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Compare Best Cell Phone Plans: +Cheap Deals on Prepaid & No Contract

BEST OVERALL

BEST UNLIMITED

BEST PREPAID

Jordan Beaumont
Financial Guru
Updated: 1/2019

Table of Contents

Best Cell Phone PlansLooking at Different Cell Phone Plans

There are a few key aspects that all cell phone plans have in common. These are the basic elements of a cell phone plan, aside from price, that you should consider.

Talk/Text Time

First is the number of minutes and/or texts you get with the plan. Make sure that you know how much you actually use your phone or get an unlimited plan to avoid overage charges or missing out on these essential features.

Data

Data is all the information you get that isn’t a phone call, text message, or raw GPS data. Using a maps app, browsing the internet, downloading something; all of these use data. Also keep in mind that data you use while your phone is on a Wi-Fi network doesn’t count against your data plan or allotment.

Coverage

Network coverage is another vital element when choosing a phone plan. After all, it does you no good to save money on a phone plan that you can’t use. Evaluate different network coverages. Make sure you get maps from third-party reviewers.

Other Features

Finally, you should consider other features. Some features you get with a cellphone plan include:

  • Free Phone
  • Discounted Phone
  • Discounted Financing on a Phone
  • Tech Support
  • Access to exclusive apps and/or media
  • Discounts or free access to popular apps and/or media
Service ProviderPlan typePlan NamePrice Per Month
VerizonOverallVerizon Beyond Unlimited$85 for 1 line
Simple MobilePrepaidSimple Mobile 6 GB plan$37 for 1 line
T-MobileUnlimitedT-Mobile ONE Plus$80 for 1 line (includes taxes and fees)
T-MobileFamilyT-Mobile ONE$160 for 4 lines (includes taxes and fees)
Total WirelessPrepaid familyTotal Wireless 25 GB plan$95 for 4 lines
T-MobileSenior PlanT-Mobile ONE 55+$50 + $25 Upfront
VerizonNetworkVerizon Beyond Unlimited$85 for 1 line

Picking a Cell Phone Plan

The best way to pick a cell phone plan is to determine what aspects of a plan are most important to you. Come up with a list of ranked priorities. For example, a list might be something like:

  1. Unlimited Data, Talk, Text
  2. Price
  3. Coverage

You can use each of these priorities as a way to filter out other plans. Find the plans that meet your first priority. In our example, that means we’d remove any plans that don’t give unlimited talk, text, and data from consideration.

Next, take the plans you have left and sort them by your second priority. In our example we picked price. So, we’d find the three or four cheapest plans that have unlimited data, talk, and text. Finally, we’d compare the coverage maps of each of the remaining plans to find the one that has the best service where we live, work, and visit often.

At this point, you should only have one or two options left. You can then decide by picking another element of the plan that’s most important, focusing on something that one plan offers which the other doesn’t. You’ll have the perfect cell phone plan for your needs when you’re done with this process.

You should use the explanation of each plan and its features that we provide to help you with your sorting. Another thing we’ve done to help make the process even easier is include a list of alternative plans under each category. If you compare our pick for the best in that category to the other options, then you’re sure to find the cell phone plan that best matches your wants and needs.

Best Overall Plans

These plans are the best overall options. They’ve got a great mix of price, coverage, features, and support.

Verizon Beyond Unlimited

Our top pick is Verizon’s Beyond Unlimited plan. This plan has lots of great features in addition to its reasonable price and quality coverage.

 

Price: $85 per month for one line. With autopay, paperless billing, and multiline discounts
Features  22 GB/Month 4G LTE Data, Throttled After 22 GB

720p HD Streaming

Unlimited Talk and Text

15 GB Hotspot

Talk, Text, Data in Canada and Mexico

Verizon has some of the best network performance in the country. That doesn’t just mean coverage, it also includes speed and overall stability. That means most people shouldn’t have a problem taking advantage of the great features on this phone.

Another awesome element of this plan is the fact that you can get 720p HD streaming. It’s especially nice for people who use their phone for entertainment because they travel a lot or don’t have frequent Wi Fi access.

The amount of data that the plan provides also helps push it to the top of our overall category. 22 GB per month is a pretty hefty amount of data. Moreover, you’ll still get unlimited data after you surpass 22 GB, but it can be throttled during peak hours.

