Best Cell Phone Plans Under $30

Affordable plans for all you talkers, texters, streamers, and dreamers
  • Best Value
    Tons of data
    Deprioritization possible
  • Best Network Coverage
    Verizon’s network
    Only 5 GB of data
  • Best No-Data Plan
    Cheap unlimited talk and text
    Weaker network
  • Best Family Plan
    Unlimited high-speed data on Verizon’s network
    Deprioritization

So you’ve set your limit: you’re not going to spend over $30 a month on your cell phone plan. Good for you! Way to budget! And don’t worry, you won’t lose much in terms of quality if you choose your plan carefully.

There are phone plans under $30 for data lovers, international callers, rural folks, city slickers, families, and pretty much everyone else. Read on for the details about our favorite plans (and some alternative options).

The best cell phone plans under $30:

Mint Mobile: Best value

Unlimited talk and text, tons of fast data, and great coverage for under $30

Pros

  • Lots of data
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Strong network performance

Cons

  • Deprioritization
  • Can’t add extra lines

What we like

If you want a well-rounded prepaid cell phone plan for under $30, then Mint Mobile is the standard-bearer. For $25, you’ll get enough talk, text, and data to satisfy all but the most ravenous phone users. Plus, it’s owned by Ryan Reynolds.

That’s right, Deadpool (or Green Lantern, if you prefer), owns Mint Mobile. This doesn’t necessarily give the company superpowers, but we thought we’d mention it. Anyway, on to the stuff we like about Mint!

Lots of data

Mint’s 3 Month Plan (Large) gives you 12 GB of full-speed data to mess around with. After you hit that cap, you’ll have unlimited data at 128 Kbps speeds, which is about as fast as that old dial-up modem you used in 1996.

That 12 GB of full-speed data may not sound like much, but that’s enough to stream Netflix for about 48 hours or to scroll through your Facebook feed for about 150 hours. If you’re on Facebook more than that, get an unlimited data plan (and maybe a hobby).

Info Box icon
How much data do you actually need?
You might be surprised to learn how much (or how little) data is needed to run the apps you use every day. Check out our handy guide to help you gauge how much data you need in your cell phone plan.

Unlimited talk and text

When you’re looking at prepaid phone plans under $30, unlimited talk and text aren’t a given. But you’ll get all the minutes and messages you could ever want with Mint’s Large plan. That includes calls to Mexico and Canada. How aboot that, amigo?

Strong network performance

Mint Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). That’s just a very futuristic-sounding way of saying that Mint piggybacks on another company’s wireless network. In this case, that company is T-Mobile.

T-Mobile’s network is ranked second in the nation for both 4G speeds and 4G coverage.1 That means you should have no issues with streaming, gaming, or scrolling using your favorite apps. It also means you should see full bars in most metropolitan and suburban areas.

What we don’t like

Sorry, Ryan Reynolds, we love you, but we still have a few complaints.

Deprioritization

As we mentioned above, MVNOs like Mint use another company’s network. That means you get awesome coverage for less, but it also comes with a drawback: when the network is busy, your data speeds can be slowed down.

This happens because the network owner (T-Mobile) wants to prioritize the speeds of its own customers, which makes sense given, ya know, money and competition.

No family plans

Mint Mobile doesn’t let you add lines to its plans. So if you’re looking to get the whole family onto a single plan, you might want to look elsewhere (may we suggest checking out Twigby below or Visible Wireless, which offers a four-line unlimited data plan for $25 a line).

Alternative picks

If you’re looking for a cheap plan with a lot of data, but you just really don’t like Ryan Reynolds (or T-Mobile’s network or whatever), then check out these other options.

Cheap plans with lots of data

Twigby: Best network performance

Get on Verizon’s premium network for less with Twigby. 

Pros

  • Great network performance
  • Free international texting

Cons

  • Only 5 GB of data

What we like

Twigby is another MVNO that’s looking to take a slice of the discount-wireless cake. The company has several prepaid cell phone plans under $30, but the one we like the most is the Unlimited Talk and Text plan with 5 GB of data. Here’s a closer look at its pros and cons.

Great network performance

Verizon has the best overall coverage in the nation. You’ll get lightning fast download speeds, awesome 4G availability, and coverage in pretty much every nook and cranny of this huge country. Just look at this map.

Of course, as with any MVNO, you could experience slowdowns on your Twigby plan due to deprioritization. But Verizon’s robust investment in its network should make this a relatively rare occurrence.

Free international texting

If you’ve got long-lost family in other parts of the world, get ready to reconnect with them. With Twigby, you’ll get unlimited free texts to 180+ countries, like Malaysia, Mexico, India, and Norway. Maybe it’s time to brush up on those foreign language skills.

What we don’t like

Twigby’s Unlimited Talk and Text plan with 5 GB is a pretty great deal. But the biggest issue we have with it is right there in the title.

Only 5 GB of data

You’re not going to find a truly unlimited data plan for under $30 a month. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need your YouTube fix.

