How to switch to carriers & bring your own phone
Cheap cell phone 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 cheap Verizon carrier
Verizon vs US Mobile Plan Comparison
Keep your Verizon phone, number & coverage: Save $780 per year
4G LTE Data
|Verizon 4G LTE|
|Verizon 4G LTE|
|*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GB||Savings||$65/mo||$780/yr|
Best cheap T-Mobile carrier
T-Mobile vs Mint Mobile Plan Comparison
Keep your T-Mobile phone, number & coverage: Save $660 per year
4G LTE Data
|T-Mobile 4G LTE|
|T-Mobile 4G LTE|
|*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GB||Savings||$55/mo||$660/yr|
Best cheap AT&T carrier
AT&T vs Pure Talk Plan Comparison
Keep your AT&T phone, number & coverage: Save $619 per year
4G LTE Data
|AT&T 4G LTE|
|AT&T 4G LTE|
|*Don't waste money on unlimited data - Avg. data usage is only 3-5GB||Savings||$50/mo||$619/yr|
Cheap prepaid phone plan 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 cheap phone carrier deals
$11** Extra 20% Off with code: MSP20
$15** $45 for 3 Months Service
Verizon & T-Mobile
$20Free Starter Kit with code: MSPUSM
$29.30** 25% Off for 6 Months
AT&T & T-Mobile
$7.50** 50% Off for 3 Months
How to switch to a cheaper cell phone carrier
It's never been easier to switch. Let's break it down.
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.
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.
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.
Carrier coverage comparison
Which prepaid carrier is best for you? That depends on which network has the best coverage in your area.
Network performance ratings
Carrier customer service comparison
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:
TRUSTPILOT USER RATING
Cell phone 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.
Guide to switching carriers
Here's a quick overview of the steps involved in changing mobile service providers:
Compare cell phone plans and choose a new carrier with features and plans that match your usage.
Check out the coverage map to be sure they have 4G LTE service in your home location and anywhere to which you travel frequently.
Check phone compatibility using an IMEI checker.
Make sure your old bills are paid up and your phone is unlocked.
Back up your phone so you don't lose photos, contacts, and other important info if you're changing devices.
Wait to cancel your old account until your phone number is ported over.
Considerations when switching carriers
Termination Fees: Contracts are a thing of the past, by and large, but if you happen to be stuck in one - or you owe for device payments - you'll need to take care of any remaining obligations before changing carriers.
Price: If you're switching cell phone providers, chances are cost is one of your primary motivators for doing so. One of the best ways to control costs is to choose a phone plan that fits your needs so that you only pay for what you use.
Data usage: Go through your last three months of statements to find your average data use per month. For many users, this is just 2 to 3 GB. You can also check our data usage calculator to compute the amount of data you require for your activities. Then compare cell phone plans using our comparison tool.
Promotions: Cell phone providers might try to lure you by offering temporary incentives. These can include more data per month for the same price or a discount off your service for a specified time.
Switch carrier deals FAQs
Can you switch cell phone carriers and keep the same number?
Yes absolutely. With MVNOs they make it easy to port your number across when you switch.
Do you have to switch SIM cards when you switch carriers?
When you switch carriers, you will need to change your SIM card to activate your new service. It won't take long, with low cost carriers you'll be up and running within a few days.
How long does it take to switch phone carriers?
Once you've chosen your carrier and plan, your SIM card will be posted to you along with your phone, if you've purchased one. Most MVNO carriers can get you up and running within a few days.
With a wide variety of carriers and plans now available it's really all about finding the plan that fits your usage so that you're not paying for more than you actually use.
Once you're finished with the above steps, all that's left to do is enjoy your lower cell phone bill!