The majority of Americans are with one of the major carrier brands—AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless—or runner-up US Cellular, but bargain-hunting US mobile phone users have many more options. Hundreds of MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) and prepaid carriers take advantage of the major networks to provide steep savings.
All of the main carriers have low-cost brands, and it’s worth looking into their offers first. Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T. Metro is currently owned by T-Mobile. Visible is owned by Verizon. These brands have fantastic prices and should be your first shopping visits if you’re seeking for a large selection of retailers and solid customer service. Where applicable, we’ll mention them below.
Pay attention to the reputation for customer service and their enabling networks for the other brands that don’t normally have stores. Some MVNOs allow you can pick from many enabling networks, while others limit you to just one. On some phones, Google’s Project Fi uses both T-Mobile and US Cellular’s networks interchangeably, but for the others, you must choose your network when purchasing your SIM card.
Although Boost Mobile is a big MVNO with attractive prices, you should think twice about switching. Boost Mobile had planned to use T-network Mobile’s for the foreseeable future until Dish bought the firm in 2020. Dish now alleges T-Mobile is uncompetitive, and has agreed to lease AT&T service for the next ten years. Current Boost customers who still use T-CDMA Mobile’s network or who purchased carrier-locked handsets are likely to be in huge trouble.
So you can evaluate the finest solutions within your budget, we organize our picks by their respective monthly rates. Check out our results for the Fastest Mobile Networks in the United States and Canada to find the finest carrier service in your area.
What Phones Are Compatible With These Networks?
Some smaller carriers don’t sell their own phones or have a limited variety of low-cost phones that are likely to be restricted to their network. We recommend getting a low-cost phone that works with many carriers. Even if a phone is labeled as compatible with all major carriers, you should double-check that your carrier supports it before purchasing it; with the growing popularity of 5G, some MVNOs are becoming picky about which handsets they support. If you’re on a fixed income, one of the best phones for seniors on our list can be a suitable choice. If you want to save some money, you may also check with the carrier to see if your current phone is compatible with their network.
The majority of unlocked phones are AT&T and T-Mobile compatible, and should work with any carrier that uses their networks. Consider any factory-unlocked iPhone XR or later variations, the Samsung Galaxy S9 or later versions, the Google Pixel line, or the Moto G series if you’re seeking for an unlocked phone that works on all three major US systems. Alternatively, check out our roundup of the best unlocked phones.
What about service to customers?
In general, you won’t get the same level of customer service from these smaller carriers as you would from the major networks. The most common concerns we hear about are new service activation and billing. Because smaller carriers lack retail stores, any issues you have must be handled by call centers or online help desks, which are frequently staffed by outsourced workers that lack the experience or resources to resolve numerous issues. A quick check on Reddit reveals a plethora of warnings concerning small MVNOs. We did our best to thoroughly examine all of our recommendations, but you should do your own research before making a decision.
Consumer Cellular is a good option if you value good customer service. Consumer Cellular has been voted the best carrier by our readers for the past nine years. You can also look to the large carriers’ wholly owned brands, which have their own shop networks, such as AT&T’s Cricket and T-Metro. Mobile’s Despite the fact that Verizon’s Visible has no storefronts, the company continues to support it.
Monthly Cell Phone Plans for $10 or Less
While it is feasible to receive mobile service for $10 or less per month, the number of carriers that do so is rapidly decreasing. Even if the plans are under $10, most do not include taxes and charges, which can nearly quadruple the cost depending on where you live.
We currently propose three providers that provide reliable service at a low cost. Tello, which uses T-network, Mobile’s provides the best value for money. For $10 a month, you can design a custom plan that includes unlimited calls, texts, and 1GB of data on the company’s website. If you have an old phone or want to get an unlocked phone that works on various carriers, this is a great offer.
The basic RedPocket plan is $10 per month and includes 500 minutes of talk time, 500 texts, and 500MB of data. It’s also the only MVNO in this pricing range that has partnerships with all of the major carriers, allowing you to choose the choice that provides the greatest service in your location.
US Mobile is a fantastic option if you have a feature phone or only require a small amount of LTE internet. For $10 a month, the carrier offers a bespoke plan that includes 500 minutes of talk time, 300 text messages, and 100MB of data. While US Mobile does not sell phones directly, you may choose a SIM that works with Verizon or T-Mobile phones, so chances are your current phone, or one you’ve been eyeing, will operate on its network.
