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Best for International
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AT&T PrepaidMint MobileTello MobileVerizonT-MobileVisible Unlimited
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Price

Starting at $25/month

Starting at $15/month

Starting at $10/month

$70/month for one line, discounts per additional line

$60/month for one line, discounts per additional line

Starting at $30/month

Number of Plans

3

4

4

4+

3 (Essentials, Magenta, and Magenta MAX)

2 (Visible and Visible+)

Usage

From 5GB through unlimited

4GB, 10GB, 15GB, unlimited

None through unlimited

Varies depending on plan, 5G offered

Starting at 50 GB premium 5G data

Unlimited talk, text, and data

Phones Offered

Alcatel, AT&T, Motorola, Samsung

Alcatel, Apple, BLU, Google, LG, Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus, Samsung, TCL, Wingtech

Apple, Motorola, NUU, Samsung

Most phones available

Most phones available

Apple, Blade, Google, Motorola, Samsung, TCL, Visible

Discounts

Double data when you prepay for one year

None currently

None currently

Military, first responders, nurses, teachers, students

55+, active military and veterans, first responders

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AT&T Prepaid
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Price

Starting at $25/month

Number of Plans

3

Usage

From 5GB through unlimited

Phones Offered

Alcatel, AT&T, Motorola, Samsung

Discounts

Double data when you prepay for one year

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Mint Mobile
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Price

Starting at $15/month

Number of Plans

4

Usage

4GB, 10GB, 15GB, unlimited

Phones Offered

Alcatel, Apple, BLU, Google, LG, Motorola, Nokia, OnePlus, Samsung, TCL, Wingtech

Discounts

None currently

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Tello Mobile
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Price

Starting at $10/month

Number of Plans

4

Usage

None through unlimited

Phones Offered

Apple, Motorola, NUU, Samsung

Discounts

None currently

Best for Families
Verizon
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Price

$70/month for one line, discounts per additional line

Number of Plans

4+

Usage

Varies depending on plan, 5G offered

Phones Offered

Most phones available

Discounts

Military, first responders, nurses, teachers, students

Best for Unlimited Data
T-Mobile
Our Partner
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Price

$60/month for one line, discounts per additional line

Number of Plans

3 (Essentials, Magenta, and Magenta MAX)

Usage

Starting at 50 GB premium 5G data

Phones Offered

Most phones available

Discounts

55+, active military and veterans, first responders

Best for Line Options
Visible Unlimited
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Price

Starting at $30/month

Number of Plans

2 (Visible and Visible+)

Usage

Unlimited talk, text, and data

Phones Offered

Apple, Blade, Google, Motorola, Samsung, TCL, Visible

Discounts

Try free for 5 days

In this digital age, it's nearly impossible to get by without a cell phone plan. Whether you're looking for cheap cell phone plans that give you the bare essentials or unlimited talk, text and data, we have you covered.

Below, you’ll find our selection of the top cell phone companies, along with all the information you'll need to determine which offers the best cell phone plan for you.

Our Top Picks for Best Cell Phone Plans

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Best Cell Phone Plan Reviews

Pros
  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • $0 activation fee
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Carrier network can de-prioritize Visible's speeds

Why we chose it: Visible is cheap, effective and great for those that want simplicity. By connecting to Verizon's network, Visible offers good coverage without the large cost that typically comes with the network.

Visible Unlimited is a simple, no-frills phone plan that has taken out all the unnecessary add-ons that many carriers include and left just unlimited data, talk, text and hotspots. There are two plans — Visible and Visible+. The former is $30 per month, including taxes and fees.

The latter is $45, but it comes with unlimited talk, text and data roaming in Mexico and Canada as well as international calling to over 30 countries and international texting to over 200 countries.

You can access both 4G and 5G data on Visible’s network, which covers 99% of the U.S. According to Visible's coverage map, it's a little more sparse on the west coast than on the east. The plan’s low cost is possible because Simple doesn't have storefronts, so the savings from the lower operating expenses are passed onto the customer.

The biggest downside to Visible is that Verizon has the power to de-prioritize Visible’s speeds. Since the company uses the Verizon network, Verizon customers will get the fastest speeds, while Visible’s customers may see reduced speeds. This only happens if too many people are connected in one area, but it's something to consider if you live in a big city.

Pros
  • One of the top nationwide carriers
  • 5G availability
  • Ability to mix and match a variety of different plans
  • Option for international coverage while traveling
Cons
  • More expensive than other carriers for similar plans
  • Wide variety of plans and options can make it difficult to choose the most suitable for you

Why we chose it: If you value the fastest speeds available and the most extensive coverage for your family, Verizon delivers. The network offers the best family cell phone plans because they can be personalized like no other plan can.

