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7 Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans for 2021

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Cheap cell phone plans are a great way to save money. Here are the 7 cheapest no-contract plans to look if you want to reduce costs.

Cheap cell phone plans are one of the best ways to save money. While you receive quality service through a carrier like Verizon, the monthly bill can be a budget buster.

Prepaid cell phone plans, also known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), operate by using the networks of major carriers. This means there’s no need to spend significant money each month.

It’s also easy to get by with limited data allowances thanks to the wide availability of Wi-Fi.

If you’re in a high-priced phone contract, our guide covers the top cheap phone plans in the market. Many options cost less than $20 per month.

ServiceCostDataMins.TextNetworkGo to Site
Tello$141 GBNo limitNo limitSprint See Plans
Ting$10$5/GBNo limitNo limitT-Mobile, Verizon See Plans
Twigby$15600 MBNo limitNo limitSprint, Verizon See Plans
Mint Mobile$154 GB to unlimitedNo limitNo limitT-Mobile See Plans
Republic Wireless$15$5/GBNo limitNo limitSprint, T-Mobile See Plans
Xfinity Mobile$45100 MBNo limitNo limitSprint, Verizon See Plans
FreedomPop$13.99500 MB200500AT&T See Plans

 

Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans with No Contracts

 

Options for no-contract cell phones have exploded in recent years, creating many choices to save money. All providers allow you to bring your own phone or purchase a new one.

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Here are the best cheap cell phone plans to save money each month.

1. Tello

 

Tello is a prepaid cell phone service provider with flexible plans and low rates. It’s perfect for families and individuals alike. There are no contracts, no activation fees, no early termination fees, and customers get nationwide 4G LTE coverage provided by Sprint’s network.

Plans start as low as $5 per month. You can customize your plan based on how much data and how many minutes you need. This allows you to choose what you want without having to pay for something you don’t need.

The most popular plan offers 2 GB of data plus unlimited talk and text for just $14 per month.

What To Like About Tello:

  • You can use both Android and iPhones
  • Fully customizable plans
  • Free tethering
  • You can make international calls

What Not To Like About Tello:

  • No roaming, but calls are made over Wi-Fi
  • Phones are a bit more expensive
Benefits
Tello - no contract phone service
Cost: $5 to $39 per month

Coverage on the Sprint network. 


See Plans

Tello logo

 

2. Ting

 

Ting is another popular option for those looking for affordable cell phone plans, especially after its pricing update. You get unlimited talk and text for just $10 per month.

You only pay for the data you use, which is $5 per GB. Compared to a traditional contract plan, this is a huge savings.

Frugal Rules readers receive a $50 credit when signing up, effectively offering your first several months of service for free! None of the other prepaid cell phone plans on our list have a similar offer.

What To Like About Ting:

  • Provides coverage on two carriers, T-Mobile, and Verizon
  • You can bring your own phone
  • Provides fully customizable plans
  • You only pay for what you use
  • No additional cost for calls to 60+ international countries

What Not To Like About Ting:

  • No in-person service, which is common with MVNOs
Benefits
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. Twigby

 

Twigby is a pay-as-you-go phone service provider that offers a 25 percent discount for the first six months of service. With Twigby, you can change your plan whenever you want.

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

The provider operates on both the Verizon and Sprint networks. This gives Twigby better coverage than other MVNOs.

Twigby sells minutes and data as separate packages. Texts are unlimited. Here are the available plans for minutes:

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

Data comes in the following choices:

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

If you choose unlimited minutes and 3 GB of data, for example, you would only pay $21 per month for the first six months. You’d pay $28 after that.

Twigby also has free overage protection and family plan options for everyone in your household.

What To Like About Twigby:

  • Two networks offer more stability
  • International calls to Canada, China, and Mexico
  • Fully customizable plans
  • Discounted service for the first six months
  • You can use both Android and iPhone

What Not To Like About Twigby:

  • Caps data packages at 10 GB per month with service throttled after that
  • Credit or debit card payments only
Benefits
Twigby - Get a 25% discount for the first 6 months!
Cost: $3 to $30 per month

Pay-as-you-go, no contract phone service with coverage on the Verizon and Sprint networks. 


See Plans

Twigby logo

 

4. Mint Mobile

 

Mint Mobile is another terrific option for cheap phone plans. By piggybacking on the T-Mobile network, Mint Mobile can offer plans starting at $15 per month.

The provider has a unique pricing strategy. Mint Mobile sells plans in bulk or in three, six, or twelve-month increments.

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

This can make pricing confusing. However, they recently unveiled an unlimited data, talk, and text plan for $30 a month. This plan is one of the best affordable cell phone plans.

Mint Mobile offers a robust plan for customers, including:

  • 4G LTE high-speed data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • A free SIM card
  • Nationwide coverage
  • A mobile hotspot

What To Like About Mint Mobile:

  • Free 7-day trial
  • Free tethering
  • You can use both Android and iPhones
  • Free calls to Canada and Mexico
  • Unlimited data for just $30 per month

What Not To Like About Mint Mobile:

  • Mint Mobile devices have lower priority on the T-Mobile network
Benefits
Mint Mobile - generous data plans!
Cost: $15 per month

No contract phone service with coverage on the T-Mobile network. 


See Plans

Mint Mobile Logo

 

5. Republic Wireless

 

Republic Wireless offers one of the best cell phone deals. Their monthly plans start as low as $15 with no contract required.

Republic Wireless makes billing simple to understand. Their only available plan consists of:

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

You can add high-speed LTE data at $5 per GB. If you just need basic coverage and are regularly on Wi-Fi, then Republic Wireless is a great carrier to consider.

The provider is also one of the best phone plans for college students looking to save money.

