The average monthly bill for wireless service is now $157 according to a recent J.D. Power report. Talk about sticker shock!
If your budget is straining under the weight of ludicrous cell phone bills you'll be happy to know you have options. I'm going to show you how you can keep your reliable wireless network while cutting your phone bill in half.
In This Guide
Key Considerations When Choosing a Cheap Phone Plan
Before we get to the plans and carriers you should keep the following in mind
- Coverage: The most important factor is that your chosen network offers cell phone coverage at your residence and in any location to which you routinely travel.
- Device: Are you shopping for a smartphone or will you bring your own phone (BYOP)?
- Amount of data: Not all phone plans are equal. If your data usage is on the high side you may want to compare the cheapest unlimited phone plans.
- Lines: Shopping for the best cell phone family plans? Keep an open mind - not all carriers offer a traditional group plan but still have much cheaper rates even when buying multiple lines.
- Features: Extras like mobile hotspot data and international calling vary from provider to provider. Read the fine print to make sure you get everything you need.
If you've heard of carriers like Boost Mobile and Red Pocket then you've heard of Mobile Virtual Network Operators. MVNOs lease unused network space from the big four wireless companies. They then sell that service to you at a lower cost, because they have lower overhead than the big guys and spend way less money on marketing.
MVNOs offer several advantages:
- The same reliable nationwide 4G LTE networks
- Prices up to 50% less than average
- Strong customer service ratings
- A simple online process to switch carriers
- No contracts or credit checks
- The option to keep your phone number and your device
Finding a Cheap Cell Phone Plan
The best way to find the right cheap plan is to figure out exactly what you need first.
Calculate Your Data Usage
Data is a big deal these days - we stream videos and music, play games, and use our phone's GPS on a weekly basis on our mobile devices. But do you really need endless amounts of phone data? Our data use calculator helps you pin down exactly how much you use so that you don't end up paying for unused data.
Determine Your Texting and Calling Needs
With all of the custom options available through MVNOs, you can probably save money by opting against an unlimited plan. I don't know about you but between email and text, I don't use my smartphone to actually talk very much. See if you can get by with a plan that has fewer minutes.
Choose an MVNO
Compare carriers on our cell phone plans comparison chart to find the provider and network that fit your needs and budget.
Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans
Fortunately, we've already done a lot of the work for you by rooting out the cheapest cell phone plans.
Cheapest Overall: Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile (formerly Mint SIM) uses the T-Mobile network. Mint brings a new spin to wireless service plans - buying in bulk. The more months you pay for up front, the cheaper your rates are.
- Choose from 2GB, 5GB, or 10GB LTE data plans.
- Get unlimited calls and texts with any plan.
- Buy three (called Clever AF - for "fox"), six (Still Really Clever), or 12 months (Cleverer AF) at once.
- Buy add-ons like international service or more data at any time.
- Get a 7-day money-back satisfaction guarantee.
Whether you're looking for the cheapest phone plans for one person or you need a whole houseful of wireless plans, Mint Mobile is about as affordable as it gets.
Cheapest For No Data: Twigby
Twigby offers service on the Sprint and Verizon mobile networks. The great thing about this carrier is that they provide free unlimited texting (including internationally), and talk minutes are crazy cheap. Choose from:
If you own a smartphone this is a great way to save money because you can still use data on your WiFi.
Cheapest For Light Data Users: Mint Mobile
If you use less than 2GB of data per month you'll love Mint Mobile. Buy their smallest plan (2 GB a month) and get plenty of online time without sacrificing text messages or calls (because they come free!).
Cheapest Unlimited Cell Phone Plan: US Mobile
If you've added up your usage and decided that you really do need unlimited high-speed data, don't worry - you can still get a great deal on your phone service.
US Mobile offers its unlimited data plan in several different configurations, which means you aren't stuck with one preset package.
First, choose your speed:
- 1 Mbps
- 5 Mbps
- Uncapped data speeds (up to 150 Mbps)
Then pick your plan:
- 100 minutes and 100 texts
- Unlimited talk and texts
- Unlimited everything plus mobile hotspot usage
This carrier provides service on the reliable nationwide Verizon Wireless network. Plus US Mobile has 24/7 customer support and a 14-day risk-free trial.
Cheapest For Families: US Mobile
US Mobile works like a charm for families because of the flexible custom options they offer.
For about the cost of a cup of designer coffee, you can put 100 minutes on your young child's phone so they can contact you in an emergency.
On the other hand, maybe you have teens who need more from their smartphones. Choose a monthly plan with more minutes, unlimited texts, then add anywhere from 100 MB to unlimited monthly data. The choices are yours!
US Mobile uses both the GSM (T-Mobile) and CDMA (Verizon) networks, so the chances of your phone being compatible are high. Best of all you can manage all of your lines through one online account dashboard.
Cheapest For Seniors: Twigby
Do you or an elderly family member just want to use your basic phone for calling people?
Twigby is our pick for the best cheap cell phone plans for seniors. Twigby uses both the Sprint and Verizon networks. Plan options are unbelievably affordable and very flexible. Plus, you can change your plan at any time.
Let's not forget texting - Twigby includes free global texts no matter which plan you choose.
Great Ways To Save Money on Your Next Smartphone
Here's the thing - yes, you can save over $500 a year just by changing to a cheaper cell phone plan, but there's more you can do to really maximize your savings. It's as simple as breaking the cycle of laying out $1000 for the latest smartphone every one to two years.
I know, it's hard, but look at it this way - you don't replace your HD TV every two years, that would be wasteful and expensive. As with TVs, changes to new models of smartphones aren't that significant from year to year.
Consider one of these options instead:
- Bring your own phone: It's easy, it's free, and MVNOs love it. Chances are you can probably squeeze at least another year or two out of your device. Make sure you get your phone unlocked from your carrier first.
- Buy a used unlocked phone: You can get a great deal on recent models, saving over 50% off the retail price.
Don't forget to sell your old phone! You can put money in your pocket instead of throwing it in a drawer or adding it to the landfill.
So, exactly how much money can you save by switching to a cheap phone plan? Check out our cell phone plan savings calculator to get an estimate. It's time to disconnect from high wireless prices!