When looking for a wireless cell phone carrier, be aware of 2 things: coverage in which you require it trumps almost all else, and when you find service providers that offer excellent service in your areas, you must choose whoever provides the cheapest cell phone plans of ownership for your normal usage.
Most Americans just go with AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon. But for budget-minded shoppers looking for the biggest savings on wireless service, an MVNO might be the smartest way to go. Switching to an MVNO can save you money because they lease coverage from one of the more extensive networks and resell it to customers. Plans are often prepaid, so you don’t have to worry about overages. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the top cell phone companies available.
Almost all prices are susceptible to change so please check the service plan website for current information details.
The 10 Top Cell Phone Companies of 2021
Verizon Wireless – Best Network and Coverage
Verizon Wireless is one of the top cell phone companies in the market, and for good reason. Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with over 145 million subscribers. It offers nationwide Voice and LTE data coverage on its network, using GSM, LTE, and CDMA technology.
There are four total Verizon mobile plans: Start Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, Play More Unlimited, Get More Unlimited, and a fifth add-on plan known as Just Kids. The four primary plans are getting a price reduction by $5 while Just Kids stays the same price.
- Verizon Start Unlimited ($70/month)
- Verizon Play More Unlimited ($80/month)
- Verizon Do More Unlimited ($80/month)
- Verizon Get More Unlimited ($90/month)
If you don’t want to sign up for a contract of any kind, then you can go month-to-month with Verizon on its prepaid plans. Verizon’s prepaid option gives you full access to Verizon’s nationwide network without locking you into a lengthy contract. You have the option of buying a prepaid phone from Verizon or BYOD.
- 6GB Plan: For $40/month ($35 with AutoPay)
- 16GB Plan: For $50/month ($45 with AutoPay)
- Unlimited Data Plan: For $70/month ($65 with AutoPay)
Each rate plan offers unlimited texting to over 200 countries worldwide while the higher tier plans include unlimited talking to both Mexico and Canada. Family plans are available at all rates though your total costs quickly raise for a family of 5.
Additionally, discounts are available for those adding multiple lines, as well as for those who choose to auto-pay each month, meaning your bill must be paid through a checking account or debit card, so you can’t rack up any extra points by paying your phone bill with a credit card.
AT&T Wireless – Second-Largest Wireless Carrier
AT&T is the second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with over 100 million subscribers across the country. AT&T offers unlimited talk and text wireless plans for individuals and families and has deals on the latest phones.
AT&T currently offers three separate unlimited plans, replacing previous Unlimited & More and Unlimited & More Premium plans. Introduced in late 2019, wireless shoppers can now choose from AT&T Unlimited Starter, Unlimited Extra, and Unlimited Elite. All of AT&T’s unlimited plans include unlimited talk and text in the US (as well as in Mexico and Canada), unlimited data with varying soft data caps, and additional perks.
- AT&T Unlimited Starter($75/month)
- AT&T Unlimited Extra($85/month)
- AT&T Unlimited Elite($95/month)
If you don’t want to be tied to a monthly plan or aren’t sure you’ll use everything included in a plan, consider a prepaid plan, instead. AT&T offers four prepaid options, ranging in price from $35 per month per line for 1 GB of data to $85 per month per line for unlimited data.
- Talk and text (no data): $30; $25 with autopay discount
- 1GB: $35; $30 with autopay discount
- 8GB: $50; $40 with autopay discount
- Unlimited data: $65; $50 with autopay discount
- Unlimited Plus: $85; $70 with autopay discount
Multi-line discount: You can have up to five lines on one account, with each additional line receiving a discount. You get $10 off the second and third lines and $20 off the fourth and fifth lines. This discount is only available on monthly plans.
T-Mobile – Third-Largest Wireless Carrier
T-Mobile is the third-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. with over 70 million subscribers. It provides nationwide voice and data coverage using GSM and LTE technology, primarily on bands 2, 4, 12, 66, and 71.
T-Mobile offers three plans aside from its Unlimited 55, Military & Veterans, and First Responder specific plans. These are Essentials, Magenta, and Magenta Plus – all three feature unlimited calls, texts, and data. Keep in mind that nearly every T-Mobile plan is slightly cheaper if you elect to use autopay, usually by $5 for each line.
If you add two or more lines to the Magenta or Magenta Plus plan, you’ll get a free subscription of Netflix. For each plan, you’ll still get unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada. If you don’t want all the extra perks, you can get T-Mobile Essentials. This provides unlimited talk, text, and data for $60 per month for one line or $120 for four lines.
- T-Mobile Essentials($60/month)
- T-Mobile Magenta ($70/month)
- T-Mobile Magenta Plus ($85/month)
If you don’t want to sign up for a contract of any kind, then consider a prepaid plan. In general, prepaid plans are great for people who don’t want to pay for data they know they won’t be using. You get to use the same T-Mobile network as post-paid customers do and usually end up spending less money.
