In today’s day and age, everyone and their grandmother has a cell phone. And while many people may disagree on which phone is best, everyone has to pay for cell service and sign up for a plan. The problem? Cell phone plans are expensive. Too expensive. Way too expensive.
Our mission here at bestphoneplans is to help people save money on cell service. So we did the research, and we dug up the absolute best cell phone plans of 2019 that deliver the features, coverage, and service you want. Best of all, these plans will work with your current phone. So you can keep it. Switch plans. And begin saving $20-$40 per month on cell service.
This is an extremely valid question and one many people are wondering. The short answer is that the big carriers––Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile––lease access to their networks to smaller carriers. These smaller carriers are called MVNOs (which stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator), and because of their agreements they can offer cell service with the same coverage as the major carriers at reduced rates.
Basically, if you’re new to cell phone plans and carriers, here’s how it works:
There are four major networks in the U.S.:
These networks are owned and operated by their corresponding carriers, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Because these carriers build and operate their own networks, they are called Mobile Network Operators, or MNOs. They often charge high prices and promote themselves as premium brands. However, not everyone can afford their high prices, which leaves out a large number of people as potential customers. Furthermore, their networks are never operating at full capacity.
To make up for missing a large demographic of consumers and operating below full network capacity, the big four carriers lease access to their networks at reduced rates smaller carriers. These smaller carriers are then able to pass on identical coverage and reduced rates to consumers. Because they don’t build, own, or operate their own networks, the smaller carriers are called Mobile Virtual Network Operators, or MVNOs.
MVNOs such as US Mobile, Tello, Red Pocket, Mint Mobile, and others provide identical coverage to the big four while offering significantly more affordable plans. (Mint’s plans start at just $15/month for 3GB LTE data.) With cheaper prices and higher data amounts, these smaller carriers are often worth considering and can save you a huge amount of money in the long run.
In this article, we will be covering the best 1GB, 5GB, 10GB, and unlimited data plans. For each category, we are recommending the cheapest price plan for that data amount or higher. You’ll be surprised how much value you can get with your dollar on some of these plans. We have tested and reviewed many of the plans and carriers ourselves, so we feel confident in our recommendations. You can always check out our YouTube videos or the News section of the website for the latest reviews and information.
Let’s jump in to the best 1GB plans.
On the Verizon network the best plan is from Red Pocket. $15 gets you 1,000 minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB of LTE data. This remains one of the best deals on the Verizon network for a low-usage plan.
We will also give a shoutout to US Mobile. US Mobile similarly offers 1GB for $15, although with fewer minutes and texts. What’s great about US Mobile is they have a build-your-plan approach to the market, so you can choose the exact amount of minutes, texts, and data to meet your needs.
Red Pocket actually operates on all four networks (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile), and their $15 plan remains the cheapest option on AT&T as well. While we have not tested them yet, their pricing is simply unbeatable.
Unfortunately for iPhone users, Red Pocket’s aggressively cheap pricing does offer some compromises. Red Pocket is not an Apple Approved Wireless Carrier, meaning features like picture and group messaging, visual voicemail, and FaceTime over cellular aren’t supported on iPhone. Thankfully iMessage does allow for picture and group messaging, but this is something of which to be aware. You can check out the different quirks of Red Pocket here.
On the Sprint network, Tello has RedPocket’s $15 plan beat. Just $10 per month from Tello gets you 100 minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB of data. We’ve tested Tello out and enjoyed their service. All of Tello’s plans include unlimited international calling to Canada, Mexico, and China, and Tello even supports visual voicemail, the personal hotspot, and WiFi calling through their application.
UPDATE 09/01/2019: Tello’s $10 plan now includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB of LTE data. You can also now get the same 100 minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB plan for just $7 per month.
And finally the best 1GB plan on the T-Mobile network. For that same $15/month, you get unlimited talk, unlimited text, and now 3GB of LTE data from the legendary Mint Mobile. Mint recently increased their data amounts on all their plans, solidifying them as the best deal on the T-Mobile network.
Mint Mobile also supports visual voicemail, WiFi calling, voice over LTE, FaceTime over cellular, and the personal hotspot. We were skeptical about Mint’s unbelievable pricing at first, but trying them out we continue to be impressed with the service. Mint can offer such affordable rates by selling their plans in bulk, either 3, 6, or 12 month packages.