You’ll be able to meet some of your data needs with this Twigby plans, but heavier users will hit that 5 GB cap pretty quickly. If you’re willing to tack an extra $10 onto your monthly bill, you can upgrade to Sprint’s Kickstart unlimited plan.

Alternative picks

Are you just not that into him (him being Twigby)? Well here are some similar plans from the competition.

Unlimited talk and text plans with at least 5 GB of data

Gen Mobile: Best no-data plan

If you don’t need data, you can get a decent cell phone plan for under $10 a month.

Pros

  • Cheap unlimited talk and text
  • Free international texting

Cons

  • Weaker network performance

What we like

If you’re asking yourself, “Are there any cell phone plans without data, like the one I had back 2002?” then the answer is yes. Say hello to Gen Mobile.

Cheap unlimited talk and text

You’re reading this article because you want a cell phone plan that clocks in below $30. But what if you could get one that costs less than $10 a month? You could save that extra $20 and get a Netflix and a Disney+ subscription.

For $9 a month, Gen Mobile will give you unlimited talk and text, plus free international texting to over 100 countries.

This is a perfect plan for your tween who just needs a phone to coordinate rides to birthday parties and soccer practice. Just tell them to get good at connecting to those Wi-Fi networks if they want data!

What we don’t like

It’s hard to be nitpicky about a $9 plan, but we’re going to do it anyway because that’s our job.

Weaker network performance

Gen Mobile runs on Sprint’s network. That means you’ll get great service in most metropolitan areas, but once you leave the concrete jungle, you might run into some issues. Take a look at those gaps in the Western half of the country.

So if you’re a city dweller through and through, you shouldn’t have any issues with Sprint. But if you live in a small town or just like to go on epic outdoor adventures, you might want to check out Verizon or one of the MVNOs that run on its network.

Alternative picks

If you don’t love Gen Mobile for whatever reason, don’t worry. There are literally (but not literally) a million other options out there for dirt cheap, talk and text only plans. Check it out.

Talk and text only cell phone plans 

Visible Wireless: Best family plan

Four lines, truly unlimited data, $100. Nuff said.

Pros

  • Unlimited high-speed data on Verizon’s network
  • Cheap and easy billing

Cons

  • Possibility of deprioritization
  • Limited phone compatibility

What we like

Visible Wireless is one of the best prepaid providers in the business, hands down. Want to know why? Well, sorry. It’s a secret.

Fine, we’ll tell you. Here’s what we love about Visible Wireless.

Unlimited high-speed data on Verizon’s network

In the huge crowd of MVNOs that have entered the industry recently, Visible Wireless tends to stand out. That’s because its one plan offers truly unlimited data—no caps, no gimmicks, no throttling. And, to top it off, Visible uses Verizon’s best-in-the-nation network.

So if you’ve got a family of gamers, streamers, and other data hogs, then Visible is the way to go.

It’s cheap

If you just wanted one line, then Visible’s Unlimited Plan would be too pricey for this review ($40). But the price goes down for every line you add, up to four lines. Once you max out at four, each line will only cost you $25.

Easy billing with Party Pay

Worried about finding four family members to split your bill with? You’ll be happy to hear that Visible allows you to add anyone to your plan. That’s why it’s called Party Pay instead of Family Plan.

Bundle up with your roommate, your BFF, your boo, your D&D group, or the barista that just made your americano. You can each pay your bills separately using the Visible phone app.

What we don’t like

It’s visible for all to see that Visible has a few issues. (Did you see what we did there?)

Possibility of deprioritization

As we’ve mentioned above, all MVNOs come with the possibility of deprioritization. This happens when there are a lot of people connecting to cell towers and the parent network (Verizon) decides to prioritize the data speeds of its own customers.

This shouldn’t happen to Visible customers too often, but it’s always a possibility when you’re in heavily congested areas (i.e., sports matches, Disneyland, or Coachella).

Alternative picks

If you’re not picking up what Visible Wireless is laying down, look into these other unlimited family plans that are around $25 a line.

Unlimited family plan with four lines comparison

Recap: Cheap phone plans for all kinds of users

There’s no shortage of $20–$30 cell phone plans out there. You want one with tons of data? No problem. You want rural network coverage? Check. You want a family plan? You got it. No need to settle for less.

Here’s a recap of our favorite cell phone plans under $30.

If we missed your favorite cheap cell phone plan in our review, let us know in the comments section. Or, if you want even cheaper plan options, check out our breakdown of the best cell phone plans under $20.

FAQ

Q: Which phone company has the cheapest unlimited plan?

If you came here because you want to know who has the least expensive cell phone plan, then you may not have found the answer above. The answer is . . . complicated.

The absolute cheapest cell phone plan is probably one of these $0 a month, pay-as-you-go plans. But most people will want something more than what these plans offer.

Very cheap cell phone plan comparison

Companies like Twigby, Good2Go, and GreatCall offer really cheap talk and text plans. If you want the cheapest unlimited data plan, then Sprint’s Kickstart Unlimited is probably your best bet.

Sources: 

  1. Opensignal, “Mobile Network Experience Report January 2020