With unlimited talk, text, and up to 10GB 4G LTE data for $40 a month, customers on Simply Prepaid have the option of bringing their own device or purchasing one directly from the provider. The kicker is when customers sign up with autopay every month, the rate drops an extra $5 bringing the new monthly total to only $35 per month.
- T-Mobile Simply Prepaid Unlimited Plus ($60/month)
- T-Mobile Simply Prepaid Unlimited ($50/month)
- T-Mobile Simply Prepaid with 10GB LTE Data ($40/month)
Sprint – Fourth-Largest Wireless Carrier
Sprint is amongst top cell phone carriers in the United States and it’s definitely the most affordable. But the price doesn’t always make up for spotty service across the country. While Sprint’s coverage isn’t quite the same as what you’d get from Verizon or AT&T, it has gotten much better in the last few years.
Sprint currently has a variety of unlimited plan options. The options include Unlimited Basic, Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Premium, as well as the Unlimited Kickstart, Unlimited Military, and Unlimited 55+ plans. Each of these plans includes unlimited talk, text, and data and they range in price from $35 to $80 per month.
The Unlimited Basic, Unlimited Plus, Unlimited Premium, and Unlimited Kickstart plan all allow for multiple lines. The added lines include a discounted rate for line 2 and a slightly deeper discounted rate for lines 3-5.
- Sprint Unlimited Kickstart ($35/month)
- Sprint Unlimited Basic($60/month)
- Sprint Unlimited Plus ($70/month)
- Sprint Unlimited Premium ($80/month)
Sprint used to have prepaid plans known as the “Sprint Forward” program; however, they no longer offer this to new customers. On its website, Sprint says its prepaid plans aren’t available to new customers. Uncool. But if you’re a long-term Sprint customer you can presumably opt for a prepaid wireless plan.
Xfinity Mobile – Best Choice for Comcast Internet Subscribers
Xfinity Mobile is a cell phone carrier from Comcast Xfinity which is one of the largest providers of cable TV and internet throughout the United States with availability in most major markets. First off, you need to be an Xfinity Internet customer to subscribe to the mobile service.
Xfinity Mobile plan costs are extremely low and flexible. Lower than any of the big 4 carriers, but lower than even most of the cheapest of bare-bones MVNO’s. With XFINITY Mobile you can either pay “by the gig” or purchase their unlimited data plan.
In By the Gig plans, you preselect a set amount of data per month: 1GB, 3GB, and 10GB. This data pool is then shared between all the lines on your account. If you exceed your preset amount, you can purchase additional data for $12/GB.
Subscribers can mix-and-match price structures on family plans. One person on a family plan can have unlimited data while two other people on the same plan share By the Gig data. Comcast customers can even switch lines from a per-gigabyte plan to unlimited data at any point during the month if they find themselves using more data than expected.
Xfinity Mobile combines the nation’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network with the largest Wi-Fi network of more than 18 million hotspots nationwide to support a seamless internet and entertainment experience inside and out of the home.
Xfinity Mobile now lets you bring your own unlocked phone to its network. Follow this link to check phone compatibility on Xfinity Mobile’s website.
- $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)
Visible – A Solid Verizon’s Network
Visible is a prepaid cell phone carrier owned by Verizon and offering service on its robust nationwide 4G network. That means you get high-speed unlimited data on the nation’s largest network for a fraction of the postpaid cost.
Visible’s service is pretty limited. It has only one plan that costs $40 per month and offers unlimited talk, text and 4G LTE data. The price includes all fees and taxes.
Visible launched a new program called Party Pay, which offers a series of discounts as you add more lines. Think of it as a way for families to enjoy Visible, which previously charged $40 for each line of service.
Parties of 2 pay $35 a line ($5 discount), parties of 3 pay $30 a line ($10 discount), and parties of 4 only pay $25/mo ($15 discount). Everyone in the “party” is responsible for their own bill. If someone doesn’t pay on time, the party is bumped to a smaller tier that pays a little more.
With Visible, you don’t have to worry about early termination fees because there are no contracts. You can cancel at any time by initiating a live chat with customer service through the app.
You can either bring a compatible device to the carrier or purchase one from Visible. check to see 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.
Tello Mobile – Most Affordable Service Provider
Tello Mobile is an MVNO cell phone service provider owned by KeepCalling, a company that has been around the mobile phone industry in the US and Europe since 2002.
Tello offers highly customizable plans with some of the best prices in the industry for plans with modest data allotments.