There are some issues with Verizon’s Beyond Unlimited plan, which we’ll discuss here. If any of these sound like an automatic no for you, then we suggest you check out our alternative choices.

The first issue is the cost. While $85 per month isn’t too bad, you only get that price with lots of discounts. Moreover, with the same discounts you can get a similar plan, Sprint’s Unlimited Freedom, for $25 per month cheaper.

The other issue is with the data cap. While 22 GB before throttling is a good amount of data, some people may need more. For those people you can pay about $10 more each month to get the Above Unlimited plan from Verizon. It gives you 75 GB of 4G LTE data each month.

Verizon Map Coverage

Alternative Options

Plan Cost Per Month for 1 Line Cost Per Month for 2 Lines Cost Per Month for 3 Lines
T-Mobile ONE Plus $80 $140 170
MetroPCS Unlimited Plan with Hotspot $60 $90 $120
AT&T Unlimited & More Premium $80 (4 lines) $190 (Each Additional Line) $35

 

Best Prepaid Plans

Prepaid plans are great – you can control your bill each much with 100% accuracy. You can also make sure that you’re not locked into any contract or long-term agreement, so if you want to swap carriers, then it’s no problem!

Simple Mobile 6 GB

The best prepaid plan we found was the 6 GB plan from Simple Mobile. It’s affordable, uses a great network, and offers a better data package than most of its competitors.

 

Price: $37 per month for 1 line
Features

Uses T-Mobile’s Network

Unlimited Talk and Text

6 GB of 4G LTE Data, then 2G speeds

There’s a lot to like about Simple Mobile’s 6GB prepaid plan. The first thing is the low price of $37 per month. Most other pre-paid options start at $40 for a similar plan.

However, there aren’t too many plans that are that similar to this one. That’s because the 6GB of 4G LTE data you get is 1GB more than most other plans in this price rage. That extra gig can come in handy if you need to be sure you’re getting your best speeds towards the end of the month.

Another plus for Simple Mobile is that they have access to the quality T-Mobile network. That means good coverage and good speed and performance. This is known as a third-party arrangement, and T-Mobile is one of the best third-party network providers around.

The biggest downside with Simple Mobile is that their customer service isn’t the best. Reps can’t share the company’s data policy and sometimes the answers to questions are inconsistent. While it’s not that big of a deal when you’re asking about features, it could come into play if you have an issue with something like billing.

Simple Mobile Map Coverage

Alternative Options

If you want a great prepaid cellphone plan but aren’t sold on Simple Mobile, then try one of these three options.

Plan

Price with Common Discounts

AT&T Prepaid 8 GB Plan

$40 per month for 1 line

TracFone 2GB Plan

$50 per month for 3 months for 1 line

MetroPCS Unlimited Plan

$50 per month for 1 line

 

Best Unlimited Plan

Everyone loves an unlimited plan. Knowing that you can consume all the minutes, texts, and data you want is a reassuring feeling. Also, for some people, unlimited everything is a necessity. That’s why we carefully screened the unlimited plans out there to find the best one, as well as some alternatives.

T-Mobile ONE Plus

Price: $80 per month for 1 line with taxes and fees
Features

HD Streaming

10 GB Hotspot and in-flight data on Gogo-enabled flights

Talk and Text All You Want with Unlimited Talk and Text

50 GB of Data at 4G LTE Speeds

Like all of our choices for best in a category, the T-Mobile ONE Plus plan has a lot to like. The first thing that jumped out at us was the huge amount of unthrottled data this plan offers. 50GB is a great deal at the $80 per month price point. In fact, there’s only one or two plans that offer more unthrottled data than this.

It’s important to note that you can also get this 50 GB of data for $10 less per month on T-Mobile ONE. However, ONE Plus has a number of perks that we think put it ahead overall.

Speaking of perks, the perks and features you get with the T-Mobile ONE Plus plan are a huge selling point. Free inflight calls and texting is a must have for frequent travelers. Cinephiles will adore the fact that they can stream in HD up to 1080p, and 10GB of hotspot and tethering data mean you can use your phone as a backup option to finish that important project if your internet should go out.

