Cheap Phone Plans

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(Originally published May 16, 2017, updated 7/1/2017 to include the latest carrier phone plans.)

You know exactly what you want in a cell phone plan, but now you need to research who is selling the cheapest cell phone plan to give you what you want.  Your research can stop here, because the BestMVNO guide to cheap cell phone plans is just what you are looking for.  For over 3 years, BestMVNO has been researching cell phone plans and providers and sharing that information with its readers.  This guide aims to be a reference for all those in search of a cheap phone plan and will constantly be updated with all of the latest low cost plans.

 

This reference covers the following topics:

 

Cheapest Phone Plans With Unlimited Everything

So, what is a phone plan with unlimited everything?  This question is actually a loaded gun, so I'll try and tackle it in several ways.  An unlimited everything plan surely means a cell phone plan that contains unlimited talk, text and data.  It is the unlimited data part of the question that makes things a little dicey.  For power users, unlimited data likely means unlimited 4G LTE data, but for the average consumer it simply means unlimited data, regardless of what speed.  The latter means phone plans that contain unlimited data, but after a certain amount gets used up in a month, the speed gets slowed down until your next billing cycle.  This slowing down of the data speed is referred to as "throttling" or "data throttling."

See also:  BestMVNO.com has been updated

When most companies market their plans as containing unlimited data, they typically are referring to plans with data throttling.  In this section, I will lay out the cheapest unlimited data plans that contain data throttling as well as the cheapest one to contain unlimited LTE data.

Cheapest Unlimited Data Plans With Data Throttling

Plans With 1 GB-2.4 GB Of 4G LTE Data

||See also: List of Low Cost Phone Plans Priced at $30 Or Less

Using T-Mobile's Network
Mint SIM

Mint SIM is currently the cheapest provider that uses T-Mobile's network to offer unlimited talk, text and data with the first 2 GB at 4G LTE speeds.  Subscribers pay an average cost of $23/month for the plan with one caveat, you must pay for service at a minimum of 3 months in advance to get that price.  So to subscribe to this plan you'll pay $69 up front for three months of service.  You can save even more on the plan if you are willing to pay for service even further in advance.  Those that are willing to signup for 6 months will pay $119 up front or $19.83/month and if you are willing to pay a year in advance or $199, your average monthly cost will be just $16.58/month.

Using Sprint's Network
TextNow

TextNOW offers a plan that features unlimited talk, text and data with the first 1.5 GB at 4G LTE speeds for $26.99/month making it the cheapest provider to offer service on Sprint's network with the specified feature set.  TextNOW differs from a lot of other carriers in that it uses a Wi-Fi first approach for phone calls.  Whenever possible, TextNOW will use Wi-Fi to route your calls, and if Wi-Fi is unavailable, Sprint's cellular network will be used. TextNOW also offers service on T-Mobile's network for those that are interested in that.

Using AT&T's Network

 

H2O Wireless

H2O Wireless offers a plan that features unlimited talk, text and data with the first 2 GB at 4G LTE speeds for $27/month with autopay billing enabled.  As a bonus, H2O Wireless's plans also include unlimited international calling and texting, although download speeds are limited to 8 Mbps.

See a review of H2O Wireless.

Using Verizon's Network
Boom Mobile

Boom Mobile offers a plan that features unlimited talk, text and data with the first 2GB at 4G LTE speeds for $34.99/month.  This makes it the cheapest Verizon based provider with the specified feature set.  One thing to note about Verizon MVNO's however, is that they have their download speeds limited to about 5 Mbps and upload speeds limited to about 2 Mbps.  Even with the speed limitations, they should be plenty fast enough for most users.

Plans With 2.5 GB - 4.9 GB Of 4G LTE Data

On T-Mobile's Network
Simple Mobile

Simple Mobile offers unlimited talk, text and data with the first 4 GB at 4G LTE speeds for $37.50/month with auto-refill enabled, or $40 without.  Subscribers to Simple Mobile will get service that allows talk, text and data roaming while in Mexico at no additional charge.  Also included is unlimited calling to international landlines, and mobile devices.

