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.
|Service||Cost||Data||Mins.||Text||Network||Go to Site|
|Tello||$14||1 GB||No limit||No limit||Sprint|
|Ting||$10||$5/GB||No limit||No limit||T-Mobile, Verizon|
|Twigby||$15||600 MB||No limit||No limit||Sprint, Verizon|
|Mint Mobile||$15||4 GB to unlimited||No limit||No limit||T-Mobile|
|Republic Wireless||$15||$5/GB||No limit||No limit||Sprint, T-Mobile|
|Xfinity Mobile||$15||1GB||No limit||No limit||Verizon|
|Reach Mobile||$30||3 GB||No limit||No limit||Verizon|
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.
>> Shop plans at Mint Mobile Now
Here are the best cheap cell phone plans to save money each month.
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
|Tello - no contract phone service|
Cost: $5 to $39 per month
Coverage on the Sprint network.
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.
*Related: Are you looking for a no-contract cell phone plan that fits your needs? Read our Mint Mobile vs. Ting comparison here to see which service is best for you.
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
|Ting Wireless - click now for a $50 credit!|
Cost: $10/mo - unlimited talk/text + $5/GB
Coverage on T-Mobile and Verizon networks.
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 25 percent off their first six months of service with Twigby!*
The provider operates on the Verizon network which is one of the nation’s largest 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:
- A large legacy network 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
|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.
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, Frugal Rules readers can bring your number to Mint and get 6 months of FREE SERVICE when you buy a phone + a 6 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
|Mint Mobile - generous data plans!|
Cost: $15 per month
No contract phone service with coverage on the T-Mobile network.
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.
|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.
6. Xfinity Mobile
Xfinity Mobile is a newer mobile service offered by 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
- $30 per month for three GB of shared data
- $45 per month for one line of unlimited data
- $80 per month for two lines of unlimited data
- $100 per month for three lines of unlimited data
- $120 per month for four lines of unlimited data
*Right now through October 21, 2021 Frugal Rules readers who are either existing Xfinity Mobile customers wishing to add a line to their plan or new Xfinity Mobile customers will get $300 off their iPhone13 order! Existing customers upgrading their device without adding a line can get a $300 Visa® prepaid card. These promotions will continue through general availability.
What To Like About Xfinity Mobile:
- Great service on the Verizon network
- Free, unlimited nationwide talk and text
- Customizable data plans
- Free access to mobile Wi-Fi
- Ranked #1 in customer service satisfaction by the American Customer Satisfaction Index
What Not To Like About Xfinity Mobile:
- No in-person service, but that is common with MVNOs
7. Reach Mobile
While Reach Mobile is one of the pricier cell phone plans on this list, they have a lot to offer their customers. They operate on Verizon’s network and offer 4G LTE coverage with no contracts.
Each customer who chooses one of their cell plans helps needy women. Reach Mobile works closely with NGO partners in India, Nigeria, and the United States to support digital literacy and skills training for the recipients.
If you don’t use all of your data each month, they will automatically discount your plan to the one that works best for you. At least one in four people save money this way, according to their website.
Each Reach Mobile plan offers unlimited talk and text and is hotspot enabled. All plans also have HD streaming and allow international calls.
Couples or small families benefit the most from Reach Mobile as each additional added line can increase your monthly bill significantly.
You can choose to keep your existing phone number when you switch from another provider and bring your own phone in most cases.
What to Like About Reach Mobile
- There are no contracts, allowing you to leave at anytime
- 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
- Reach Mobile gives back to the needy
What Not to Like About Reach Mobile
- Multiple lines can increase costs significantly
Reach Mobile offers four different plans allowing customers plenty of coverage options.
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
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.
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:
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.
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?