We’ve recently introduced our Wireless Plan Comparison Tool, and as a follow-up, we’ve spent time highlighting different wireless carriers here on the Swappa Blog. Our focus has included the big four, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, as well as the numerous MVNO carriers that make use of the big four networks.
Users will often look to one of the big four carriers, however, an MVNO carrier may be better suited for your specific needs. For example, some MVNO carriers focus on low priced plans and allow you to pay for only what you use. Some MVNO carriers will highlight a specific feature, such as international calling. And as you’ll see here later in this post — some allow users to partner up and share the discount.
What is an MVNO?
MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. Basically, this means an MVNO is a wireless carrier that offers service using one, or more, of the networks from the big four carriers. We have already teased Visible with the “share the discount” message, so we’ll stick with them for the example — Visible is an MVNO carrier that offers services using the Verizon network.
Which MVNO should you choose?
This is somewhat of a personal decision, but a good place to start is by looking towards network coverage. The MVNO carriers use the networks of the big four carriers, so you can begin by looking to see which of the carriers has solid coverage in the areas where you live, work, and play. This can be done by checking coverage maps on the carrier website. It can also be done by asking friends and family how well their carrier(s) work in your local area. Swappa also collects independent user reviews for wireless carriers.
Another tip is to consider which phone you have, or which you plan to get. MVNO carriers typically operate on a BYOD (bring your own device) setup, and that means you may be able to keep your current phone, or that you may be able to pick up a newish phone here on Swappa (and save money compared to buying new retail).
At this point, we’ll assume you already know the Verizon network is good in your local area, and that you have or plan to purchase a newish Verizon compatible phone, and we will get started highlighting the best Verizon MVNO carriers.
Best MVNO carriers using Verizon’s network?
Starting first with a simple list — here is a selection of some of the best MVNO carriers that use the Verizon network.
|MVNO Carrier||Verizon||Also uses||Ratings & Reviews|
|Visible||Yes||–||Visible user reviews|
|US Mobile||Yes||T-Mobile||US Mobile user reviews|
|Xfinity Mobile||Yes||–||Xfinity Mobile user reviews|
|TracFone||Yes||AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint||TracFone user reviews|
|Spectrum Mobile||Yes||–||Spectrum Mobile user reviews|
|Ting||Yes||T-Mobile, Sprint||Ting user reviews|
|Straight Talk||Yes||AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint||Straight Talk user reviews|
MVNO carrier network coverage
You may have noticed that some MVNO carriers use multiple networks. This can be good if you already have a phone you plan to use. After all, if the MVNO is using multiple networks you have a better chance your current phone will be supported.
But keep in mind that the network you will use with the MVNO can vary depending on which SIM card you have from the carrier, or which plan you picked from the carrier. With today’s focus being on MVNO carriers that use the Verizon network, a key factor in your decision should be in knowing that Verizon has solid network coverage in your local area.
Verizon MVNO carrier features
Visible is relatively new to the MVNO space. Visible kicked things off in 2018 with an invite-only setup and began offering service without an invite in January 2019. Some MVNO carriers use multiple networks, however, Visible only uses the Verizon network. This is due to Visible being owned by Verizon. Visible operates independently from Verizon and serves as a pre-paid brand for Verizon.
Visible claims to be everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Basically, that means no contracts and no hidden fees. Visible also does not have any retail locations, which means your service will be set up and managed using their website.
Highlights from Visible include a plan with unlimited minutes, unlimited messages, and unlimited data, as well as the ability to save some money with Party Pay. The Party Pay option will allow you to combine service with friends — and pay less each month.
Visible offers a single plan:
- Unlimited Talk, Text & Data (with Mobile Hotspot Included) – $40 per month (1 user)
By combining your service with friends and using Party Pay — that price can be dropped to as low as $25 per month. Party Pay options include plans for:
- 2 users ($35 each per month)
- 3 users ($30 each per month)
- 4 users ($25 each per month)
Also worth noting — each Party Pay user is responsible for their own bill.