What To Like About Republic Wireless:

  • They offer a 14-day money-back guarantee
  • They pay you back each month for unused data
  • No overage fees
  • It operates on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks

What Not To Like About Republic Wireless:

  • Does not work with iOS platform

If you need a reliable service at a steep discount, Republic Wireless is worth a try. They’re one of the top cheap cell phone plans with data.

Benefits
Republic Wireless - flexible plans w/ NO overage fees!
Cost: $15 per month

No contract phone service with coverage on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks. 


See Plans

Republic Wireless Logo

 

6. Xfinity Mobile

 

Xfinity Mobile is a newer mobile service offered by Comcast Xfinity. Their coverage map and pricing makes them one of the cheapest cell phone service providers in the space.

*Check out Xfinity Mobile’s savings calculator to see how much you can save by switching.*

You must be an Xfinity Internet service customer to qualify for mobile service. You likely have them as your internet service provider if you live within their coverage area.

The pricing structure is the best part of Xfinity Mobile. They offer one of the best cheap cell phone plans for families. Each plan includes:

  • Free, unlimited nationwide talk and text
  • No line access fees for up to five lines
  • Free access to 18+ million Wi-Fi hotspots
  • 100 MB shared data for free, each month

Aside from taxes, the base plan is free of charge. If Wi-Fi is not enough for your needs, you can buy data in one of two competitive options:

  • $15 per month for one GB of shared data
  • $45 per month per line for unlimited data.

What To Like About Xfinity Mobile:

  • Great service on the Verizon network
  • Free, unlimited nationwide talk and text
  • Customizable data plans
  • Free access to Wi-Fi hotspots

What Not To Like About Xfinity Mobile:

  • Does not work with Android devices, only iPhone 5 and later
Benefits
Xfinity
Cost: $40, $50 or $70/mo. + $35 (one-time, modem)

100 Mbps.. Available: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, D.C., DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI.

See Plans

xfinity logo

 

7. FreedomPop

 

FreedomPop claims to be one of the cheapest cell phone plans in the market. Their claim does hold true. The provider offers free service, albeit with some limitations.

Here’s what you get with the free monthly service from FreedomPop:

  • 200 talk minutes
  • 500 texts
  • 500 MB data

This plan is best for those always on Wi-Fi who have limited talk and text needs. The next plan up offers unlimited talk and text with the 500 MB of data for $13.99 per month.

If you have an elderly family member who needs basic service, FreedomPop is a good phone plan for seniors to consider.

FreedomPop offers the option to purchase data rollover. However, you pay $15 each time you need it. You can cancel this option, but FreedomPop will suspend your account once you reach your monthly data limit.

The provider offers four other plans, charging up to $35 per month for service. At that price point, FreedomPop is more expensive than the other phone plans on our list.

What To Like About FreedomPop:

  • Free, bare-bones service
  • Operates on the AT&T network
  • Free 14-day trial
  • Many plans to choose from

What Not To Like About FreedomPop:

  • An overage fee of $15 when you go over your data limit
Benefits
FreedomPop
Cost: FREE, $25, $35 or $60/mo.

Free plan - 500 MB; others 2 GB, 5 GB and 10 GB, respectively. Add'l data costs 2 cents per MB. Available nationwide.

See Plans

freedompop

 

Best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans FAQs

 

If this is your first time trying a no-contract cell phone plan, you may be wondering where to start. Here are answers to questions we frequently receive from people looking for cheap phone plans for the first time:

What kind of cell phone do I need?

You need an unlocked phone to use any of the plans listed above. An unlocked cell phone is a device not tied to a specific carrier or contract.

You can find unlocked cell phones on Amazon and take them to any carrier that allows you to bring a phone.

Should I buy my own phone instead of getting one from a carrier?

This depends on the carrier, but it’s often best to buy your own phone. This gives you more freedom to switch carriers and not risk buying a locked phone.

How do I activate an unlocked phone?

It is simple to activate an unlocked cell phone. You get a SIM card from the carrier and insert it into your phone. In most cases, the carrier will provide this for free. Otherwise, you’ll likely pay a one-time charge of $10.

The SIM card allows you to receive texts, make calls, and use data on the chosen network.

How much data do I need?

That depends on your needs. If you’re not on Wi-Fi most of the day and stream a lot of data, you will need more. Since Wi-Fi is prominent, it’s best to take advantage of that to mitigate data needs and save money.

How much money can I save per month with the best prepaid cell phone plans?

The most expensive plan on our list tops out at $35 per month. Including taxes, you should plan on spending $40 per month.

Many providers offer discounts if you use autopay, giving you a way to save even more money.

Even the most expensive plans on our list are significantly cheaper than one from the traditional carriers. You should be able to save at least $50 per month.

What is an MVNO?

Think of an MVNO as a smaller carrier that leases cell coverage and data bandwidth from a major carrier. The major carriers are:

  • AT&T
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • Verizon

The MVNO then sells you what you need for service. Since they don’t have the overhead cost of building and maintaining towers, they can pass the savings on to you.

Ting is one example. They don’t have their own towers. Instead, they operate on the Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon networks. This allows them to pass savings on to customers.

Each of the discount mobile phone plans on our list operates similarly.

Summary

 

It’s no longer necessary to spend lots of money on a data-heavy cell phone contract. Numerous carriers offer cheap cell phone plans that don’t skimp on reliability and only cost $20 or $30.

Better yet, all of the no-contract cell phone plans on our list allow you to switch whenever you wish.

Reducing your cell phone bill is one of the easiest ways to save money every month. This is especially true if you’re not a heavy data user and don’t care about what kind of phone you use.

 

How much do you pay for your cell phone coverage each month? What do you look for when you’re shopping for cheap cell phone plans? 

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

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