap GSM Phone Plans Starting at $10/mo - Compare Now

The Best GSM Network Carriers

Rob Webber

Rob Webber

There's one thing most cell phone owners know: not all phones work with all cell phone carriers. If for example, you're on the AT&T or T-Mobile network, you can't bring your device to Sprint or Verizon, and vice versa.

Why? Because the four major carrier networks use two different technologies - GSM and CDMA. AT&T and T-Mobile utilize GSM, while Verizon and Sprint use CDMA.

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However, just because you can't bring your GSM phone to a CDMA network doesn't mean you're stuck choosing only from the big guys. There are plenty of smaller GSM phone carriers to consider.

These lesser-known providers are called MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). MVNOs use the same cell towers as the big four, which means you're getting solid service.

With MVNOs, you'll be able to take advantage of cheap cell phone plans customized to your needs.

The Best GSM Carrier Plans of March 2020

GSM Carriers: Cheap Phone Plans
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GSM Carrier Plan Comparison Chart

CarrierCoverageDataPrice
Mint MobileT-Mobile 4G LTE8GB$20
PureTalk USAAT&T 4G LTE5GB$30
US MobileT-Mobile 4G LTE0GB$10
PureTalk USAAT&T 4G LTE1GB$20

Best T-Mobile GSM Carrier: Mint Mobile

Pros

  • Simple, affordable plans
  • Free text and talk with all plans
  • Unlimited 2G data
  • Free SIM card kit

Cons

  • Only GSM or global phones compatible
  • Only sold in lots of 3, 6, or 12 months
  • No unlimited data plan

Best Value GSM Plan: Mint Mobile 8GB

Mint Mobile - 8GB Data* Pay $60 for 3 Months
Mint Mobile
UnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts
8 GB4G data
Powered by:T-Mobile
Mint Mobile SIM Card
NetworkT-Mobile
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - 3 mths prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes Mexico & Canada
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 7 days

T-Mobile National 4G LTE Coverage Without T-Mobile Prices

T-Mobile Coverage Map

T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile Price Comparison

Keep your T-Mobile phone, number & coverage: Save $600 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
T-MobileT-Mobile 4G LTEUnltd*$70/mo$840/yr
Mint MobileT-Mobile 4G LTE8GB$20/mo$240/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$50/mo$600/yr

Best AT&T GSM Carrier: PureTalk USA

Pros

  • Good plan selection
  • Unlimited talk and text with all plans
  • Unlimited 2G data
  • Clean, user-friendly website

Cons

  • No unlimited data plan
  • International calling requires add-on calling card

Best Value GSM Carrier: PureTalk USA 5GB

PureTalk USA - 5GB Data* 25% Off for 3 Months
PureTalk USA
UnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts
5 GB4G data
Powered by:AT&T
PureTalk USA SIM Card
NetworkAT&T
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile Hotspotn/a
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International Callsn/a
Money Back Guaranteen/a

AT&T National 4G LTE Coverage Without AT&T Prices

AT&T Coverage Map

AT&T vs PureTalk USA Price Comparison

Keep your AT&T phone, number & coverage: Save $562 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
AT&TAT&T 4G LTEUnltd*$75/mo$900/yr
PureTalk USAAT&T 4G LTE5GB$30/mo$338/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$45/mo$562/yr

Cheap T-Mobile GSM Carrier: US Mobile

Pros

  • 99% of phones are compatible
  • Super flexible, customizable plans
  • Unlimited data plan option
  • Three data speed choices

Cons

  • Larger data plans are a bit pricey
  • Hotspot usage costs extra

Best Cheap GSM Plan: US Mobile 0GB

US Mobile
UnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts
0 GB4G data
Powered by:VerizonT-Mobile
US Mobile SIM Card
NetworkT-Mobile & Verizon
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM & CDMA
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsNo
Money Back GuaranteeNo

T-Mobile National 4G LTE Coverage Without T-Mobile Prices

T-Mobile Coverage Map

T-Mobile vs US Mobile Price Comparison

Keep your T-Mobile phone, number & coverage: Save $720 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
T-MobileT-Mobile 4G LTEUnltd*$70/mo$840/yr
US MobileT-Mobile 4G LTE0GB$10/mo$120/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$60/mo$720/yr

Cheap AT&T GSM Carrier: PureTalk USA

Pros

  • Good plan selection
  • Unlimited talk and text with all plans
  • Unlimited 2G data
  • Clean, user-friendly website

Cons

  • No unlimited data plan
  • International calling requires add-on calling card

Best Cheap GSM Plan: PureTalk USA 1GB

PureTalk USA - 1GB Data* 25% Off for 3 Months
PureTalk USA
UnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts
1 GB4G data
Powered by:AT&T
PureTalk USA SIM Card
NetworkAT&T
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile Hotspotn/a
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International Callsn/a
Money Back Guaranteen/a

AT&T National 4G LTE Coverage Without AT&T Prices

AT&T Coverage Map

AT&T vs PureTalk USA Price Comparison

Keep your AT&T phone, number & coverage: Save $675 per year

CarrierNetwork Coverage4G LTE DataPriceAnnual Cost
AT&TAT&T 4G LTEUnltd*$75/mo$900/yr
PureTalk USAAT&T 4G LTE1GB$20/mo$225/yr
*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GBSavings$55/mo$675/yr

Best Overall GSM Carrier: Mint Mobile

Best Value GSM Plan: Mint Mobile 8GB

Mint Mobile - 8GB Data* Pay $60 for 3 Months
Mint Mobile
UnlimitedminsUnlimitedtexts
8 GB4G data
Powered by:T-Mobile
Mint Mobile SIM Card
NetworkT-Mobile
Data Speed4G LTE
3G NetworkGSM
Mobile HotspotYes
Bring Your PhoneYes
Keep Your NumberYes
ContractNo - 3 mths prepaid
Credit CheckNo
Customer Service24/7
International CallsYes - Includes Mexico & Canada
Money Back GuaranteeYes - 7 days

Why Choose an MVNO?

Compared to the big four carriers - AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile - these smaller carriers offer several advantages:

  • Save money: With lower overhead and marketing costs, MVNOs can offer you much lower rates.
  • Customized plans: The big guys' main offerings are based on unlimited data. While that sounds ideal, the average smartphone owner uses less than 3GB of data per month, not at all justifying the pricey purchase of an unlimited data plan. MVNOs allow you to pay for what you need, with no strings attached.
  • No contracts or credit checks: Speaking of no strings attached, MVNOs are prepaid carriers, meaning that if you find yourself dissatisfied with the service, you can leave at any time. Better yet, you'll never have to deal with a credit check or two-year commitment.
  • Keep your freedom: Did you know you can keep your phone? MVNOs welcome - and often require - bringing your own device, so you'll have to bring an unlocked GSM phone and SIM card. While those phone financing plans are tempting, you're tacking an additional $10 - $30 to your monthly bill, and that adds up to between $120 and $360 per year.

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Recap

If you prefer GSM carriers to CDMA carriers and are tired of the pricey bills sent by T-Mobile and AT&T, then you should consider GSM MVNOs.

The options of GSM carriers are vast and low-cost, so you'll save a lot more money by switching. TPO Mobile, US Mobile, Mint Mobile, Red Pocket, and ROK Mobile are just a few of what is offered in the United States.

However, take a moment to compare cheap cell phone plans to see how much you can really save each year.

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