5 Best Phone Plans for College Students for 2021

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The best phone plans for college students give good service for cheap. Here are 5 cheap cell phone plans for students under $30 per month.

Cell phones are a necessity for any college student. While many students choose to get their own plan, some may not know where to find a good deal. It’s confusing to find affordable phone plans because carriers don’t always make options easy to understand.

The best phone plans for college students offer reduced rates and flexibility. Both of those features are essential since students use their phones a lot and may not want to be on a family cell phone plan.

Here are some key things to consider when analyzing cheap cell phone plans for college students:

  • Pricing
  • Coverage options
  • Plans
  • Phone prices

Plans and pricing are vital to ranking plans because college students use a lot of data. They also text frequently.

You might think plans that are data and text-heavy would cost at least $50 per month. Luckily, that is not the case. College students can usually find plans under $20 or $30 per month.

ServiceCostDataMins.TextNetworkGo to Site
Tello$141 GBNo limitNo limitSprint See Plans
Ting$10$5/GBNo limitNo limitT-Mobile, Verizon See Plans
Mint Mobile$15 to $304 GB to UnlimitedNo limitNo limitAT&T, T-Mobile
See Plans
Twigby$15600 MBNo limitNo limitSprint, Verizon See Plans
Republic Wireless$15$5/GBNo limitNo limitSprint, T-Mobile See Plans


Best Phone Plans for College Students


Thanks to Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), there are many cheap cell phone plans. MVNOs operate on towers from legacy carriers like Verizon. This allows them to pass savings onto customers.

All of the MVNOs we analyzed let you use an unlocked phone, helping you save more money. This is great for college students needing service without paying a premium price.

They also often provide SIM cards. Typically, this expense is a one-time cost of $10.

MVNOs don’t always make discount plans public, so make sure to ask before signing up for service.

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Here are the five best cell phone plans for college students to save money.

1. Tello


Tello is one of the top cell phone discount plans for college students. Plans start at $5 per month. The service operates on Sprint’s network, so you know the carrier offers reliable coverage.


Flexibility sets Tello apart from other phone plans. Plans start as low as $5. However, that will not be practical for most college students since it only includes 500 MB of data each month and no minutes.

*Now through March 15, receive 50 percent off your bill for your first three months plus a free SIM card!*

Tello does offer some robust plans at an affordable price. Here are the more common plans they may offer:

    • 2 GB of data plus unlimited talk and text = $14 per month
    • 4 GB of data plus unlimited talk and text = $19 per month
  • 6 GB of data plus unlimited talk and text = $24 per month
  • 8 GB of data plus unlimited talk and text = $29 per month
  • Unlimited data plus unlimited talk and text = $39 per month

If you regularly use Wi-Fi, you can get an affordable rate.

Tello has no contracts. All plans allow customers to call anywhere in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and China.

College students can bring their own Android and iOS-based devices. You can also purchase an affordable phone through Tello.

Pros and Cons

Tello has a lot to offer for student phone plans, including:

  • International calls
  • Free tethering and hot spot
  • Bringing your own phone
  • No activation fee to bring your own phone
  • Building a plan around your needs
  • Making changes to your plan at no additional cost

The main downside is that, while affordable, buying a phone through Tello can be a bit pricey.

Read our review of Tello to learn more.

Tello - no contract phone service
Cost: $5 to $39 per month

Coverage on the Sprint network. 

See Plans

Tello logo


2. Ting


Ting is one of the best phone plans for college students. The service operates on two mobile networks. These include T-Mobile and Verizon.

This gives the carrier added flexibility and provides a good service experience for customers.


Ting recently updated their pricing to offer unlimited talk and text for $10 per month. You only pay for the data you use, which is $5 per GB.

Frugal Rules readers receive a free $50 credit when signing up for the service.

Ting has no contracts or hidden fees. It also offers robust international calling. There are no additional charges to call Canada, China, Germany, India, Israel, Mexico, or the United Kingdom.

The carrier does allow you to call 60 additional countries. Be prepared to pay additional charges to those countries.

Students can bring their own Android and iOS-based devices. They can also take advantage of cell phone deals through Ting.

Pros and Cons

Ting Mobile has a lot to offer for phone plans for students, including:

  • Operating on two networks
  • A $50 promo for Frugal Rules readers
  • Seeing current usage (so you know how much your bill will be)
  • No contracts
  • Paying for only what you use
  • The ability to call 60+ countries

The primary con for Ting Mobile is that it doesn’t offer in-person service, but most MVNOs are similar.

Read our review of Ting to learn more.

Ting Wireless - click now for a $50 credit!
Cost: $10/mo - unlimited talk/text + $5/GB

Coverage on T-Mobile and Verizon networks. 

See Plans

ting logo


3. Mint Mobile


Mint Mobile operates on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks. As a result, you can be confident you’ll have reliable coverage.


