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The 5 best cell phone carriers in 2024

Same coverage: Cut your bill by $600 per year

Verizon
$75
/mo
Unlimited data
$900/yr
vs
Tello on T-Mobile
Tello logo on phone
$25
/mo
Unlimited data
$300/yr
US Mobile on Verizon
US Mobile logo on phone
$29
/mo
Unlimited data
$348/yr
Boost Mobile on AT&T
Boost Mobile logo on phone
$25
/mo
Unlimited data
$300/yr
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MoneySavingPro independently researches the products & services to bring you our recommendations. We may earn money when you click our links - disclosure policy.

Looking for a new phone, but on a tight budget?

We've got your back. Find your next cell phone plan from the best low-cost providers out there.

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 three networks.

You can stay on the same network, plus get greater flexibility. Everything you need comes at a much better price with a low-cost carrier.

Best cell phone carriers on T-Mobile

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with T-Mobile coverage to consider.

Cheap T-Mobile plan

Tello 2GB plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
2GB
data
$10/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$780 in annual savings

Best family plan on T-Mobile

Mint Mobile 15GB plan

Image of cell phone with Mint Mobile
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
15GB
data
$15/mo*
$20/mo
See at Mint Mobile

*$45 for 3 Months

4.2 Read our Mint Mobile review
$675 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on T-Mobile

Tello unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$600 in annual savings

Best cell phone carriers on Verizon

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with Verizon coverage to consider.

Cheap Verizon plan

Twigby 2GB plan

Image of cell phone with Twigby
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
2GB
data
$5/mo*
$15/mo
4.4 Read our Twigby review
$750 in annual savings

Best family plan on Verizon

US Mobile 10GB plan

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
10GB
data
$15/mo*
5 Read our US Mobile review
$720 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on Verizon

US Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$15/mo*
$29/mo
5 Read our US Mobile review
$594 in annual savings

Best cell phone carriers on AT&T

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with AT&T coverage to consider.

Cheap AT&T plan

Red Pocket 1GB plan

Image of cell phone with Red Pocket
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
1GB
data
$10/mo
4.1 Read our Red Pocket review
$780 in annual savings

Best family plan on AT&T

Boost Mobile 5GB plan

Image of cell phone with Boost Mobile
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
5GB
data
$5/mo*
$15/mo
See at Boost Mobile

*$10 Off 1st Mth

4 Read our Boost Mobile review
$730 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on AT&T

Boost Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Boost Mobile
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$10/mo*
$25/mo
See at Boost Mobile

*$15 Off 1st Mth

4 Read our Boost Mobile review
$615 in annual savings

Best overall value phone carrier

Tello unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$600 in annual savings

How to choose the best cell phone carrier

What network coverage do you prefer?

Network access is a key consideration wherever you live, but especially in rural areas. Luckily, low-cost carriers operate on the same 5G & 4G LTE networks as major carriers. T-Mobile scores the highest for 5G coverage, according to an Opensignal 5G Experience Report (2023). If there is a particular network you prefer, choose an MVNO that operates on that network. Use our coverage checker to find the best cell phone service in your area.

How much data do you need?

Do you really need an unlimited data plan? The big wireless companies want you to believe so, but in reality, the average monthly cellular data consumption is around 10GB. However, if you spend most of your time at home or work on Wi-Fi, it's likely your cellular data usage will be much lower. You can choose a data plan tailored to your needs with cheap cell phone providers, meaning you can pay less if you use less. But if you do choose an unlimited data plan, be aware that high-speed data is normally capped.

Is hotspot data included?

Most carriers allow hotspot data usage but limit the amount of data that can be used via tethering. The limit depends on the carrier and plan you choose. Some carriers also offer data only plans so you can access the internet on mobile devices like iPads, tablets, and mobile hotspots when Wi-Fi's not available.

What's the monthly price?

While big wireless unlimited plans cost around $75-90 per month, the best MVNOs offer budget-friendly plans, ranging from $5-35 per month without sacrificing wireless coverage and data speeds. Watch out for hidden fees & taxes; some carriers include these in the price, and others, such as Verizon and AT&T, don't.

How many lines do you need?

With big wireless, you only get the advertised price if you buy four lines. With MVNOs, the price you see is the price you pay, even for one line. Many low-cost carriers now offer further discounts for multi-line plans.

Can I bring my own phone or buy a new device?

While the big three love keeping their customers locked into a constant phone upgrade cycle, MVNOs encourage you to bring your own phone. This means you take back control and only change your phone when it suits you. If you do want to purchase a new phone, many MVNOs offer an affordable and easy way with 0% financing over 1-2 years.

Are there any deals or promotions?

Big wireless promotions can seem good at a glance. But once you read the small print, it often leads to buying things you don't need and committing to 3-year phone contracts. Many MVNOs offer short-term introductory promotional pricing for new customers, and their pricing is much more transparent.

What perks or add ons can I expect?

Most big wireless plans include "free" TV subscriptions. Initially, these seem like a great deal. However, these usually turn into a paid subscription that is automatically added to your bill a few months down the line. A few low-cost carriers, such as US Mobile, do offer plan options with free subscription services, but we generally recommend keeping these subscriptions separate so you don't end up paying for things you don't need.

Is international calling included?

Most MVNOs offer free international calls to many countries. If this is important to you, make sure to choose a carrier that includes this.

Are there parental controls?

Some Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) provide parental controls that allow parents to monitor their children's cell phone usage and data consumption. By using these features, you have the ability to establish limits on data usage, limit access to specific apps or websites, and even keep track of your child's whereabouts. These capabilities are accessible either through subscription plans or can be adjusted in the settings of your mobile device.

Check out our cell phone plan comparison to ensure you find the best deal.


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Compare the cheapest phone carriers

Carrier Data Monthly Price Annual Price Savings
Tello 2GB $10/mo $120/yr $780/yr See at Tello
Mint Mobile 15GB $15/mo*$20/mo $225/yr $675/yr See at Mint Mobile
*$45 for 3 Months
Tello Unlimited $25/mo $300/yr $600/yr See at Tello

Cell phone carriers FAQs


Recap: What is the best cell phone company?

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 three 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 the wireless coverage you know and trust. Find out which of the big networks offer the best phone coverage in your area, and find the best low-cost carrier for you. Bring your phone to save even more, and check user reviews before signing up for the best switching experience.

Each low-cost carrier is tailored toward specific needs, and a great range exists. Some feature prepaid options; others focus on unlimited data.

Carrier guides

How we choose the best carriers and plans

To select the best carriers and plans, MoneySavingPro's team of experts evaluated over 30 different carriers.

Carriers were rated in five categories, with a star rating from 1-5, with 5 stars being the best. We then calculate the overall star rating using the five categories:

  1. Value for money: We compare carriers based on price, features, benefits, and promotions. It's not just about the lowest price but getting the most bang for your buck.
  2. Coverage: We look at network 5G and 4G LTE coverage across the US. We use coverage maps to determine service availability and data speeds in urban, suburban, and rural locations.
  3. Customer experience: We take into account items such as current user experience, website and app usability, ease of switching, and customer service in terms of availability, channels, and satisfaction ratings.
  4. Transparency: We assess whether carrier pricing is clear and straightforward. We examine the fine print to check for hidden fees, confusing terms or conditions, and misleading offers to ensure upfront, honest prices and advertising.
  5. Range of choice: We evaluate the diversity of plan options to determine if they fit the individual needs of all customers.

Read more about our carrier ratings methodology and our editorial process.

We regularly update our comparisons. Updating cell phone plans weekly and our content monthly to ensure we are showing the latest and most accurate information.

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