The cheapest pay as you go phone plans: Starting at $10

Same coverage: Cut your bill by $600 per year

Verizon
$75
/mo
Unlimited data
$900/yr
vs
Tello on T-Mobile
Tello logo on phone
$25
/mo
Unlimited data
$300/yr
US Mobile on Verizon
US Mobile logo on phone
$29
/mo
Unlimited data
$348/yr
Boost Mobile on AT&T
Boost Mobile logo on phone
$25
/mo
Unlimited data
$300/yr
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MoneySavingPro independently researches the products & services to bring you our recommendations. We may earn money when you click our links - disclosure policy.

Fed up with the big three's limited options, perplexing billing, and ridiculous prices?

As the major wireless companies kick off the year by boasting about their record profits and simultaneously rolling out price increases, it's clear they've not fully grasped the needs of today's consumers.

With over 10 years of experience in the wireless industry, I've seen the pricing gap widen dramatically, yet finding a more cost-effective carrier has become easier than ever.

To spare you the exhaustive research, I've delved into over 30 alternative carriers and examined more than 100 pay-as-you-go phone plans.

To save you time, I have excluded carriers that:

  • Only offer unlimited data plans
  • Only advertise multi-line prices
  • Have confusing phone bills with unexpected fees
  • Lure customers with "free" phones
  • Constantly try to upsell additional lines
  • Bundle plans with unnecessary subscriptions
  • Need loads of small print to explain their offers
  • Want you to go to a store
  • Need a commission-based salesperson
  • Reward customer loyalty with increased prices

Finding the best pay-as-you-go plan will depend on your network preference and cell phone usage. Therefore, I've compared the cheapest pay as you go plans across all three major networks, designed for light, moderate, and heavy data users.

Furthermore, I've highlighted what I consider to be the best overall value pay-as-you-go plan. However, the final decision is yours to make.

Cheapest pay as you go plans on T-Mobile

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with T-Mobile coverage to consider.

Cheap T-Mobile plan

Tello 2GB plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
2GB
data
$10/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$780 in annual savings

Best family plan on T-Mobile

Mint Mobile 15GB plan

Image of cell phone with Mint Mobile
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
15GB
data
$15/mo*
$20/mo
See at Mint Mobile

*$45 for 3 Months

4.2 Read our Mint Mobile review
$675 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on T-Mobile

Tello unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$600 in annual savings

Cheapest pay as you go plans on Verizon

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with Verizon coverage to consider.

Cheap Verizon plan

Twigby 2GB plan

Image of cell phone with Twigby
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
2GB
data
$5/mo*
$15/mo
4.4 Read our Twigby review
$750 in annual savings

Best family plan on Verizon

US Mobile 10GB plan

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
10GB
data
$15/mo*
5 Read our US Mobile review
$720 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on Verizon

US Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with US Mobile
  • Verizon coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$15/mo*
$29/mo
5 Read our US Mobile review
$594 in annual savings

Cheapest pay as you go plans on AT&T

These are the top 3 plans from low-cost carriers with AT&T coverage to consider.

Cheap AT&T plan

Red Pocket 1GB plan

Image of cell phone with Red Pocket
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
1GB
data
$10/mo
4.1 Read our Red Pocket review
$780 in annual savings

Best family plan on AT&T

Boost Mobile 5GB plan

Image of cell phone with Boost Mobile
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
5GB
data
$5/mo*
$15/mo
See at Boost Mobile

*$10 Off 1st Mth

4 Read our Boost Mobile review
$730 in annual savings

Best unlimited plan on AT&T

Boost Mobile unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Boost Mobile
  • AT&T coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$10/mo*
$25/mo
See at Boost Mobile

*$15 Off 1st Mth

4 Read our Boost Mobile review
$615 in annual savings

Best overall value pay as you go plan

Tello unlimited data plan

Image of cell phone with Tello
  • T-Mobile coverage
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Instant eSIM activation
Unlimited
data
$25/mo
5 Read our Tello review
$600 in annual savings

Big wireless: Big prices, big profits, little value

The average phone bill is $155 per month, and while 38 million Americans live in poverty, the government cut funding to the Affordable Connectivity Program, which was assisting 22 million low-income families with subsidized internet and cell phone service.

At the same time, the big three spent January celebrating record profits and multi-billion dollar shareholder dividend payouts while simultaneously announcing yet more price hikes.

So, big wireless continues to raise prices, and the government drops assistance to those in need. However, you do have options, so the power is in your hands.

Take back control of your phone bill

A big wireless unlimited plan will cost you $1,600 extra over the next 3 years compared to getting the same service from an MVNO.

A big wireless unlimited data plan will cost you $2,700 over the next 3 years for just 1 line. In comparison, unlimited plans from a low-cost carrier over the same period would cost only $900.

So, buying directly from Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T is now 3 times more expensive for the same coverage. This does not include fees and taxes or future price hikes.

Why is it so much more expensive to buy the same service directly?

With big wireless, you are paying for multi-billion dollar ad campaigns, stadium sponsorships, and thousands of stores with commission-based salespeople - all these expenses get passed onto you to maximize profits and dividend payouts.

With this next generation of MVNOs, you switch online and just pay for phone service.

