5 Best Phone Plans for College Students
Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. Read our disclosure to see how we make money.
It’s hard to imagine going down the street, let alone away to college, without a cell phone. When college students leave home and leave their parents’ plan behind, finding a budget-friendly plan is key. The best phone plans for college students give the coverage they need without breaking the bank.
Cell phone plans aren’t cheap. It’s easy for many plans to drag on an already limited budget and cause financial stress. Cell phone plans are also confusing for those new to shopping for service.
For many college students, choosing among prepaid cell phone plans is often the best bet. These guarantee monthly service at one fixed price. You don’t have to worry about contract fees, overages, or other hidden costs.
You may also find cell phone discount plans for college students, allowing you to save more money. This makes it much easier to budget for your bill each month.
If you’re new to choosing a phone plan, or know someone going to college, our guide shares a few of the best prepaid phone plans for college students.
Best Phone Plans for College Students
Cell phone plans used to easily cost $100+ per month. Thanks to Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), cheap cell phone plans are plentiful.
MVNOs operate on towers from legacy carriers like Verizon, allowing them to pass savings onto customers.
In many cases, MVNOs allow you to bring an unlocked phone, allowing you to save more money. This is great for college students needing service without paying a premium price.
Each of the below plans are MVNOs and offer unique features. They don’t always make cell phone discount plans for college students public, so make sure to ask before signing up for service.
Here are the five best phone plans for college students to save money.
Tello is one of the top cell phone plans for college students. The service operates on Sprint’s network and allows customers to build their own plan to fit their needs.
Plans start with as low as 500 MB of data and 100 minutes for $6. A college student wouldn’t be able to do a ton with this type of data and minutes, but with Wi-Fi and limited conversations on the phone, they should be fine.
If you prefer a more robust plan, you can get 2 GB of data and unlimited talk and text for $14 per month. You can use minutes to call anywhere in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China.
There are no cancelation fees and plans automatically renew every 30 days. If a student doesn’t like what Tello has to offer they cancel with no charge.
Having the bill renew every month automatically will help avoid any service interruption. Another reason why Tello is one of the best cell phone plans for college students is that they have the option to either bring their own device to the company or buy one from them.
People who buy a phone through Tello will get the phone sent to their home with no shipping charges. You can also reconfigure your phone plan at any time with no additional fee.
- International calls
- Free tethering
- Bring your own phone
- $6 Plans
- No activation fee to bring your own phone
- Build a plan around your needs
- Make changes to your plan at no additional cost
- Phones are more on the expensive side
You can read our Tello review to learn more about the provider. Now through March 9 you receive 50 percent off, for the first month, on any Tello plan!
Check out the plans at Tello to see how much you can save.
Ting is unique from Tello in that they operate on three mobile networks – Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. This gives them added flexibility and good service experiences for customers.
Like others on our list of best phone plans for college students, you can buy a new device or bring an unlocked phone to begin service. The company offers customer support in three different ways via their app, online, or on the phone.
The pricing at Ting is more fluid than other cell phone providers, but you can customize a plan to your needs. The average monthly bill with Ting is $23 per month.
Frugal Rules readers receive a $50 credit when beginning service, virtually allowing you to receive your two first months of service for free.
Ting has a bill estimator on their website for anybody wanting to price out a plan. You can also set up alerts to notify you of reaching your usage limits.
If international coverage is important to you, Ting provides service to over 60 countries. You can find cost and available countries on the Ting site.
- Operates on three networks
- Family Plans
- See current usage (Know how much the bill will be)
- No contracts
- Ability to call 60+ countries
- Not for heavy data users
3. Cricket Wireless
Cricket Wireless is one of the best cheap phone plans for college students. The provider operates on the AT&T network and provides nationwide service.
The most popular plan with Cricket Wireless is $30 per month. This offers unlimited talk and text, plus 2 GB of data. If you require more data, you can upgrade to 5 GB for $40 total per month.
Like other providers on our list, you can bring your own phone, or buy one from Cricket. International service is more limited with Cricket, only offering service to Mexico and Canada, but that should be enough for most.
Phone plans with Cricket Wireless allow you to lock in your monthly payment amount so it doesn’t change unless you switch features or plans. If you sign up for autopay, you receive a $5 discount on any plan you choose.
- Operates on the AT&T network
- Option to visit a store in person
- Download speeds maximum is 8 Mbps
- Includes calls and texts to Canada and Mexico
- Unlimited plans have 10 GB of Mobile Hotspot data usage per month
- Stream More feature (Allows customers to save data when streaming videos)
- Speed cap limits its unlimited plans
Check out the plans at Cricket Wireless to see how much you can save.
Twigby, like Ting, operates on two legacy providers. For Twigby, they operate on both the Sprint and Verizon networks, providing additional stability for those looking for reliable service.
What makes Twigby one of the best cell phone plans for college students is their 25 percent discount for the first six months of service. Twigby allows phone owners to customize their phone plan around what they need.
You select each component of the plan – talk/text and data. You can choose unlimited talk and text, plus 2 GB of data for just $23 per month.
Depending on what you select, your price may be different. You don’t need to do anything to receive the 25 percent discount and reduce the final quoted price of service.
Founded in 2016, this prepaid cell service company hasn’t been around for very long but is quickly becoming a household name in the cell phone industry. Throughout the year, the website will have deals on certain phones.
Like other providers, you can bring an unlocked phone, or purchase a new one from Twigby.
- Operates on two networks
- Customizable plans
- International calls to Canada, China, and Mexico
- Discounted service for the first six months
- 30-day satisfaction guarantee
- Referral Rewards
- No physical store, but is common for MVNOs
You can read our Twigby review to learn more about the provider.
Check out the plans at Twigby to see how much you can save.
5. Republic Wireless
Republic Wireless is one of the best phone plans for college students as they offer service for as low as $15 per month. The provider piggybacks on two legacy networks to offer service – Sprint and T-Mobile.
Like other MVNOs, Republic Wireless has multiple plans to choose from for service. They are even running a promotion of $40 off a new phone if you join the Republic Wireless email list.
You can bring your own phone to Republic Wireless or buy one from them.
Before a student decides on Republic Wireless, they can double-check to see if there is coverage available in their area. The site allows people to enter a zip code to see if they’ll be ok to use a phone.
Republic Wireless states that they cover 99 percent of Americans, but it never hurts to check.
When a new customer transfers their number and activates a new line, they get to try Republic Wireless risk-free for 14 days. Republic Wireless allows customers to add data anytime they run low.
This service costs just $5 per GB added so you can pay as you go.
The one drawback to Republic Wireless? They only operate on the Android network, and not iOS.
- Operates on two platforms
- 14-day money-back guarantee
- They pay you back each month for unused data
- One of the cheaper phone plan options
- Does not work on iOS
Check out the plans at Republic Wireless to see how much you can save.
Cell Phone Plans for College Students: Bottom Line
Having a cell phone is extremely important these days and it’s an inconvenience to go without one – especially if you’re in college. The best phone plans for college students provide good service, for a low monthly cost.
Most of the listed companies allow you to customize your plan to fit your preferences whether you want lots of data or need to text often. 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 cheap cell phone plans for college students provide similar service 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? Do you have other suggestions for our list of best phone plans for college students?