All prices valid as of July 30, 2019.

If you're hellbent on saving money on your wireless plan, then you have to get away from the Big Four carriers (T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon). This is soon to be the Big Three with Sprint and T-Mobile merging to form New T-Mobile. Smaller carriers, called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) or alternative carriers, lease coverage from the larger networks and resell it for less.

That being said, depending on your usage and needs, a plan from one of the Big Four might actually be your least expensive option. Here we go.

Before choosing a plan

Before you choose a carrier and/or a wireless plan, it's best to first determine your needs and usage habits. If this is your first smartphone, I'd like to first welcome you to the 21st Century and secondly encourage you to try out your options without getting yourself into any yearly or multi-year contracts.

While considering Boost, Virgin, or Sprint Prepaid, it's important to know that those businesses are all being transferred to Dish Network as the new deal to merge Sprint and T-Mobile comes to a close. New customers will be eventually moved to the New T-Mobile network which I expect to be stronger in coverage than either of Sprint or T-Mobile's current networks.

FAQ: What happens to Boost, Virgin or Sprint prepaid customers under Dish?

If this ain't your first rodeo, then reflect on your phone habits from the past. How much data have you actually used in an average month? Do you really need an unlimited plan or are you actually on Wi-Fi more than you realize? Could you benefit from an international plan of sorts?

Take time to analyze your usage and then choose the plan that best fits those needs. Most carriers are more concerned with making you overbuy by convincing you that you need unlimited everything, when the fact is that 90% of Americans don't.

Don't let carriers dictate what they think you need, because it will almost always be much more than what's necessary. Figure out what you need and make carriers work for you.

Plans

You could opt for the cheapest data plan there is, but if you end up using more than what's allotted, you could pay far more in overages when you could've just picked the right plan for you. See if these options fit your usage habits.

You use less than 2GB of data per month

Many, many Americans use significantly less data than they think. If you've realized that you're using less than 2GB of data per month, then these are the best cheap plans for you:

Mint Mobile: Mint Mobile is an MVNO that leases coverage from T-Mobile. You don't sign up for a contract, but you pay in advance for 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months, saving you more money the longer the term. Read our review for more.

  • Cheapest plan: $15/month for 3 months ($45 up front)
  • What's included: 3GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, tethering

Republic Wireless: Republic operates on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks. No fixed contract required. It encourages users to spend time on Wi-Fi by making it easy to automatically connect to many hotspots around the country.

  • Cheapest plan: $20/month
  • What's included: 1GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk and text, tethering

Google Fi: Google Fi is owned by Google and operates on the T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular networks. Google Fi's most interesting feature is the refund you get for data you pay for but don't use.

  • Cheapest plan: $30/month
  • What's included: 1GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk and text, unlimited international texting, tethering, data-only SIM, international roaming
  • Data is free after 6GB

Metro by T-Mobile: Metro is owned by T-Mobile and operates on the T-Mobile network. Its cheapest monthly plan includes all taxes and regulatory fees and requires no contract.

  • Cheapest plan: $30/month
  • What's included: 2GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, tethering, visual voicemail, Wi-Fi calling

Boost Mobile: Boost is owned by Sprint and therefore uses its network. You just pay month to month, with no contract necessary.

  • Cheapest plan: $35/month
  • What's included: 3GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, unlimited music streaming from select services (may require monthly subscription), tethering

Cricket Wireless: Cricket is owned by AT&T and operates on the AT&T network. You pay monthly for Cricket, with no fixed contract.

  • Cheapest plan: $30/month
  • What's included: 2GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data

You use an average amount of data

The average American uses around 4GB of data per month. If you've noticed this trend for yourself, then consider these your cheapest options:

Mint Mobile: Mint Mobile is owned by Ultra Mobile and operates on the T-Mobile network. You pay upfront for 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months. The longer your term, the more money you save.

  • Cheapest 4GB+ plan: $20/month ($60 up front for a 3-month term)
  • What's included: 8GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, tethering

Republic Wireless: Republic operates on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks. No fixed contract required. It encourages users to spend time on Wi-Fi by making it easy to automatically connect to many hotspots around the country.

  • Cheapest 4GB+ plan: $35/month
  • What's included: 4GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk and text, tethering
  • Data is $5/month over 2GB, save if you use less than 4GB

Simple Mobile: Simple Mobile is owned by TracFone Wireless and operates on the T-Mobile network. No fixed contract required.

  • Cheapest 4GB+ plan: $37.50/month ($40 without Auto Re-Up)
  • What's included: 15GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, tethering, unlimited international calling to 69 countrie, unlimited international text, data roaming in Mexico
  • Save even more by selecting the 2GB plan for $28.50/month ($30 without Auto Re-Up) and add a 2GB $5/month data boost if needed.

Metro by T-Mobile: Metro is owned by T-Mobile and operates on the T-Mobile network. Its cheapest monthly plan includes all taxes and regulatory fees and requires no contract.

  • Cheapest 4GB+ plan: $40/month
  • What's included: 10GB 4G LTE data, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, tethering, visual voicemail, Wi-Fi calling, Music Unlimited

You're a data hog!

If you're one of the few people that uses more than 10GB of data per month, then you'll probably want to go with an "unlimited" plan from one carrier or another. These plans will usually give you 4G LTE up to around 20GB per month, and if you're going over that, then you deserve a medal.

Not that it's a big deal since instead of cutting your off, most of these carriers will either slow your speed or deprioritize your connection. The latter simply slows your connection compared to other users of a tower if congestion is high. Many people won't even notice a difference.

