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Cheapest Cell Phone Plans

Cheapest Cell Phone Plans

Here at Budget Geek, we have spent a lot of time analyzing every aspect of personal finance and we were surprised to find out that most people we talked to are paying an outrageous amount for cell phone service. Honestly, we believe that if you are paying more than $50 for a singular line or more than $125 for several lines you are probably overpaying for your service. So we took it upon ourselves to set out and find the cheapest phone plans out there.

There are only four networks in the United States. . .

So as many of you already know if you have a cell phone the carrier providing service for you is always one of the “Big Four”. The “Big Four” is just the four companies that own the most cellular towers in the United States, these four companies are Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

What is an MVNO? and how can it save me money?

An MVNO or Mobile Virtual Network Operator is just a cell phone carrier that leases the use of a network from one of the “Big Four“. MVNOs tend to save a lot of money because they do not have the cost of building and maintaining infrastructure and cellular towers and they are technically buying plans in “bulk” from the main carriers and thus getting discounts. All of these are factors that contribute to MVNOs being much cheaper.

Pros and Cons of using an MNVO

Pros

  • A larger variety of plans

  • Generally cheaper plans

  • No credit checks

  • Same networks as the main carriers

  • Most won’t have contracts

Cons

  • Data speeds may be slowed in preference for main network customers

  • If you purchase your phone through your provider, there is usually fewer options with a MVNO

  • Less face-to-face service

MintMobile

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Overview

MintMobile is listed first, because I personally use it and believe it is one of the best value options around if you use a lot of data. MintMobile is aimed at a niche part of the market for cellular service, because MintMobile aims to sell bulk plans as in a plan for 3 months, 6 months, or yearly. Personally I love it though, when you compare MintMobiles’ annual plans to a years worth of almost any other service, MintMobile almost always wins.

Prices & Plan Features

Cheapest Plan

Price: $180 billed annually ($15 monthly)

  • 3 GBs data per month

  • Unlimited text

  • Unlimited talk

Best Plan

Price: $300 billed annually ($25 monthly)

  • 12 GBs data per month

  • Unlimited text

  • Unlimited talk


Network Used & Coverage

MintMobile uses T-Mobile’s towers and you can find a coverage map here.


Compatibility

Compatible with most GSM phones and you can check compatibility here.

 

Tello

Overview

Tello really shines with its cheapest plan that will only really appeal to minimalist cell phone users and anyone living on a strict budget. While Tello fully stacked plan isn’t the cheapest on the market, it one of the cheapest especially out of those offered at a monthly rate.

Prices & Plan Features

Cheapest Plan

Price: $5 per monthly

  • No data

  • Unlimited text

  • 100 minutes of talk

Best Plan

Price: $39 per month

  • Unlimited Data

  • Unlimited text

  • Unlimited talk

Network Used

Tello uses Sprints towers and you can find a coverage map here.

Compatibility

Tello is compatible with most CDMA phones and you can check compatibility here.

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Unreal Mobile

Overview

UnrealMobile isn’t quite as cheap as some of the other options on this list, but it is still a great deal especially if you need or would prefer to be on AT&T’s towers or Sprint’s towers. Yes, I did list both as Unreal Mobile does have access to both (more on that below.)

Prices & Plan Features

Cheapest Plan

Price: $10 per month

  • 1 GB data per month

  • Unlimited text

  • Unlimited talk

Best Plan

Price: $40 per month

  • 10 GBs data per month

  • Unlimited text

  • Unlimited talk

Network Used

Interestingly enough Unreal Mobile is the only provider on this list that actually uses two separate sets of towers. Unreal Mobile uses both AT&T’s towers and Sprint’s towers depending on what type of phone you sign up with. You can find a coverage map for both here.

It is also worth noting that if Unreal Mobile is used on with a GSM phone on AT&T’s network an app is required for phone calls and text messages and  plans on the AT&T network require VoIP for phone calls.


Compatibility

Unreal mobile is compatible with both CDMA and GSM phones, that being said if you don’t already own a phone you should check out the respective coverage maps for both CDMA phones and GSM phones before buying a phone to use with Unreal Mobile. If you already own a phone you would like to use on the Unreal Mobile network you can check compatibility here.

Total Wireless

Overview

Total Wireless seems a little out of place on this list, because the rates they charge are a bit higher than the others. Total Wireless does offer something that the other service providers do not and that is access to Verizon Wireless’s network of towers which have the best overall coverage for the United States according to most third-party test including tests done by PCMag and RootMetrics.

It is also worth noting that Total Wireless offers some really good deal for prepaid plans and this is a niche that most other service providers do not cover. Details below !

Prices & Plan Features

Cheapest Plan

Price: $23.70 per month

  • No data

  • Unlimited text

  • Unlimited talk

Best Plan

Price: $47.50 per month

  • 15 GBs data per month

  • Unlimited text

  • Unlimited talk

Family Plan (4 lines)

Price: $95 per month

  • 25 GBs data per month (shared over all 4 lines)

  • Unlimited Text

  • Unlimited Talk

Network Used

As mentioned previously Total Wireless operates on Verizon Wireless’s towers and you can find a coverage map here.


Compatibility

Total Wireless is compatible with most CDMA phones and you can check your phone for compatibility here.

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