Best Cheap Phone Plans: Affordable Alternatives to Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T

As prices rise for gasoline, food, flow services and more, you may be tempted to look for ways to save. Although cutting out a cell phone is no longer an option for most, changing carriers could be a great way to get the best value possible.

There are many ways to do just that in 2022, from prepaid carriers like Mint Mobile to mobile phone endeavors from cable companies like Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and Charter’s Spectrum Mobile. All of them could be cheaper than an unlimited plan from AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile.

Although there are dozens of options out there, I’ve listed a few for you to consider, as well as some other ways to save on your bill. This space can quickly become difficult, so as with some of CNET’s other wireless coverage, I’ll focus on options for a single line and for those looking for four lines.

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Know your area and which carrier works with which networks

To get the best deal, you need to make sure you have the coverage you need. Cutting costs won’t help if that means the service won’t work.

The complex geographic variables across the United States make it difficult for us to make a general recommendation of any carrier. T-Mobile’s service in New York may be great, but if you’re in rural Iowa, Verizon might be more reliable.

While your mileage may vary, the good news is that these networks are growing and improving all the time, especially as the top three players are running to cover the U.S. with 5G. It is quite possible that a decade ago you left the network complaining about its poor service, but now it has been strengthened by this race to gain customers.

If you know friends or family in your area who are already using the carrier you are considering, ask about their experience. You could also go to the carrier’s store and see if they offer free ways to try the service before switching, such as T-Mobile test drive. Using A similar program is visible you can try the network of its parent company Verizon.

Read more: Best Unlimited Plans from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile

When it comes to prepaid carriers, you should also check to see which network they work with. Mint Mobile, for example, runs on T-Mobile’s service while Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and Charter’s Spectrum Mobile use Verizon. In these cases, downloading one of the above two programs could be a quick and easy way to test T-Mobile or Verizon coverage before you switch.

We have a list of some of the top alternative providers and which networks they operate with broken here. Now, to the elections.

Single lines with unlimited data

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Ryan Reynolds’ phone company made a name for itself with its weird advertising, but it also has one of the best deals for unlimited data we’ve seen. For 12 months, you can receive unlimited speeches, texts, and data for $ 30 a month per line. When running on T-Mobile networks, you get 35GB of high-speed data on 5G and 4G LTE per month, though if you blow it through before your 30-day period resumes, your speeds will slow to “3G speeds.”

There are also 5GB of high speed internet points and free international calls to Mexico and Canada.

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Visible from Verizon has a twist on family plans called “Party Pay,” where everyone pays their own bill even though they’re grouped together. Under this system you can receive unlimited speeches, texts and data for $ 25 per month. Because everyone pays on their own, you can partner with friends and not be held accountable for their bills. It is even Reddit threads help you collaborate with random people via the internet and save.

This extra step makes this an interesting choice, although because of that step it is the runner-up to the simplicity of Mint’s proposal.

Usually starting at $ 40 per month for a single line, Visible includes taxes and fees in its price. 5G is similarly supported, although download speeds are limited to 200 Mbps. You also get unlimited hotspots, but maximum speeds are 5 Mbps.

Family plans with unlimited data

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Best for a family of four: Google Fi Simply Unlimited

$ 80 per month for four lines

Google’s mobile service has recently received a price renewal, which makes it a much more attractive alternative to major providers. For a family of four, you can now get its Simply Unlimited plan for $ 80 per month ($ 20 per month, per line), which includes not only unlimited speech, text and data but also 5GB of mobile hotspot. There is also free roaming in Canada and Mexico, although taxes and fees are not included in the sticker price.

Google Fi works with the T-Mobile and US Cellular networks and its service includes 5G access, although we should note that iPhones running on Google Fi cannot use 5G.

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U.S. Mobile, which operates on either T-Mobile or Verizon’s respective networks, charges $ 20 per line per month for its Unlimited Basic option. For that price, you get 30GB of high-speed data, including 5G, but no benefits like international roaming or hotspots. Like Fi, taxes and fees are not included in the sticker price.