On Sprint's Network
Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile offers the cheapest plan on Sprint's network to fit into this category, featuring unlimited talk, text and data with the first 3 GB at 4G LTE speeds for $30/month. The plan also includes 50 minutes of off network voice roaming to use every month.  Unlimited audio streaming that does not count against your high speed data cap from select providers such as Spotify and Pandora is also included.  Unfortunately, service on Boost Mobile will require you to buy a new phone, unless you have one of the few devices that Boost Mobile will allow you to bring to its network.

On Verizon's Network
Ecomobile

Ecomobile offers unlimited talk, text and data with the first 4 GB at 4G LTE speeds for $40/month.  The plan also includes unlimited international calling and texting, and it operates on the Sprint and Verizon networks as well as T-Mobile's.

On AT&T's Network
Cricket Wireless

Cricket Wireless offers unlimited talk, text and data with the first 4 GB at 4G LTE speeds for $35/month with auto pay billing enabled on AT&T's network.  Without auto pay billing enabled the price is $40/month.  One thing to note about Cricket Wireless is that the LTE download speed is limited to 8 Mbps which should be sufficient for most users.

 

Plans With 5 GB - 10 GB Of 4G LTE Data

On T-Mobile's Network
Mint SIM

Mint SIM again offers the best value in this data range.  For an average cost of $33/month you can get unlimited talk, text and data with the first 5 GB at 4G LTE speeds if you are willing to pay in advance for 3 months of service ($99) with this T-Mobile MVNO. The plan can even be had for as low as $24.92/month if you are willing to pay $299 up front for a year of service.

On Sprint's Network
ROK Mobile

ROK Mobile offers unlimited talk, text and data with the first 5 GB at 4G LTE speeds for $40/month.  As a bonus subscribers can signup for one of several plan add-ons that the company offers as follows:

  • ROK Basic- $5/month adds Wi-Fi calling and roadside assitance
  • ROK Standard – $10/month includes ROK Basic plus adds accidental death insurance and burial and cremation service
  • ROK Premium – $15/month includes ROK Standard plus adds family legal services, telemedicine, pharmacy savings, and ID theft insurance
On AT&T's Network
H2O Wireless

Once again H2O Wireless is a winner on AT&T's network.  For $36/month with auto pay billing enabled, subscribers get unlimited talk, text, international talk and text, and data with the first 6 GB at high speeds.

Runner UP

AT&T offers good value with it's GoPhone brand.  For $40/month you get unlimited talk, text and data with the first 6 GB at full 4G LTE speeds.  Bonus features include unlimited talk and text to Mexico and Canada, and the ability to use your phone, data included, while roaming in Mexico and Canada. Any unused data you have in your account after one billing cycle rolls over into your account for one more billing cycle.

On Verizon's Network
Straight Talk Wireless

Choices are rather limited in this category, but Straight Talk wins for great value, offering unlimited talk, text and data with the first 8 GB at LTE speeds for $45/month on Verizon.  Like all other Verizon MVNO's, LTE download speeds are limited to about 5 Mbps and upload 2 Mbps.

Cheapest Unlimited LTE Data Plan

Simple Mobile

Simple Mobile is currently the cheapest provider in the USA to offer unlimited talk, text and LTE data for personal use at a price of $45.00/month with auto pay billing enabled. Without auto pay billing enabled the price is $50/month.  Bonus features include unlimited international calling and texting as well as the ability to use your phone at no extra charge while roaming in Mexico.  Simple Mobile operates on T-Mobile's network.  If you need another unlimited LTE plan on another network, you can visit this list of unlimited LTE data plans to find out who has the cheapest plan on your network of choice.

Cheapest Data Only Plan

This is a bit of an odd category, but I will attempt to tackle it.  A data only plan could be for anything.  It could be for a hotspot device, a tablet or just a phone plan.  Here I'll present you with two SIM plans that can be used with a cell phone, as well as two plans that must be used with a hotspot device.  All plans contain at least 2 GB of data and cost under $30.

