Looking to lower your cell phone bill?
Here are the five best cheap cell phone plans of 2024:
- US Mobile 10GB Annual - best overall
- Visible Base - best unlimited plan
- US Mobile 1GB - best talk & text plan
- Tello 5GB - best for international calling (I should probably check this)
- MobileX Custom - best customizable plan
How To Pick A Cheap Cell Phone Plan
Opting for a low-cost cell phone plan can be a great way to reduce your wireless bill.
However, there are three things you should look out for before settling on a new plan:
1. Make Sure You Get Good Coverage
Is there a point in saving money on your cell phone bill if you never have service?
I don’t think so.
That is why it is essential to make sure you are covered before you sign up for a new plan.
Keep in mind that all cell phone plans will run on either the AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon networks for service.
2. Make Sure the Plan Has The Data You Need
A lot of budget cell phone plan offerings can be more affordable because they include a limited amount of high-speed data per month.
On the most affordable end, under $20 per month, you’ll see plans including between 1GB and 5GB of high-speed data per month.
In the middle of the pack you will find budget unlimited plans. These range between $25 and $35 per month. Budget unlimited plans typically include between 30GB and 40GB of high-speed data before slowing your speeds to 512 Kbps.
Considering the average data use is 26GB per month in North America right now, these budget unlimited plans can be great picks for a lot of people. They can typically save you a substantial amount of money on your wireless bill and give you plenty of high-speed data to meet your needs.
At the high-end of the range you will premium unlimited plans will never slow your speeds down based on how much data you use.
These range from about $45 to $90 per month.
If you are interested, you can check your cellular data usage on your phone to get an estimate of how much data you need. Getting a plan tailored for your specific usage means you are not overpaying for data you don’t need.
3. Understand the Compromises
Low-cost cell phone plans typically make compromises on the service in order to give you a lower price.
Here are four of the compromises you should keep in mind:
- Customer service is typically online-only. Not having physical retail stores is a big way some of these low-cost carries save money that they can pass on to consumers. That said, you’ll need to chat with an online representative to get support with your service.
- There are limited or no device trade-in deals. If you want the latest iPhone, you’ll typically need to buy it at full price from Apple.
- Getting service while abroad may not be an option, or expensive. A lot of budget-friendly carriers do not offer options for getting talk, text, or data while abroad. They will offer options for stateside international calling, which is where you can place international calls from within the United States. But if you want data while outside the country, you’ll have to rely on an international eSIM plan instead.
- You’re free to leave at any time. This applies to all cell phone carriers. As long as you own your phone, you’re free to switch plans or carriers at any time you want. ￼
The Best Budget Cell Phone Plans of 2024
1. US Mobile 10GB Annual - Best Budget Plan Overall
- Network: Verizon or T-Mobile
- High-speed data: 10GB
- Price: $180 per year ($15 per month, taxes included)
US Mobile’s 10GB annual plan comes out to just $15 per month. It includes unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 10GB of high-speed data. You can use all of the 10GB of data as hotspot data. Data is shut off after the 10GB allotment. This plan also includes free international calling to over 200 countries.
The service is available on either Verizon or T-Mobile, which US Mobile refers to as “Warp 5G” and “GSM 5G,” respectively.
If you activate on the Verizon side you get priority data, which gives you the exact same network experience as a Verizon postpaid customers.
Activating on the T-Mobile network, meanwhile, gives you free international texting from within the U.S. and the option to purchase international minutes and texts while traveling abroad.
Compared to other $15 plans, US Mobile's 10GB annual plan is an outstanding value. Mint Mobile's $15 annual plan, for example, includes just 5GB of high-speed data.
Tello is probably the best competitor here. Tello's $15 plan is month to month, and it also comes with free international calling. However, Tello's plan also only comes with 5GB of high-speed data.