Cut your phone bill, not your coverage

These low-cost carriers offer a great alternative with transparent pricing, a range of data plans to customize to your needs, and more highly rated customer service.

You can keep your phone, number, coverage, and most importantly, your money!

Even better, it's quick and easy. You can complete the entire switching process online in minutes with an eSIM-compatible phone.

So, now is the time to re-evaluate your options, take back control of your phone bill, and free yourself from price hikes forever!


Compare the cheapest pay as you go phone plans

Carrier Data Monthly Price Annual Price Savings
Tello 2GB $10/mo $120/yr $780/yr See at Tello
Mint Mobile 15GB $15/mo*$20/mo $225/yr $675/yr See at Mint Mobile
*$45 for 3 Months
Tello Unlimited $25/mo $300/yr $600/yr See at Tello

Check out our pay as you go cell phone comparison to find the best deal.


How to choose the best value carrier for a PAYG plan

  • What network coverage do you prefer? Network coverage is a crucial factor, particularly in rural areas. MVNOs operate on the same high-quality 5G & 4G LTE wireless networks as the big three. If you have a preferred network, choosing a pay-as-you-go MVNO that utilizes that network can ensure optimal service.
  • How much data do you need? With regular Wi-Fi access at home or work, contrary to the big three pushing unlimited wireless plans, the reality is that the average monthly cellular data use is around 10GB. Low-cost carriers offer various data plans, allowing you to save money by selecting a plan based on your actual usage. However, if you opt for an unlimited plan, be aware of the high-speed data cap.
  • Is hotspot data included? Most low-cost carriers offer mobile hotspot access with varying data limits for tethering, depending on the carrier and specific plan.
  • What's the monthly price? While unlimited plans from big wireless can be expensive, averaging $75-90 per month, MVNOs offer more budget-friendly pay-as-you-go plans, with prices ranging from $5-35 per month and without the long-term commitment.
  • How many lines do you need? The big three often advertise low prices that are contingent on purchasing multiple lines. In contrast, MVNOs offer straightforward pricing for any number of lines, while many still offer additional discounts for multiple lines.
  • Can I bring my own phone or buy a new device? MVNOs typically allow you to bring your own device and ditch the upgrade cycle. This approach offers greater flexibility and control over when to upgrade. If you want to buy a new device, many MVNOs offer affordable options with 0% financing terms.
  • Are there any deals or promotions? Promotions from the big three might seem appealing at first glance but often come with strings attached, leading to unnecessary expenses or long-term commitments. Conversely, many MVNOs offer straightforward, short-term promotional pricing for new customers with more transparent terms.
  • What perks or add ons can I expect? Big wireless plans often come with "free" subscription perks, such as TV services, which may initially seem beneficial but can lead to unexpected charges later. Some affordable carriers do offer plans with free subscription services, but it's generally advisable to manage these subscriptions separately to avoid paying for services you don't need.
  • Is international calling included? If you have loved ones abroad, a range of MVNOs includes free international calls to numerous countries in their pay-as-you-go plans, providing a cost-effective way to stay connected globally.
  • Are there parental controls? An important feature if you're looking for a plan for the whole family, parental controls allow parents to monitor and manage their children's phone usage and data consumption. Several MVNOs offer parental control features, enabling restrictions on data usage, app access, and even location tracking, either through specific subscription plans or device settings.

Check out our cheap cell phone plan comparison to ensure you find the best deal.


Find the best PAYG phone plans in your area

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Pay as you go plans FAQs


Recap: What is the cheapest pay as you go plan?

Although the big three are signaling their intention to continue escalating prices, all at the expense of their dedicated customers, there's a glimmer of hope when it comes to your cell phone plan.

With cheap pay as you go phone plans, you now have the opportunity to access the same quality service at a significantly reduced cost, potentially saving up to $600 per year per line.

Before you make a decision on your next cell phone provider, I highly recommend taking advantage of our cell phone plan comparison. It's designed to help you sift through the range of options available, making sure you get the best deal for you.

Cheap phone plan guides

How we choose the best carriers and plans

To select the best carriers and plans, MoneySavingPro's team of experts evaluated over 30 different carriers.

Carriers were rated in five categories, with a star rating from 1-5, with 5 stars being the best. We then calculate the overall star rating using the five categories:

  1. Value for money: We compare carriers based on price, features, benefits, and promotions. It's not just about the lowest price but getting the most bang for your buck.
  2. Coverage: We look at network 5G and 4G LTE coverage across the US. We use coverage maps to determine service availability and data speeds in urban, suburban, and rural locations.
  3. Customer experience: We take into account items such as current user experience, website and app usability, ease of switching, and customer service in terms of availability, channels, and satisfaction ratings.
  4. Transparency: We assess whether carrier pricing is clear and straightforward. We examine the fine print to check for hidden fees, confusing terms or conditions, and misleading offers to ensure upfront, honest prices and advertising.
  5. Range of choice: We evaluate the diversity of plan options to determine if they fit the individual needs of all customers.

Read more about our carrier ratings methodology and our editorial process.

We regularly update our comparisons. Updating cell phone plans weekly and our content monthly to ensure we are showing the latest and most accurate information.

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