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Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans of 2022
We compared dozens of cheap cell phone plans based on their value, data, family perks, and international reach.
We compared cheap cell phone plans based on value, data, family perks, and international reach to help you save some cash on your phone bill. But as with all cheap things in life, these cell phone plans come with a catch. You won’t find the best service networks or fastest speeds here, but you will find some super-cheap cell phone deals.
We’ve found that Visible Wireless is the best value for a cheap cell phone plan. For only $40 a month, Visible gets you on the wireless network with the best coverage in the country. It’s a simple, effective plan, but you’ll have to watch out for deprioritization (more on that later) in crowded areas.
But just because we think Visible is the best value for a cheap cell phone plan doesn’t mean that it’s the best plan for you. Let’s talk about a few factors to consider when choosing a cell phone plan.
- : Best value cell phone plan
- : Cheapest unlimited phone plan
- : Best family cell phone plan
- : Best international plan
- : Best no-data plan
Our plan pick
Unlimited Talk, Text and Fast Data
Simply Smarter Family Plan
Ultra Mobile 6 GB 3-Month Plan
Unlimited Talk & Text Plan
What to look for in a cheap cell phone plan
We’ve reviewed dozens of different plans over the years, and we’ve compiled a list of factors you should consider before you sign up for a cheap cell phone plan. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Consider how much data you typically use. Someone who regularly streams shows without Wi-Fi will need more than someone who only uses data for the occasional Google Maps trip.
In general, the more data you want, the more that a plan will cost. If you’re willing to use less or go without data altogether, you can save some serious money on your phone bill.
The cheap cell phone plans listed here operate on the networks of major carriers. Each of these major networks (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) will offer a different amount of coverage in different areas.
If you live near a city, you should get good service on any of these networks. If you live in a rural area though, you should check out the coverage maps that we provide with our reviews to find out if you’ll get good service where you are.
Number of lines
When you add more lines to your cell phone plan, the price will increase. If you want your family members or friends on your plan with you, it’s a good idea to check out family plans and discounts from carriers to save some money.
Keep in mind which features are important to you when choosing a plan. Because these are smaller carriers, you won’t find free subscriptions to streaming services or other perks that you’d get with the big three (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile).
You can still find some good deals on international calling and texting with these plans though. Some companies will also give you extra cash just for signing up with them.
Visible Wireless: Best value
- Cheap unlimited plan
- No high-speed data cap
- Verizon network
- Limited phone compatibility
- Data can be deprioritized
What we like about Visible Wireless
Cheap unlimited plan
Visible Wireless is a real straight shooter in an industry full of fluff. It’s got just one plan, one price, and one network. That plan has unlimited data, that price is $40, and that network is Verizon. We love it.
That $40 price tag is cheap for a truly unlimited data plan, especially when you consider that it’s on Verizon’s network. You’d have to pay at least $70 to get a similar plan from Verizon itself. There are other companies, like Sprint, that offer slightly cheaper unlimited data plans, but these plans will have data caps.
No high-speed data cap
What we love most is that there are no caps on your high-speed data use. Unlike other companies, most of which cap their data at 50 GB or less, when Visible says unlimited it really means unlimited.
On a road trip? Go ahead, stream the entire first season of The Witcher while your spouse does the driving. Like to game? Don’t worry about getting cut off when you’re in the middle of an amazing streak on PUBG Mobile.
Visible is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), which is just a fancy way of saying that it uses another company’s network to provide reception. In this case, that company is Verizon, which has the best wireless network in the country.
Visible customers can expect to get full bars in all metropolitan areas and at least some bars in most rural areas. As for data speeds, they should be fast, unless Visible’s customers are being deprioritized (more on that in a moment).
What we don’t like about Visible Wireless
Limited phone compatibility
When Visible first hit the wireless scene, its service only worked on a few iPhone models. While the company has expanded service to work on select Android phones, like newer Pixel and Galaxy models, there are still some limitations.
Here’s a look at some of the most popular phones that do work on Visible’s plans.
If you want to check your current device’s compatibility on Visible, check out the company’s website for an up-to-date list.
Data can be deprioritized
MVNOs like Visible Wireless have one big drawback when it comes to data: customer’s data speeds can be deprioritized by the parent network. In other words, Verizon can give its own customers preferential treatment—faster data—over Visible customers when the network gets congested.
This shouldn’t be a huge deal for most people, most of the time. But it does mean you might have a hard time video-calling your buds when you’re watching the game in a packed stadium.
Mint Mobile: Cheapest unlimited plan
- Unlimited data for $30 a month
What we like about Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile currently offers the cheapest unlimited data plan in the industry, and it's not even close. You can sign up for an unlimited plan that costs you $30 a month, which is significantly cheaper than any other unlimited provider. Seriously, look at how Mint Mobile dunks over the competition when it comes to price for unlimited data.
It's easy to see that Mint Mobile costs way less than the competition, but does that mean it's way worse? Not in our experience. But you should know that you data deprioritization might be a thing you deal with.
What we don’t like about Mint Mobile
Since Mint Mobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) and not a major carrier, your signal is liable to drop due to deprioritization. Basically, your cell signal can drop suddenly in congested areas and in peak usage periods because major networks are giving priority to its own customers over the MVNO users who also use the network. Hopefully it won't be something you encounter often, but it can be really annoying when your signal drops to nothing when trying to use the Uber app after a concert or baseball game.
Pure TalkUSA: Best family plan
- Discounted family plan
- Easy phone activation
- Plenty of plan options
- Pricey unlimited plans
What we like about Pure TalkUSA
Discounted family plan
Finally, you’re starting to get a return on investment for having a family. About time! (We’re kidding . . . mostly.) Here’s how the discount breaks down with Pure TalkUSA family mobile plans:
- 10% of your monthly bill when you add a second line
- 15% off your monthly bill when you add a third line
- 20% off when you add a fourth line or more
So basically, the more phones you add to your family plan, the better the discount at the end of the month. Too bad it caps at 20%, otherwise I would actually consider getting in touch with my weird cousins.
Basically, there are two competing types of phone technology: GSM (Global System for Mobiles) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).
Ever wonder why you couldn’t bring your Verizon phone when you switched to AT&T? This is why. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA phones, and AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM—and the two technologies are incompatible. Maybe that’ll change one day, but not yet.
So good news: many popular phones are compatible with the Pure TalkUSA service network. No old-fashioned iPhone 3 for you!
The catch is that you’ll have to buy your own phone rather than doing a payment plan directly with Pure TalkUSA.
Plenty of plans to choose from
PureTalk has recently expanded its offerings for family plans.
If your family just needs phones to coordinate rides from school and to occasionally look things up on Wikipedia to win an argument, then you can get a super-cheap unlimited talk and text plan with 1 GB of data per line. Here’s what that would look like with four lines.
Simple Smarter Family Plan with four lines and 4 GB of shared data
If, on the other hand, you’re a bunch of streaming-obsessed, social-media-addicted phonaphiles (a.k.a. the modern American family), you can get a plan with more data that’s still reasonably priced. Here’s a plan with four lines and 20 GB of shared data.
Simply Smarter Family Plan with four lines and 20 GB of shared data
What we don't like about Pure TalkUSA
Pricey unlimited plans
You can get an unlimited family plan from PureTalk, but at what cost? Actually, we have the cost right here: it’s $176 a month. Whoa. That escalated quickly.
Simply Smarter Family Plan with four lines and unlimited data
How much data do you actually use? Think of it this way—for every hour streaming video on YouTube, you burn about 0.6 GB. Essentially, you can run through your data in a couple of hours of YouTube streaming. We recommend sticking to Wi-Fi so you can save your data.
Here are some other cheap family plans that you might want to check out if PureTalk is not cutting it for you.
Ultra Mobile: Best international plan
- Unlimited talk and text to 80+ countries
- Great deals on low-data plans
- No family plans
- Pricier unlimited plan
What we like about Ultra Mobile
Unlimited talk and text to 80+ countries
Maybe it’s time to stop buying calling cards at 7-Eleven every time you want to talk to your tia in Colombia. With Ultra Mobile, you can get unlimited talk and text to over 80 countries—including the UK, Canada, Spain, South Korea, China, Singapore, and, yes, Colombia.
You’ll also get discounted calling and texting rates to countries that aren’t free. You can check Ultra’s website for a complete list of rates.
Plus, your family and friends abroad can call you for free using Ultra’s aptly named “Call Me Free” program. So, yeah, get ready to hear from all of your long lost cousins.
Ultra Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network. That means fast speeds and good coverage. Of course, as with any MVNO, there’s a chance that T-Mobile will deprioritize the data speeds of Ultra customers when the network is busy.
If you buy a device directly from TracFone, then your wireless network will depend on which device you buy.
Cheap low-data plans
If you’re just looking for a plan that will keep you on the line with your loved ones overseas, Ultra’s low-data plans are an awesome deal. Starting at just $16 a month, you can get unlimited talk, text, and 1 GB of data for when you need to use Google Maps occasionally.
Ultra Mobile’s low-data plan options
What we don't like about Ultra Mobile
No family plans
Ultra has some fantastic deals on individual plans. We wish those deals extended to more than one line, but they don’t.
If you’re looking for a cheap way to keep your whole family connected, see PureTalk up above, or check out our other favorite family plans.
Pricier unlimited data plans
We like our unlimited plans just like we like our coffee: cheap. And at $49 a month, Ultra’s unlimited plan doesn’t quite make the cut.
Ultra Mobile Unlimited Data Classic Plan
One of the worst culprits of data usage is streaming. Try to keep your streaming to Wi-Fi and you’ll stretch your data much further. Trust us: you don’t want to feel stressed about your data while you’re streaming your favorite YouTuber.
Here’s a look at some of the other international plans that you might want to consider. You can also check with your current provider to see if it offers an international add-on.
Gen Mobile: Best no-data plan
- Cheap unlimited talk and text
- Free international texting
- Weaker service network
What we like about Gen Mobile
Cheap unlimited talk and text
How does nine bucks a month sound for unlimited talk and text? Seriously, for the price of a movie theater ticket, you can have as many texts and calls as you want. Eat your heart out, Alexander Graham Bell!
You can save a dollar a month and go with Tello mobile’s no-data plan with unlimited talk and text, but you miss out on the free international texting.
If you don’t have anyone to text abroad, then Tello mobile makes a lot of sense.
Remember that Wi-Fi is your friend. If you have a smart device, you can connect to Wi-Fi even if you don’t pay for monthly data. Take advantage of free Wi-Fi wherever you can find it.
Free international texting
Ultra Mobile might have the best international perks, but Gen Mobile isn’t too far behind. The company’s free international texting will help you stay in touch with people all over, from Pakistan to Paraguay, without breaking the bank.
What we don't like about Gen Mobile
We probably sound like a broken record at this point, but Sprint’s service network is less than reliable. Especially for folks living in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, or the Dakotas. Even if you live in a place with supposedly strong Sprint coverage, you might have trouble getting calls and text messages out from time to time.
Don’t feel like you need to commit to Gen Mobile so quickly! You’ve got options for cheap no-data plans.
As long as you can live without the fancy bells and whistles, you can find plenty of cheap cell phone plans with everything you need. Here’s a recap of our top picks for cheap cell phone plans.
- Best value: Visible Wireless’s $40 plan offers truly unlimited full-speed data on the nation’s best wireless network.
- Cheapest unlimited plan: Mint Mobile currently offers the cheapest unlimited plan on the market.
- Best family plan: Pure TalkUSA gets you family discounts that make a family plan much more affordable.
- Best international plan: Ultra Mobile’s cheap low-data plans are perfect for those who want to stay in touch with loved ones abroad without breaking the bank.
- Best no-data plan: Gen Mobile has super-cheap cell phone plans without data, and you get international text messages for free too.
Which cheap cell phone plan did you decide on? What has your experience been? Are there any amazing cell phone deals that we’re missing? Let us know in the comments below.
In order to determine a list of the best cheap cell phone plans, the Reviews.org expert team compared several plans and carriers using the WhistleOut online comparison tool. We then evaluated the least expensive plans based on coverage, data availability, international reach, and family perks. All of the information on network coverage came from WhistleOut maps, which are compiled with information from carriers and third-party sources.
If you want to learn more about our research process, you can check out our complete methodology.
What is Verizon's cheapest plan?
Verizon’s absolute cheapest plan is $30 a month, but it’s not compatible with smartphones. If you want to use your iPhone, your Galaxy Note, or any other smartphone, you can get a prepaid Verizon plan with 5GB of data for $35.
What carrier is offering free phones?
Different carriers offer free phone deals with promotions that they run, and these offers change all the time. To learn more, check out some free phone deals that are going on right now.
What carrier is giving free iPhones?
Verizon offers significant discounts on iPhones if you switch to their plans.You can even get an iPhone SE for only $5 a month. To learn more, take a look at the best iPhone deal right now.