US Mobile is an example of an MVNO carrier that operates using multiple networks. Users signing up with US Mobile will either be on the Verizon network or the T-Mobile network. Which network you get will depend on factors such as your location, the device you have to use, and which SIM card you get from the carrier.
US Mobile offers a SIM Starter Kit to get going, and that kit includes a Super LTE Network (Verizon network) SIM and a GSM LTE Network (T-Mobile network) SIM. US Mobile outlines the setup process and guides you to the best network for your location and your device on their network coverage and compatibility page.
The carrier offers options for users to create a custom plan or go with an unlimited option. The unlimited plan is called Unlimited All and it is priced at $40 per month (not including taxes and fees). The Unlimited All plan includes “Fast” data which means speeds up to 5 Mbps.
The US Mobile build your own plan option allows the user to choose the number of voice minutes, text messages, and data. Prices for the build your own plan break down as follows:
|Voice Minutes||Price||Text Messages||Price||Data||Price|
|Unlimited Voice + Text||$10||Unlimited Voice + Text||$10||8 GB||$26|
|Unlimited All||$40||Unlimited All||$40||Unlimited All||$40|
The carrier also offers options for group plans, with options for up to 5 lines per account. You have the ability to create a custom plan for each line, based on the specific needs of each user. US Mobile also offers perks for multiple line accounts. The perks vary based on the number of lines on the account but include services such as Apple TV Plus, Disney+, Audible, Spotify and Apple Music. Similar to other MVNO carriers, US Mobile operates on a no-contract basis.
Xfinity Mobile operates using the Verizon network and is a subsidiary of Comcast. The ownership is important to note because it brings a perk and a limitation. Beginning with the perk — Xfinity Mobile subscribers get access to the Xfinity WiFi Hotspot network, which may help to cut down on your cellular data usage. Shifting over to the limitation — you must be a Comcast subscriber to use Xfinity Mobile.
All plan options with Xfinity Mobile include unlimited talk and text. Xfinity Mobile also allows users to choose between paying for data by the GB or going with an Unlimited option. The Xfinity Mobile plans break down as follows;
- Unlimited Talk & Text, 1 GB of Data, $12 per month
- Unlimited Talk & Text, 3 GB of Data, $30 per month
- Unlimited Talk & Text, 10 GB of Data, $60 per month
- Unlimited Talk, Text & Data (speeds may be slowed after 20GB in a month), $45 per month
Xfinity Mobile has a device compatibility page on their website to confirm compatibility if you are bringing your own phone, whether it be one you already own or a newish phone you plan to purchase here on Swappa. Phone support includes the iPhone (6 or later) and Android phones from Samsung (Galaxy S8 and Note 8 or later) and Google (Pixel 1 or later).
Another perk of choosing Xfinity Mobile is the support for wearables such as the Apple Watch, which can be added to a plan for $10 per month.
TracFone is an example of an MVNO carrier that uses multiple networks. To be specific, TracFone makes use of the networks from all four of the major US carriers. Service is offered on a prepaid and no-contract basis, and if you are looking to take advantage of the Verizon network through TracFone — you’ll want to ensure you have a Verizon compatible phone.
TracFone has some options not offered by all MVNO carriers. For example, they offer plans for basic (non-smartphone) phones. The pricing will vary depending on the minutes you need, however, you can expect to pay anywhere from $9.99 per month to $199.99 per year. TracFone also offers an Unlimited Carryover option. This means that any data you have leftover at the end of the month can be carried over to the next month.
In terms of smartphone plans — TracFone offers a few plans with unlimited talk and text and varying amounts of data.
- Unlimited Talk & Text, 3 GB of Data – $30 per 30-days
- Unlimited Talk & Text, 2 GB of Data – $25 per 30-days
- Unlimited Talk & Text, 1GB of Data – $20 per 30-days
The other perk with TracFone is the availability. Users looking to get started can order a SIM card from the TracFone website, and can also pick one up from a variety of retailers such as 7-Eleven, Walgreens, CVS, Family Dollar, Walmart, Staples, Dollar General, and Rent-a-Center.
