MVNOs provide the best cheap cell phone plans with reliable coverage at a lower price than most top carriers in the U.S.
MVNOs are wireless companies that buy or lease minutes, texts and data from the big four wireless companies to resell to their customers at lower prices.
The only difference between an MVNO and the top wireless carriers is the network preference and the low cost. For example, if Verizon Wireless sells minutes, texts and data to Straight Talk Wireless, it will probably still favor its customers first during peak traffic hours. Therefore, consistent reliability may be slightly less possible with an MVNO low-cost carrier than with a major carrier.
All in all, however, MVNOs will work just fine for your mobile phone. Plus, you can tell whether the company is reliable or not based on customer reviews and reports. Below, I have outlined the cheapest cell phone plans to help you out with the research. Read on for more information.
The Hidden Cell Phone Carriers with Huge Savings
Check out our guide if you're still not sure what an MVNO is. Otherwise, here are the cheapest MVNOs and what they have to offer.
US Mobile Plans
US Mobile is a T-Mobile Network-backed MVNO mobile phone service that allows its customers to build their own monthly phone plans. If you're a light phone user looking for a customized monthly plan that's cheap and reliable, US Mobile may be the one for you.
In fact, US Mobile offers 392 monthly plan combinations, according to their website. It separates your data, minutes and texts into different price buckets for you to choose from and prepay for up front every month. The less you use, the less you spend.
With US Mobile, most customers bring their own devices, so you should make sure yours is compatible before you decide to switch. If you do decide to switch and bring your own prepay phone, just make sure it is compatible and purchase a US Mobile SIM card to activate your prepaid plan. You may also have to unlock your phone.
Here's what US Mobile's price buckets look like on their website. US Mobile is even good for those who want a family plan; you will be given a convenient dashboard to control all of the lines on your family plan. US Mobile also does not offer an unlimited talk option in any of their monthly plans.
Once you choose your plan, you will be directed to buy a SIM card. Keep in mind there is also a $2 service fee. Additionally, the US Mobile website says that if you don't like your cell phone service and would like to cancel within either a month of service or 100 minutes, 100 texts, or 100 MB of data consumption, it will refund your money. Shipping costs and SIM card fees are non-refundable, however.
US Mobile offers decent coverage throughout the United States. Here's a picture of its coverage map.
You can type in your most frequent locations to see if you'd be covered consistently with US Mobile.
U.S. Mobile Customer Service is available 24/7 for any problems you may have. You can call the number at 1-888-878-1488 or just send an email/message on their site. The US Mobile customer service team is always standing by and is known to respond in less than five minutes.
Read More: Check out our in-depth review of US Mobile
TPO cell phone plans come with US-based, prepay cell phone service, no-contract plans, no activation fees, no credit checks, a nationwide 4G LTE network, and the ability to keep your existing phone number. You can also get up to 65 percent off of your monthly service right now if you sign up before a certain date. Make sure to check the special offers before you sign up.
You can save $5 a month on your bill with AutoPay and get a $10 free credit or $5 free cash for referring friends to TPO. TPO also gives 10 percent of your bill to a cause of your choice, so you can do good while you pay for your cell phone. TPO provides GSM on the fastest 4G LTE network and CDMA service from Sprint Network, covering 97 percent of the population, according to its website. Here are the best plans they have to offer for prepay phones along with prices.
As you can see, TPO monthly plans are cheap with an unlimited talk and text plan and 1GB of data starting at just $21. That's much less than US Mobile charges for only 5,000 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of data.
As I said, TPO low-cost carrier plans provide 97 percent nationwide coverage GSM and CDMA capabilities; you'll have to check the site to make sure your phone is covered in your most frequent locations.
TPO's customer service consists of a questions section on their website. You can also call the customer service number at 1-844-876-8326 if you're cannot solve your problems alone.
Boost Mobile Plans
Boost Mobile offers no-contract single-line plans, family plans, WiFi mobile hotspot services and international service for affordable prices to its customers. If you are covered by Boost Mobile in your area, you could be saving about $40 a month. Keep in mind, however, that Boost Mobile only sells Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhones.
They also only provide the ability for Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy and the iPhone to switch to their service on a bring your own phone plan.
You can pay $50 with Boost Mobile for their single-line unlimited plan including unlimited calls, text messages, and 4G LTE data. The unlimited plan also comes with 8GB of mobile hotspot usage. If you don't need unlimited data, you can sign up for unlimited talk, text and 3GB of data for just $35. The same deal goes for family plans.
If you want a family plan, you can pay $35 plus $30 a line for unlimited talk, text, and 3GB of data per line. You can also sign up for the truly unlimited family plan with unlimited calls, texts, and data for $50 plus just $30 per line. That means you'll pay $140 for four lines with Boost Mobile compared to $180 with Verizon and $160 with Sprint (plus taxes and fees). So yes, there is no question you will save when you switch to Boost Mobile. Now, what about the coverage?
