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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
Avg. user rating
Benefits

    GSM Carriers

    What are the best GSM carriers?

    Best prepaid plan
    1GB 4G/5G data
    $10/mo
    Powered by:

    See Deal

    Best unlimited plan
    Unltd 4G/5G data
    $15/mo*$30/mo
    Powered by:

    See Deal

    * Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    Best senior plan
    1GB 4G/5G data
    $15/mo
    Powered by:

    See Deal

    Best kids plan
    500MB 4G/5G data
    $10/mo
    Powered by:

    See Deal

    Find the cheapest phone plans in your area

    GSM is one of two cellular technologies that help bridge the gap when there's no 4G signal. AT&T and T-Mobile are the two main networks, along with their MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) that run on the GSM network.

    MVNOs have started growing in popularity along with a wide range of options whatever your needs and budget. And because they're powered by the main networks you don't have to sacrifice quality coverage.

    If your phone is on the CDMA network or unlocked, you can still save money on the best MVNO plans.

    We've broken it down further for you below.

    Best prepaid GSM carrier

    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:
    See Deal

    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 GSM carrier for seniors

    See Deal
    Good2Go Mobile SIM Card - Good2Go Mobile 1GB $15/moGood2Go Mobile SIM Card - Good2Go Mobile 1GB $15/mo
    Minutes
    Unlimited
    Texts
    Unlimited
    Data
    1GB
    Price
    $15/mo
    Powered by:
    See Deal

    Good2Go Mobile 1GB plan includes unlimited mins, unlimited texts and 1GB data for only $15 per month. Good2Go Mobile plans offer wireless coverage on the AT&T & 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 Good2Go Mobile review

    Plans
    PlanDataPriceView plan

    Good2Go Mobile 3GB

    3GB

    $10*

    * 50% Off for 3 Months
    View Plan

    Good2Go Mobile Unlimited Talk & Text

    0GB

    $10

    View Plan

    Good2Go Mobile 6GB

    6GB

    $15*

    * 50% Off for 3 Months
    View Plan

    Good2Go Mobile 1GB

    1GB

    $15

    View Plan

    Good2Go Mobile 10GB

    10GB

    $35

    View Plan

    Good2Go Mobile 20GB

    20GB

    $45

    View Plan
    Review
    4

    Pros

    • 4G LTE coverage

    • No contract

    • No credit checks

    Cons

    • No unlimited data options

    • No app interface

    Benefits

    • Coverage on the nationwide AT&T & T-Mobile networks

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

    • Bring your own phone or buy a Good2Go Mobile phone

    • Mobile hotspot/tethering not supported

    • International calling to over 60 countries available as affordable plan add-on; calling to other countries via add-on calling card

    • Customer service available by phone 7am - 1am EST every day

    Best GSM carrier for kids

    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:
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    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

    Best GSM carrier for tablet data

    See Deal
    US Mobile SIM Card - US Mobile 2GB $10/moUS Mobile SIM Card - US Mobile 2GB $10/mo
    Minutes
    0
    Texts
    0
    Data
    2GB
    Price
    $10/mo* Free 10 Day Trial
    Powered by:
    See Deal

    US Mobile 2GB plan includes 0 mins, 0 texts and 2GB data for only $10 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

    GSM network carriers in 2022

    By Rob Webber - Last updated on
    Check Carrier Coverage

    GSM carrier benefits

    • 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 T-Mobile GSM carrier

    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 AT&T GSM carrier

    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 carrier 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 GSM carrier plans

    CarrierNetworkMinutesTextsDataPrice
    TelloT-MobileUnltdUnltd1GB$10
    Mint MobileT-MobileUnltdUnltd4GB$15** Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    US MobileVerizon & T-MobileUnltdUnltd12GB$20* Free 10 Day Trial
    Mint MobileT-MobileUnltdUnltd15GB$15** Only $45 for 3 Months Service
    TelloT-MobileUnltdUnltdUnltd$29

    GSM carrier 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?

    We've included a full list of GSM carriers below:

    T-Mobile GSM network 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 network 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

    What is the GSM network?

    GSM - or Global System for Mobile Communications - is a mobile network that is used worldwide, unlike CDMA which is used mainly in the US. It is the most popular cell phone technology and it is much easier to swap between phones on GSM networks as your information is stored on a SIM card.