One of the best perks though is the fact that you’ll see who’s calling all the time, even if it’s an unknown number. You also get free voicemail to text, so you’ll never have to listen to someone stumble through a sales pitch to get to more important messages again.

Finally, the fact that the $80 price tag includes taxes and fees is another huge plus. After all, there’s almost nothing worse than getting ready to pay your cell phone bill, only to find out it’s 15% higher than you thought it would be because of taxes and fees.

There’s only one major drawback to this plan, and that’s spotty coverage in rural areas. Keep in mind that the coverage is spotty, not non-existent. You may get excellent coverage where you live in the country, or you might be wandering your property searching for a signal.

T-Mobile Map Coverage

Alternative Options

Plan

Price Per Month for One Line

Price Per Month for Two Lines

Price Per Month for Three Lines

Sprint Unlimited Plus

$70

$120

$130

Verizon Beyond Unlimited

$70

$125

$140

Boost Mobile Unlimited Plan with Hotspot

$60

$120

$180

 

Best Family Plans

It seems like almost every cell phone service provider has a huge list of family plans on offer. Family plans can be a great deal. Many people use a family plan to save money on per-line charges and simplify billing. That’s why we went through and found the best family plan, along with a few alternatives.

T-Mobile ONE Plus

Price: $160 for 4 Lines – Includes Taxes & Fees
Features

4 lines of unlimited talk and text

SD streaming ability

50 GB at 4G LTE speeds

3G Mobile Hotspot, in-flight texting and 1 hour of data on Gogo-enabled flights

The best thing about this plan is the price. When you’re shopping for a family plan, you want to be sure you’re getting the best possible deal. In that regard, T-Mobile ONE is $5 per month cheaper than Verizon’s competitive offering. What’s more, the T-Mobile price includes taxes and fees, whereas Verizon’s plan doesn’t. That makes cost competition an easy win for T-Mobile

Another great feature of the T-Mobile ONE plan is the 50 GB of high-speed data that you get. Data is one of the biggest bones of contention when it comes to family plans, all of which draw from the same data pool. The 50 GB you get is more than twice as much as Sprint offers. That means fewer fights over who’s doing what with their phone and more peace and quiet.

There are two main drawbacks to the T-Mobile ONE plan. The first is that you only get SD streaming. That means you won’t be able to enjoy videos and games in the highest possible quality. In fact, your phone might have higher streaming display abilities than your network. You can go to HD if you pay an extra $10 per month per line. However, one nice thing about SD streaming is that it keeps data usage low, helping you get even more mileage out of the 50 GB T-Mobile offers.

The other drawback is the lack of a 4G LTE hotspot. This won’t matter for most families, but if someone in your family counts on a mobile hotspot for internet, then their hotspot won’t be as fast as their normal network. It still works in a pinch, but it’s something to think about.

Alternative Options

Plan

Price per Month for 4 Lines

Verizon Go Unlimited

$160

Verizon 8 GB Family Plan

$150

Sprint Unlimited Freedom Plan

$160

 

Best Prepaid Family Plan

Prepaid family cell phone plans are a great way to keep everyone connected while making sure you stick to your budget. We’ve got the best prepaid family plan below, along with a few other options.

Total Wireless 25 GB

When it comes to prepaid family plans, Total Wireless takes the cake for us. The combination of price point, shared data pool size, and the stability of Verizon’s network help push it over the top for us.

Price: $95
Features

Offers 25 GB of shared data

Network Speeds go up to 4G LTE

Verizon Network

The 25 GB of shared data makes everything nice and clear. Sometimes shared prepaid plans can be a bit confusing on whether or not the data in the plan is shared or per line. That can make a huge difference. 5 GB per line will probably be enough for everyone, but a 5 GB shared pool is almost sure to cause some fights.

We also like the fact that Total Wireless use’s Verizon’s network. Verizon has some of the best overall network performance in the market, both for speed and reliability.

The fact that there’s no unlimited data can be a huge drawback for this plan. That’s especially true if everyone in the family uses their phones on the go a lot and aren’t frequently connected to a Wi-Fi network.

We also aren’t huge fans of the fact that the network speeds only go up to 4G LTE – if Verizon is having a busy traffic day, then expect your data to get throttled.

