The 5 Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans for Data, Coverage, and More

Looking for an alternative to the costly monthly cell phone plans provided by companies like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile? If so, you’re not alone.

Millions of people rely on cheap cell phone plans for their talk, text, and data needs. In this article, I’ll help you decide which cheap phone plan works best for you.


How Do Cheap Phone Plans Work?

Every cheap phone plan works a bit differently. Some are pay-you-go. Some have just a low flat rate that you pay each month. One is even totally free, after you pay for the cost of the phone!

Depending on how much money you’re willing to spend, you’ll have a number of different options for your cell phone plan. Most cheap cell phone plans offer talk, text, and data, so that you can use your phone in a variety of circumstances. Deciding which cheap cell phone plan works for you is a matter of comparing coverage, benefits, and deciding what price point works for you.

All of the major carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile) have low-cost spinoff networks or plans, which may be a good option if you’re looking for the reliability of the major networks. You can also choose to use a plan unaffiliated with any of those four networks.

If you decide to go with a smaller carrier that’s unaffiliated with one of the big four networks, know that you’ll probably have to bring your own phone to the plan. Few small carriers sell their own cell phones and, if they do, they usually only have a small selection. Your best bet is to bring an unlocked phone to the network.

In a later section, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to get started cheap phone plans. But first, let’s talk about the plans themselves!



The Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans

In this section, I’ll walk you through the best cheap cell phone plans for a variety of situations so you can decide what works best for your needs.


Cheapest Cell Phone Plan, Period

It’s hard to beat free. FreedomPop has the cheapest phone plan, period. Their basic 500 plan offers access to their nationwide 4G LTE network and the following options:

  • 200 minutes
  • 500 texts
  • 500 MB data

FreedomPop is compatible with most unlocked GSM AT&T or T-Mobile phones, and you can cancel your plan at any time. While they technically have coverage in all 48 contiguous states, it’s really limited in Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota.

Customers say that FreedomPop’s coverage can be spotty, but, are generally very happy with its (non-existent) price point, making it a great choice for cheapest phone plan.


Best Cheap Cell Phone Service for Unlimited Data

If you’re looking for unlimited data, Boost Mobile is your best best. For $30 per month, you’ll get:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • 2 GB of 4G LTE data

After you use up your 2 GB of 4G LTE data, your data usage will revert to slower speeds. However, the $30 unlimited plan is a great deal across the board, and 2 GB is a generous high-speed data allowance.

Boost Mobile is one of the most common cheap cell phone plans and is generally well-reviewed for its options. Boost Mobile operates on Sprint’s network, so if you don’t have great Sprint coverage, you’ll likely run into problems using Boost Mobile, too.


Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan for International Calls

Ultra Mobile is a great phone plan for callers who are looking to make lots of calls overseas. Ultra’s $29 per month plan includes the following:

  • 1 GB of LTE data
  • Unlimited calls to 60 different countries

If you’re looking to add more data to your plan, you can upgrade to a 10GB data plan for just $45 per month.

Customers report that customer service isn’t the best and that data speeds can be slow, but the international calling plan can’t be beat.


Best Cheap Cell Phone Service for Coverage

Verizon has the most reliable nationwide network, and if you’re looking to access it cheaply, Walmart’s Total Wireless plans are the best deal for doing so. Walmart has several Verizon-affiliated cell phone plans, including:

  • $35/month 5GB data plan
  • $45/month 8GB data plan
  • $60/month family plan

Unfortunately, Verizon bumps all non-Verizon users on its plan down to slower speeds, so you won’t be streaming crystal clear movie picture on this network. You will, however, have access to Verizon’s best-in-class coverage.


Best Pay-As-You-Go Plan

Tello offers cheap cell phone service in the form of a pay-as-you-go plan. Hosted on Sprint’s network, Tello offers services at the following prices:

  • $0.03/minute domestic calls
  • $0.01/minute domestic texts
  • $0.02/MB data

Customers like that you can add on international calls easily to Tello plans, with calls to China and India also costing just $0.03 a minute. And, if you decide to upgrade to a more permanent plan, Tello offers several low-cost prepaid plans.


How to Pick the Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan for You

When deciding to pick the best cheap cell phone plan for you, consider the following questions:

  1. How will you primarily be using the plan?
  2. What additional features are most important to you?
  3. What price range fits your monthly budget?

First, you need to consider how you’ll be using the plan. Do you use a lot of data? Or are you mainly concerned with talk and text? Data overages can be extremely costly, so if you’re using a lot of data, you’ll want to get a plan with generous data allowances, or you’ll spend more money in the long-run going over your limit.

Next, you want to consider any non-standard features you may need. For instance, if you call internationally a lot, you’ll want to pick a plan that has cheap options for international calling.

Finally, consider your monthly budget. How much can you realistically afford for a cell phone plan? Deciding on your budget will you help you decide which of the cheap phone plans is right for you.