Cheap Cell Phone Plans

These inexpensive cell phone plans could save you some major dough.

Overview

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. You’ll want to consider price as well as performance in your area—and maybe even features too.

With that said, here are five plans that could save you major greenbacks. Ka-ching.

What is the cheapest cell phone plan?

PlanPrice*Best forLearn more
T-Mobile Pay As You GoStarts at $3/mo.Cheap phone plan for oneView plan
Ting four-line planEstimated $70/mo.Cheap family planView plan
T-Mobile Essentials$60/mo. for 1 lineInexpensive unlimited planView plan
Mint 12-month, 2-GB plan$180/yr. ($15/mo.)Cheap prepaid planView plan
TextNow unlimited talk and text$9.99/mo.Inexpensive no-data planView plan
Sprint Unlimited Freedom planStarts at $60/mo.Cheap unlimited planView plan
TelloStarts at $5/mo.Cheap flexible planView plan
RedPocket$10/30 daysCheap prepaid planView on Amazon

* Price includes autopay, autorefill, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included unless otherwise noted.

Cheap cell phone plan for one person—T-Mobile Pay As You Go

This pay-as-you-go plan is as bare bones as they get—and costs less than $5 a month.

How much does the T-Mobile Pay As You Go Plan cost?

Monthly price*1-day data pass7-day data passLearn more
$3/mo.500 MB for $51 GB for $10View plan

* Price includes autopay, autorefill, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

T-Mobile’s Pay As You Go plan is the last man standing as far as these types of plans go.

That’s lucky for you because this bare-bones plan can almost be paid for in pocket lint each month. It’s pretty much guaranteed you won’t find anything cheaper than this Pay As You Go plan. (Or will you? FreedomPop does offer a free plan.)

A few bucks gets you 30 minutes of talk, 30 texts, or any combination of talk and texts that adds up to 30 each month. (For example, 15 minutes of talk and 15 texts.) Any additional calls and texts cost a dime each—that includes both incoming and outgoing calls and texts, by the way.

If you decide you want to tack some data onto your plan, T-Mobile’s data pass prices aren’t the cheapest—but they won’t break the bank, either. But if you regularly use data to stream the latest episode of Rick and Morty, we recommend a carrier that offers more data at cheaper prices—like Mint or Sprint.

Either way, this plan might be perfect for your youngest child who’s been begging for a cell phone since last year.

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Wait, did you say there’s a free cell phone plan?

We sure did. The folks over at FreedomPop offer a free plan—seriously, we couldn’t find a catch. (Except that you’ll still pay taxes and the limits are so low that it’s easy to get charged for overages. Womp womp.)

It’s got only a small amount of talk, texts, and data, but who can argue with F-R-E-E? We can’t. Learn more about it here.

Who is the T-Mobile Pay As You Go plan best for?

We recommend the T-Mobile Pay As You Go plan if you fall into one of these two categories.

  • Rarely use your cell phone
  • Don’t use data

Cheap family plan—Ting four-line plan

Ting’s customizable plans mean you’ll save money even if you need a lot of lines.

What your Ting four-line plan could cost

Price*Minutes and textDataLearn more
$70/mo. 1,000 minutes / 2,000 texts2 GBView plan

* Price includes autopay, autorefill, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

Ting offers highly customizable flexible phone plans, and it turns out this approach could save you lots of money if you need a phone line for every member of your family.

While four lines on most plans from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon will cost you more than $150 each month, Ting’s four-line plan comes in under $100 a month.

ting mobile logo

Of course, the cost of your plan will depend on how many minutes, text, and gigs of data you add. But it’s nice to know there’s an option out there that doesn’t require you to spin straw into gold à la Rumpelstiltskin.

Who is Ting best for?

We think you’ll like Ting if you’re one of these two types of people.

  • Don’t fit any of the one-size-fits-all plans
  • Need a lot of lines but don’t want to spend a lot

Cheap unlimited cell phone plan—T-Mobile Essentials

T-Mobile’s newest unlimited plan gets you the bare necessities for a lower price.

T-Mobile Essentials plan price and info

1 line4 lines
Price*$60/mo.$120/mo.
Minutes and textsUnlimitedUnlimited
DataUnlimitedUnlimited
Learn moreView planView plan

* Price includes autopay, autorefill, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

The “Un-carrier” just announced the T-Mobile Essentials plan, and prices for this new plan start out dead even with Sprint’s Unlimited Basic plan. But when you add more lines, T-Mobile’s multi-line discounts stack up.

That’s right: four lines on T-Mobile Essentials adds up to about $40 less per month than the next-cheapest unlimited plan from Sprint. That’s why we picked T-Mobile Essentials over Sprint Unlimited Basic. Otherwise, the two plans are nearly identical.

Yes, there is a catch.

If you’re on the Essentials plan, you’ll be the first of T-Mobile’s customers to see your data speeds slow down if there’s a lot of traffic. And you’ll be able to stream video only at 480p—that’s the same quality as a DVD. Hell-ooo, grainy videos.

Who is T-Mobile Essentials best for?

Chances are you’ll love T-Mobile Essentials if you’re looking for one of these two things.

  • Need unlimited talk, text, and data for your family
  • Don’t mind lower-quality video streaming
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Just need one line? Consider Sprint Unlimited Basic.

One line on Sprint’s Unlimited Basic plan adds up to the same price as one line on the T-Mobile Essentials plan. So if Sprint has better coverage in your area, the choice between these two may be no contest. Check out Sprint Unlimited Basic here.

