Rising prices all around you should convince you the best cheap cell phone plans are worth a look. With a little research, you can find a plan that keeps your monthly payment at $40 or less, all without sacrificing data.
Best cheap cell phone plans at a glance
1. Best value: Mint Mobile (opens in new tab)
2. Lowest price: Tello (opens in new tab)
3. Best coverage: Verizon (opens in new tab)
4. Best cheap unlimited: Visible (opens in new tab)
Oh, don’t get us wrong — you can go with smaller data allotments if you don’t use much each month, as that will help drive your costs even lower. But even unlimited data plans can be had for $40 or less.
You will have to make some sacrifices when you opt for one of the best cheap cell phone plans. Say goodbye to a lot of perks like complementary streaming subscriptions; hotspot data may not be part of your plan either. But those are small trade-offs to make when a lower monthly bill awaits you.
As part of our search for the best cell phone plans overall, we’ve kept an eye out for low-cost plans with all sorts of data allotments. Our best cheap cell phone plan search takes into account the merits of prepaid vs. postpaid phone service while also examining whether MVNOs are worth the money. (You can look at our methodology for making picks just below our rankings of the best cheap plans.) As it turns out, you may be as surprised by what you can get for $40 or less, including some of the best unlimited data cell phone plans we’ve come across.
Whether you’re buying a new phone or just looking for ways to save money on your cell phone bill, we can help you find one of the best cheap cell phone plans that are out there right now.
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What to look for with cheap cell phone plans
Obviously, price is going to be paramount when considering a cheap cell phone plan. After all, if money is no object, there are plenty of pricey plans that will deliver maximum perks and data.
But price isn’t the only criteria to look at. You’ll want to consider who provides the best cell phone coverage in your area and whether the discount carrier you’re considering uses that carrier’s network. With the exception of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, none of the discount carriers we’ve mentioned here operate their own network. Rather, as mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, they piggyback on the cellular networks built by one or more of the major carriers. Some carriers, such as Republic Wireless and Google Fi, also offload calls and texts to Wi-Fi when available, as part of their efforts to keep monthly costs low.
You’ll also want to look at the variety of plans each carrier offered and whether you could move to a different plan if your talk, text and data needs change. We’ve focused on plans for individuals, but if you’re searching for the best family cell phone plan, look into whether a carrier offers discounts on multiple lines. While perks generally aren’t included with cheap cell phone plans, look to see if there are some added benefits such as hotspot data.
How we pick the best cheap cell phone plans
We are constantly looking at what phone carriers offer, as part of our research into the best cell phone plans. That includes looking at what’s available from the major carriers — AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon — as well as from discount carriers. We check prices monthly, comparing what different services have to offer.
For our best cheap cell phone plans guide, we set a limit of $40 per month, only looking at plans that fall under this threshold. Price is paramount in our rankings, though we do make note of how much data each plan provides as well as any perks to keep in mind. That can help distinguish two equally priced plans — or even make a slightly more expensive plan a better value overall.
Because cell phone coverage can differ from area to area, we try to include a wide variety of cell phone plans priced at $40 or less, so that you can find the best rate for the wireless service with the strongest coverage in your area.