[Update: We’ve gone through and updated our lists by adding a couple more plans to help those with multiple phone lines get the best deals on wireless service.]
Ever since we launched our Phone Plan Comparison Tool, we’ve been looking for all the ways we can help you save money on your wireless bill. We’ve covered what MVNO carriers are, how you can save money by switching to the most popular MVNOs, and we’ve even gone so far as to compare the best networks and phone plans on T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. But what if you don’t have a particular host network in mind and just want to get the best deals on your wireless bill?
Now it’s time to combine all the best deals across all the different carriers to find the best cheap phone plans. Since we’re focusing on the best cheap plans today, we’re going to look exclusively at plans that are $35/month or less. Are you looking to save some cash on your wireless bill? If so, join us as we take a look at the best cheap phone plans of January 2020.
How much do you want to spend on wireless?
Before we dive into the plans, it’s important to figure out exactly how much you want to spend on your wireless bill. After all “cheap” means different things to different people. There are great deals to be had across all price categories, so why don’t we narrow down our picks by price category.
Best cheap phone plans under $10
Let’s start with the bare essentials. Here, we’re looking for the absolute cheapest phone plans possible. Whether you’re buying service for an emergency phone that will rarely ever see use, or you are constantly in areas with free WiFi, these super cheap plans make a lot of sense for people who don’t need much from their wireless service. When trying to get the absolute cheapest phone plans, there are only a handful of choices that come in under the $10/month mark. Here are some of the best options for those looking to spend $10 or less per month.
|Carrier||Price||Plan Details||Host Network(s)|
|Tello||$6/month||100 minutes, unlimited text and data (500MB high-speed)||Sprint|
|Ting||$6/month||No traditional plans, usage-based pricing||T-Mobile, Sprint (Verizon coming soon)|
|Twigby||$7/month||300 minutes, unlimited texts, no data||Primarily Sprint, Verizon fallback (voice/text only)|
|US Mobile||$7/month||150 minutes, 100 texts, 100MB data||Verizon, T-Mobile|
When looking around for the absolute cheapest plans available, it’s hard to ignore Ting. Starting at just $6/month and offering usage-based pricing, Ting gives you access to some of the nation’s best wireless networks (T-Mobile and Sprint, with Verizon on the way this year) as well as the versatility to use either a GSM or CDMA network. Now keep in mind that Ting doesn’t do traditional phone plans. As such, they calculate your usage during the month and bill you for what you actually use. So be aware that even though Ting makes a lot of sense for light users or those with extensive WiFi coverage, the rates start getting quite expensive once you start using your phone for more than just emergencies.
Ting’s not the only game in town when it comes to super-low rates for emergency or limited-use phones! Tello offers comparable minimum rates, but with a little more in the way of minutes and data. In fact, for the same $6/month, you not only get emergency service but also 100 minutes and 500MB of high-speed data (unlimited 2G afterward). However, Tello restricts you to the Sprint network. So if you’re in an area with good Sprint coverage, this is no issue. But in rural areas that may not have quite as much cellular coverage, you’ll want to go with an MVNO that is compatible with either AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile to have the most reliable service.
Next, we have Twigby. For just $7/month, you can upgrade to 300 minutes with unlimited texting. However, keep in mind that this plan does not include data. That said, the plan is still viable for text-happy users who are constantly around WiFi throughout the day. Giving you access to the Sprint network, with Verizon functioning as a voice- and text-only fallback, Twigby makes sure that you have some form of coverage wherever you may need it.
Finally, we have US Mobile. Starting at just $7/month, US Mobile offers 150 minutes, 100 texts, and 100MB of wireless data. Offering full support for the Verizon and T-Mobile host networks, US Mobile may be a fantastic choice for budget-conscious buyers looking for some of the best coverage available.
Best cheap phone plans under $20
Ultra-cheap sub-$10 plans are great if you want the bare minimum wireless service, but what if you actually want to use your phone? Going up a pricing tier may add a bit to your monthly bill, but it also gets you a lot more versatility with what you can do with your phone plan. In fact, most of the plans that we are highlighting in this price tier offer unlimited talk, text, and data — albeit data is slowed to 2G speeds once a soft-cap is reached. As a result, we’d wager that this price tier is undoubtedly the sweet spot for most users.
|Carrier||Price||Plan Details||Host Network(s)|
|Mint||$15/month||Unlimited talk, text, data (3GB high-speed)||T-Mobile|
|Tello||$14/month||Unlimited talk, text, data (2GB high-speed)||Sprint|
|Net10 Wireless||$20/month||Unlimited talk, text, data (1GB high-speed)||AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint|
|Xfinity Mobile||$12/month||Unlimited talk, text, WiFi; 1GB LTE (5 lines)||Verizon, Xfinity WiFi (unlimited)|
Without a doubt, the most prominent player in the sub-$20 range is Mint Mobile. You’ve undoubtedly seen their spicy ads and read about their disruptive pricing model. Sure enough, Mint has a lot to offer those looking for full-featured plans that are still incredibly affordable. The plan we have in mind offers unlimited talk, text, and data (3GB high-speed) for just $15/month when purchasing a year in advance. What if you don’t want to buy a full year at a time? You can still get the same plan for $20/month when purchasing 6 months at a time or $25/month when purchasing 3 months at a time.