As of March 2022, Verizon had around 143 million customers, making it one of the largest carriers around. For families, you'll love the ability to mix and match options to build a plan that suits your family's exact needs. With each line you add, the cost per line lowers. For example, Verizon's unlimited nationwide 5G plan costs $70 a month plus taxes and fees, while a family of four could have the same plan for $35 per line.

Another area where Verizon shines is the ability to add extra features for the whole family, like subscriptions to streaming services such as Apple Music, Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+, as well as data for smartwatches and tablets.

Verizon is not only great for families — it also offers extensive business options. One of the best business cell phone plans is Verizon's Business Unlimited, which gives small businesses coverage at affordable pricing so you don't have to use your personal phone for company matters.

Pros
  • Largest 5G network in the country
  • More unthrottled data than any other provider
  • One of the best providers in nationwide rankings
Cons
  • Some gaps in coverage

Why we chose it: T-Mobile provides customers with comprehensive coverage options at a competitive price on the most extensive 5G network in the country.

We consider that T-Mobile Network has the best unlimited cell phone plans on the market, particularly if you care about unlimited high-speed data. Unlike other carriers that deprioritize or throttle data after a certain amount is used, T-Mobile doubles the cap for mid-tier plans and has no cap whatsoever on its highest plan. That means that on the Magenta Max plan, you can use as much high-speed data as you want without slowing down.

On average, T-Mobile has the fastest speeds of any network. For those that spend a lot of time working from their phone while on the go, this can be the difference between meeting a deadline and having to write an apologetic email later.

Another thing we love about T-Mobile is that you can get a new phone of your choice if you're switching providers. If you're looking for the best cell phone plans with free phones, then look no further.

Pros
  • Affordable options
  • Shorter contract periods
Cons
  • Poor customer service
  • Advance payment for contracts required

Why we chose it: Mint Mobile is one of the best prepaid providers because it lets you test drive its service for three months at their lowest prices before you commit to a plan, which is excellent for those that need a little extra time to decide if it's the right fit.

Mint Mobile is similar to Visible in that it runs on another carrier's network (T-Mobile), which means it comes with the same data de-prioritization issues that Visible has, but it is still one of the best prepaid cell phone plans on the market.

With Mint, plans start as low as $15 a month for unlimited talk, text, and four gigabytes (GBs) of data. Unlimited data is not quite unlimited — it goes up to 35 GBs per month, which is typically enough for anyone but the heaviest power users. Each plan includes unlimited talk and text, and all are prepaid, meaning you'll pay upfront for the service you use.

Mint Mobile has the best cell phone plans for just one line. As everything is prepaid and very affordable, it's an excellent option for those looking for their own individual plan. You get the most savings by choosing a longer-term contract. However, if you commit to a long-term contract such as 12 months, you'll have to pay that full amount up front, which can be a barrier for some.

Pros
  • Extremely affordable pricing
  • Ability to share data with whoever you want
  • Ability to build your own plan according to your needs
Cons
  • No roaming services provided
  • Not the best for families

Why we chose it: With plans starting at just $10, Tello has the best cheap cell phone plans by a wide margin, allowing almost anyone to have access to reliable data.

Tello uses T-Mobile’s network and offers some of the most affordable rates on the market. You can get unlimited data, talk, and text for just $29 per month for one line, which is much lower than any other provider we reviewed. With unlimited options, however, speeds get much slower after using 25 GBs of data each month.

You also get free international calling to over 60 countries included in your plan. For those that don't use much data, the Tello Economy plan starts at just $10.

Although plans renew automatically every 30 days, you're free to cancel at any time without charge. If you notice you need more or less data, you can switch to a different plan at any time with no extra fees — your remaining balance rolls over to the next 30 days. Typically, phone plans that offer this much flexibility with so few commitments are much more expensive.

When you sign up with Tello, you have the option of keeping your old phone or purchasing a new one. If you do decide to keep your old phone, make sure it's eligible before you switch. If you run into issues with your service, a Tello representative is available 24/7 to provide help.

Pros
  • Good coverage at affordable prices
  • Extensive coverage in Europe
Cons
  • Limited international data coverage outside Europe

Why we chose it: AT&T has one of the best international cell phone plans, which allows users to both call internationally and use data while traveling.

AT&T Prepaid is great for globetrotters and for keeping in touch with family members living in other countries. For just $10 more per month, you can have 250 minutes of international calling to over 70 countries. For $15, you get unlimited minutes to 85 countries. On all AT&T prepaid monthly plans, you get unlimited texting from the US to over 230 countries. These costs are much lower than the competition, especially for unlimited international minutes. If you live in a different country than your loved ones, AT&T prepaid can make all the difference.

