Cheap Cell Phone Plans For Any Tight Budget [Shopping Guide]

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Every month, the average person will send over 2,000 text messages, speak on the phone for over 600 minutes, and commit to over 900 hours on mobile apps. But even though this technology has become part of our everyday lives, it comes with a steep cost. 

Today, the average monthly cell phone bill stands at over $150 a month.

Fortunately, having the basic privilege of text, voice and data at your fingertips doesn’t have to break the bank. Many phone carriers now host cheap cell phone plans that’ll keep more money in your wallet―some as cheap as two frappuccinos a month.

Let’s review some of the best cheap cell phone plans with some of the major carriers out there!

Popular Types of Cell Phone Plans

Saving money with a cheap cell phone plan sure does sound nice. But not if you are frustrated with your plan every day. 

That’s why it’s essential that you choose a plan that’s both within your budget and gives you access to the services and features you desire.

Take a look at a few of the more common types of plans and the pricing breakdown: 

  • Pay-as-you-go (or prepaid) plans come contract-free and don’t require a credit check to be eligible. For as low as $3/month, you can add minute, data, or text limits at your choosing. Pay for what you need, never worry about overage charges, and avoid pricey monthly bills.
  • Basic plans are low-cost options that are ideal for emergencies or if you’re resistant to pricey smartphone plans. For as low as $10/month, you can get unlimited calling and texting. The crucial downside is that these plans often are incompatible with smartphones and data allowances.
  • Family plans help you save money on your cell phone bill by adding several phones to the same plan. For as low as $100/month for four lines, you can get unlimited data, call and text. Per line, these are cheap, but some plans have a minimum number of lines. And you may have more upfront costs with the added lines. 
  • Unlimited plans will give you access to as many minutes, texts and gigabytes as you want so you don’t have to worry about high data costs. For as low as $50/month on one line, you can tap into a high-speed and reliable network. Unlimited Plans make the most sense if you’re a techie or rely on your phone for video streaming and have high data usage each month.
  • International plans can shield you from those pricey roaming charges, especially if you frequent other countries. For as low as $20/month, you text, call and access the network worldwide at no additional cost. These plans are ideal if you travel or live on the border.
  • Senior plans make the most sense if you’re not entirely convinced that a smartphone is for you. For as low as $18/month, you can get anything from a text-only to an unlimited data plan. And as an added perk, it’s your choice whether you use a smartphone or a classic flip phone.

Each of these plans has its own pros and cons, so you need to figure out what’s most important to you and your budget. Regardless of the type of plan you choose, expect to spend between $10 and over $100 a month on your cell phone bill.

Related: 20 Incredible Senior Discounts You Need To Take Advantage Of Now 

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Plan

It’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture when choosing a cheap cell phone plan. You want to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth and that you’re happy with your decision. 

Consider the following:

  • Coverage Areas: make sure the provider offers coverage in your area, specifically
  • Network Type: 4G LTE is the standard, but 5G is preferred for high-speed data
  • Current Usage: make a note of the amount of data, text, and minutes you will need
  • International Use: if you travel, be sure your provider offers low roaming rates
  • Device Availability: bring your own device or buy a new one with your plan
  • Contract Plans: contract plans can be cheaper, but canceling early will cost you
  • Billing Options: explore the billing cycle for your plan and look into autopay discounts 

Now that you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, we’re going to delve into some of the best cheap cell phone plans that you can invest in today!

Boost Mobile – Best Unlimited Plan

Boost Mobile will get you the most bang for your buck if you’re an avid smartphone user. And you can avoid extra stops because Boost is available at Walmart

At just $50/month, you’ll gain access to Boost’s high-speed nationwide network that now covers 99% of the country. So whether you’re in New York City, Miami or Fargo, you can be confident that you’ll always be connected to stream your favorite YouTube videos in SD or make a call.

The low monthly bill will also give you Boost’s 4G LTE network, a mobile hotspot and unlimited streaming, text, talk and data (35 GB). 

You can also keep a little extra cash in your pocket when you switch to Boost. Not only can you avoid hidden fees and taxes that other cell providers hide in the fine print, but you can also purchase your new phones like the Apple iPhone 11 at a lower price. 

Cancel any time you want, add extra unlimited lines to your family plan for just $30/month, and save money when you pay on time. And if you just need the basics, you can get the unlimited text/talk plan fit with 1GB/month for only $10. 

If you ever decide to switch to a more traditional phone plan, your Boost Mobile sim card will transfer to Sprint, saving you money and the hassle of trying to unlock a phone.

It’s the best of all worlds. 

T-Mobile – Best Family Plan

T-Mobile’s network is both reliable and fast. So it’s no surprise that they recently overtook AT&T’s place as the number 2 wireless provider for total branded customers. And it’s easy to see why with their new Magenta plans. These plans make getting the whole family connected a real, affordable possibility.

With family plans starting at just $26/line (and going up to $43/month), you’ll get all of the smartphone basics. That includes unlimited talk, text and 4G LTE data within the T-Mobile network for every member of your family.

Not only are these plans cheaper than other providers, but you also get features other plans only dream of—in particular, 5G network access. You can now rely on this oddly affordable plan to download your favorite apps in seconds, avoid buffering while listening to Spotify over data, and never lose your connection while on an important video call

But it’s what comes with your plan that’ll be the real game-changer.