- Exceptional value for the money thanks to annual pricing
- Great coverage with your choice of either the T-Mobile or Verizon network
- Well-designed mobile app and friendly online chat support
- Making or receiving calls and texts while abroad on the Verizon network is currently not available
- Requires you to pay 12 months up front for the service
2. Visible Base - Best Cheap Unlimited Plan
- Network: Verizon
- High-speed data: unlimited, but may slow down when the network is busy
- Price: $25 per month
Visible Base is hands-down the best option if you need unlimited high-speed data on a budget. The plan costs just $25 per line per month and comes with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and unlimited high-speed data. You even get unlimited hotspot data, which is impressive.
There are two compromises to the plan though:
- Visible Base’s data is deprioritized. Having deprioritized data means your speeds may slow down during times when the Verizon network is busy. When the network is no longer busy, you’ll resume getting the fastest speeds available. How much of a difference does this make? Check out my article explaining network priority levels to see a side-by-side speed test of Visible Base versus Verizon Postpaid.
- Hotspot speeds are limited to 5 Mbps. If you’re someone who relies on hotspot data for internet access, just know your hotspot speeds on Visible Base will be capped at 5 Mbps maximum. I have found this to be fast enough for email, web browsing, endlessly scrolling on Twitter, and streaming 480p YouTube videos, but it can feel a bit slow at times.
Even with the compromises, $25 per month for unlimited high-speed data cannot be beaten. Visible Base has the best price in the game.
- Unbeatable price with taxes and fees included
- You can use as much data as you want
- Robust coverage on the Verizon network
- Hotspot speeds limited to 5 Mbps
- Streaming video is limited to 480p quality
3. US Mobile 1GB - Best Talk & Text Plan
- Network: T-Mobile or Verizon
- High-speed data: 1GB
- Price: $10 per month
If you want something crazy affordable and that has all the essentials, US Mobile’s 1GB plan may not be a bad pick. It is priced at just $10 per month and still comes with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 1GB of high-speed data.
The US Mobile 1GB plan will ride on either the T-Mobile or Verizon network for coverage.
You pick which network you want when you sign up.
- Great price
- Excellent coverage with options for either T-Mobile or Verizon coverage
- Data shuts off when you reach your limit
4. Tello 5GB - Best Prepaid Plan
- Network: T-Mobile
- High-speed data: 5GB
- Price: $14 per month
Tello recently updated its plans on December 5th, 2023, and the new rates are awesome.
One of Tello’s new options is its 5GB plan, which comes with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 5GB of high-speed data for just $14 per month. It also includes free international calling to over 60 countries.
Even after all taxes and fees, the plan costs just $16.19 for me here in Longmont, Colorado.
Coverage and data speeds are also great because Tello uses T-Mobile’s 4G LTE and 5G networks for coverage.
- Free international calling to over 60 countries
- Great price
- Fast data speeds thanks to T-Mobile 5G
- Data is shut off when you reach your high-speed allotment
5. MobileX Custom - Best Customizable Plan
- Network: Verizon
- High-speed data: your choice!
- Price: $5-$20 per month depending on how you configure your planMobileX is a new MVNO in the game with a slightly different approach.
Instead of selling plans with set buckets of minutes, texts, and data, MobileX is allowing customers to choose exactly how many minutes, texts, and data they want each month.
You can configure your plan based on a specific data amount, say 3.24 GB, or by a set price, such as $15.16. You can also use the AI data forecaster to monitor your usage and predict how much data you will need by the end of the month.
No matter what you choose, MobileX will always issue you account credit for any unused data at the end of the month.
You can also choose how many minutes or texts you want per month, ranging from $1.50 for 50 minutes and 50 texts to $4.50 for unlimited minutes and unlimited texts.
If you want a cell phone plan built just for you, MobileX gives you an impressive level of control and customizability over your plan.
- Affordable rates
- Customizable to meet your needs, never pay for anything you don’t need
- Verizon coverage
- Can be more expensive than some pre-built data-bucket plans depending on your usage