If your monthly cell phone bill is too expensive, now is the time to do some comparison shopping. The best cheap cell phone plans start at just $15 a month.
Switching wireless providers is the #1 way to lower your cell phone bill. Most Americans have service with Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile, but there are affordable options that allow you to keep the network that you love and still save money. That’s what we’ll explore in this post.
Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans: Michael’s Top Picks
I’ve tested more than a dozen cheap cell phone plans over the past few years and most of them have been great. For users with basic needs (talk, text, high-speed data and maybe a little mobile hotspot), there are plenty of options to consider.
In this article, I’ll share my favorite low-cost cell phone service providers that could help you save hundreds of dollars every year. Let’s get started!
Visible – Best Verizon Alternative
Visible is a Verizon-owned company that offers an unlimited data plan for $40 a month, but you can actually get it for as low as $25 a month. How so? Party Pay. This is a unique take on a family plan. With Party Pay, groups of 2, 3 or 4+ pay less per month. But unlike a traditional family plan, you don’t have to know the members of your party to get the discount. As for the service itself, it’s been excellent in the areas where I live and travel. The unlimited mobile hotspot feature (capped at 5 Mbps) has really come in handy. Visible also offers frequent phone promotions for new customers who transfer their number to the prepaid service. Two downsides: No international plan and no physical stores. You can read my full review of the 9 Things to Know Before You Sign Up for Visible.
More options: If you prefer AT&T or T-Mobile’s network, check out Cricket (AT&T) and Metro by T-Mobile (T-Mobile) for low-cost unlimited data plans. With a family plan, you can usually get your monthly bill down to about the same as Visible.
T-Mobile Connect – Best for Light Data Users
T-Mobile Connect is an attractive prepaid option for people who don’t need unlimited data. These cheap cell phone plans launched in 2020 and have been disruptive. For $15 a month (before taxes and fees), you get unlimited talk, text and 2GB of data. There’s also a 5GB plan for $25 a month. If you stick with T-Mobile Connect, you’ll be given an annual data upgrade of 500MB per year. The biggest drawback to this plan is that if you use your 2GB or 5GB of high-speed data, you’re out of luck. Most providers slow your data, but this one stops it completely. At that point, you can choose to purchase an add-on data pass or wait until the next billing cycle for data usage to resume.
Another option: Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network and has plans for light data users that start at $15 per month. The catch with Mint Mobile is that you pay for 3, 6 or 12 months in advance. Unlike T-Mobile Connect, Mint Mobile will slow your data if you reach your limit and not cut you off. In September 2020, Mint launched an unlimited data plan for $30 per month. Fun fact: Mint Mobile is owned by Ryan Reynolds.
AT&T Prepaid – Best for AT&T Customers
If you want to keep AT&T’s network but lower your monthly bill, check out AT&T Prepaid. Over the last year or so, its prepaid plans have become more competitive. As of this writing, AT&T Prepaid offered 8GB of high-speed data each month for a year if you pay $300 in advance. That’s a pretty good deal for 12 months of cell phone service! A 3-month plan was also available for a one-time price of $99. Mobile hotspot use is included. Video streams in standard definition, about 480p. AT&T sells a limited number of phones for prepaid plans, but you can always bring your own compatible device.
Another option: Straight Talk, a TracFone brand, partners with AT&T and the other major networks. That means AT&T customers could switch and still have the network coverage they rely on. Straight Talk’s prepaid plans are monthly, so you wouldn’t have to commit to 3 or 12 months. However, they may be a little more expensive than AT&T Prepaid. Straight Talk is available at Walmart.
Xfinity Mobile – Best for Comcast Loyalists
Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile is a low-cost cell phone service that’s available only to Xfinity internet customers. It uses Verizon’s network and Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots to provide coverage. I had this service for two years and loved it. These cheap cell phone plans with 5G data access start at $15 a month for the By the Gig plan or $45 a month for the Unlimited plan. Xfinity Mobile offers phone deals all the time, including up to $300 off high-end devices like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy. Since you must have Xfinity internet service to sign up, this provider is best for people who are happy Comcast customers and don’t plan to leave for some time. You can read my full review of the 9 Things to Know Before You Sign Up for Xfinity Mobile.
Another option: Spectrum internet customers may want to consider Spectrum Mobile. It also uses Verizon’s network and is priced about the same as Xfinity Mobile. You must sign up for Spectrum internet service to get the mobile deal.
Switching cell phone service providers may seem like a lot of work, but it’s really not. I’ve done it more than a dozen times! The companies on my list and other major players will walk you through the process every step of the way so that you never lose service or your telephone number.
If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself this: Am I happy with the network coverage I currently receive? If so, you can look for a cheap cell phone plan that uses your current network, whether that’s Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile.
For those who want to switch networks, review coverage maps carefully. All of the wireless providers have them online. I also suggest that you check the data from RootMetrics to learn which network is best where you live and travel. Of course, you can always ask your family and friends for their recommendations.
Aside from switching wireless providers, there are several other strategies to keep your cell phone bill under control. Learn more in my roundup of the 4 Best Ways to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill.