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Best cheap cell phone plans 2022

OnePlus n200 5G
(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

The best cheap phone plans will be focused on simply delivering calls, texts, and data without a bunch of needless features you'll never use. Still, the two most important considerations are coverage and phone compatibility. Luckily, most of these carriers will work with just about any unlocked phone. Mint Mobile's 4GB plan is the best of both worlds, offering great coverage with 5G support and just enough data to get you by with a little discipline. These are some of the best cheap phone plans to ensure you stay connected while paying for only what you need.

Mint Mobile plans in app

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)
Just enough data on a big network

Reasons to buy

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Multi-month savings
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Hotspot enabled
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Great T-Mobile coverage with 5G
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Unlimited calling and texting
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Mint Family works with all plans

Reasons to avoid

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Must buy at least three months
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No physical stores

T-Mobile's network is home to some of the best cheap phone plans in the industry, and Mint Mobile takes things a step further with great discounts for those who are willing to pay a little more upfront. Mint Mobile comes with unlimited calling and texting in the U.S., and mobile hotspot is enabled if you need it. With the 4GB plan coming in at a low $15 per month when you buy 12 months, it's hard to find a much better value.

While the total cost of $180 for a year will sting once, it can be a great way to take advantage of times when you have a little extra cash on hand, such as getting a tax refund.  Plus, it's nice not thinking about your phone bill for a year. Luckily, you can start with three months with the full discount so you're not stuck if Mint doesn't work out. You can always renew for a shorter duration, with a six-month plan coming in at $20 per month and three months at $25 per month.

Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile's growing network with coverage that's always improving especially if you have one of the best Android phones with 5G like the Samsung Galaxy S22, which supports both of T-Mobile's sub-6 5G bands. Fortunately, 5G is included with Mint Mobile for free no matter which plan you pick.

5G connected on Zenfone 8 with Android 12

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

T-Mobile Connect with 3GB

Data that grows with you

Reasons to buy

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Large T-Mobile network
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Data amount grows with time
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No overages
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Hotspot included (as long as you have data)
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Scam-blocking included

Reasons to avoid

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No unlimited data (data capped)
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No international service

T-Mobile Connect is the cheapest of T-Mobile's first-party prepaid plans. It comes with unlimited talk and text with 3GB of high-speed data. Not only that, the plan grows every year by 500MB until 2025, meaning it grows with you. At $15 per month, this is easily one of the best ways to get solid phone service with no risk of overage and no minimum term requirements. A mobile hotspot is even supported as long as you have data. T-Mobile's new scam-blocking protection is present to reduce scam calls as well.

However, this service wouldn't be a good fit for heavy data use. It doesn't have unlimited music streaming or even international calling; it's made for people who want to get online quickly and cheaply, and for that, it's hard to do better. It's also worth remembering that you're covered by the entire T-Mobile network, which is consistently turning in some of the country's best speed and coverage results.

Ting Mobile website on a OnePlus Nord N200

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Ting Mobile Flex

Pay for what you use

Reasons to buy

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Cheap starting point
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Cheap data at $5 per GB
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5G coverage on the T-Mobile network
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International roaming available

Reasons to avoid

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No physical stores

Ting Mobile has been around for a while, but the carrier has managed to keep its plans competitive with just enough data that you don't feel constrained. Ting's cheapest plan is called Flex and it's a great fit for a user that doesn't know how much data they need. Flex starts at $10 per month with unlimited talk and text plus $5 per gigabyte of data used.

If you use more than 3GB in a month, you'll want to upgrade to the Set 5 plan, but for lighter users, Ting Flex is a great value. If you use Wi-Fi most of the time, you might not even pass 1GB of usage. Still, Ting's data is there if you need it. For example, if you need to travel somewhere, you don't need to worry about running out of data.

Of course, Ting works with most unlocked phones. So if you've paid off your phone on your old carrier, you can request an unlock with your old carrier and bring it with you. It may have even unlocked automatically.

Visible Sign at Circuit of the Americas

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)
Affordable without limits, domestically

Reasons to buy

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Unlimited talk, text, and LTE data in the U.S.
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Massive Verizon LTE network
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Save with Party Pay
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Unlimited hotspot

Reasons to avoid

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No 3G or roaming network
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Fewer supported phones

Visible easily has the best cheap phone plan with unlimited data. For $40 per month, you get unlimited talk, text, and LTE data on the Verizon Wireless network with no contract. While Verizon-based MVNOs aren't going to get top priority on the network, in most places, there's plenty of capacity to keep you going more than fast enough. On top of that, mobile hotspot data is enabled at 5Mbps, and it's also unlimited.

One thing to consider with Visible is that it only uses the Verizon LTE network. That means no roaming, international or local, and no 3G if LTE lets you down. This will be fine for the most part, but make sure you're covered on Visible's coverage map even if you have awesome Verizon coverage. 5G coverage is included, though you'll need a 5G-capable phone.

