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 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:
- Coverage options
- 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.
|Service||Cost||Data||Mins.||Text||Network||Go to Site|
|Tello||$14||1 GB||No limit||No limit||Sprint|
|Visible||$30||Unlimited||No limit||No limit||Verizon|
|Mint Mobile||$15 to $30||4 GB to Unlimited||No limit||No limit||AT&T, T-Mobile|
|Twigby||$15||600 MB||No limit||No limit||Sprint, Verizon|
|Republic Wireless||$15||$5/GB||No limit||No limit||Sprint, T-Mobile|
|Reach Mobile||$30||3 GB||No limit||No limit||Verizon|
Best Phone Plans for College Students
Thanks to Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), there are many low-cost 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.
>> Shop plans at Mint Mobile Now
Here are the six best cell phone plans for college students to save money.
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.
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.
*Related: Are you looking for an affordable cell phone plan that fits your needs? Read our Ting vs. Tello comparison to learn which provider is best for you.
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:
- Free international calls to over 60 countries
- 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.
|Tello - no contract phone service|
Cost: $10 to $39 per month
Coverage on a 4G LTE/5G nationwide network.
If simplicity and streaming data is important to you, Visible is a great choice for your cell phone needs. The company has just one plan option. It includes unlimited talk, text, and data.
Visible operates on the Verizon network, making it even more attractive. The plan is $30 per month, for one line. You can upgrade to the Visible+ plan for additional international features.
They also often have promotions to get coverage for less. For example, you can currently get the first two months of service for $22 total.
You can try the service free for 15 days.
Here are the plans available with Visible.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||Data||High-Speed Data||Hotspot Data|
Visible includes free calls to Canada and Mexico, with over 60 other countries also free if you choose the Visible+ plan. Review their website for availability and rates.
The plan has no limits on your hotspot data and includes 5G service. Frugal Rules readers receive a $100 gift card to use with the carrier when you sign up through our link.
Pros and Cons
- Coverage on Verizon
- Bring your own phone
- Unlimited data
- $100 gift card for new users
- Doesn’t offer in-person service
If you want the peace of mind of coverage on Verizon and unlimited data, Visible is worth trying.
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. 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.
*Related: Are you looking for a prepaid cell phone plan that fits your needs? Read our Ting vs. Mint comparison to see which service is best for you.
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.
Twigby operates on the Verizon network which is one of the nation’s largest networks. Using this legacy carrier 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.
As a customer, talk + text is included and you pay for data separately. Here are the data rates for Twigby:
- No data – $10 per month
- 1GB per month – $15 per month
- 4GB per month – $20 per month
- 7GB per month – $25 per month
- 10GB per month – $30 per month
- Unlimited data – $40 per month
These rates do not include the initial discount for new customers. If you switch to Twigby today, you’d pay $10 per month for the 4 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 a legacy network
- 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.
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.
6. Reach Mobile
Reach Mobile offers 4G LTE coverage on the Verizon network and gives you affordable cell phone service with no contracts.
Their Basic plan is $30 per month for one line and provides 3GB of shareable data. The next cheapest plan is the Moderate plan for $45 per month for one line with 8GB of shareable data.
All Reach Mobile plans offer unlimited talk and text and are hotspot enabled. They also allow HD streaming and international calls on every plan, additional charges may apply.
Sign up for Reach Mobile and you can get the first three months at 50 percent off with the REACH503 promo code. The Best Fit™ feature automatically lowers your bill if you use less data than you signed up for.
Their website claims about one in four people save money this way. When you switch from another provider you can keep your existing phone number and even bring your own phone in most cases.
Pros and Cons
- There are no contracts
- New customers save 50% off their first 3 months of service with REACH503 promo code
- Each plan provides unlimited talk and text
- Plans are hotspot enabled
The biggest con to Reach Mobile is that if multiple lines or more data are needed, the cost can get out of hand quickly.
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?