Total Wireless Map Coverage

Alternative Options

Plan

Price Per Month for 4 Lines

Cricked Wireless Unlimited Data Plan

$100

MetroPCS 5 GB Plan

$130

AT&T Prepaid 8 GB Plan

$120

 

Best Cell Phones for Seniors

Seniors deserve a break. Thankfully, there are a few different cell phone plans designed for seniors. We’ve gone through them to pick the best ones for you here.

T-Mobile ONE 55+

The T-Mobile ONE 55+ plan is a great way to get all the features you want from the best cell phone plans without paying too much. Plus, you get no contract and get the awesome T-Mobile network.

Price: $50 + $25 upfront one-time.
Features

Unlimited Data

No contract

T-Mobile Network

Unlimited data, no contract, and a great monthly price point make this plan one of the best options for seniors. We particularly the fact that there’s no contract. That means if a better deal comes along, then you can switch at any time without needing to worry about annoying cancellation fees.

The additional $25 upfront payment is a bit annoying. But if you stick with T-Mobile as your provider, then you’ll more than make up for it in savings from month to month.

Alternative Options

Plan Name

Price Per Month Per Line

Jitterbug Smart Unlimited Talk and Text from Greatcall

$59.99 + $25 Upfront

Unlimited Mins Build Your Own Plan from Tello

Starting at $11

AT&T GoPhone Monthly Plan

$30

 

Best Network Plans

For some people reliability is everything. When you use your phone, you want to be sure that you’ll be able to do what you’re doing. If that sounds like you, then this collection of the best network plans is the info you’ve been looking for.

Verizon Beyond Unlimited

Verizon’s Beyond Unlimited plan sets itself apart with great HD streaming 22 GB of 4G LTE data, and the ability to use talk, text, and data in Canada and Mexico.

Price: $85 + $30 upfront ($50 per month with relevant discounts)
Features

Verizon’s Awesome Network

22 GB 4G LTE Data

Unlimited Talk and Text

720p HD Streaming

Mexico & Canada Talk, Text, & Data Included

There’s a lot to love about this plan – 22 GB of data is a good amount. You can get several HD movies plus some games in on that amount of data. You can also upgrade your service to get even more data per month.

Another great feature is the fact that your coverage extends to Mexico and Canada. That makes this plan a must for frequent international travelers.

The price isn’t the best. You’ll need to use every discount to get the price closer to where it should be. Also, the throttling after 22 GB of data isn’t as great as some of the other plans we’ve reviewed.

Alternative Options

Plan

Price Per Line Per Month

Sprint Unlimited Plus

$70

AT&T

$80

T-Mobile

$50

 

Pick A Great Cellphone Plan

Now that you’ve seen the options and understand the process to find the right cell phone plan for you, we’re sure that you’re going to be happy with your choice. Remember, there are a lot of cell phone plans out there. Don’t let yourself get confused by flashy ads or complicated numbers. Just use our helpful reviews and narrow down your options until you find the best cell phone plan for you.

FAQ

Best Cell Phone Plans General

This section covers general questions about cell phone plans. Use this information to help yourself understand questions in other questions.

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Who has the best cell phone plan?

It all depends on what you’re looking for. Verizon has the most reliable network, whereas T-Mobile usually offers the lowest price for plans in a category.

What is the best cell phone plan?

The best cell phone plan depends on your needs. If you’re most concerned with coverage, then go with Verizon. If price is most important, then you should look at T-Mobile.

How to change your cell phone plan?

It’s easy to change your cell phone plan. Simply log into your account with your service provider. From there you will find an option to modify your plan.

Can you get your own cell phone plan at 16?

In most cases yes. You can certainly get a prepaid cell phone plan. You can also get a billed plan if you have a credit history or a down payment.

Can you get a cell phone plan at 17?

Yes. You can purchase a prepaid plan or get a standard billed plan. A prepaid plan might give you better rates because of credit score issues at that age.

Cell Phone Plans and Data

Lots of people want to know how data works on a cell phone plan. We’ll answer questions about that here.

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What is data on a cell phone plan?

Data is anything that isn’t plain texts or phone calls. Downloading apps, connecting to the internet, and using map applications uses data.

What uses the most data on a cell phone plan?

Video and pictures use up the most data on most cell phone plans. However, games can also burn through data. You’ll have to check the device to see what apps are using most data.

Does cell phone GPS use data plan?

The GPS itself doesn’t, but any kind of maps apps or apps that use your GPS data will use data.

How much is a cell phone plan for one person?

That depends on a plan. You can get a prepaid plan for as low as $25 per month, or you can get a plan with tons of features and bonuses and unlimited talk, text, and data for around $100 per month.

How much should a cell phone plan cost?

That depends what you’re looking for. A basic plan that allows for enough talk, text, and data for a standard consumer should cost around $40 per month.

How do cell phone data plans work?

Cell phone data plans measure the amount of data you move over your phone’s network. Once you’ve reached your data limit, then you’ll either get throttled or will need to pay for more data.

What is considered data usage on a cell phone plan?

Data usage on a cell phone plan is anything that connects your phone to the internet. That can be games and apps that use the internet, video and picture messages, and more.

Choosing a Cell Phone Plan

We’ll answer your questions about how to choose a cell phone plan in this section.

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How to find the best cell phone plan for me?

The best way to find the best cell phone plan for you is to make a list of your priorities. Use that list to filter out different options until you’re left with only one plan.

How to choose a prepaid cell phone plan?

You should select a prepaid cell phone plan by deciding what aspect of a cell phone plan is most important to you. Select some plans that meet your needs, and then decide what the next most important thing is. Repeat this process until you arrive at the perfect cell phone plan.

How to select a cell phone plan?

The best way to select a cell phone plan is by picking four or five options that have the quality you most want. Then, gradually remove options until you’re left with the best one.

How do I choose a cell phone plan?

You should choose a cell phone plan based on getting enough data and coverage for your needs while minimizing the price you pay.

Cell Phone Plan Prices

Price matters. We’ll answer your questions about cell phone plan prices in this section.

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What is the cheapest cell phone plan?

The cheapest cell phone plan depends on what you’re looking for. You can get a basic prepaid cell phone plan for as little as $15 per month.

What is the cheapest monthly cell phone plan?

The cheapest monthly cell phone plan right now is with Sprint – they charge $0 per month with a $12.99 upfront payment. After 12 months the price is $60 per line.

How to get the best deal on cell phone plan?

The way to get the best deal on cell phone plans is with good comparative research. Make sure you prioritize the things you want and need in a plan and slowly eliminate options until you get the best one.

How much are taxes and fees on cell phone plans?

The taxes and fees on a cell phone plan change from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You’ll need to look up information for your specific state.

What is the average cost of a cell phone plan?

The average cost of a cell phone plan in the US is about $80 per month. However, there are lots of options below that as well.

How much does a basic cell phone plan cost?

Most basic phone plans cost between $35 and $45 per month. However, you’ll get limited data options coverage, and network speed for this rate.

Who has the cheapest cell phone plans for iPhone?

The cheapest BYO plan that supports iPhones comes from ting. It’s $15 per month and you get 100 minutes, 100 text messages, and 100 MB of data.

Why are American cell phone plans so expensive?

There’s a lot more competition for airspace because so much more data moves through American networks.

Why do cell phone plans cost so much?

Cell phone plans cost so much because the cost of providing data is very high. There’s only a limited amount of frequencies that can be used to send data, so there’s a lot of competition for space on those frequencies.

Best Cell Phone Plan by Type of Plan

This section answers your questions about different types of cell phone plans. We’ll cover things like family plans, unlimited plans, and plans from specific places.

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Who has the best cell phone family plan?

We like T-Mobile ONE for the best family plan. You get 4 lines of unlimited talk and text and 50 GB of 4 G LTE Data for $160/4 lines.

Which cell phone carrier has the cheapest family plan?

The best cheap family plan is Verizon’s 8 GB Family Plan at $150 per month for four phone lines. That’s $10 per month less than T-Mobile ONE.

Who has the best unlimited cell phone plan?

We think that the T-Mobile ONE Plus plan is the best unlimited cell phone plan. You get HD Streaming and in-flight data on Gogo enabled flights for $80 per month – which includes all taxes and fees.

What cell phone carrier has the best international plans?

The Verizon Above Unlimited plan comes with 5 travel passes that let you make unlimited talk and text all day for each travel pass and it costs $95 per month.