Cheap Data Only Phone Plans

US Mobile and Tello allow you to custom build your own phone plans, including data only phone plans.  Both providers allow you to tether your device and use it as a wi-fi hotspot if you'd like to.  US Mobile operates on T-Mobile's network, and offers a data only plan for $22/month that includes 4 GB of data.  For just $10 more ($32 total) you can step up to their 10 GB data plan, that's an additional 6 GB of data for less than $2/GB.  That's quite a bargain.  Unfortunately, data does stop once you run out in a month, it is not unlimited with US Mobile.

Tello operates on Sprints network.  For $21 month you can get a data only phone plan that contains 2 GB of 4G LTE data.  Data is unlimited with Tello, so once you run out of high speed data you still can use your device although at much slower download and upload speeds, typically no faster than 128 kbps.  Tethering is allowed with Tello.

If you need a hotspot on AT&T, you can sign up with the carrier for $25/month to get 2 GB of data to use.  Data is not unlimited, and once you run out in a month you can add more at a cost of $10 for 500 MB.

Verizon's cheapest data only plan starts out at $25/month for 2 GB of data that is not unlimited.  The plan is for hotspots, tablets and other network capable devices.  Those that find that 2 GB of data is not enough can step up to the $30 plan and get 4 GB of data.  Verizon offers several other plans as well.

Cheapest Plans Without Unlimited Everything

This section is for those of you who don't need a plan with unlimited anything.  You may be just looking for a cheap phone plan with a limited amount of talk, text and data.  I've put together a few plans here that should help you find what you need.

On Sprints Network

On Sprints network, the cheapest plan that does not include unlimited everything, is none other than a completely free cell phone plan offered by FreedomPop.  FreedomPop offers a plan that includes 200 minutes of talk, 500 texts messages and 500 MB of data at no charge.  The company allows you to bring your own device or you can purchase one from them if need be.

On AT&T's Network

Once again, FreedomPop offers a solution for you on AT&T's network with a completely free cell phone plan.  The features of this plan are just slightly different than what's offered for their Sprint version.  This AT&T based free plan includes 200 minutes, 500 text messages but only 200 MB of data to use each month at no cost.  Phones are available for purchase if need be, and you can bring your own device to the network with the purchase of a SIM card.

On Verizon And T-Mobile

Red Pocket offers a low cost phone plan for those who don't need unlimited everything.  For $10/month subscribers get 500 minutes of talk, 500 text messages and 100 MB of data to use on their choice of any major network in the USA which includes Verizon and T-Mobile to go along with Sprint and AT&T.

Cheapest Phone Plans For Two

There are a lot of ways to analyze the cheapest phone plans for two people.  What is the cheapest phone plan for two will of course vary based on how much data is needed.  For the purpose of this guide, plans were selected that contained at least 2 GB of data to go with unlimited talk and text.  It should be pointed out that sometimes a plan for two people is more expensive than two individual plans.  With those ideas in mind, here are the cheapest phone plans for two people.

On T-Mobile's Network

MetroPCS 

The cheapest plan for couples that want service on T-Mobile's network is one offered by MetroPCS.  The plan includes unlimited talk, text and data with the first 2 GB on each line at 4G LTE speeds for $50.  The plan also comes with mobile hotspot and Wi-Fi calling. As a runner up, subscribers may want to consider a plan from Walmart Family Mobile, that includes unlimited talk, text and data with the first 3 GB per line at high speed for $54.76/month.

On Sprint's Network

Boost Mobile

The cheapest plan for couples on Sprint's network is Boost Mobile.  Boost Mobile's plan for two includes unlimited talk, text and data with the first 3 GB at 4G LTE speeds for $60/month.  The plan includes unlimited music streaming that doesn't count against your high speed data cap from select providers such as Spotify and Pandora.

On Verizon's Network

Total Wireless

Total Wireless offers the cheapest plan for couples with more data than any other provider regardless of being on Verizon's network or not.  For $57/month, a couple can get unlimited talk and text with 8 GB of shared 4G LTE data to use each month.  Of course there is a caveat here, as mentioned earlier, Verizon MVNO's have their LTE speeds limited to about 5 Mbps per download and 2 Mbps upload.

