When shopping around for the best cell phone plans, most people tend to look to the big four US carriers for their wireless needs. Carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint offer a variety of phone plans to fit most people’s needs, but they may not fit into everyone’s budgets.
If you’re looking to save a few more dollars off your monthly wireless plan, smaller carriers could be the best way to save even more money on your cell phone bill.
The 10 Best Cell Phone Plans for 2021
Tello Mobile – Best Overall
Looking to save on your monthly cellular phone service? Then consider a switch to Tello Mobile. Tello allows you to build your own customized plan based on what you exactly need, which gives you full control of your minutes, texts, and data including options for no-data or data-only.
Whether you want a personalized custom plan or unlimited everything for a low monthly rate, Tello could very well be a great fit for you. Not only are the plans affordable, but you also get features like free hotspot access and calling to Canada, Mexico, and China at no extra cost.
Tello also rolling out their new Family plans that allow multi-line customers to mix and match data, minutes & text so that customers can find the perfect phone plan for each family member.
Tello’s plans are all prepaid, so there are no contracts, no early termination fees, and no activation fees for its service.
Another big plus, customers may upgrade or downgrade their plans free of charge, anytime they want. When you change your plan in the middle of the month, they will even carry over your remaining minutes at no extra charge.
If you live in an area where Sprint coverage is strong then Tello could be a good fit for you. If you’re not sure what coverage is like in your area their coverage page will tell you how coverage is at a specific location.
Tello allows you to bring your own phone (Check your phone’s compatibility with Tello here) or purchase one from them. Phone prices are reasonable and they offer many types of both new and refurbished phones from iPhones to Android-based models.
- $8 per month: Unlimited Talk and Text.
- $10 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 1GB of LTE Data.
- $14 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 2GB of LTE Data.
- $19 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 4GB of LTE Data.
- $24 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 6GB of LTE Data.
- $29 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 8GB of LTE Data.
- $39 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited LTE Data.
Xfinity Mobile – A Solid Verizon’s Network
Xfinity Mobile is an MVNO that offers cell phone plans exclusively to Comcast Xfinity internet customers. If you live in a location in the US where Comcast already offers its Internet and cable TV service, you might be able to get its wireless phone service as well. The carrier uses Verizon’s 4G LTE network, giving customers access to great coverage.
Xfinity Mobile combines the Verizon Wireless network with Comcast’s 18 million Wi-Fi hotspots to create affordable cellular service. Mobile hotspot is included with Xfinity Mobile at no additional charge. This allows you to get online by using your mobile data to create an internet connection.
Customers can choose either Xfinity’s “By the Gig” plan or Xfinity’s unlimited data plan. The unlimited plan has a base price of $45 per line each month (capped at 20GB). By the Gig, the plan has three pricing tiers with different data allotments. Additional data can be added to any package for $12 per GB.
Since there are no additional activation or maintenance fees when adding extra lines, you can add up to 4 friends or family members to your account.
The Xfinity Mobile app (Android here, iPhone here) shows you where your data usage is each month, in order to keep your data usage in check.
- $12 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 1GB of LTE Data. ($12 per additional GB)
- $30 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 3GB of LTE Data. ($12 per additional GB)
- $60 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 10GB of LTE Data. ($12 per additional GB)
- $45/line per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited LTE Data. (speeds reduced after 20GB)
Republic Wireless – A Good Budget Choice
Republic Wireless is one of the first wireless carriers to use a combination of Wi-Fi calling and cellular for their coverage plans.
In short, Republic Wireless uses a cheaper form of communication (Wi-Fi calling) whenever possible to save money on tower usage fees. And You don’t have to do anything to switch from WiFi to cell or cell to WiFi. The phone does it automatically.
Monthly prepaid plans with Republic Wireless start at $15 before taxes and fees. For that price, you get unlimited talk and text. Data is an extra $5 per GB.
Republic Wireless uses a combination of the Sprint and T-Mobile networks which means you get reliable coverage. If you’re not sure what coverage is like in your area their coverage page will tell you how coverage is at a specific location.
Republic Wireless also offers to Bring Your Own Phone options so you can keep your compatible device and phone number when you switch. You can quickly and easily check if your current phone is compatible by using the Republic’s compatibility checker.
Additionally, Republic Wireless offers a money-back guarantee on all smartphones and services. If for any reason, you decide Republic isn’t for you, you can contact Republic for a full refund on your device and service within the 14-day window.
Republic Wireless remains a good option for cheap phone service, particularly for people who mostly connect to Wi-Fi and can limit their data to below 1GB per month.
- $15 per month: Unlimited Talk and Text.
- $20 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 1GB of LTE Data.
- $25 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 2GB of LTE Data.