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The Visible option isn’t just great for one line if you’re willing to collaborate with friends (or people on Reddit), it’s also a solid choice for families. Its $ 25 a month price for unlimited data is hard to beat – especially when you include an unlimited internet point, even at 5 Mbps. Taxes and fees are also included.

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AT & T’s prepaid option has a decent deal if you’re looking for four lines: $ 25 a month for unlimited talk, text, and data. A single line is $ 55 a month, but Cricket gives a solid discount if you’re willing to add more lines to your account.

Contrary to Visible, however, this is a traditional-style family plan where one person pays for all lines, so you may want to do this with people you know and can rely on to pay on time. Although it is almost identical in price, Visible’s plan includes unlimited hotspots, giving it the advantage over Cricket. As Visible, Cricket includes taxes in the price.

Cricket’s rival T-Mobile Metro has similar four lines against a $ 100 per month unlimited deal, but you have to buy the plan in-store and switch providers to get the deal.

Best for no or limited data

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If you’re looking for a rarely used backup phone service, TextNow has a free plan. Operating on the T-Mobile network, the service is offered free unlimited chat and unlimited texting, although advertisements are placed in its app, which you use to call and text people. There is no data included with this option and deleting the ads without adding data will cost you $ 10 per month. If you want to watch YouTube, FaceTime, or surf the web, be sure to connect to Wi-Fi.

Text messaging is also done through the company’s TextNow app, not via iMessage or WhatsApp, which makes sense because those services require data.

Getting 1GB of high-speed mobile data starts at $ 9 a month, and the company is pushing you to “2G speeds” if you use that before your billing cycle resumes. If you’re mostly into Wi-Fi, this might be a good choice. 2GB runs $ 16 a month, and the company offers up to 5GB of high-speed data for $ 28 a month.

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US Mobile has a good option for 5GB of data for $ 15 per month, which comparably exceeds the prices of Mint ($ 15 per month for 4GB of data), Boost Mobile ($ 15 for 2GB of data) and others.

Boost, however, has a $ 100 offer for new customers that way offers 1GB of data per month for a whole year. That breaks at $ 8.33 a month. Boost is offering service on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks today, although parent company Dish is in the process of building its own wireless network.

If you don’t have Boost, mostly use Wi-Fi (but still want some data) and price is the biggest driver for you, then this is the choice for a new service.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What about cable companies?

Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile and Optimum Mobile could be options, depending on where you live. Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile each use Verizon’s network while Optimum uses T-Mobile.

To get these offers you need to have an online package from the respective provider. As for the value, expect it to vary. Xfinity’s unlimited plan is $ 45 per month for a single line, with four lines running $ 30 per month, per line ($ 120 per month).

Optimum Mobile is in a similar boat, with a single line running $ 45 per month and four lines running $ 30 per line, per month.

Spectrum is a little better. While a single line is still $ 45 per month, the rate drops to $ 30 per line, per month for two or more lines.

But these prices require you to have a home service from these providers. If you cancel your cable service, wait for the bill to skip.

If you cut the cord and discard Xfinity’s home services, each mobile line will cost an additional $ 25 per month per line. For a family of four, this will increase your monthly bill from $ 120 a month to $ 220.

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What about wearing discounts?

If you want to stay with a major carrier like AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile, one easy way to save money is to take advantage of its discounts. All carriers offer additional discounts for which you may be eligible, depending on your employer, military status, student status, or age.

First responders, military members, veterans, nurses and teachers can receive discounts at every major carrier. Verizon has discounts for students, while T-Mobile’s Work benefit could take away $ 10 a month from Magenta Max plan. AT&T offers a similar program for its Unlimited Elite plan, which it calls Signature and recently launched a new advertising for teachers that offers a 25% discount on their latest unlimited plans.

If you are 55 or older, you may also be eligible for a discounted plan: T-Mobile offers discount plans nationwide for just $ 55 a month for two lines, and Verizon and AT&T offer similar options – but only for Florida residents.

We also rounded up the best plans at the Big Three.

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