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What is an MVNO?

MVNOs offer big coverage at small prices

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What are MVNOs?

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO for short) are carriers that offer low cost cell phone service but do not operate their own network.

Instead, they partner with one of the big networks, such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint. Because MVNOs don't have the cost of building their own networks, their cell phone plans are significantly cheaper and much more flexible.

MVNOs have been disrupting the cell phone industry in recent years. When you buy a cell phone plan with an MVNO rather than the big guys, you get the service you know and love at a fraction of the cost.

Let's break it down even further.

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MVNO pros and cons

What's the catch? When something sounds too good to be true it can set alarm bells ringing. Let's help you decide;

Pros:

· No contracts

· No hidden fees

· Low cost plans

· Pay for what you need

· Flexible and easy to switch

· Good variety of plans for any budget

Cons:

· Data speeds can be throttled – with main network customers getting priority

· Phone selection is small – if you're looking for a new phone

Why are MVNOs cheaper?

With an MVNO you can save around 50% off your cell phone bill compared to going direct to the network. So how do they offer their plans so cheaply I hear you ask?

One of the main reasons is the overheads. Being an online carrier, they don't have the massive overheads that come with having a physical store.

Another thing with most alternative carriers is that they encourage you to bring your own phone. Adding a phone to your plan can increase your bill by $10 to $30. So by BYOP you can keep those extra dollars in your pocket.

Which network is your MVNO on?

An MVNO is the cheap cell phone carrier that piggybacks off of the four main networks.

You may have heard of Mint Mobile, Boost Mobile, Ting or Red Pocket to name just a few.

Whether you're looking for a cheaper cell phone plan on your current network or looking to change. We've put together a list of MVNO's by network to help you decide.

MVNO carriers list

Verizon MVNOs

Sprint MVNOs

T-Mobile MVNOs

AT&T MVNOs

Twigby

Twigby

Mint Mobile

Red Pocket Mobile

US Mobile

Tello

US Mobile

Pure Talk

Red Pocket Mobile

TextNow

Red Pocket Mobile

h2o Wireless

Reach Mobile

Pix Wireless

Ultra Mobile

Good2Go Mobile

Straight Talk

Ting

Metro by T-Mobile

Cricket

Net10 Wireless

Red Pocket Mobile

Net10 Wireless

Consumer Cellular

Total Wireless

Straight Talk

Republic Wireless

FreedomPop

Page Plus

Boost Mobile

Simple Mobile

Straight Talk

CREDO Mobile

Ting

TracFone

TracFone

TracFone

Net10

GreatCall

Consumer Cellular

FreeUP Mobile

Xfinity Mobile

Unreal Mobile

Not sure what network is best? Use our coverage map to check what networks are available in your area.

Is an MVNO right for me?

As long as you're comfortable with doing everything online then we think it's a no brainer. We love having greater flexibility, no contracts and cheaper cell phone plans.

You'll also find no hidden fees or big monthly bills. And as long as your phone is compatible you can keep your phone and move your number over hassle free. Find out more about how to unlock your phone ready for your new low cost carrier.

Recap

An MVNO plan can give you flexibility with no long contracts to tie you down. And no big monthly bills. There are plans to suit all budgets, whether you're a light or heavy phone user.

Do you need unlimited data? On average we only use around 3 to 5GB of data a month. Why not check your usage with our free data usage calculator to find out.

If you don't need unlimited data check out the cheap cell phone plans where you can save more money by only paying for what you use.

Dodge the rising costs of phone bills and find the best prepaid cell phone plans.

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.

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