- $30 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 3GB of LTE Data. ($5 per additional GB)
Twigby – Best for Light Users
Looking for a great Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) with affordable prices and plenty of perks? Twigby may be just what you’re looking for.
Unlike traditional cell phone companies, Twigby gives you the ability to create your own custom, prepaid plan, without a contract or an unnecessary activation fee. And right now all new customers with a 25 percent discount for their first six months of service.
Twigby operates on Verizon and Sprint networks wherever available, casting a larger network across the United States. Twigby also provides overage protection along with family phone plans to keep the whole family covered under the same account.
With Twigby, you can either buy one of their phones to use with their plans or use your own phone. To bring your own phone to Twigby, just check if it’s compatible with the Bring Your Own Device page.
- $9.75 per month: Unlimited and Text
- $14.25 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 1GB of LTE Data.
- $17.25 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 2GB of LTE Data.
- $21.00 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 3GB of LTE Data.
- $24.75 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 5GB of LTE Data.
- $32.25 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 10GB of LTE Data.
Visible – Extreme Value Yet Affordable
Visible is an excellent choice for those looking for a no-contract, unlimited data experience using Verizon’s vast network.
While most carriers have a variety of phone plans to fit most people’s budgets, Visible takes a much more simple approach, offering only a single Visible unlimited phone plan for $40 a month (taxes and fees included).
Visible get more affordable as you add additional lines on the Party Pay plan. Each additional line you add trims $5 off your bill for each phone, with a maximum discount of $15 per line when you have a total of four phones in use. This makes the final cost just $25 per line.
What’s different about Visible Party Pay is each person still has their own account. Instead of grouping people together under one account with one bill, Visible keeps everyone separate and applies the group discount to each line individually.
Visible has a few limitations: hotspot speeds are throttled, a limited set of devices are compatible, and subscribers have low priority during periods of network congestion. Visible also has the option to bring your own device, you just need to check if your device is compatible by entering its IMEI ID on Visible’s Compatibility Checker.
- $40 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited LTE Data.
Ting Mobile – Pay for What You Use
Ting has a unique pricing structure that’s not like prepaid plans but isn’t like traditional cell phone plans either. You still pay for your service at the end of the month, but you pay only for what you’ve actually used.
Bills consist of four sections: the number of lines, the number of minutes a customer will talk or text, and also the data they’ll need each month. Families can add extra lines to Ting for just $6 per line, pooling minutes, texts, and data.
Ting users can benefit from calling more than 60 countries at no additional cost. All minutes are counted the same whether it’s US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Puerto Rico, or a bunch of others.
Ting has the option to bring your own device, you can check your current phone on the Ting website to test its compatibility with Ting.
Ting subscribers have their choice of service over either Sprint or T-Mobile’s network. If you’re not sure what coverage is strong in your area their coverage page will tell you how coverage is at a specific location.
Ting also offers dashboard apps for both Android and iOS to track your usage and change settings directly from your phone. The online dashboard allows absolute control over all the devices on your account: turning on and off any feature is as simple as clicking a toggle switch. Ting includes usage alerts and individual line limits for free.
- Talk plans begin at $3 a month for 100 talk minutes and go up to $35 a month for 2,100 talk minutes
- Text plans begin at 100 text messages for $3/month and increase to 4,800 text messages for $11 a month.
- Data plans begin at 100MB for $3 a month and go up to 2GB for $20 a month then $10 per additional GB.
Metro by T-Mobile – Best for Heavy Users
Metro by T-Mobile provides prepaid cell phone plans with no contracts. Their advertised prices include all the fees and taxes, which is beneficial for budget customers. Metro would be of great choice for prepaid customers who prefer being in a prominent network.
Metro by T-Mobile offers three prepaid plans: 10GB of data, Unlimited High-Speed data, and Unlimited High-Speed data with Prime. Each package offers different benefits including unlimited music, Google One, and Amazon Prime.
Metro by T-Mobile makes it easy to turn one of its prepaid plans into a family affair. You can add up to five lines to either of its unlimited data plans, as well as the 10GB limited data plan, and enjoy increased savings with each line you add.
You can either bring a compatible device to the carrier or purchase one from Metro by T-Mobile. check to see if your device is compatible by entering its IMEI ID on Metro’s Compatibility Checker.
Running on T-Mobile’s network, you’re bound to get great service. Although your coverage may not be as great as what you would get on the Verizon network, T-Mobile’s network is still solid and gets top marks for reliability and speed.
Metro by T-Mobile offers some of the best network speeds and coverage in the US without huge prices. Plans are simple with four options, each including all fees and charges in the price so what you see is what you get.
- $40 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 10GB of LTE Data.