    Since it started GSM has evolved much faster than CDMA and 4G LTE is a GSM standard which means that both Verizon and Sprint are now using GSM technology on their previous CDMA phones. GSM, along with CDMA, is the technology that fills the gap when your 4G signal drops.

    What is a GSM SIM card?

    A SIM (subscriber identity module) card is what is provided to you by your carrier when you sign up to one of their plans. It has a unique identification number and holds your phone information, like your contacts and personal data.

    The GSM SIM card makes it easy to switch between phones as you can just take it out from one phone and pop it into your new phone. Some older devices may still be locked to your current provider, so you will need to make sure they are unlocked before changing over.

    When it comes to the SIM cards there are three types of SIM - standard SIM, micro SIM and Nano SIM. The type of SIM card you will need depends on your phone but the most common is the Nano SIM.

    Which is better CDMA or GSM?

    This can still be a confusing topic for consumers and it's really more a personal preference when it comes to CDMA and GSM.

    It's easier to swap phones with a GSM phone as the information is stored on a SIM card and GSM carriers do not have as much control over the phone used. With CDMA you need the permission of your carrier.

    Whether you have a CDMA phone or a GSM phone you can find the best low-cost carriers for both networks.


    Best GSM unlocked phones

    PhoneStorageNetworkConditionPrice
    Apple iPhone SE64GBAT&TNew$429
    Apple iPhone 1164GBAT&TNew$499
    Apple iPhone 1264GBAT&TNew$729
    Apple iPhone 13 mini128GBAT&TNew$729
    Apple iPhone 12 mini256GBAT&TNew$779
    Apple iPhone 13128GBAT&TNew$829
    Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max128GBAT&TNew$999
    Apple iPhone 12 Pro256GBAT&TNew$999
    Apple iPhone 13 Pro128GBAT&TNew$999
    Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max128GBAT&TNew$1,099

    GSM unlocked phone benefits

    • Save 50% or more off retail: Get flagship smartphones in excellent condition for hundreds less than new.
    • It's great value for your dollar: New phone models usually only get minor upgrades from year to year so hold onto your money and still get all the best features.
    • Retain your freedom: Buying your phone outright means you can decide when to leave your carrier for a cheaper cell phone plan.

    What does GSM unlocked mean?

    Most carriers want to keep you as a customer, so often you'll find your device is locked to the carrier you originally signed up with so you can't just pop your SIM card into a phone with another network. If your device is locked, don't panic you still have options!

    If your phone is locked you may be able to unlock it once it has been fully paid off or you can still save money with one of AT&T or T-Mobile's MVNOs.

    Some carriers, however, do provide unlocked phones and if your phone is only a few years old then it is likely to be unlocked as most new phones use both the GSM and CDMA network.

    With an unlocked phone, you can find the best cell phone plan for your budget and not worry about the fuss of switching carriers.


    GSM carriers FAQs

    Is AT&T GSM?

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

    Is T-Mobile GSM?

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

    Is Verizon GSM?

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


    Recap

    There's a wide variety of cell phone plans available on the GSM network with carriers like Mint Mobile, PureTalk, and Red Pocket Mobile, to name just a few,that can save you money.

    If you're looking to bring your own phone, as long as it's compatible you can easily switch between carriers.

    If you've got a CDMA phone without a SIM card slot there are plenty of low cost options to upgrade your handset with most MVNOs offering 0% finance plans over two years.

    If you want to check your phone is compatible you can use our IMEI code checker.

    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.
    CarrierBest for...MinsTextsDataPrice
    Tello SIM Card - Best prepaid GSM carrierTelloBest prepaid planUnlimitedUnlimited1GB$10/mo
    Mint Mobile SIM Card - Best GSM carrier for unlimited dataMint MobileBest unlimited planUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited$30/mo
    Good2Go Mobile SIM Card - Best GSM carrier for seniorsGood2Go MobileBest senior planUnlimitedUnlimited1GB$15/mo
    Red Pocket SIM Card - Best GSM carrier for kidsRed PocketBest kids plan500500500MB$10/mo
    US Mobile SIM Card - Best GSM carrier for tablet dataUS MobileBest data plan002GB$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.