T-Mobile: T-Mobile is about as close to truly unlimited data as it gets, with a massive 50GB prioritization point. No fixed contract required.

  • Cheapest unlimited plan: $60/month
  • What's included: 50GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited, tethering unlimited 3G speeds, SD video streaming, 2G data in Mexico and Canada

Boost Mobile: Boost is owned by Sprint and uses the Sprint network. No fixed contract required.

  • Cheapest unlimited plan: $50/month
  • What's included: unlimited talk, text, and data, 12GB of tethering, SD video streaming

Metro by T- Mobile: Metro is owned by T-Mobile and operates on its network. No fixed contract required.

  • Cheapest unlimited plan: $50/month
  • What's included: 35GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, 5GB of tethering, 100GB of Google One cloud storage, unlimited music streaming (may require monthly subscription), voicemail, visual voicemail, Wi-Fi calling

Cricket Wireless: Cricket is owned by and operates on AT&T's network. No fixed contract required.

  • Cheapest unlimited plan: $55/month (with Auto Pay)
  • What's included: 22GB 4G LTE at 3Mbps, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, unlimited international texting, roaming in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (50% of usage must be in the U.S. for roaming in Canada)

Visible: Visible operates on Verizon's LTE network with no contracts and only one simple plan.

  • Cheapest unlimited plan: $40/month -What's included: Unlimited data, talk, text, and hotspot (5Mbps), data may be deprioritized compared to other traffic during heavy congestion.

Family matters

You can often save money on your monthly phone plan by entering into family plans with various carriers. You'll usually pay full price for the first line but receive a discount on subsequent lines. Not every carrier offers family/multi-line plans. Here are the cheapest around:

T-Mobile: T-Mobile's single-line unlimited plan isn't cheap, but if you have 4 lines, you end up saving $35/month per line.

  • Cheapest unlimited plan: $30/month/line for 4 lines ($60 for 1 line, $45/line for 2 lines, $35/line for 3 lines)
  • What's included: 50GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk and text, Music Unlimited, tethering (20GB of 4G LTE, unlimited 3G speeds), unlimited video streaming, free in-flight texting and 1 hour of data on Gogo-enabled flights

Cricket Wireless: Cricket is owned by AT&T and operates on the AT&T network. No fixed contract required.

  • Cheapest family plan: $25/month/line for 4 lines ($55 for 1 line, $40/line for 2 lines, $30/line for 3 lines)
  • What's included: 22GB 4G LTE capped at 3Mbps (per line, per month), unlimited talk, text, and 2G data

Metro by T-Mobile: Metro is owned by T-Mobile and operates on its network. No fixed contract required.

  • Cheapest family plan: $35/month/line for 4 lines ($50 for 1 line, $40/line for 2 lines, $36.67/line for 3 lines)
  • What's included: 35GB 4G LTE data/line/month, unlimited talk, text, 2G data, 4 free phones (Samsung or LG, when you switch), Amazon Prime membership, 100GB of Google One cloud storage, music streaming from select partners (may require monthly subscription), visual voicemail, Wi-Fi calling

Boost Mobile: Boost is owned by Sprint and operates on the Sprint network. No fixed contract required.

  • Cheapest family plan: $30/month/line for 5 lines
  • What's included: 3GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, 2G data, tethering, unlimited music streaming from select services (may require monthly subscription)

Sprint:

  • Cheapest family plan: $20/month/line for 2-5 lines
  • Whats included: 50GB 4G LTE, unlimited talk, text, and 2G data, 5GB of 4G roaming in Mexico and Canada, 500MB of tethering

For the globetrotter and those with family overseas

If you often travel internationally or you have family abroad, then you'll want a carrier with a good international calling plan for cheap.

Google Fi: Owned by Google and operates on the T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular networks. You can use your Google Fi data in 135 countries just like you would at home. Unlimited texting is also included, but international calling is subject to various fees.

  • Cheapest international plan: $30/month
  • What's included: 1GB 4G LTE (data is $10/GB over 1GB), unlimited talk, text, unlimited international texting
  • Data is free after 6GB

Boost Mobile: Boost is owned by and operates on Sprint's network. No fixed contract required.

  • Cheapest international plan: $35/month plus $5/month for Todo Mexico Plus or $10/month for International Connect Plus
  • What's included: Todo Mexico Plus gets you unlimited calling to and from all of Mexico, unlimited calls to Canada, unlimited international SMS (text) messaging, 8GB roaming data for Mexico. International Connect Plus gets you all of the above plus MMS messaging, unlimited calls to landlines in over 70 countries, 200 minutes to select mobiles lines in over 50 countries, and reduced per-minute rates to over 200 destinations.

Virgin Mobile USA: Owned by Sprint, operating on the Sprint network. No fixed contract required. Virgin's international add-ons are essentially the same as Boost's because they're both owned and operated by Sprint.

  • Cheapest international plan: $35/month plus $5 for International and $10 for International +
  • What's included: International includes unlimited calls to Mexico, unlimited calls to Canadian Provinces excluding the Territories,, unlimited international text messaging. International+ includes all of the above plus unlimited calling to landlines in over 70 countries, 200 minutes to select mobile lines in over 50 countries, and reduced per-minute rates to over 200 destinations. Check the countries

The 5G Galaxy

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

Fast, smooth, and cutting edge

One of the most complete feeling flagship phones only gets better with 5G support and a massive battery. With a great display and cameras, this phone is the perfect tool for anyone that gets things done on the go.

What motivates you?

Are you on a super cheap data plan? Let us know in the comments below and tell us about your experience!

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