By selecting the amounts of data and talk time you want, you can put together a wireless plan that costs anywhere from $5 to $39 a month. You get 8 options for data offerings, ranging from No Data to unlimited data. For talk you get 5 options, ranging from No Minutes to Unlimited Minutes and texting is always free.
All Tello’s plans include free calls to Canada, Mexico, and China, plus mobile hotspot access with WiFi calling through their application at no extra cost, along with visual voicemail and unlimited 2G data.
You can reconfigure your plan anytime. This means you have plenty of flexibility and save money by choosing only what you need. There is no overage, no administration fee, no activation fee to worry about.
Customers can bring their own phone, any eligible unlocked CDMA device, or they can buy a new phone directly from Tello. (click here to check if your phone is compatible).
Tello uses Sprint’s nationwide coverage which is ranked 4th in best cell phone coverage in the U.S. 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.
- $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.
Republic Wireless – Best for Light Users
Republic Wireless is an American mobile virtual network operator that sells low-cost mobile phone service which defaults to Wi-Fi. When Wi-Fi is unavailable, Republic falls back on partnerships with two national cellular networks, either T-Mobile or Sprint.
Phone plans start at just $15 per month for unlimited talk and text plans without data. You can add 1GB of data in $5 increments at any time through the Republic Wireless app.
Republic requires no service contracts. All service is prepaid monthly and can be canceled at any time. You can even cancel your first month of service within the first 14 days and receive a full refund.
Republic Wireless operates on both Sprint and T-Mobile 4G LTE networks for an amazing discounted price. (click here to check if your phone is compatible). Also, Republic allows you to bring your own phone (Check your phone’s compatibility with Republic here) or purchase one from them.
Republic Wireless offers a free app that tracks data usage every month. You have the option to instantly upgrade to a more expensive tier if you reach your data limit before the month is over.
Republic Wireless is an impressive carrier, especially for the money. Their mobile data plans are very reasonably priced, they have a good phone selection and they have good coverage in most areas within the continental United States.
- $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)
Straight Talk – Best for Heavy Data Users
Straight Talk Wireless is provided by TracFone, which is owned by América Móvil. Straight Talk provides cellular service through all 4 major wireless providers in the USA which include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
Straight Talk offers prepaid 30-day plans as well as some extended 90-day, six-month, and one-year plans. Straight Talk has a variety of plans, starting with a very basic $30 plan that includes unlimited texts, 1,500 minutes, and 100MB of data. There is also an unlimited worldwide plan available for $60 a month. Data plans are available at 3GB and 25GB with 2G speed after and more 4G LTE data can be added.
Plans that are purchased in bulk tend to save customers the most money, and throughout each month, they can see savings maxed out at $45. In addition, customers have the privilege of also earning bonus data or more discounts when they tweak the settings on their accounts to automatically refill their plan options.
Prospective customers can also bring their own phone, where a customer service specialist gives you a SIM card so that you can use Straight Talk’s service. So, if you have a phone from a prior carrier, there are instances where you can keep it and transfer it over.
- $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.
Net10 Wireless – Best for General Users
Net10 Wireless is a prepaid wireless phone service that comes with no contracts, no credit checks, no monthly bills, no activation fees, and no age limits. Part of the larger TracFone Wireless, it uses four major networks to provide flexibility, value, and quality coverage.
Net10 currently offers 6 unlimited talk, text, and data plans for smartphones, they all limits how much of that unlimited data is at full, 4G LTE speed. After you pass your particular plan’s high-speed data limit, you are restricted to the equivalent of 2G speeds until the following month (or until you purchase additional high-speed data at a rate of $10/GB).
With pay-as-you-go plans, you start out the month with a finite amount of minutes to use, and every text and call made will draw from those minutes. You can refill your minutes monthly, or whenever you run out.
Most MVNO carriers use either one or two host networks. Net10 sets itself apart by offering users their choice of access to all four major US carriers. This means that as a Net10 customer, you are able to choose between the Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint networks depending on the service in your area and the device you wish to purchase.
If you find you’re not using all of the minutes you’ve paid for, you could be overpaying for your service. If you’re not happy with your service, Net10 allows you to switch plans at any time to better fit your lifestyle and save you more money.
If you need unlimited data, Net10 Wireless probably isn’t the right carrier for you, because they don’t offer unlimited data plans. However, if you want an affordable, no-contract plan with a little bit of data on a great nationwide network, Net10 Wireless is an excellent choice.
- $20 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 1GB of LTE Data.
- $35 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 4GB of LTE Data.
- $40 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 8GB of LTE Data.
- $50 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 10GB of LTE Data.
- $60 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 12GB of LTE Data.
- $65 per month: Unlimited Talk, Text, and 10GB of LTE Data with International Calling.
These are the top cell phone companies offering the best plans you can get in the US. We’ll update this list with new options once they launch.