Find the Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans For You
Explore our list below and find the right fit for you
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An estimated 96 percent of Americans now own a cellphone in some way or another. With our on-the-go culture, you simply cannot function well in the world today without a mobile phone of some sort.
A cheap cell phone plan is a good place to start if you’re looking for a way to cut costs in your house. Keep reading to learn about cheap cell phone plans on the market today.
Best Value Versus the Cheapest Phone
A new iPhone 11 Pro has all the bells and whistles. Proponents will argue it’s a great value, too, considering you’re holding a powerful computer in your hand. It also costs approximately $1,000.
The $1,000 price tag is low when you consider what you will spend on a cell phone plan throughout your lifetime. Experts estimate you will spend approximately $75,000 on a phone, equipment, bills, and apps in your lifetime.
Affordable cell phone plans may not offer you all the bells and whistles. But the phones will still make phone calls, send texts, and hook up to the internet like the iPhone. The following plans are not necessarily the best value. You can undoubtedly get more data and more minutes with other plans. These, however, are some low cost and simple plans on the market.
Cheap Cell Phone Plans Without Data
If you need a simple phone and do not want to pay for data, basic cell phones, and basic cell phone plans do still exist. The following two have minimal minute and text messaging required.
Tracfones were the best solutions for a college kid who needed an emergency phone twenty years ago. They’re the originator of “cheap” phones before data even existed.
You can get a 500-minute airtime card with 500 texts that costs just $15 a month.
Tracfone contracts with all four major carriers, thus providing clients with an excellent network and a small price tag.
- Pro: You have an uber-cheap phone.
- Con: You can’t check your email or do any sort of surfing. You cannot download apps. You have no data.
With Ting, you only pay for the service you use. You receive a small phone with one individual line. You can purchase a phone and a plan starting at $6 for the first line, and $3 a month for up to 100 minutes, 1000 texts, or 100 mb of data.
Ting is unique in that they bill minutes, data, and texts separately. You can customize your plan based on how many minutes, texts, or data you want. If you do not use your phone at all that month, pay a $6 monthly base charge plus taxes and fees.
So Ting is an excellent option if you’re a homebody with a landline and need a cell phone just for emergencies.
- Pro: You have a cheap phone you can use for just emergencies.
- Con: You have to pay $6 a month to keep your phone. You need to pay attention to this monthly base charge plus taxes and fees to keep your phone.
Cheap Postpaid Cell Phone Plans With Data
If you’re already hooked on your smartphone or need to access the internet regularly, you need to find a phone that includes data. These are the cheapest postpaid phones that come with data.
The cheapest Sprint family plan with data provides users with a whopping 6GB of data at just $45 a month when you choose to pay your bill manually. This plan is available only when you activate a new account. It does not apply if you already have an account with Sprint. So basically, you cannot downgrade.
If you’re looking for a new cell phone service, then this is a great deal. Sprint also puts a limit on which phones this applies to. You need to purchase a phone that costs $450 or less with them. This plan eliminates the possibility of an iPhone 11, Samsun Note 10+, and Google Pixel 4. If you go over your data, your speed will just drop since the plan includes unlimited 2G data.
- Pros: You have an affordable phone with data, and you receive a discount for autopsy.
- Cons: You cannot purchase any phone you want but have to buy an inexpensive phone.
U.S. Cellular has a plan comparable to Sprint’s plan. You can get 2GB of data at $45 a month if you sign up for autopay. The U.S. Cellular plan includes unlimited minutes and text messages in addition to the data.
U.S. Cellular has limitations, though. It’s available in just 23 states. In those states, the service is not necessarily available statewide. So check your availability before you set your heart on U.S. Cellular. Also, outside of your home, U.S. Cellular caps your data at 400 MB. After you go over your 400, your speed will slow down significantly.
- Pros: You will have unlimited minutes and text messages along with data for an affordable price.
- Cons: Not every state and county have this service.
Cheap Prepaid Cell Phone Plans with Data
If you’re worried about going over your data and then having to pay more at the end of the month, a prepaid plan is a great option. You could also get a prepaid plan for a loved one that needs basic phone service.
Republic Wireless costs $20 a month with unlimited minutes and text messages and 1 GB of data. You cannot get this plan with an iPhone. If you want just unlimited talk and text with WiFi, Republic Wireless’s plan costs just $15 a month. Then you can add the data on for $5 a gigabyte. If you do not have WiFi near you, your carrier will default to Sprint or T-Mobile. The network you use depends on your phone.
- Pros: You have the option of adding data.
- Cons: The networks will vary, so you need to live in a place with multiple network options.
Cheap Pay-As-You-Go Cell Phone Plans
If you need to lower your bills, one of the best ways to control your cell phone usage is by paying as you go. With a pay-as-you-go plan, you can go months without using your phone and pay a minimal amount to keep it active.
T Mobile PayGo (Via Ultra Mobile)
The T Mobile PayGo plan costs a mere $3 a month initially. With this $3 a month, you get 30 minutes or 30 texts a month. If you go over the minimal amount, you pay 10 cents a minute or a message. You cannot get this plan via Ultra Mobile. It runs on T-Mobile’s network and is available only at certain T-Mobile stores.
