Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans of 2020

Start saving money on a new cell phone plan today.
  • Best Overall
    Customizable plans
    No contracts
  • Best Family Plan
    Multi-line discount
    Unlimited talk and text
  • Best Unlimited Plan
    Cheap unlimited plan for new customers
  • Best Prepaid Plan
    5% off with enrollment in auto-fill
  • Best No-Data Plan
    Unlimited talk and text
    Free international texting

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.

Best cheap cell phone plans comparisons
ProviderBest forOur plan pickLearn more
Tello MobileOverallUnlimited Mins Build Your Own Plan with DataView Plan
Pure TalkUSAFamily Simply Smarter Family PlanView Plan
SprintUnlimitedUnlimited Kickstart PlanView Plan
TracFonePrepaidUnlimited Talk, Text & 1 GB Data Smartphone PlanView Plan
Gen MobileNo-DataUnlimited Talk & Text PlanView Plan

Tello Mobile: Best overall

Build your own plan and don’t stress about contracts.

Pros

  • Customizable plans
  • No contracts

Cons

  • Less reliable service network

What we like

Customizable plans

Are you the type of person who goes to a restaurant and wants to build your own hamburger? I am too. Listen, I want a burger that has crispy onions, fried jalapeños, and bacon. Just like I want unlimited talk, text, and two gigs of data speeds.

You can customize your ideal cell phone plan and set your talk, text, and data speeds. Trust us when we say that this is a rare feature in the wireless world.

you can build your own plan with tello mobile

You can build your cell phone plan how you want with Tello Mobile.

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How does Tello Mobile compare, price-wise?
It all depends on how you build your plan. What you pay will mainly depend on how much data you want. Prices range between $7 a month for 500MB of data to $39 a month for unlimited data.

No contracts

Tello Mobile doesn’t force you into an intense two-year contract or anything like that. If you ever want to switch over to a new wireless provider, you can do so without incurring any annoying fees.

Do you like the freedom or building your own cell phone plan and being able to leave it whenever you want? Then Tello Mobile makes sense for you. If only TV services were that simple.

What we don’t like

Weaker coverage

Tello works as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), meaning it uses the service network from a bigger wireless provider.

In this case, Tello uses the Sprint service network to provide service, and that’s bad news. Okay, it’s not the worst news in the world or anything, but Sprint offers the weakest coverage of the major wireless networks. You can get 4G coverage in about 88% of the country,1 but you really do feel the 12% of dead zones.

Whistleout Sprint Coverage Map

Source: WhistleOut

Alternative picks

Here’s a look at other cheap Tello plans worth your consideration.

Pure TalkUSA: Best family plan

Who doesn’t love a family discount?

Pros

  • Discounted family plan
  • Easy phone activation

Cons

  • No 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 2nd line
  • 15% off your monthly bill when you add a 3rd line
  • 20% off when you add a 4th 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.

The discount only applies if you opt in to the automatic payment system. Honestly, you should plan on doing this anyway. You don’t need another bill you have to remember to pay every month.

Easy phone activation

Some MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) give you a really hard time when setting up a new phone. Pure TalkUSA makes the transition much easier by allowing all GSM devices on its service network.

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What does GSM mean?
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.

cell phone on table

You can use the latest phones on Pure TalkUSA as long as you pay for them in full beforehand.

What we don’t like

No unlimited plans

Currently, Pure TalkUSA only offers the one family plan with 1.5 GB that splits across the family plan. You can tear through 1.5 GB of data pretty quickly with a family full of streamers, mobile gamers, and social media fans.

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How much data can I really 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 speeds in a couple of hours of YouTube streaming. We recommend sticking to Wi-Fi so you can save your data.

If your family uses the internet often, we recommend checking out some unlimited plans.

Alternative picks

Here are some other cheap family plans that won’t be quite as cheap as Pure TalkUSA but offer more data speeds.

Sprint: Best unlimited plan

Now might be the perfect time to switch over to Sprint.

Pros

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Compatible with the latest phones

Cons

  • Weaker network

What we like

Unlimited talk, text, and data

My wife constantly asks to use my phone when we’re together because I’m on an unlimited plan and she, sadly, is not. As a result, my YouTube algorithm recommends makeup tutorial videos to me all the time.

Want to keep your algorithm consistent? Then get some unlimited data.

The Sprint Unlimited Kickstart plan is easily the cheapest unlimited data plan that you’ll find on the market right now. If you’re not currently a Sprint user, you can switch over to Sprint now and get a wild deal.

Important note: This Sprint Unlimited Kickstart Plan is only available for new users switching over from a previous wireless network. Apologies to all of you who got excited and then realized you already use Sprint.

