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When you're trying to make every dollar count, you need to look at one of your biggest monthly expenses: your cell phone bill.

A SIM card is a critical component of any cell phone because, without a SIM card, your phone couldn't make calls or use any data services.

Within the last few years, I've switched my entire family around several times to find the best plan to meet our needs for the best price.

But the real question remains:

How much do SIM cards cost?

Short answer: Well, it's not the actual SIM card that costs you money. Most carriers provide a free SIM card or eSIM with their cell services. The price you pay comes from the cell phone plan that you choose, which, if you select an MVNO, can range from around $10 up to $40 a month.

The great news is that I haven't had to spend a dime on a traditional SIM card or its digital version, an eSIM.

In this guide, I'll cover my own experience and what you can expect with the cost of the best value prepaid SIM cards, including some of my top recommendations on how you can save money when buying a SIM card.

What is an MVNO SIM card?

MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) are low-cost carriers offering affordable cell phone plans that operate on the same major networks: T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T.

This allows them to offer competitive rates on SIM card plans while still providing access to reliable network coverage.

Most low-cost carriers offer prepaid plans, although some, like Boost Infinite, are postpaid.

This doesn't affect the cost of the SIM card, as it's the cell phone plan that you're paying for.

It's worth noting that some MVNOs may offer discounts or promotions on their plans. So it's always a great idea to check the latest deals online.

MVNO SIM cards vs. the big three

When it comes to the actual SIM cards from low-cost carriers compared to the big three, there isn't any difference. However, the main difference is the cost of the plans.

As with low-cost carriers, there is no charge for a SIM card. But with the major networks, going direct could set you back a minimum of $50-$60 a month for a plan.

What is my personal experience with SIM card prices?

In the last few years, I have switched multiple times to various low-cost carriers, including Boost Mobile, Tello, Visible, Mint Mobile, and US Mobile.

Some carriers had traditional physical SIM cards, and some had eSIM activation.

The one thing consistent across all of the carriers I've tried was that the SIM card was free.

SIM card cost FAQs

Recap: How much does a SIM card cost?

The cost of your SIM card will depend on the cell phone plan and carrier you choose. The SIM card itself is usually free; you just pay for the monthly plan you select.

Most of the best MVNOs provide SIM cards free of charge, and they offer affordable plans starting from around $10 a month, with the same coverage from major networks.

SIM card FAQs

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