Your plan works the same as the PayGo plan where both incoming and outgoing texts count toward your 30. Calls to your voicemail do count toward your 30 calls as well. If you go over your limit, T-Mobile bills you 10 cents a minute or .01 cents a text. If you do not plan on using this phone regularly, make sure you top off your account every 90 days.
- Pros: It costs $3 a month. Few plans are cheaper.
- Cons: There are loopholes. A call to your voicemail takes up one of your 30 calls, so be careful.
With the AT&T pay as you go plan, you pay $2 per day on days when you use your phone. Checking your voicemail does count as usage. If you do not add money regularly to your account, your balance will expire. The expiration date will vary from 30 days to a year, depending on the service you choose. Scrutinize your contract.
- Pro: You only pay when you use your phone. It works excellent for emergencies.
- Con: Your account can expire, and you can find yourself with a phone that has no service when you need it. You need to stay on top of your account.
Overall Cheap and Best Deal Goes To…
Of all the deals on the market, Ting stands out as one of the more interesting options. Ting attempts to give customers a sort of cafeteria experience with tiered rate packages.
You pay a base price of $6 a line. You pay separately for minutes, text messages, and data. Simply having the phone costs $6 a month, and you’re not penalized for not using minutes, texts, or data. Minutes, texting, and data all vary on their price. When you use just your minutes, Ting charges $3 for 100 minutes, $9 for 500 minutes, $18 for 1,000 minutes, and $35 for 2,100 minutes. Any calls that put you over 2,100 minutes cost 1.9 cents per minute. All minutes are just nationwide.
Text, however, is global. It costs you $3 for 100, $5 for 1,000, $8 for 2000, and $11 for 4,800. Every text beyond the 4,800 costs 1/4 of a cent per text. Data costs $3 for 100 MB, $10 for 500 MB, $16 for 1 GB, and $20 for 2 GB. If you want more than 2GB of data, you pay $10 for each GB. Data is nationwide.
Ting charges users for using fractions of months. So if you use 10 minutes, you may as well use 90 minutes. You will have to pay $3 regardless of how many of your 100 minutes you use.
If you go over 100 minutes, you are charged for up to 500 minutes.
Ting makes sense if you’re using WiFi and not data. You can use it in an unlimited capacity if you hook up to WiFi whether you’re at home or you’re using a public WiFi hotspot.
Best Bang For Your Buck
What if you can’t handle the restrictions of the cheapest cell phone service providers out there? You may have a habit that you just can’t break or a job that requires you to have more data or texts or minutes. Here are some more deals on the market.
If you need 5G service, Mint Mobile is a great deal for short-term use. They offer 3, 6, and 12-month plans with unlimited text and talk and 8GB of 4G LTE data for the average user.
Mint uses T-Mobile’s network, so you have decent coverage throughout the United States. It costs just $20 a month with a prepaid 3-month bundle at the introductory rate. You can keep this rate if you pay for 12 months at a time.
The Mint Mobile plan works great if you’re on a budget. You can pay upfront, keep track of your minutes and data, and not worry about a big phone bill at the end of each month.
Twigby has an unlimited text and talk plan. They also offer plans starting at 300-minutes and data plans starting at 200 MB for those select a data plan. The plans start at $15 a month for 3 GB of full-speed data from Verizon and Sprint’s network.
Red Pocket has an unlimited talk and text plan that also includes 3GB of full-speed data for $19 per month. Once you go over your data limit, you have unlimited data at reduced speeds. You also have free unlimited calls to 72 different countries.
T-Mobile Connect with 5G
T-Mobile Connect offers unlimited talk and text with a hard cap of 5GB of data. You cannot go over on your data because T-Mobile won’t let you. Thus you can rely on paying just $25 a month with this limit.
GenMobile International + 1 GB
Gen Mobile International has a great deal for international calls. You have unlimited calling to more than 100 countries and unlimited national calls and unlimited text. GenMobile uses the Sprint Network for this plan, which costs just $13 a month. You also receive $2 international credit use when you call countries outside of those countries listed as free.
Save Time, Save Money
Cheap cell phone plans can save you both money and time. You’ll end up using your phone more purposefully, and you’ll end up with more cash in your pocket.
Questions to Consider Before Choosing a Plan
Can you afford a cheap cell phone?
If you’re struggling during this time of economic uncertainty, you could qualify for cell phone assistance. When you apply for unemployment, look into a cell phone assistance program as well.
This program could offer you the help you need to be able to afford your current service. So before you start tapping into a cheap phone plan, examine all of your offers. Cheap cell phone plans can lower your cell phone bill if they have the right qualifications.
Is there coverage in your area?
As you look at a plan, make sure the provider has coverage in your area. Check to make sure that you have good service as well as coverage. Look at the carrier’s website and coverage maps.
What's your current cell phone usage?
Before you dive into a minimal plan, make sure you can handle minimal usage. Look at your current cell phone bill and analyze how you use your phone. Do you make phone calls, text, or use data most?
Secondly, do you have the ability to cut back on your phone habits? If your cell phone is your only means of communication, consider your options carefully. If you’re going to go over your limits regularly, you may end up paying more anyway.
Do you have to get a new device?
If your current device doesn’t work with the new carrier, you will need a new device. This may cost you a bit upfront, so prepare yourself for this. You may also have the option of paying for it monthly with a service plan.
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