Boost Mobile operates using the Sprint Network and has decent coverage. If you have Sprint and do not receive great coverage already, however, Boost Mobile will not be any better. Make sure to check the site to see if Boost Mobile provides quality coverage in your most frequent locations. Otherwise, the great price may not be worth it.
Boost Mobile has a thorough FAQ support section for its customers to read through if they're having any issues with service or their phone. If you can't find an answer there, you can email or call customer support at 1-866-402-7366.
Republic Wireless Plans
Republic Wireless claims its plans are so affordable you won't need to share lines on a family plan. You can even get more cell data right from an app on your phone if you ever come close to running out. If you're worried about switching your phone over, don't be. Republic Wireless shouldn't have a problem with you keeping your previous number. You can also tether your phone into a hotspot if you don't have WiFi.
With Republic Wireless, you can get unlimited talk and text along with free WiFi access for just $15 a month. You can also get a plan with 1GB of data along with unlimited talk and text for just $20 a month. If you want more data, the price increases to $30 for 3GB and $45 for 4GB. Then it goes to $60 for 6GB and $90 for 10GB.
|Data Speed||4G LTE|
|Bring Your Phone||Yes|
|Keep Your Number||Yes|
|Contract||No - prepaid|
|Money Back Guarantee||n/a|
Republic Wireless offers a reliable, affordable network backed by the T-Mobile Network and the Sprint Network with adaptive coverage and bonded calling. That means your calls and text messages blend over WiFi for more reliability when you may not have service otherwise.
You can easily go to their site and type in your zip code to make sure they provide adequate coverage in your most frequent locations. Check our cell phone coverage maps for more information.
With Republic Wireless customer service, you can either message an expert customer member in real time or open a help ticket when you have an issue. Unfortunately, there is no customer service number to reach if you would rather speak with a human over the phone. Everything is done online.
Read More: Check out our in-depth review of Republic Wireless
Virgin Mobile Plans
Virgin Mobile also has one of the cheapest cell phone plans with an amazing special offer happening right now. You can get your first 12 months of unlimited service for $1 a month when you buy an iPhone and transfer your current number to the Inner Circle plan. Once the promotion is up, you'll pay $50 a month for your service.
Virgin Mobile even has a 14-day money back guarantee; if you don't like your service, you can cancel it and get your money back for your new phone. Virgin Mobile's unlimited plan is a no-contract plan as well, so you can switch your service right away if it has been more than 14 days. Unfortunately, Virgin only offers the one unlimited plan. Additionally, they are now only selling the iPhone, so you'll have to go somewhere else if you want more variety.
Virgin Mobile now has the $50 unlimited plan with unlimited calls, texts and data. Make sure you sign up for auto pay to get a $5 discount; otherwise, you'll pay $50 instead of $45. You should read the fine print as well before signing up for the new Virgin Mobile iPhone promotion.
Your plan even comes with Virgin Mobile perks including free companion plane tickets to the UK, a free extra night at Virgin Mobile, and discounts on Virgin wines. Unfortunately, Virgin Mobile does not currently offer family plans; you can only buy one line at a time. Additionally, the one plan Virgin Mobile does offer is not a prepaid plan, so you'll have to sign a contract.
Virgin Mobile is a subsidiary of Sprint. Virgin Mobile's 4G LTE network reaches over 290 million people. You can easily check your most frequent locations to see if you're covered in such areas on the Virgin Mobile website. Just type in your zip code to view the coverage in your area.
If you need help or have a question about Virgin Mobile's Inner Circle Plan, you can email Virgin, message them on Facebook, Tweet them, or ask the Virgin Mobile Community. You can also give them a call at 1-888-322-1122 if you're still having issues. They're available from 7 am-10 pm.
Read More: Check out our in-depth review of Virgin Mobile
Straight Talk, Cricket, and Our Honorable Mentions
Straight Talk and Cricket win honorable mention in the best cheap cell phone plan competition. Straight Talk and Cricket offer cheap, reliable plans at affordable prices similar to those mentioned above. Straight Talk offers unlimited nationwide calls, texts and 8GB of data for $45 a month and unlimited nationwide calls, texts and 12GB of data for $50 a month.
With Cricket Wireless, you can pay $55 a month for unlimited talk, text, and data (including an auto pay discount) or get 8GB for $45, 4GB for $35, and 1GB for $30. Each of these services is definitely worth checking out if you still haven't made a decision.
There are tons of low-cost carriers across the country with affordable cell phone plans. Although they didn't make our top picks, each is worth taking a look at if you want to find the perfect cell phone plan for you.
Now that you've read through some of the cheapest cell phone plans you may have never heard of, you should take action. If you have any experience using one or more of the MVNO providers mentioned above who buy minutes, texts and data from major carriers, please tell us about your experience in the comments below.
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