- $50 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited of LTE Data.
- $60 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited of LTE Data with 15GB Hotspot.
Red Pocket – Best Value for Money
Red Pocket is a popular prepaid carrier with plans starting at just $2.50 per month. Red Pocket Mobile is one of few mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) that offer wireless service on all big four networks (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile), so you can keep your same coverage while enjoying huge savings on your monthly cell phone bill.
Red Pocket’s plans are simple, with no fine print. Since customers are offered a variety of prepaid plans, they can expect no surprises on their bill. Red Pocket Mobile’s cheapest phone plans start at $10 a month (500 min, 500 texts, 500MB data), or $15 a month (1,000 min, unlimited texting, 1GB of data). You can then buy extra texts, minutes, and LTE.
The $30, $40, and $60 plans have unlimited talk and text with 7GB, 15GB, and unlimited LTE data. These data plans also get unlimited 2G data once you run out of high-speed data. As with most other prepaid carriers, Red Pocket doesn’t have contracts, activation or termination fees, or fees for using more than your allotment of data for the month.
A great way to save bundles on Red Pocket Mobile is with their 360-Day Plan that allows you to pay for an entire year’s worth of service upfront. There’s a handful of plans available, ranging from the lowest Basic Plan which offers the bare minimum 100 minutes, 100 text, 500MB data for $60 ($5 a month), and goes all the way up to their XL Plan with 15GB of unlimited data for $360 ($33.25 a month).
Red Pocket’s low data plans make the most sense price-wise, as the carrier’s higher data plans are a bit expensive for what you get. For example, the carrier’s 10GB plan is $60, you could get an unlimited plan for that price on other carriers.
Red Pocket’s main advantage is its compatibility with every major U.S. carrier, allowing you to bring your own phone (BYOP) to its network no matter what carrier you’ve used previously.
- $10 per month: 500 Talk Minutes, 500 Text Messages, and 500MB of LTE Data.
- $15 per month: 1000 Talk Minutes, Unlimited Text, and 1GB of LTE Data.
- $19 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 3GB of LTE Data.
- $30 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 7GB of LTE Data.
- $40 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 15GB of LTE Data.
- $60 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited LTE Data.
Ultra Mobile – Best for Bulk Savings
Ultra Mobile is one of T-Mobile’s many Mobile Virtual Network Operators. They lease T-Mobile’s network and sell it to you as an alternative carrier, which means you still get the great coverage of T-Mobile and pay a much more affordable price.
Ultra Mobile plans are all prepaid, meaning you pay for your service before you use it. Plans start as low as $14, with 1GB of high-speed data. Unlimited is available at $49 per month with 2GB and 5GB plans in the middle. You can save money by buying plans in 3, 6, or 12 month stretches similar to Mint Mobile which is part of the same company.
All Ultra Mobile plans come with unlimited talk to 80+ international destinations (landlines and/or mobiles depending on countries). Check the list of countries on ultra mobile’s website.
Ultra Mobile operates on the T-Mobile network. This means they use T-Mobile’s cell towers, so if you’re in an area that has good T-Mobile coverage then they might be a good fit for you. Also, with Ultra Mobile you can either buy one of their phones to use with their plans or use your own phone (click here to check if your phone is compatible).
Ultra Mobile distinguishes itself from other budgets MVNOs by offering free international talk and text. Its plans are probably the best in the industry for those who want to stay in touch with friends and relatives across the globe without spending a ton of money.
- $19 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 1GB of LTE Data.
- $23 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 2GB of LTE Data.
- $29 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 5GB of LTE Data.
- $49 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited LTE Data.
Straight Talk – Best for General Users
Straight Talk is a well-known mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) owned by TracFone. It leases wireless service from each Big Four cell network, which are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
Straight Talk offers no-contract plans for individuals on 30-day refills that start at the basic talk, text, and limited data, all the way up to unlimited data. There are no contract commitments required unless you decide to buy a phone on a monthly payment plan.
Plans start at $30/month for 1500 minutes, unlimited texts, and 100MB of data. $45/month gets you 5GB of 4G LTE and unlimited talk and text, as well as unlimited 2G data. In addition to its monthly plans, Straight Talk offers 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month data plans at a discounted rate.
To save money, you can keep your current phone (check compatibility) and switch to Straight Talk. You also have the option to save a few bucks and sign up for the auto-refill option, which you can opt out of at any time with no cancelation fees incurred.
- $35 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 3GB of LTE Data.
- $45 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 25GB of LTE Data.
- $55 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited LTE Data.
- $60 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited LTE Data with International Talk and Text.
These are the best cell phone plans 2021 you can get in the US. We’ll update this list with new options once they launch.