It's notoriously expensive to own an iPhone. Not only are they the priciest smartphones on the market but the plans available from the four major carriers don't exactly come cheap.
You've landed in the right place if you're looking for an alternative to the painfully high iPhone plan prices you're used to paying. In this guide, I'll show you how to save over 50% on the same great mobile service you already enjoy.
In This Guide
Key Considerations When Choosing an iPhone Plan
First, let's look at what you need to take into account before deciding on the right plan for you:
- Coverage: While the big four wireless carriers offer similar network coverage you should still make sure your network of choice has a strong signal in the areas where you live and travel.
- Features: Do you need international calling? Maybe mobile hotspot data is your must-have extra. Cell phone plans vary from carrier to carrier, so shop around.
- Device: Are you bringing your own iPhone or do you need a new one? Examine your device options with each carrier.
- Lines: Need multiple lines? Shop family plans to get the best deal.
- Amount of data: Some carriers excel in offering great rates on smaller mobile plans. Others may be cheaper for heavy data users.
MVNO is short for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. These smaller alternative wireless companies offer you the use of the big four networks at lower prices. MVNOs are able to lease their networks' towers and resell that service to you. You may already know about MVNOs like Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, Virgin Mobile, and Straight Talk, but they aren't the only players in town.
Benefits of going with an MVNO:
- They use the same nationwide 4G LTE networks as the big guys
- Keep your own device - just swap out your SIM card
- Save over 50% on your cell phone plan
- Great customer service, often available 24/7
- Switch carriers quickly and easily, typically all done online
- Customize plans so you only pay for what you actually use
- No contracts, credit checks, overage charges or early termination fees
MVNOs are here to stay; in fact, the alternative carrier industry is growing by nearly 9% each year. That means more competition and lower prices for you, the consumer.
How to Find a Cheap Cell Phone Plan
The key to finding the cheapest phone plan lies in figuring out exactly what you need and buying just that, instead of automatically signing up for the biggest plan out there.
- Calculate your usage. Use our data use calculator to figure out how much you need so that you don't pay for unused data. Estimate the average monthly minutes and texts you use as well.
- Choose an MVNO. See our iPhone plans comparison to find the carriers that operate on your preferred network.
- Bring your own iPhone. Save up to $50 per month in device payments by keeping your own phone.
Best Cheap iPhone Plans
We've saved you the trouble of finding the best carrier by breaking down the cheapest iPhone plans we could find.
Best Overall: Mint Mobile
Formerly known as Mint SIM, Mint Mobile operates on the nationwide 4G LTE T-Mobile network. We chose Mint as the best overall MVNO for iPhone plans for several reasons:
- You can choose from 2GB, 5GB, or 10GB of high speed data.
- They offer unlimited talk and text with any plan.
- You pay in increments of three, six, or 12 months - the more you buy, the more you save.
- You can add international service and buy more data at any time.
- You can try it for seven days risk-free.
Best For Light Data Users: Mint Mobile
We also like Mint for light users because choosing the 2 GB data plan costs you less than half of what you'd pay with the big guys.
Best Cheap Unlimited iPhone Plan: TextNow
If you're looking for a Sprint iPhone unlimited data plan TextNow is a great option. This MVNO operates by monitoring your signal and switching between Wi-Fi and cellular network depending upon which is the strongest signal.
With the TextNow unlimited iPhone plan you get:
- Unlimited calls and texts plus unlimited 4G LTE data
- Free calling to Canada
- The ability to use your plan to call or text with your phone, tablet, or computer.
Best For Families: Mint
Even though it's not a traditional family plan the savings with Mint still make it one of the cheapest iPhone plans for multiple users. You won't have to share data between lines and you can customize each line with the right amount of data for that family member.
Best For Single Line Users: Mint
There's no question that Mint Mobile has the cheapest rates for individual users. You can pay about the same for a year of service as you'd normally pay for three months. Mint doesn't sell phones so be prepared to bring your own (which is a lot easier on your wallet anyway!).
Best iPhone Plan For Kids: Tello
The reason we like Tello plans for kids is that the customization options are extremely flexible. You can choose from no minutes to unlimited and no data up to 10 GB of high speed data per month, with several choices in between. So if your kids are younger you can save considerably by choosing a smaller plan.
Tello operates on the Sprint network. Calls to Canada, China, and Mexico are included in your plan. You can also use your plan data to tether your other devices.
Best Cheap Prepaid Plan for iPhones: Tello
Don't need a ton of data? Want the cheapest mobile plan you can find without sacrificing reliable nationwide cell service?
Tello, as I mentioned above, offers a slew of options. Configure your plan to fit your budget, and still get enough data plus all the other great perks like tethering and international calling.
Great Ways To Save on Your Next iPhone
Even though the era of the two-year contract is done, people are still upgrading their smartphones before two years are up. According to Business Insider the average user upgrades after 22.7 months. That number rose by over two months between 2013 and 2016, a trend which seems likely to continue.
It makes sense that people are keeping their smartphones longer - after all, you wouldn't trade your TV in after two years just because the next model comes out. That would get very expensive very quickly!
So what can you do instead of shelling out $1000 for that newest iPhone?
- Ask yourself if you really need a new device or if you're just used to trading up every two years.
- Consider BYOP - bring your own phone. MVNOs are very BYOP friendly. In fact, some, like Mint, require you to do so. Be sure to unlock your iPhone before switching to your new carrier.
- If your iPhone has breathed its last breath, get a great deal on a used unlocked phone.
- Finally, put some cash in your pocket by selling your old device.
Saving money on your cell phone bill is easier than ever if you follow these steps.
Still skeptical about switching to an alternative phone carrier?
See how much you're overpaying for wireless on your monthly bill with our cell phone plan savings calculator. You might be surprised to see how much you can save!