One of Visible's best features is Party Pay, which lets you join a party for free, and if your party has at least four people, your bill comes down to just $25 per month. You can even join a party from the community page on Visible's website. Everyone in the party pays their own bill so there's no need to worry about who they are. Keep in mind that Visible also has a much smaller list of supported phones than most MVNOs, but it has most of the big names, including most newer iPhones and the Galaxy S22 series.

US Mobile SIM cards

(Image credit: Android Central)

US Mobile Unlimited Basic

A cheap family plan with unlimited data

Reasons to buy

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Verizon coverage with C-band 5G
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Great multi-line savings
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Works with most unlocked phones
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Unlimited talk and text
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The T-Mobile network is also available

Reasons to avoid

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No hotspot data
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No subscription perks

US Mobile gives you the choice between the Verizon network and T-Mobile, although to make the most of this prepaid carrier, you'll want the Verizon SIM. US Mobile Unlimited Basic plan comes with unlimited talk, text, and data. You get 30GB of premium data and unlike Verizon's cheapest unlimited plan, you get access to C-band 5G.

US Mobile Unlimited Basic gets multiline discounts when you bring more lines as well. With four lines, the plan comes down to just $20 per month. There is a small recovery fee and taxes that vary depending on where you live. Even so, this is one of the cheapest ways to get unlimited data on Verizon's network with C-band.

Perhaps the bigger story with this plan is what you don't get. US Mobile also has an Unlimited Premium plan that has 100GB of premium data, mmWave access, 50GB of hotspot data, 10GB of data to use internationally, and subscription perks. With subscription perks, you can choose a free service like Netflix, Spotify, or Playstation Plus when you bring three lines. You get another perk if you have four lines. To many people, the extra $10 per line will make this plan upgrade worthwhile.

Tello website on a phone

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Tello

Exactly what you need and nothing more

Reasons to buy

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Unlimited talk and text
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Custom data plans
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Call 60+ international countries free
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Works with most phones
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Can buy a basic flip phone!

Reasons to avoid

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A bit expensive for data users
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Only 25GB of high-speed data on the unlimited plan

Tello's custom plans make it one of the best options for light users. If you need no data at all, you can get unlimited talk and text on the T-Mobile network for just $8 per month. You can add data as needed with a 5GB plan coming in at just under $20 per month.

Tello also lets call 60+ countries for free, making it a great option for those wanting to keep in contact with friends and family. If Grandma wants to call her friends back home in one of these countries, there's not a much cheaper or easier way to get it done.

Tello's plans are fully custom, meaning that you can add data as needed, including an unlimited option with up to 25GB of high-speed data. Hotspot is included on data plans as well. Tello also lets you upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time, so you don't need to sweat about over or underbuying when you build your plan. Still, it's worth taking a peek at your last bill to get an idea of your typical usage.

T-Mobile website on a OnePlus Nord N200

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

T-Mobile Magenta

Postpaid benefits with multi-line savings

Reasons to buy

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Priority data on the T-Mobile network with 5G
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5GB of high-speed mobile hotspot then unlimited 3G speed
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Netflix included with two or more lines
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Scam-blocking
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Taxes and fees included

Reasons to avoid

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Expensive without multi-line discounts

T-Mobile's Magenta plan is by far the most expensive on the list, starting at $70 per month with one line. It's also one of the best cell phone plans available today. If you happen to have a few lines to connect, there are some savings you can take advantage of. Also, when you add a second line, Netflix is included for free. It's only SD Netflix on one screen, the basic package, but it's a great addition. To watch your videos, you get 100GB of prioritized LTE or 5G data with a 5GB high-speed mobile hotspot. The hotspot even has unlimited data at 3G speeds, which can be a lifesaver if you work online and your internet connection goes out.

Magenta is a postpaid plan meaning you have to sign up with T-Mobile proper with a credit check and a billing address. Still, you get access to T-Mobile stores for technical support as well as phone and accessory sales. Taxes and fees are included so what you see is what you pay which is nice as some other carriers have begun to raise fees. You can also pay in cash at a store if you please.

You get unlimited international texting and data with 5GB of LTE data in Mexico and Canada before dropping to 2G speeds. If you travel a lot, this is a great benefit, and one hour of in-flight Gogo Wi-Fi will make the trip there nicer.

Get everything you need in a plan without any waste

Thanks to increased competition and constantly improving cell networks, finding the best cheap phone plan is easier than ever. Especially when paired with a cheap unlocked phone. Whether you need a ton of data or just something basic, an MVNO is available for you. If you want the benefits of a postpaid plan, you can still save a lot with multiple lines, and with multi-line discounts, the price becomes even more reasonable.

When it comes down to it, most people will be able to get by with a few gigs of data on a prepaid MVNO plan. At the end of the day, the most important thing is coverage, and with T-Mobile's growing network, most people will have no trouble with signal strength. Mint Mobile gets the balance of data and savings pretty close to perfect with solid data packages and savings if you can pay more upfront.

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.