Mint Mobile offers some terrific discount phone plans for college students. Unlike Tello or Ting, Mint Mobile has set plans. Those include:

  • 4GB of data plus unlimited talk and text = $15 per month
  • 10GB of data plus unlimited talk and text = $20 per month
  • 15GB of data plus unlimited talk and text = $25 per month
  • Unlimited data plus unlimited talk and text = $30 per month

The unlimited plan is a new offering that rolled out in September.

You must purchase three months of service to receive the discounted pricing. However, the carrier does offer a free 7-day trial to test their service.

*Related: for a limited time, get three months of service for free when you buy any three month plan!*

Similar to other prepaid phone plans, Mint Mobile has no contracts or hidden fees. They offer calls to Canada and Mexico at no charge. Mint Mobile also offers service to 100+ other countries for an additional charge.

Students can bring their own Android and iOS-based devices. They can also buy a phone through Mint Mobile.

Pros and Cons

Prepaying aside, Mint Mobile has a lot to offer college students. Benefits include:

  • The more months you buy, the more you save
  • An active blog and YouTube channel to help customers
  • Free international calling to Mexico and Canada
  • Plans starting at just $15 a month
  • A mobile hotspot for no extra charge
  • Unlimited data for just $30 per month

The main cons for Mint Mobile are that you cannot change your plan until your current one ends and there are no pay-as-you-go plans.

Read our review of Mint Mobile to learn more.

4. Twigby


Twigby, like Ting, operates on the Sprint and Verizon networks. Using these legacy carriers provides additional stability for people who want reliable service. 


Twigby differentiates itself by offering a 25 percent discount for the first six months of service. The carrier allows customers to customize their phone plans based on what they need.

*Right now Frugal Rules readers can get up to 50 percent off their first six months of service with Twigby!*

As a customer, you pay for talk + text and data separately. Here are the rates for talk service with Twigby (unlimited text is included):

  • 300 minutes – $9 per month
  • 500 minutes – $11 per month
  • Unlimited – $13 per month

Here are the data rates:

  • 200 MB – $3 per month
  • 1 GB per month – $6 per month
  • 2 GB per month – $10 per month
  • 3 GB per month – $15 per month
  • 5 GB per month – $20 per month
  • 10 GB per month – $30 per month

These rates do not include the 25 percent discount. If you switch to Twigby today, you’d pay $15 per month for the 5 GB a month plan for the first six months.

Twigby has no contracts. It offers free international calls to Canada, China, and Mexico.

Students can bring their own Android and iOS-based devices. They can also purchase a phone through Twigby.

Pros and Cons

Twigby has a lot to offer to college students looking for a discount phone plan, including:

  • Operating on two networks
  • Customizable plans
  • International calls to Canada, China, and Mexico
  • Discounted service for the first six months
  • A 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Referral Rewards

One con is that Twigby doesn’t have physical store locations. This is common for MVNOs.

Read our review of Twigby to learn more.

5. Republic Wireless


Republic Wireless is a long-time favorite in the cheap phone plan space. The carrier piggybacks on Sprint and T-Mobile to offer service.


Part of what customers love about Republic Wireless is that it has an easy to follow pricing structure. Here are the plans available with Republic Wireless:

  • Unlimited talk and text = $15 per month
  • Unlimited data = $5 per 1 GB

The carrier is a big believer in using Wi-Fi. As a result, they allow customers to buy data in 1 GB increments so they don’t overpay for service.

If you pay for a year of service, Republic Wireless provides additional savings by giving you 12 months for the price of ten.

Republic Wireless has no contracts or hidden fees. While they do not allow you to call or text other countries, you can receive international communications.

College students can bring their own phone to Republic Wireless. Currently, the service only works with Android-based devices.

Pros and Cons

There is a lot to like about Republic Wireless. Here’s what to consider:

  • Operates on two platforms
  • 14-day money-back guarantee
  • They pay you back each month for unused data
  • No overage fee
  • Add data right from your phone

In terms of drawbacks, Republic Wireless has limited international communication capabilities. It also does not work on iOS devices.

Read our review of Republic Wireless to learn more.

Bottom Line


Having a cell phone is vital, especially if you’re in college. The best phone plans for college students provide good service for a low monthly cost.

Most of the companies listed above allow you to customize your plan to fit your preferences. Don’t be afraid to adjust service as needed to find an affordable plan that doesn’t sacrifice quality.

You may want a full-fledged provider like Verizon, but all of these phone plans provide similar services for a fraction of the cost.


Is your college student still on your family plan? What do you look for in a cell phone provider? 

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Choncé is a freelance writer who’s obsessed with frugality and passionate about helping others increase their savings rate, eliminate debt, and work toward financial stability. She chronicles her journey with balancing motherhood, work, and finances on her blog, MyDebt

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