AT&T provides several options if you need data while traveling internationally. You'll get five GBs of data for $35, good for seven days. This is substantially more affordable than other networks that charge $10 or more daily for international data. It's important to note that this coverage is mainly for countries in Europe. If you're traveling to South America, Asia or Africa, you'll likely need to get a SIM card from another network on arrival.

Pros
  • Special offers for seniors
  • Great customer support
  • No overage fees
Cons
  • Automatic plan upgrades

Why we chose it: Consumer Cellular offers special discounts for AARP members, including 5% off on monthly service. This company is best for those that don't use much data each month and want an inexpensive option for staying connected.

Consumer Cellular uses both T-Mobile and AT&T's networks, so you can be all but promised great coverage. Plans start for as little as $20 a month for one GB of data and unlimited talk and text. Unlimited data is $55 per month for one line or $75 for two lines, which still provides some savings.

There are no penalty fees if you go over your allotted data per month. However, this will cause an automatic upgrade to a more expensive plan, which can be cumbersome to downgrade from later.

Consumer Cellular offers one of the best cell phone plans for seniors, with inexpensive options for low-data users, so if you need a plan that allows you to talk and text a lot but not use much data, this could be the network for you. However, for heavy data users, other options might be more cost-effective.

Consumer Cellular has been ranked by J.D. Power as number one in customer service among wireless value mobile virtual network operators for 13 years in a row. Its exceptional customer support really sets it apart from the competition.

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Other companies we considered

Sprint

Sprint merged with T-Mobile on April 1, 2020, so you can't join the Sprint network specifically. However, the T-Mobile network does have the best cell phone plans for two lines with unlimited data, so it makes sense for previous Sprint customers to hold onto their current plan rather than switch to Verizon.

Pros
  • Extensive coverage area
  • Truly unlimited plans
Cons
  • Available only for legacy customers

Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile operates on the T-Mobile network, which means you would be joining the largest 5G network in the country. This might be the one for you if you're looking for a pay-as-you-go phone plan.

Pros
  • Great coverage at low prices
  • No long-term contracts
Cons
  • Online reviews tend to give low scores for customer service
  • Limited phone selection

Cricket Wireless

Cricket Wireless is another provider that uses an alternate network to provide discounted rates on cellular service. Cricket uses the AT&T network, which means you'll have coverage throughout the country, although speeds might not be as fast as other networks. A big perk is the HBO Max add-on that is free of charge on some plans, a $10 value every month.

Pros
  • Good family options
  • Free HBO Max
  • Good coverage
Cons
  • Relatively expensive basic plans
  • Limited phone options

Cell Phone Plan Guide

We put together this cell phone plan guide to answer any questions you might have about cell phones, the best plans and your data needs.

What is a cell phone data plan?

A cell phone data plan is an agreement in which a customer pays a mobile carrier a fee to allow the use of its network with a mobile phone. Some carriers will require the customer to sign a contract for a specific term while other carriers allow network usage on a month-by-month basis.

Plans that include coverage for data typically also provide coverage for texting and calling. Deciding which plan is best can be a little overwhelming as there are many options on the market, so consider which features and services are most important to you.

How do cell phone plans work?

Cell phone plans work through the use of a SIM or an eSIM in your phone that communicates with cell phone towers. A tower receives a radio wave from your phone whenever you make a call, and then it transmits the same radio wave to the receiver's phone so they can hear your voice.

With a cell phone plan, you're either paying upfront or monthly for service through that network. When you reach your maximum amount of texts, minutes or data, you either need to purchase more or pay overage fees.

more or pay overage fees.

Fees

Ideally, you can choose a carrier that doesn't tack on lots of fees to your monthly plan. Apart from paying for the coverage you use, some fees might include:

  • Emergency response fees
  • Local taxes
  • Sales and excise taxes
  • Regulatory and administrative charges

If you feel like your cell phone bill has been creeping up over the past few years, you're not alone. Taxes and fees have increased rapidly, so it could be helpful to try and negotiate your phone bill with your provider, especially if you've been a customer for several years.

Coverage

Each network has its own coverage, which is the geographical area in which you can access a cellular network. If you've ever noticed that you can't connect to the internet but your friend standing right next to you can, this is likely why — you have different providers with different coverage availability. Each carrier owns a set of radio frequencies that allows users to connect to data in any given area. Apart from the actual radio waves, your phone type might also impact your coverage as newer phones generally have better connectivity than older ones.