Most Magenta plans will come with a free Netflix or Quibi subscription, unlimited 3G hotspot data, auto-blocking of scam calls, and unlimited international texting in over 210 countries. And with the ability to stream The Office on your network at 1080p picture quality and buy a data plan for your iPad for just $15/month, what’s not to love?

Related: Are You Growing a Phone Bone? How to Correct Your Posture in 2 Simple Steps

Consumer Cellular – Best Senior Plan

Consumer Cellular is the most affordable plan if you’re a senior, especially AARP members.

Starting at just $15/month for a talk-only plan paired with a flip phone, you can keep more money in your wallet and stay in touch with the entire family. Yet, even if you do splurge on an unlimited data plan through Consumer Cellular, you won’t even come close to breaking the bank. 

Data plans start at just $25/month for 500MB of data, but you can cut your bill nearly in half by opting to add new lines. Get unlimited text, call, and data on three lines for just $90/month on Consumer Cellular’s high-speed network that stretches across 99% of the nation. 

Message your Facebook friends, stream Hulu movies or listen to your favorite tunes on Pandora wherever you go without those annoying “load screens” or facing unsent messages.

With Consumer Cellular, you can bring your own smartphone or flip phone and get connected today. But you also have other options regarding device choice—buy a new flip phone for no more than $50, buy a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S10+ outright, or pay a small premium today and pay the phone off in $25 monthly installments.

Save 5% on your bill if you’re an AARP member, never worry about hidden costs and fees, and avoid overage fees thanks to Consumer Cellular’s auto-upgrade feature if you go over. Get everything you need, but nothing you don’t!


Ting – Best Discount Plan

By far, Ting is the cheapest discount plan you can enroll in if you’re somewhat of a minimalist.

With Ting, you can pay just $6/month per line on your account. By the end of the month, you’ll receive a bill for your monthly usage across all lines, so you won’t ever have to pay for extra data or messages that go unused. The text, data, and minute usage of the average person will yield a bill of just $21 or so per line—up to 500 talk minutes, 1000 texts and 1 GB of data.

Yet, the exact amount depends on how much you use!

While you’ll only pay for what you use, there are safeguards in place to keep your mobile usage under control. You can keep an eye on your usage during the month, shut off data connection when you’re out and about, and set alerts so that you know when your kids are exceeding use. 

Surprise bills are no longer a concern when you’re a Ting subscriber.

The 4G LTE network is reliable through Ting and will automatically connect you to other major providers’ highly-regarded networks. So get Verizon or T-Mobile-like connectivity without the pricey monthly bills and little freedom to choose your plan.

Bring your own phone, buy one through Ting, sign-up and cancel whenever you want, and avoid extra costs when you make calls from over 60 countries worldwide.

Ultra Mobile’s PayGo – Best Prepaid Plan

Ultra Mobile’s PayGo plans enable you to pay monthly, only for the services you need.

All you have to do is head to your local T-Mobile store to invest in PayGo Recharge cards or add some more cash to your account online. For as little as $3/month, you can get the barebones smartphone basics—100 minutes, 100 text messages, and 100MB of 4G LTE data. Just $36/year is all it takes for casual web browsing, weekly phone calls and check-in texts.

Even better is that you don’t have to settle for 100 minutes, texts and megabytes.

PayGo also offers add-ons to account for unusual situations in your own life. Opt for 500MB of data for just $5 when you’re traveling in-state and need turn-by-turn Google Maps guidance. You can also opt for unlimited text and voice for $10/week (or $2/day), ideal for keeping in contact with your children during their first week at summer camp or during family emergencies.

PayGo boasts overage charges that cost mere cents, access to a 4G LTE network at a severely discounted rate, and the ability to sign-up for the unlimited UltraMobile plan for a mere $39/month. Why shell out more than you need?

Mint Mobile – Best International Plan

Mint Mobile is your best bet if you’re looking to save money on an international phone plan.

This cell phone service provider is making waves in the last few months, offering unlimited data, text, and call plans for just $30/month per line. Not only are you getting the freedom to use your iPhone as you please, but you’re also getting amazing service. 

Mint Mobile provides coast-to-coast 4G LTE coverage and also boasts 5G connectivity in over 6,000 cities. At no extra cost to you, your device will automatically connect to 5G networks for clear and fast Amazon Prime streaming, fewer dropped calls when you’re off the beaten path, and speeds up to four times faster than regular 4G LTE. 

When your adventure brings you overseas or even to our neighbors up north or down south, Boost Mobile has got you covered.

All Boost Mobile customers have 100% free calling to Canada and Mexico and discounted rates to over 160 countries worldwide. Load cash onto your Mint account, get insanely low prices on roaming data and minutes while abroad, and opt for WiFi texting and calling to save extra fees on your next big vacation.

You can even get a brand new smartphone with an unheard of 0% financing and make cheap monthly installments of just $15 for your new phone.

What is the Best Cheap Cell Phone Plan?

The best cheap cell phone plan comes from Boost Mobile. With a price tag of just $50/month, you can get a single line that offers unlimited text, talk, data and hotspot capabilities. Boost Mobile plans also come with 99% nationwide coverage and the ability to create a family plan at just $30/month extra per line.

You might also be interested in The 9 Best Smartphones of 2020 [For Every Type of Person]

Best Cell Phone Plans For a Tight Budget: 

  1. Boost Mobile
  2. T-Mobile
  3. Consumer Cellular 
  4. Ting
  5. Ultra Mobile’s PayGo 
  6. Mint Mobile

Brady Smith

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