4 best cheap phone plans (2022): Alternatives to Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile

Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T is all about speed. They offer a lot of shiny features, such as 1080p video streaming, generous hotspot plans, and very high data control limits. But if you don’t need ultrafast features or high-speed streaming, you can save a lot of money monthly by choosing one of the smaller, lesser-known mobile carriers. Mobile virtual network (MVNO) operators charge cheaper rates because they lease wireless capacity from larger companies, rather than maintaining their own cell phone towers.

They may not have the money for epic advertising campaigns, but MVNOs can provide many of the core features that were once restricted to the Big Three. These days, it’s reasonable to expect all the best cheap phone plans to include 5G network access with the option to use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. These are our favorites.

Don’t see anything useful for you? Read ours The best unlimited plans, Best Android phone, The best iPhoneand Best cheap phone guide for more recommendations.

Update June 2022: We’ve updated pricing and details in all sections of this guide.

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Overall the best

Courtesy of Mint Mobile

Mint launched in 2016 and has become the best value among the smaller mobile networks. Its unlimited plan is our favorite data service, and it starts at $30 a month (for your first three months) for impressive benefits. This is a new introductory offer—it will refund to $40 per month when it’s time to renew at the end of those three months. Mint Mobile allows you to renew your service every three, six or 12 months.

You get 4G LTE and 5G in every plan, although speeds on the Unlimited plan drop once you use 35 gigabytes of data per month (video also streams at 480p, unless you’re on Wi- Fi). All plans include unlimited texting and chat, and you can call Canada and Mexico for free. You also get mobile hotspot capability with your phone so you can connect your laptop to the internet, although connection data is limited to 5GB per month.

There are four tiers: 4GB for $25, 10GB for $35, 15GB for $45, or Unlimited for $40. The price is the lowest if you pay one year at a time. Mint has an offer that drops the price to $15, $20, $25, and $30 per month, respectively, for the aforementioned plans, for the first three months. These rates will revert to their actual levels if you choose to pay every three months, however, if you commit to a year, you can keep the discounted rate. There’s also a smaller discount if you commit every six months. Mint does not include taxes and wireless charges in its price. Both plans will cost an extra $10 per month if you don’t pay annually.

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