Choosing the Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan

October 15, 2022

Depending on the amount of your current bill, you could easily save $250 or more every year just by switching to one of these cheap cell phone plans. There’s also a meaningful chance that you could save a whole lot more than that if you haven’t changed your plan in the last couple of years! 

That’s because the industry has seen a surge of new competitors offering dirt-cheap plans in the last 4-5 years. That must mean inferior service, right? Nope! These discount service providers are using the towers of the major cell phone companies like Verizon and T-Mobile. So cutting the cost of your plan doesn’t mean cutting corners with spotty coverage.

Back in the day, I convinced nine other friends to hop on a Sprint plan with me that had us each paying $10 a month. At that time it was the cheapest cell phone bill around. But paying the bill and having everyone else pay me back was annoying. Those reminder texts to Venmo me $10 got old after a while!

To save big money on your cell phone plan, you used to have to sign up for a family plan like I did. But you don’t have to do that any longer – which makes this money-saving move much simpler than it used to be.

Switching your phone plan is easy!

Remember exorbitant activation fees and painful visits to your local cell phone store? And the contracts, ugh! Yeah, me too. But those have gone by the wayside, fortunately. Switching providers has become far easier and much cheaper. The new breed of cell phone service providers make it easy to choose your plan on their site, pay online, and get your service set up quickly as they’ll ship you a new SIM card overnight. And you’ll even be able to keep that same phone number that you’ve grown fond of over the years!

If you are thinking that you’ll have to work hard in order to save big money, think again. It’s become incredibly simple to switch.

Let’s discuss which providers and plans offer the best value these days so you can pick the very best one for you.

Tello: Extremely cheap cell phone plans

Tello cheap cell phone plans

If you want to pay the least amount possible for your mobile phone plan, I don’t blame you. If you are a micro user you can get a plan for as little as $6 from Tello. But you’ll be capped at 500 MB of data and 100 minutes of talk for calls. If every dollar counts, Tello is a reasonable choice. But most people need a more robust plan – or at least don’t want to have their usage curbed when they do exceed those limits. 

So the absolute cheapest cell phone plan out there that comes with a more reasonable offering is Boost Mobile’s new $10 a month plan. The Boost Mobile plan gives you unlimited talk and text with 1 GB of LTE data every month. It’s important to note that this plan is only available to new customers who sign up in a Boost store. If you don’t consume a lot of data, this plan could be perfect for you! And imagine how much money you’ll save by having a flat $10 a month cell phone bill. 

Visible: Best cell phone plan coverage (runs on Verizon network)

All of the major cell phone networks have gotten remarkably better in recent years. But there’s still one network that offers the best coverage across most of the country – and that’s Verizon. There’s a problem with Verizon though, you’ll pay an arm and a leg for a Verizon mobile phone plan. But not if you use a discount carrier that provides service via Verizon towers. Enter Visible Mobile

Visible cheap mobile plans

Visible Mobile offers incredibly cheap monthly plans while also giving you access to the best network. Individuals can get unlimited monthly talk, text, and data for only $40 a month. But there’s also a way to get that same plan for only $25 a month. I’ll get to that in a second.

Mint Mobile: Unlimited plans and best hotspot data

Most of us are connected to WiFi for a large portion of our day. We’re either at work or at home and we don’t really need to use our cell phone’s data network. In fact, most Americans use less than 3 GB of data each month. Before you opt for an “unlimited plan” because you assume that you use a lot of data, dig into your own usage. It’s very likely that you can get buy with a cheaper plan with a data cap. 

Mint Mobile Cheap plans

But if you can’t do that, let’s talk about the best unlimited data plans out there. 

Mint Mobile recently launched an unlimited plan that takes the cake. You’ll pay only $30 a month (when you pay for a year upfront) for unlimited everything. Mint Mobile’s offering also gives you access to 5G. So especially if you have a newer phone with 5G capabilities, this plan might be perfect for you.

And I mentioned Visible Mobile just above. That’s the other best option for an unlimited data plan. If you are signing up for an unlimited Visible plan by yourself, you’ll pay $40 a month. That’s not too bad. But the more people that are on your plan the more you can save. 

And with Visible’s Party Pay, if you have four people on your plan, you can get unlimited everything for only $25 a month – slightly undercutting the incredible price that Mint is offering. 

I know that I mentioned how family plans can suck. But Visible’s Party Pay is a family plan without the hassle of old school family plans. That’s because Visible will bill you all individually but still give you that sweet discounted rate. 

And if you don’t know anyone else who’s interested in switching with you, the internet is the perfect place to source other people to join your money-saving party. Check out our How to Money Facebook group to find like-minded money saving folks. There’s even a Reddit message board that’s dedicated to helping you find others who are offering spots in their Visible party. And remember, you’ll be billed separately so it doesn’t matter that you have no idea who these people are!

Google FI: Unlimited Plans (Best for international travel)

Most of us are traveling less these days. But having service overseas is a real concern for lots of people. And the international options for mobile plans have gotten so much better in the last few years. But probably the best plan for those who enjoy traveling overseas without paying a ton of money for the pleasure of doing so is Google Fi

Google Fi used to be called ProjectFi and they’ve done a great job of creating plans that work particularly well for those who like to travel. The base plan costs only $20 a month which gives you unlimited calling and texting. You’ll pay an extra $10 per month for every gig of data that you use – capped at a max of $80 so you know you’ll never receive a shockingly enormous bill. That’s for a single user. Here are the Google FI bill caps for parties of different sizes.