Spectrum Mobile operates using the Verizon network and is another relative newcomer to the MVNO space. Spectrum Mobile was launched by Charter in June of 2018. Spectrum Mobile operates in a similar manner as Xfinity Mobile. The carrier requires you to be a current Spectrum Internet subscriber, however, while this may serve as a limitation for some — it does have a benefit for Spectrum Mobile users. The carrier operates using a combination of the Verizon network and WiFi for your data needs, which should help to keep your costs down a bit. At present, Spectrum is noted as having “thousands” of WiFi hotspots available nationwide.
In terms of plans, you can choose between an unlimited offering, or by the GB.
- Unlimited Talk, Text & Data (speeds may be reduced after 20GB) – $45 (per line) per month
If you opt to pay for your data by the GB, you would be looking at unlimited talk and text, with data priced at $14 per GB. Overall, the options are pretty simple with Spectrum Mobile, and the carrier will also guide you step-by-step through the setup process. That helps to ensure you have a compatible phone, and that you are choosing the best plan for your needs.
Ting makes use of three of the four big carriers, which means you should not have any issue with finding coverage in your local area. The three carrier networks being used are Verizon, as well as T-Mobile and Sprint. Ting doesn’t require any long term commitment or contract, which is what you would expect with an MVNO carrier. However, Ting differs a little in terms of their plans, or more accurate, the lack of plans. Instead, Ting has a setup where you only pay for what you use (within the ranges outlined below).
|Voice Minutes||Price||Text Messages||Price||Data||Price|
|501-1,000||$18||1,001-2,000||$8||501 MB – 1GB||$16|
|1,001-2,100||$35||2,001-4,800||$11||1.1 – 2 GB||$20|
|2,100 and over||1.9 cents per minute||4,800 and over||$0.25 cents per message||2 GB and over||$10 per GB|
As an example, if you used 50 voice minutes ($3), had 500 texts ($5), and used 1.5GB of data ($20) — your bill would be $28. Paying by usage means your payment amount will fluctuate from month-to-month, which is something you should keep in mind, however, Ting does allow you to set hard limits in your Ting Dashboard. Essentially, this means you can limit your monthly spending based on a set dollar amount, as opposed to your usage. This can be helpful if you are on a strict budget, or if you are providing a phone to a younger child for true emergencies.
Straight Talk uses the networks of each of the big four carriers and will guide users through the process of getting started on their website. This includes making sure you have a compatible device. If you are looking to take advantage of the Verizon coverage, you will want to ensure you have a Verizon compatible phone.
Straight Talk operates similarly to other MVNO carriers, in that they do not require any contracts or long term commitments. Of course, while a long term commitment is not required — they do offer discounts for extended service plans. Users can save some money each month if they set up their account with AutoPay, and if they prepay for a 2-month, 6-month or 12-month plan option.
In terms of plans, at present Straight Talk offers the following:
- 30-Days Unlimited Plan – Unlimited Talk & Text, 25 GB of high-speed data – $45
- 30-Days Unlimited Plan – Unlimited Talk & Text, Unlimited high-speed data, 10 GB hotspot data – $45
- 30-Days Unlimited Plan – Unlimited Talk & Text, 3 GB of high-speed data – $35
- Unlimited International Plan – Unlimited Talk & Text, Unlimited Mobile to Mobile to Mexico, China, India, and Canada, Unlimited calls to select International landlines, 25 GB of high-speed data – $60
Another perk with the carrier is the ease of getting started. Along with SIM availability directly from the Straight Talk website, you can also purchase a SIM card locally at Walmart.
Which phones will work with a Verizon network MVNO?
This may sound somewhat obvious, but the best way to know if your phone will work with the carrier is to check with the carrier. The options to check compatibility will vary from carrier to carrier.
Some MVNO carriers allow you to enter the phones IMEI on their website compatibility check page, which will give a clear yes or no in terms of support. Some carriers will give you a yes, or no, based on the phone type, and whether the device is unlocked (and not restricted to a specific carrier based on carrier financing). And, in some cases, a call to the carriers customer support line may be beneficial.
However, when you are looking to get started with a Verizon MVNO carrier, a good place to start is by searching for a Verizon compatible device.