Despite the fact that Tracfone has a large following, its plans are still somewhat expensive. When the Verizon merger is done, we expect things to become more competitive, and we’ll update this story accordingly.
Monthly cell phone plans for $11–$20
Consumer Cellular’s straightforward, senior-focused plan is a touch more expensive than other small carriers, but it comes with exceptional customer service. You can expect good coverage across the country thanks to AT&T and T-Mobile as its backbone. For $20 per month, it gives 250 minutes, unlimited texts, and 50MB of data on its sweet-spot plan. If you want to get rid of your landline completely, pay an extra $5 for a plan that includes unlimited calls and texts as well as 500MB of data.
In this price range, US Mobile is by far the finest option. For $20 per month, the provider provides unlimited call and text as well as 12GB of data. 5G and international roaming are included in the package at no additional cost.
Looking for a basic plan with good LTE coverage and automatic payment discounts? H2O Wireless is an excellent choice. For $20 per month, AT&T’s cheapest plan includes unlimited calls and texts as well as 2GB of internet on AT&T’s network. You can save $2 each month if you set up autopay.
Since Dish purchased Republic Wireless, the company’s plans have become considerably more competitive. The greatest price on Republic Wireless is its $20-per-month plan, which includes unlimited talk and text as well as 1GB of T-Mobile data. Republic Wireless offers a significant discount for annual payments if you’re not afraid of commitment.
Mint Mobile provides an initial plan for $15 per month that includes unlimited calls, texts, and 4GB of data, but it requires a three-month commitment. You must pay for a full year of service if you wish to keep the promotional pricing after the introductory period has ended. In principle, it’s a good offer, but we can’t suggest it. A couple of our authors have previously tried the service and had billing and customer service troubles. We also discovered that Mint Mobile‘s data speeds are often slower than T- Mobile’s.
Monthly cell phone plans for $21–$30
Plans in this category have started to creep up over the $30-per-month barrier in recent years, so there are fewer possibilities. The plans that remain in this bracket, however, are more remarkable than ever.
Ultra Mobile is a good choice here, with good plans and low-cost add-ons for clients who make international calls frequently. Ultra Mobile offers 6GB of 5G or LTE internet on the T-Mobile network for $29 per month. If you pay for three, six, or twelve months in advance, you can save even more money on Ultra’s multi-month plan, which includes unlimited calls, texts, 6GB of 5G or LTE data, and unlimited international calling for only $25 per month.
For $24 per month, Tello offers unlimited calls and texts as well as 6GB of data on T-network. Mobile’s If you need a little more data, there’s also a $29 per month option with 8GB of data.
Another winner in this area is Red Pocket Mobile’s $30-per-month plan. The service includes unlimited speaking, texting, and 10GB of high-speed data; AT&T and Verizon customers will get LTE speeds, while T-Mobile customers will get 5G speeds. There is also international calling to over 80 countries included.
In this pricing range, Allvoi offers the greatest value on AT&T’s network. Unlimited calls and texts, as well as 10GB of data, are available for $28 per month. There are also 300 minutes of international calling to more than 20 countries included in the plan.
Monthly cell phone plans for $31–$40
There are a few plans in this pricing range that we can recommend, but it’s a tight place. Plans that are slightly less expensive provide comparable features, and for a few dollars more, you can receive unlimited service.
Lyca Mobile’s $39-per-month, 15GB package, which includes unlimited calls and texts to over 75 countries, is ideal for frequent international callers who use a reasonable amount of data.
In this pricing range, Ultra Mobile is also a good choice. You get unlimited call and text for $39 per month, as well as 15GB of 5G or LTE service. With the carrier’s multi-month plan, you can save up to $9 every month if you pay in advance.
Unlimited Data Phone Plans at a Low Cost
Visible is your best bet if you’re looking for a fully unlimited package. It’s our favorite option, with unlimited call, text, and 5G data speeds of up to 200Mbps on Verizon’s network for $40 per month. If you have an iPhone with an eSIM, all you have to do is download the Visible app to get service. The provider also receives praise for providing excellent customer support via its app, phone, text, and website.