But this plan allows you to travel internationally to over 200+ territories and countries without paying any additional international fees. You can also call abroad to over 50 + destinations without incurring any additional charges. So if you have family living overseas in one of those countries or you do like to travel a good bit, GoogleFI is likely your best bet. It won’t be quite as cheap as the other plans mentioned here, but it still offers a lot of value.

Things to consider with cheap mobile plans

There are a few specific companies that are dominating the cheap cell phone plans arena right now. And the companies that offer the widest range of plans at the cheapest prices are Visible, Mint Mobile, and Boost. But there are also other niche companies out there, with more popping up every day. (Virgin Mobile, Xfinity Mobile, Republic Wireless, Consumer Cellular, Cricket Wireless — to name a few!). With so many options that all look the same, it’s important to know what kind of service you need and what kind of plan will work for you before you switch. Then go shop the market. 

If you are shopping for multiple family members, it’s important to know that you don’t have to choose the exact same unlimited plans or even go with the same phone company. You might save the most by going in multiple different directions for mobile plans. 

And be on the lookout for even bigger discounts and sales. The major discount cell phone providers will at times offer even better deals for people willing to switch. Mint Mobile has been known to offer major discounts to new customers who sign up for a three-month trial. So keep your eyes peeled. Those insanely low prices could get even lower if you look at the right time.

Cheap Cell Phone Plans FAQ

Here are some of the more common questions people have about these cheap cell phone plans, coverage for providers, and switching mobile phone carriers.

What are the cheapest cell phone plans for one person?

The absolute cheapest cell plan for one person is with Tello. It’s $6 per month, comes with 100 minutes of phone calls, and 500Mb of data.

But, as we mentioned earlier, it’s probably worth the few extra dollars each month to go with Boost Mobile and their $10 per month plan. It comes with unlimited talk and text, and 1Gb of data.

Does Mint Mobile work internationally?

Yes, all Mint Mobile plans come with international roaming capability. BUT you’ll need to add extra cash to be able to use that feature. Mint Mobile sells prepaid credits with various rates depending on the country you are visiting. Visit the Mint Mobile International Roaming site for more info and current rates.

How can I make my Verizon Bill cheaper?

Easy! Switch to Visible. They use Verizon’s network so you won’t notice a coverage difference.

If you really want to stay with Verizon specifically, and want a cheaper bill, you can try calling customer service and asking for current promotions, bundling your cell plan with their mobile home internet service, or downsizing the type of plan you are subscribed to.

Honestly, we aren’t big fans of Verizon in general. There are so many other cheap cell phone plans out there — and like we mentioned, you can even get the SAME coverage with Visible.

When is the best time to switch cell phone carriers?

If you have a prepaid plan, you’ll want to use all the credit and days that you have already paid for. So, the best time to switch is usually in the last few days of your billing cycle.

For postpaid plans, most carriers will prorate your bill so it doesn’t matter which day you switch.

As for times of year, there are sometimes promotional periods where carriers will offer discount packages or free trials. But the truth is any time you are switching to a cheaper mobile plan, the best time is ASAP.

Where can I buy dirt cheap cell phones?

We’ve mostly talked about cheap cell phone plans in this article, not mobile phone hardware.

If you’re looking for dirt cheap handsets, here are a few places to check:

  • Best Buy has a few cell phones for under $20
  • Alibaba sells old models and very cheap phones.
  • SellCell is a marketplace where many people are selling used hardware at cheap prices.
  • Gazelle is a similar marketplace where you can grab someone’s second hand phone
  • Amazon Renewed is a division of Amazon that now sells certified devices at a cheaper price than buying new.

Typically, you get what you pay for with cheap electronics. We strongly encourage you to invest in a quality mobile phone that will last you a long time. Don’t just go for the cheapest!

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, there’s no reason to overpay for cell phone service anymore. Switching providers will offer you great service while saving you a chunk of change every year. Now that you’re saving so much money, go open up a Roth IRA or something.

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3 comments on “Choosing the Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan

  1. I just want to thank you guys for this. This is just one easy way I was able to save money a couple of years ago. I quit using Verizon wireless and switched to Mint mobile on a much earlier episode on cell phone bills. I’m just writing to say that is was a great decision. I spend about $240 for a year of service with plenty of GB when I used to pay about $90 a month. I encourage others to consider doing the same. Mint has been really reliable.

    • That’s awesome, Guy. Congrats on saving $840 a year. Amazing!

  2. Kelly May 5, 2022

    Hi, FYI: your Visible Mobile link is not working (not that you don’t have 101 other things to do besides update a link) they are easily found by googling. Since I started listening to you (after a divorce and wanted/needed to become more money wise) I have changed to Ally savings and checking, moved my 401k to VanGuard and my HSA to Fidelity, just earned a $750 bonus for purchasing a needed new couch on a new Capital One credit card and now am reaching phone plans! Keep up the good practical advice ( I am a very practical person!) Thanks Kelly