Now on to 3GB plans! Do more, download more, watch more, play more, and everything more with 3GB of LTE data. We feel these plans, along with the 5GB plans, are perfect for average users.
The Verizon network has a few good options here. RedPocket offers $30 for 3GB. You can also go with US Mobile. $30 gets you 5GB of data at fast speeds, which is 5Mbps. We recommend US Mobile for their beautiful account dashboard and responsive customer service. We really enjoyed their experience while testing them out. Lastly, PIX Wireless has a $30 plan with 4GB of data. This plan includes all taxes and fees, so it is $30 flat. Unfortunately we haven’t tested PIX out yet, so while their pricing is good we don’t know what the pricing is like.
On the AT&T Network we recommend Cricket Wireless. Their plan is $35 flat for 5GB of LTE data and supports WiFi calling, VoLTE, group and picture messaging, and visual voicemail. Data speeds are capped at 8Mbps, but we found this to be plenty fast while using it.
We also want to give an honorable mention to H2O Wireless. Their new $30 plan includes 6GB of data. We haven’t tried them yet and cannot speak to their service, but we have seen reports of some iPhone users having issues with group and picture messaging. Despite this, H2O’s $30 plan does seem like a good value with 6GB of data.
On the Sprint Network the best plan comes from Tello. $20/month for 100 minutes, unlimited texts, and 3GB of LTE data. You can of course customize Tello’s plan to include however many minutes, texts, and data you need, and their rates are extremely affordable.
UPDATE 09/01/2019: Tello’s $20 plan now includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 4GB LTE data, and is now just $19 per month. In fact, they have a new plan with 4GB of data that’s just $16/month.
And on the T-Mobile network the best plan comes from, you guessed it, Mint Mobile. It’s their same $15/month plan with unlimited talk and text with 3GB of LTE data. Comparing the pricing of all four plans here and you can see how Mint is just an unbelievable value for your dollar.
For us, 5GB data plans represents the sweet spot for plans. You get a healthy amount of data that’s perfect for average users at some of the best prices out there.
On the Verizon Network we recommend both Total Wireless and US Mobile. Total Wireless is $35/month for 5GB of LTE data, and their plan supports WiFi Calling, VoLTE, and Visual Voicemail.
We also recommend US Mobile because their 5GB plan starts at just $25/month, and $30 gets you 5GB at fast data speeds. You can also bump up to 10GB of data for the same $35/month as Total Wireless. What is important to note is Total Wireless offers uncapped data speeds, while US Mobile is capped at 1Mbps and you pay extra to bump the speeds up to 5Mbps or full uncapped LTE speeds.
On the AT&T network we think Cricket’s 5GB plan for $35/month remains the best option here. Their pricing and service is great and they are one of our preferred prepaid carriers on the AT&T network.
On the Sprint network the best plan comes from Twigby. Twigby is a great alternative to Tello, and they offer similar pricing. In this case Twigby’s 5GB plan is more affordable, coming in at $30/month for 300 minutes, unlimited texts, and 5GB of LTE data. What’s unique about Twigby is they fall back on the Verizon network for coverage. If you’re ever in an area with weak Sprint signal, your phone will switch to the Verizon network for making and receiving calls.
UPDATE 09/01/2019: Tello recently dropped prices and increased the data amounts on all their plans. They have a new $26 plan that includes 100 minutes, unlimited texts, and 8GB of LTE data. This now makes Tello the better option for a 5GB+ plan on the Sprint network.
And on the T-Mobile network Mint Mobile continues to be the best option. Their 5GB plan was just increased to 8GB, and it still remains $20/month if you go with the 1 year package. We’re still shocked how good their service is.
On to the best 10GB plans! Okay, we’re going to be honest here, we were looking at the 10GB options and thought, is it worth recommending these if you can get an unlimited plan often for around the same price or a few dollars more? We think some people may appreciate the 10GB plans, so we will quickly breeze through these, however for most people it is probably going to be better to go with an unlimited plan.
We think Verizon’s own $45 prepaid plan is the best option here. Verizon is currently running a promotion where their prepaid subscribers get 2x the data, so $45/month now gets you 16GB of high speed data.
The best 10GB plan on the AT&T network comes from Red Pocket. This time $40 gets you unlimited talk and text with 10GB of LTE data.