On AT&T's Network

FreedomPop

Recently FreedomPop began offering family plans, and when it did, it instantly became the cheapest provider to use AT&T's network and offer a plan for couples.  For $54.99/month subscribers get unlimited talk and text with 4 GB of shared 4G LTE data.

As a runner up, Cricket Wireless's plan with unlimited talk, text and data with the first 4 GB on each line at 4G LTE speeds for $70/month is also an option.

Cheapest Phone Plans With Unlimited International Calling And Texting

There are plenty of options available for those that need a cell phone plan with unlimited international calling and texting.  For this guide, the cheapest plans to include 1 GB of 4G LTE data were used to find a plan.

On T-Mobile's Network

For $23.75/month with auto pay enabled, you can subscribe to Simple Mobile's network and get unlimited talk, text and data with the first 1 GB at 4G LTE speeds.  You'll also get unlimited international calling to landlines in 64 countries and mobile phones in nearly 20 countries including Mexico, Canada, India and China.  As a bonus, you can also use your phone and get full service roaming while traveling in Mexico.

On AT&T's Network

H2O Wireless is the top choice for unlimited talk, text, and data on AT&T's network with international calling and texting for just $27/month.  Two GB of 4G LTE data is included in the plan.  Unlimited international calling and texting is available to over 50 countries.

See a review of H2O Wireless.

 On Verizon and Sprint's Network

Ecomobile's $30 plan includes 2 GB of high speed data to go with unlimited domestic talk and text and unlimited international calling and texting.  The plan is available using both Sprint and Verizon's network, but an option for T-Mobile's network is also available at the same price.  Up to 80 countries are available to call to.

Still don't see something that you like?  Visit this list of international calling plans.

Cheapest Pay As You Go Plans

Admittedly, I may be looking at pay as you go plans the wrong way, as I feel it is a category of phone plans that should just go away.  Currently, there are many monthly plans available that work out to be cheaper than many pay as you go plans which makes the latter somewhat obsolete.

FreedomPop has already been covered as a choice for monthly phone service several times so I won't go into much detail here.  At a cost of $0/month for basic service with FreedomPop, those pay as you go plans offered by other companies are a hard sell for me.

One pay as you go plan I do appreciate comes from Tello, a Sprint MVNO.  I like Tello's pay as you go option, because with it you are not required to pay for service 30, 60, 90 etc days in advance like you have to with so many other providers.  Instead, you simply deposit a minimum of $10 into your account and your line will remain active forever, as long as you use the phone at least once every 90 days.  Charges to use the service are 1¢ per text, 2¢ per MB, and 3¢ per minute.

This guide has covered a lot of options, but perhaps I still missed some.  Is there another type of cheap phone plan that needs to be covered?  Has a new and cheaper option come out that I have missed?  Leave a comment or send and email, and if it makes sense to do so, I'll be sure to update this article with those ideas.



Joe is the founder of BestMVNO.com. He started BestMVNO in 2013, because like many of you, he was unhappy with the high price he was paying his wireless provider for cell phone service. After researching how to cut costs on his phone bill, he came across the terms 'MVNO' and 'prepaid wireless', and learned there was a way he could keep using his favorite network without having to pay a premium price for it. Since then, through BestMVNO.com, Joe has been sharing his research about MVNOs and prepaid wireless so that others can learn how to save money on their own phone bills. Joe's current provider is T-Mobile Prepaid. For inquiries Contact JP

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8 Comments on "The Definitive Guide To Cheap Cell Phone Plans"

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jb82
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I’d rather have twigby for sprint with unlimited talk text and 1gb with unlimited 2g afterwards for $25 vs textnow. Roams on verizon for talk/text and customer service is excellent. Textnow is sub standard vs this.

Andrew Duncan
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I dont think unlimited music is included on the MetroPCS 2gb plan. Starts with the next tier plan…

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