Some cable companies offer unlimited subscriptions for only a few dollars more than Visible. If you have Comcast Cable, Xfinity Mobile offers unlimited bandwidth on Verizon’s network for $45 per month, with speeds slowing after 20GB. The same is available from Spectrum Mobile. If you choose one of these plans, be aware that you will be dealing with these cable companies if you have technical or billing concerns. In busy areas, major carriers, like all MVNOs, will deprioritize postpaid subscribers to reduce interruptions.
An unlimited package with 5G access is also available from Metro by T-Mobile, albeit it costs $50 per month. For the extra money, you receive 5GB of hotspot bandwidth and 100GB of Google One storage, as well as access to Google’s nationwide network of retail outlets if you run into any issues.
Cricket offers an unlimited package with 5G for $55 per month if you’re an AT&T customer. It’s your best bet on AT&T’s network, despite costing 25% more than the least priced package in this segment.
5G Plans We Recommend
Are you ready for the next wave of mobile connectivity? Read our in-depth tutorial on the next generation of cellular technology before diving into the 5G water. 5G is a totally different beast than previous connectivity standards, and most 5G handsets are designed for certain carriers, notably in the United States. This implies that if you transfer providers, your phone may only have limited or no 5G capabilities. Check out our list of the best 5G phones for the top devices we recommend right now, but before you commit to a plan, make sure to check out each carrier’s 5G connectivity standards.
The majority of minor carriers offer some type of 5G package, but it’s vital to read the fine print. Carriers frequently limit 5G plans to sub-6GHz frequencies, cap speeds, and even limit the amount of data included in “unlimited” contracts. As a result, we believe Metro and Visible are your best options.
On Verizon’s network, Visible has the most cheap 5G plan. You receive unlimited calls, texts, and 5G data capped at 200Mbps for $40 a month. Visible’s Party Pay is a wonderful choice if you want to save even more money. You can add up to three extra family members, friends, or roommates to your account and receive a $5 discount for each one. The discounts apply to all lines, so a four-line Party Plan costs only $25 per month. Visible bills each member separately, so you don’t have to worry about collecting Venmo payments for everyone’s half of the cost.
The cost of taking the metro is slightly more. Plans with unlimited data and 5G access start at $50 per month. If you live in an area where T-Mobile has strong 5G coverage, the price includes 5GB of hotspot data, 100GB of Google One storage, and an unlimited streaming music function that works with over 40 different providers. While T-Mobile prioritizes its core customers above Metro users when the network is crowded, if you have a solid 5G connection, this behavior is unlikely to have a substantial impact on your network speeds.
Phone Plans That Support Your Opinions
Do you have strong political or social convictions? Do you want to donate to a cause that you believe in? Only a few wireless providers allow you to do so, but they charge you a significant fee for the privilege.
Credo Mobile contributes a portion of your monthly payment to progressive causes. The provider uses Verizon’s network, and a 9GB plan costs $55 per month.
Patriot Mobile, billed as “America’s only Christian conservative wireless company,” is similarly priced. It distributes a portion of your payment to a number of conservative causes. For $55 per month plus tax, it offers an Unlimited Freedom package that includes unlimited calls and texts as well as 22GB of high-speed data. The Freedom of Speech package is $25 per month plus tax and provides unlimited speak and text but no data.
Are you looking for a socially responsible carrier with no political agenda? Reach Mobile is an excellent choice. Reach is a newcomer to the MVNO scene, donating 10% of your monthly bill to NGOs in Africa, India, and the United States that provide free mobile phone service and support digital literacy and skills training for women in need. The carrier’s All-In package is $65 per month plus tax and includes unlimited calls and texts as well as 20GB of LTE data on Verizon’s network. If you use less data than expected, Reach’s Best Fit service will automatically replace your existing plan with a more cost-effective one. Reach, on the other hand, does not support domestic roaming, so make sure you’re in a Verizon-covered area before signing up.
Credo and Patriot have chosen to publish a cumulative total rather than the actual amount they donate to charity. Both carriers are now more difficult to recommend because neither discloses how much of your money it decides to donate. As you can see, the majority of these plans are quite costly. We propose choosing a less expensive carrier from this list and putting the money saved towards a charity of your choice; your donation will go a lot further this way.
You’re out of luck if your goal is to boycott carriers that support political or social causes you oppose. Because all of these MVNOs lease from one of the main carriers, your money supports their lobbying and community involvement initiatives in a roundabout way. It’s still better to use a low-cost plan and donate directly to your favorite charity.
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