Tello has a 25GB plan for $39 per month. Tello continues to provide some of the best plans on the Sprint network.
Mint Mobile continues to dominate the T-Mobile network. This time $25/month gets you unlimited talk, text, and 12GB of LTE data.
There are a plethora of different unlimited plans with different hotspot amounts, data speeds, video streaming qualities and more. It can take a lot of time to sift through the details and understand the important information about each plan. We have selected four plans we think are the best options, but of course you can browse and compare all unlimited plans on our dedicated unlimited plans page. There are many more unlimited plans
On the Verizon network we recommend US Mobile. Their unlimited plan starts at just $40 per month for standard speed data. You can increase this to ludicrous speed data, which is fully uncapped LTE speeds for $55/month, and this still remains one of the best unlimited plans on the Verizon network. The biggest caveat is that after 20GB, the plan is throttled to 2G speeds. Is this really an unlimited plan then? Honestly probably not, however we do think 20GB is reasonable for most people and the price is still good. In fact, Verizon's own unlimited plans will de-prioritize you after 22GB. US Mobile also offers the hotspot option for $10 extra, while Verizon does not.
UPDATE 9/2/2019: US Mobile has decreased their high speed data allotment in their “unlimited plan” down from 20GB to 15GB. Upon further consideration, we are now also not going to consider plans with data limits to belong in the “unlimited” category. (These seems obvious).
While many unlimited plans do have a hidden limit where carriers will deprioritize your data usage during times of network congestion, US Mobile would slow your speeds down regardless after 15GB of usage. This intentional network throttling is different from being deprioritized, and it really means US Mobile’s unlimited plan, which we thought was a good value, is really a 15GB plan that is more expensive than Verizon prepaid. As such, we no longer recommend it.
We feel the new best unlimited plan comes from Visible. They are a carrier that is actually owned by Verizon, and their unlimited plan is just $40 per month (under half of what Verizon is charging for individuals). Visible’s plan offers true unlimited data at uncapped LTE speeds, however your speeds may be deprioritized during times of network congestion.
For everything you need to know about Visible, consider checking out our full article and review video. We even do a speed test between Verizon and Visible to show you what the difference is like.
On the AT&T network Straight Talk’s unlimited plan is the best option. $55/month for unlimited data at uncapped speeds is better than Cricket’s $55 plan which has speeds capped at 8Mbps. Straight Talk also supports WiFi Calling, VoLTE, and visual voicemail on the AT&T network.
One thing to note is after 60GB of usage Straight Talk has the right to look into your account to see if you violated their terms and conditions. So is this plan truly unlimited?! Honestly, probably not, but we feel $55 for 60GB on the AT&T network is still pretty good deal.
UPDATE 9/2/2019: Upon further consideration, we now feel Wing’s $55 unlimited plan is the better option. Their plan is also $55 per month, and they support true unlimited data with unlimited hotspot support as well.
We think the best unlimited plan on the Sprint network comes from Boost Mobile. They have a $50/month unlimited plan with 12GB of hotspot data included. However, users who use over 35GB of data will be deprioritized during times of congestion.
For users who don’t need hotspot data, Sprint’s own $25 Kickstart Plan is an incredibly good deal. $25 gets you unlimited talk, text, and data. Unfortunately your data speeds will be deprioritized during times of network congestion, however at $25 per month we feel this plan is definitely worth considering.
And lastly on the T-Mobile network the best unlimited plan technically comes from Teltik. They have a plan that is $40/month for unlimited data. However, Teltik is for businesses, we can’t recommend it for everyone.
For people not running a business, we recommend Metro by T-Mobile. You get unlimited data, 5GB of hotspot data, and Google One with 100GB of storage all for just $50 per month, which is pretty nice. You will be deprioritized during times of congestion after 35GB of data usage, but hey, that’s the world we live in.
So there you have it. Those are what we consider to be the best cell phone plans as of January, 2019. How did we come up with these plans? We compared them using our website and throughout online research.
We also have a spreadsheet where we compare all plans and carriers. If you’re interested in checking this spreadsheet out, you can view it here.
How did we do? Did miss anything? Are there any plans or carriers you think we should check out? Let us know by shooting us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can’t wait to compile the best cell phone plans for 2020.