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What about the upcoming Sprint and T-Mobile merger?
We know that the Sprint and T-Mobile merger is in the works, but who knows when things will actually start to change. It’s possible this deal won’t exist when the merger’s finished, so you might want to hop on the opportunity now.

Compatible with the latest phones

One of the perks of opting for an unlimited plan with a major carrier like Sprint is that you can get the latest and greatest phones. Most cheap cell phone plans only work with older devices, but that’s not the case with Sprint. So whether you love Apple iPhones, Android devices, or Google Pixels, each will work on the Sprint service network.

cell phone in hand

All the latest devices will work with your Sprint unlimited plan.

What we don’t like

Weaker network

If you’ve read our content before, you know we’re less than thrilled about Sprint’s wireless network. We’ve just experienced way too many instances of having no bars when we need them most with Sprint.

For those of you who live near big cities, you’ll likely enjoy much better Sprint coverage. As for the rest of us living in flyover country, Sprint can feel less than reliable.

Whistleout Sprint Coverage Map

Source: WhistleOut

If coverage has got you worried, we’d recommend checking out Verizon. It isn’t the cheapest wireless provider in the world, but it is the most reliable.

Alternative picks

If you know you want an unlimited data speeds plan, you’ve got more than one option. Check out the other cheap unlimited plans available to you.

TracFone: Best prepaid plan

TracFone has us missing unlimited data, but you can roll over what you don’t use each month.

Pros

  • Save 5% when you enroll in auto-refill
  • Unlimited carryover

Cons

  • No unlimited data

What we like

Save 5% when you enroll in auto-refill

TracFone already offers some of the cheapest prepaid plans in the biz, but you can sweeten the deal by enrolling in the auto-refill program. Plus, you can get a 5% discount on any TracFone cell phone plan.

Let’s say that you opted for the TracFone Unlimited Talk, Text, & 2 GB Data Smartphone plan. Your bill would go from $25 a month to paying $23.75 a month. You save $15 over the course of the year for basically doing nothing! Go buy yourself some lunch—you deserve it.

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What kind of coverage does TracFone offer?
TracFone works with every other major service network—Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint. The coverage you get depends on your device. If you previously purchased your device through a specific wireless network, you’ll stay on that network.

If you buy a device directly from TracFone, then your wireless network will depend on which device you buy.

Unlimited carryover

Don’t stress about using all your data, texts, and calls before the month ends because everything you don’t use gets carried over. It’s nice to know that nothing goes to waste with your prepaid cell phone plan.

You can keep racking up data month to month, and at some point, it’ll feel like you have an unlimited plan. (Emphasis on the word “feel” because TracFone doesn’t currently offer an unlimited data plan.)

Speaking of which . . .

What we don’t like

No unlimited data plans

TracFone data plans range from 500 MB to 3 GB of data, which might not fit the bill for many of you. Almost every app depends on an internet connection, and you can run through data quicker than you might think.

Our advice: use your data speeds wisely and stay on Wi-Fi wherever you can. Most restaurants and stores offer free Wi-Fi, and you should take advantage.

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Be aware of too much streaming
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.

Alternative picks

Here are some other cheap prepaid cell phone plans worth your consideration.

Gen Mobile: Best no-data plan

Here’s to living off the grid with a very cheap cell phone plan.

Pros

  • Cheap unlimited talk and text
  • Free international texting

Cons

  • 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!

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Is this the cheapest no-data plan?
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

Most of my father-in-law’s family lives in Mexico, and communicating with them means a lot. Having a cell phone plan that allows for free international texting means you can reach out to loved ones without stressing about heavy international fees.

If you have any friends or family living outside the US, Gen Mobile gives you the cheapest avenue for unlimited talk and text with free international texting.

Another thing going for Gen Mobile? You don’t have to sign a contract when you start a plan. So don’t worry about incurring any extra fees for breaching your contract—feel free to stop your service whenever you like.

What we don’t like

Weaker network

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.

Whistleout Sprint Coverage Map

Source: WhistleOut

Alternative picks

Don’t feel like you need to commit to Gen Mobile so quickly! You’ve got options for cheap no-data plans.

Recap

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 overall: Tello Mobile gives you plenty of customization options to build your perfect cheap cell phone plan.
  • Best family plan: Pure TalkUSA gets you family discounts that make a family plan much more affordable.
  • Best unlimited plan: The Sprint Unlimited Kickstart Plan is the cheapest unlimited plan you can find. Just know it applies only to new Sprint customers.
  • Best prepaid plan: TracFone offers plenty of inexpensive prepaid phone options with unlimited carryover data, minutes, and texts.
  • 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.