Data available

The amount of data you're able to use can vary between networks. For example, some prepaid plans might give you just one GB of data for the month, while other monthly contract plans may allow you to use unlimited data. However, it's essential to look at the fine print, as some “unlimited” plans only cover up to a certain amount of data before speeds are throttled.

Prices

A cellular provider will charge you for using its network’s data or for using the network to text or make calls. Plan prices vary based on several factors, including how many minutes you want, how much data you use, how many lines you have on your plan, what fees and taxes are being tacked on and more. Before deciding which network is best, compare prices across the major ones.

Contracts available

Contracts are helpful if you have your heart set on a specific phone but don't have the money to buy it outright. These plans often bundle the cost of a phone with your monthly service so you pay one amount each month for both the phone and plan. Monthly contracts are great for convenience, but they can also end up costing more than you might want to spend. Read the fine print to see exactly what you're paying for.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is a relatively new concept and is now often included in many cell phone plans. Cloud storage allows you to store files like pictures and documents in the cloud, which lets you access more files on your phone than the hardware would typically allow. Both service providers and cell phone makers like Apple provide cloud storage ranging from a few hundred GBs up to multiple terabytes (TBs).

Perks and discounts

Many carriers will offer special incentives to new or existing customers looking to change their plans. If you leave a popular network, you can sometimes get a great deal by switching to its competitor. At the end of the day, each network is a business and wants as many customers as possible. That means you can often find unique perks and discounts no matter your situation.

Many providers will also offer discounts for seniors, active-duty military members, or businesses.

Best Cell Phone Plans FAQ

How much is a cell phone plan?

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Cell phone plans can be as cheap as $10 a month, but a plan's average cost is around $47 per line. That number increases if you want unlimited data or other perks. Many carriers will offer discounts for multiple lines under the same plan, so the first line pays the most, the second a bit less and so on.

Before signing onto a cell phone plan, you should list out all the things you want as well as look back on your past few months to see what you actually used. If you rarely make phone calls, having unlimited minutes might be a waste of money. If you are often connected to Wi-Fi, you might not need unlimited data.

What is a prepaid cell phone plan?

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Unlike traditional plans, prepaid cell phone plans allow you to pay upfront for a certain amount of data, calling or texting using the carrier's service. Prepaid plans can sometimes be cheaper than traditional postpaid plans and are excellent options if you only need a specific amount of data. They typically don't have any penalty for canceling or switching providers.

Another benefit to prepaid plans is that they often don't require credit checks, which can put your mind at ease if you're struggling with poor credit.

How do you save on a cell phone plan?

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There are a few different ways to save money on a cell phone plan. If your plan doesn't include unlimited data, you can save by using Wi-Fi whenever possible. The less data you use, the less money your bill will be at the end of the month. Some carriers also give you a discount when you enroll in auto-pay or paperless billing. Although these savings won't be substantial, they can still shave off a bit each month.

Often, a large portion of your cell phone bill is from leasing the cell phone itself, not the data. The monthly phone costs in a multi-year service contract can quickly add up. Instead, you can purchase a used phone and bring it to your carrier when you sign up.

Ask for an itemized receipt of your cell phone bill so you can figure out other ways you can save. You can always just ask your carrier to lower your bill as a last resort, too. Although it doesn't always work, negotiating your bill as a long-term customer can sometimes land you a great deal.

How We Chose the Best Cell Phone Plans

While putting together our list of the best cell phone plans on the market, we looked at a few different factors, including:

Fastest data speeds

Fast data is essential for getting connected to the information you need as quickly as possible. Which network is the fastest and most reliable is one of the most frequently asked questions about cellular networks. Ideally, you'll have access to 4G or 5G coverage everywhere you need it. You don't want to pay monthly for a service that takes forever to work when you're streaming content or searching the internet.

Data availability

Even if a network has fast data in spots, it's ineffective if it has blackout zones. The network you choose should have widespread data availability in your area and in those you frequently travel to. Networks should provide you with a map of their 4G and 5G coverage so you can see exactly where you can connect. When choosing the best cell phone plans, we considered the data availability of each wireless service provider.

Discounts

We want to ensure you get the most value out of each dollar you spend, so we considered which carriers had discounts available. Some carriers have promotional rates for new customers while others offer discounts to new and existing customers. Others have discounts for seniors, military members, teachers, first responders or partner companies.

Price

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a cell phone plan is the price. You don't want to spend most of your monthly budget on cell phone data, so comparing prices is essential to know what you can afford. Prices for cell phone plans can range from $10 to over $100 per month depending on what you're using the plan for. If you have a large family, you could spend hundreds per month on your phone bill, so it's always helpful to see where you can save.

Summary of Best Cell Phone Plans