What if you don’t want to purchase any months in advance? Just like we saw in the sub-$10 price tier, Tello is once again a fantastic option in this price category as well. Offering unlimited talk, text, and data (2GB high-speed) for just $14/month, there’s a lot to love in Tello’s pricing model. Just keep in mind that Tello only works on the Sprint network. In other words, if your area has good Sprint coverage, you should be fine. However, this may not always be true in more rural areas.
What if you want to have the option to choose between all four major host networks? This is where Net10 comes in. Offering unlimited talk, text, and data (1GB high-speed) for $20/month, Net10 may not be quite as budget-friendly as other options in this price tier. However, where Net10 shines is that it gives users the added versatility of being able to select between any of the four major US carriers when initially signing up. So if you’re looking for a good deal while getting the best coverage possible, Net10 may be the right option for you.
Finally, we present a fundamentally different type of wireless plan — one that combines cellular connectivity with a mesh network of WiFi hotspots. Xfinity Mobile has service starting at just $12/month and lets you connect up to 5 lines to a shared pool of LTE data for the same low price. How does it work? It’s simple. We recently talked about how you can save money with Xfinity Mobile; but the gist of it is that when you’re within range of one of the many, nationwide Xfinity WiFi hotspots, you get free unlimited data. When you’re out of range, your coverage shifts over to the Verizon Network. Since areas with Xfinity home internet typically have an extensive Xfinity WiFi hotspot network, you may find that you rarely ever rely on mobile data. And unlike most other wireless carriers, you’re free to change your plan mid-month if you find that you’re using a bit more data than expected. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it’s not — as long as you’re an existing Xfinity home internet customer.
Best cheap phone plans under $35
Now we’re getting into the big leagues. Although $35/month may not exactly qualify as “cheap” for some users, you’re still saving a ton of money compared to buying from any of the Big Four wireless carriers directly. In this price tier, we’re once again looking exclusively at plans that offer unlimited talk, text, and data — only this time, we’re getting a lot more high-speed data. In other words, now we’re getting into plans that make sense for those who rely heavily on streaming media. We’re also looking at all the same players as in the previous tier, as their rates continue to make sense when upping the service level.
|Carrier||Price||Plan Details||Host Network(s)|
|Mint||$25/month||Unlimited talk, text, data (12GB high-speed)||T-Mobile|
|Tello||$29/month||Unlimited talk, text, data (8GB high-speed)||Sprint|
|Net10 Wireless||$35/month||Unlimited talk, text, data (4GB high-speed)||AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint|
|Xfinity Mobile||$30/month||Unlimited talk, text, WiFi; 3GB LTE (5 lines)||Verizon, Xfinity WiFi (unlimited)|
Just as we saw when looking at the best phone plans under $20, Mint Mobile continues to be one of the most prominent players in this pricing tier. Offering unlimited talk, text, and data — with a massive 12GB of high-speed data — there’s a lot to love about Mint’s $25/month plan. However, keep in mind that in order to get this pricing, you have to buy service a year at a time. If you are unwilling to buy your service so far in advance, you are looking at $35/month if you buy 6 months at a time or $45/month if you buy 3 months at a time.
What if you’d rather not purchase your wireless service several months or even a year in advance? Once again, Tello continues to make a lot of sense in this price tier as well. Tello’s $29/month plan offers unlimited talk, text, and data (8GB high-speed) — but without the need to pay for your wireless service in bulk. However, we need to reiterate that since Tello relies exclusively on Sprint as its host network, you should check service in your area before signing on.
Next, we have Net10 Wireless. Net10 offers unlimited talk, text, and data (4GB high-speed) for $35/month. Although we once again see that Net10’s plans are a little more expensive than the competition, Net10 makes a very strong case for itself by allowing users to choose between all four major host networks. In other words, if you’re in an area where Sprint or T-Mobile don’t have great coverage, Net10 makes the most sense since you can then select either Verizon or AT&T as your host network.
Finally, we run into Xfinity Mobile once again. Just like we saw in their $12/month plan, the $30/month plan combines cellular connectivity with a mesh network of nationwide WiFi hotspots in order to minimize your mobile data usage. As with their cheaper plan, you can connect up to 5 lines to a shared pool of LTE data for the same monthly fee. So if you’re an Xfinity home internet customer, want to connect more than 1 line, and are in an area with good Xfinity WiFi hotspot coverage, you can probably save a good deal of money by switching to Xfinity Mobile.
Which cheap phone plan is best?
The answer ultimately boils down to how you use your phone. If you’re an extremely light user or you’re constantly around WiFi, any of the best phone plans under $10 make a lot of sense. If you’re more of a typical smartphone user who consumes some streaming content but don’t find yourself glued to your screen, the best phone plans under $20 smart making a lot of sense. In fact, we’d even go so far as to guess that this is the sweet spot for most users. Finally, if you’re a mobile warrior who’s constantly consuming streaming media in areas without good WiFi access, any of the best phone plans under $35 will fit the bill.
Ultimately, when choosing between all the plans we talked about today, there’s no right or wrong answer. They’re all great, as long as you’re selecting the right plan for you. So what are you waiting for? Head over to the button below to find the best deals on cheap phone plans. And while you’re saving money on your
car insurance wireless service, don’t forget to head over to the Swappa Marketplace to find the best deals on a newish iPhone or gently-used Android phone. Finally, when you’re ready to make the jump, make sure to check our guides on how to port your number and switch to MVNO carriers on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks.