Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans of 2020
Best Value$40 unlimited full-speed data planUses Verizon network
Best Family PlanMulti-line discountUnlimited talk and text
Cheapest Unlimited PlanCheapest unlimited plan out there
Best International PlanUnlimited talk and text to 80*& countries
Best No-Data PlanUnlimited talk and text for under $10
Looking for a cheap cell phone plan that will let you dive into your swimming pool full of saved money just like Scrooge McDuck? You’ve come to the right place.
But keep in mind that not every plan will be perfect for you. As with all cheap things in life, these cheap 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.
|Provider||Best for||Our plan pick||Learn more|
|Visible Wireless||Value||Unlimited Plan||View Plan|
|Pure TalkUSA||Family||Simply Smarter Family Plan||View Plan|
|US Mobile||Unlimited||Unlimited Talk, Text and Fast Data||View Plan|
|Ultra Mobile||International||Ultra Mobile 6 GB 3-Month Plan||View Plan|
|Gen Mobile||No-Data||Unlimited Talk & Text Plan||View Plan|
Visible Wireless: Best value
Get all the cheap, high-speed data you could ever want.
- Cheap unlimited plan
- No high-speed data cap
- Verizon network
- Limited phone compatibility
- Data can be deprioritized
What we like
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
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.
Pure TalkUSA: Best family plan
Who doesn’t love a family discount?
- Discounted family plan
- Easy phone activation
- Plenty of plan options
- Pricey unlimited plans
What we like
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.
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
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
Here are some other cheap family plans that you might want to check out if PureTalk is not cutting it for you.
US Mobile: Cheapest unlimited plan
Currently the cheapest unlimited plan you can find
- Unlimited talk, text, and data for $37/mo.
- Compatible with the latest iPhones
What we like
Unlimited talk, text, and data
You can do pretty much anything on your phone these days—order groceries, listen to a guided meditation, find a date—but most of it takes data. Lots of data. So maybe it’s time to ditch the 500 MB plan you’ve been on and upgrade to an unlimited data plan.
US Mobile’s Unlimited Talk, Text and Fast Data plan is currently the cheapest unlimited data plan that you’ll find on the market right now at $37 a month. It undercuts Visible by $3 a month, which may not sound like much, but you’re saving around $36 a year by going with US Mobile over Visible. The downside, of course, is your coverage will likely be not as reliable as what you get with Visible, but it could be worth the extra money you save.
Compatible with the latest iPhones
If you’re an iPhone user, then you have nothing to worry about when switching over. US Mobile’s SIM cards are compatible with all the latest iPhone devices, including the iPhone 11. Here’s a list of all the latest iPhones that you can purchase with US Mobile.
What we don’t like
Since US 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 call an Uber after a concert or baseball game.
Ultra Mobile: Best international plan
Ultra gives you a cheap way to stay connected to anyone, anywhere.
- Unlimited talk and text to 80+ countries
- Great deals on low-data plans
- No family plans
- Pricier unlimited plan
What we like
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.
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
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
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
Here’s to living off the grid with a very cheap cell phone plan.
- Cheap unlimited talk and text
- Free international texting
- Weaker service network
What we like
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!
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
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.
- Best family plan: Pure TalkUSA gets you family discounts that make a family plan much more affordable.
- Cheapest unlimited plan: US Mobile’s Unlimited Talk, Text and Fast Data currently offers the cheapest unlimited plan on the market.
- 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.
OpenSignal.com, “USA Mobile Network Experience Report January 2019”