Cheap prepaid plan—Mint 12-month, 2-GB plan

A monthly cost under $20 and calls to Canada and Mexico included? Sign us up for Mint.

Mint Mobile 12-month plan price and info

PriceMinutes and textsDataLearn more
$180/yr. ($15/mo.)Unlimited2 GBView plan

* Price includes autopay, autorefill, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

It’s a common theme that you save more if you pay for more months at a time, and Mint is no exception to this rule. It offers the option for you to pay for 3, 6, or 12 months at a time.

We say go big or go home here—pay for 12 months at a time to net the best discount. For the 2 GB plan, that pushes your cost down to under $20 per month.

mint mobile logo

We’re also in love with the fact that your Mint plan includes free calls to Canada and Mexico. That makes keeping in touch with family across the border so much easier. And did we mention you get a mobile hotspot too?

Who is Mint best for?

You might love Mint just as much as we do if you’re looking for these things:

  • Need unlimited talk and text
  • Love to chat with family or friends in Canada or Mexico
  • Don’t mind being roped into a 12-month plan
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Traveling abroad?

Mint made the list for our top international cell phone plans too. Find out why in our review.

Cheap no-data plan—TextNow unlimited talk and text plan

TextNow lets you ditch the data and ring up under $10 each month.

TextNow unlimited talk and text plan price info

PriceTalk and textLearn more
$9.99/mo.UnlimitedView plan

* Price includes autopay, autorefill, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

Prefer to watch Drake music videos on your desktop? A no-data plan could save you some money. TextNow’s unlimited talk and text plan won’t even cost you a full $10.

Just like Republic Wireless and Project Fi, TextNow relies on Wi-Fi to keep your costs low. When no Wi-Fi signal is in range, it grabs a piggyback ride on either Sprint’s or T-Mobile’s network. Yee-haw.

One other perk included with TextNow is that your unlimited talk and texts aren’t limited to the good old US of A. That’s right—you can text your friends in the Great White North with the latest gif you found—or give them a call to wish them a happy birthday. Aww.

Who is TextNow best for?

We have a hunch you’ll like TextNow’s unlimited talk and text plan if you’re looking for a plan that offers these features:

  • Don’t need data but make a lot of calls
  • Send a lot of memes via text
  • Like to keep in touch with family and friends in Canada

Recap—what is the least expensive cell phone plan?

Top 3 cheap mobile plan providers

T-MobileTingMint
ting mobile logomint mobile logo
View plansView plansView plans
  • T-Mobile Pay As You Go is your cheapest option, as long as you don’t need more than 30 minutes of talk or 30 texts each month. Or any data.
  • Ting’s four-line plan will cost you over $50 less than some of the big-name wireless providers—but you’ll be limited on talk, text, and data.
  • T-Mobile Essentials is the new unlimited plan on the block and will save you beaucoup bucks if you need more than one line.
  • Mint’s 12-month, 2-GB plan lets you rake in the bulk-buy savings. Plus, its plans include calls to Canada and Mexico.
  • The TextNow unlimited talk and text plan is perfect for anyone who doesn’t need data but wants unlimited minutes and texts. Chat your heart out for less than $10 a month.

Other notable cheap cell phone plans we didn’t mention

We mentioned it before, but you’ll want to balance price with performance in order to really save money on your cell phone plan. After all, it’s still a waste of money if you can’t place or receive calls, among other problems.

That said, these cheap cell phone providers didn’t quite make our list, but they might just have the price, performance, and perks you’re looking for.

Other notable cheap cell phone plans

ProviderPrice*Get started
FreedomPopStarts at $0/mo.View plan
Republic WirelessStarts at $15/mo.View plans
Project FiStarts at $20/mo.View plans
Tello Value plan$14/mo.View plans
MetroPCSStarts at $30/mo. (taxes and fees included)View plans
Total WirelessStarts at $23.70/mo.View plans

* Price includes autopay, autorefill, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included unless otherwise noted.

How to get cheap cell phone service

Rein in your cell phone bill with these easy ways to save. You may not even need to switch cell phone companies. (Gasp!)

1. Negotiate your bill

Yes, you have to talk with a representative, but negotiating your bill can really make an impact.

Even if you’re already a longtime customer, you might be able to get your current cell phone company to price match or offer you a deal.

Be sure to come to them with solid facts, like a competitor’s offer. And if you feel strongly about the cost, be prepared to actually walk away. We’ve found that nothing convinces a company to make a deal more than the thought of losing a customer.

2. Find out how much data you use

Log into your cell phone account and keep an eye on how much data you use in an average month. Surprise, surprise—you may not actually need all that data.

This means you’ll likely save a lot of money by downgrading your plan to a lower data cap. Most companies will let you boost that data cap back up or purchase extra data if you need it. So don’t worry if you’re traveling and happen to use more data than usual while streaming Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee at the hotel.

3. Share a plan

Lots of cell phone companies offer multi-line discounts. That is, they reduce the cost of any additional phone lines on your plan.

This could mean big savings for you—as long as you’re willing to share.

My family is currently on a plan with my in-laws. If we were to go it alone, we’d be paying almost double what we send to my father-in-law via PayPal each month. Yup, we’ll stick with sharing.

How to get discounts on your cell phone plan

If you’re looking for ways to save more money on your cell phone plan, you might want to check out the federal Lifeline program.

The program may subsidize your cell phone bill if you meet certain requirements, which include the following:

  • Your income falls at or below 135% of the federal poverty guideline.
  • You use one of the following government programs:
    • Medicaid
    • Food stamps/SNAP
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Supplemental Rental Assistance (Section 8)
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
    • Veterans pension and survivors benefits programs