What cell phone carriers have unlimited data plans?

Nearly every major carrier has at least 3 different unlimited plan offerings. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and many others offers unlimited data with different features.

What are the best prepaid no contract cell phone plans?

The Simple Mobile 6 GB plan is our favorite no contract prepaid plans. You get more data per month for less money. $37 gets you 6 GB of 4G LTE data and unlimited 2G data.

Does Walmart have a cell phone plan?

Walmart partners with StraightTalk Wireless for their phone plans. You can get an unlimited 30 plan for $45.

What is the Walmart cell phone plan?

The Walmart cell phone plan is through StraightTalk Wireless. Their plan offers 30 days of 25GB worth of data and unlimited talk and text for $45.

Does Verizon have a cell phone plan for seniors?

Yes, Verizon offers a basic $30 Senior Citizen Plan. It comes with limited minutes and text messages and is a good choice if you only intend to use your phone rarely or for emergencies.

How do pay as you go cell phone plans work?

Pay as you go cell phone plans work just like they say – you pay as you go. You pay a certain amount of money for data, minutes, and/or texts, and then buy more when you reach your limit.

How much is an international cell phone plan Verizon?

Verizon offers several international plans ranging from pay as you go which can be as low as $0.99 per minute to a monthly travel plan that has 250 minutes, 1000 sent and unlimited received text, and 2 GB of data for $130.

Who has the best single cell phone plan?

The Verizon Beyond Unlimited is the best single cell phone plan. It’s got 720p HD streaming, 15 GB of hotspot data, talk, text, and data in Canada and Mexico, all for $85 per month.

Other Cell Phone Plan Questions

There’s a ton of great questions about cell phone plans. We’ll answer questions in this section that don’t fit into our other categories.

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Can I track a cell phone on my plan?

That depends. There are certain apps that allow you to track phones on your plan. It also depends on the options your service provider has.

Does Shaw have cell phone plans?

Yes, Shaw offers cell phone plans in addition to mobile hotspot and tethering plans.

How to keep cell phone number without a plan?

The best way to keep your cell phone number without a plan is to transfer your number to a prepaid cell phone plan. You can get plans for as little as $5, which will allow you to keep your number.

Are cell phone insurance plans worth it?

It depends on what kind of phone you have and what kinds of things you do. If you have a fairly standard phone and don’t have too many adventures, then you can probably skip the plan.

Does having a cell phone plan build credit?

Having a cell phone plan doesn’t build credit by itself. Making payments on your cell phone plan can build credit if your service provider reports your payments.

How much was the first cell phone plan?

The first cell phone cost around $3,500 and you were charged by the minute. It could cost as much as 69 cents per minute plus any long-distance charges, all on top of a monthly fee which was usually about $45.

How to switch cell phone plans?

You can switch cell phone plans by going to the carrier you want to switch to and telling them that you want to switch.

What cell phone plans have rollover minutes?

Most cell phone plans either have rollover minutes or unlimited minutes. The only limited minute cell phone plans are pre-paid, so the minutes will roll over.

Are cell phone protection plans worth it?

If you have an expensive phone, are prone to breaking your phone, or frequently travel, then cell phone protection plans might be a good idea.

Are prepaid cell phone plans worth it?

Many people like them. They allow you to control your budget for your cell phone plan and pay less because you can customize how much plan you get based on your needs.

Can you get a cell phone plan with bad credit?

Almost always, yes. At the very least, a pre-paid cell phone plan will be open to you. That means you pay your bill before you get service, rather than paying your bill for the previous month.

Can you get a cell phone plan with no credit?

Yes, you can. You can probably get a standard plan, but you can certainly get a prepaid plan. The only difference is that with a prepaid plan, you pay before you get service instead of paying after you use the service.

Do US cell phone plans work in Puerto Rico?

In most cases, yes. You’ll want to check with your specific provider to see if they have coverage in Puerto Rico.

Jordan Beaumont

Jordan Beaumont

Financial Guru

Jordan's work focuses on helping people reach their financial goals so they can spend more time with family and friends and less time worrying about their budget. After finishing college with a degree in Accounting and Communication, he realized that these are the most important things in life and that people shouldn’t miss out because of money.

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