Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans 2022

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You want a cheap cell phone plan. The problem is, you don’t know where to start. We did the research for you and found some solid options.

The plans we recommend here are relatively cheap, but they might not be the best value for you. If you need more than a gigabyte of data per month, check out our picks for best cell phone plans and best prepaid cell phone plans, which emphasize value over having the lowest price.

If you’re on a government program such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income or food stamps/SNAP, you might qualify for free or subsidized plans from various carriers via the federal Lifeline program.

Our recommendations

Cheap prepaid plans with data

Ting and T-Mobile are good options if you want just a little data at a low price, but you might find a better value elsewhere if you need a few gigs.

Ting: Flex plan + 1GB

  • Price: $10 base price + $5 per GB.

  • At a glance: Unlimited minutes and texts with 1GB of data.

T-Mobile: Connect plan

  • Price: $15 per month.

  • At a glance: Unlimited minutes and texts with 2.5GB of data.

THINGS TO KNOW

Ting

Ting's model is simple: $10 a month gets you unlimited talk and text, and you can add gigs as needed for $5 each. Ting contracts with T-Mobile and Verizon, so you'd use one of those networks.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile edges out the other two of the big three with its $15 Connect prepaid plan. A unique perk: You’ll start with 2.5 gigs of data per month, and get an annual upgrade of 500MB every year through 2025.

'Cheap' postpaid plans with data

Traditional postpaid plans aren’t exactly cheap in 2022, but they do come with some advantages. You can get the latest phones and pay for them in installments. You also get priority access to a carrier's network — a difference from prepaid plans, even with the three largest carriers.

T-Mobile: Essentials plan

  • Price: $60 with autopay discount.

  • At a glance: Unlimited minutes, texts and data (premium data up to 50GB).

U.S. Cellular: Basic plan

  • Price: $55 per month.

  • At a glance: Unlimited minutes, texts and data.

THINGS TO KNOW

T-Mobile

T-Mobile’s entry-level unlimited plan is slightly cheaper than that of Verizon and AT&T. With it, you’ll get all the goodness of a premium postpaid carrier except extras like included streaming services. That requires the next tier of service and more than one line.

U.S. Cellular

U.S. Cellular doesn’t operate in all states, so you’ll need to select a plan on its website and enter your ZIP code to find out if you’re in one of the areas served. If you do live in an area where U.S. Cellular is available, you'll enjoy nationwide coverage thanks to the carrier's roaming agreements. Data usage when roaming is capped at 400MB though; after that, speeds slow down.

Cheap plans without data

No data? No problem. The most basic cell phone plans on the market come with just a handful of minutes and text messages. Tracfone and Consumer Cellular are good places to start.

Tracfone: 30-minute airtime card

  • Price: $9.99 per month.

  • At a glance: Any combination of 30 minutes or texts.

Consumer Cellular: Unlimited Talk Only plan

  • Price: $15 per month.

  • At a glance: Unlimited minutes.

THINGS TO KNOW

Tracfone

Tracfone is owned by Verizon, which gives you access to a top-rate network without the top-tier price tag. The 30-minute airtime card expires after 30 days if you don't add more airtime.

Consumer Cellular

Consumer Cellular contracts with multiple network providers and is known for its stellar customer service. The carrier offers a plan with unlimited talk, text and 1GB of data for another $5 per month.

Cheap plans you can customize

A customizable plan can be an excellent option if you’re a light cell phone user. Ultra Mobile and US Mobile offer cheap choices to consider.

Ultra Mobile: PayGo

  • Price: $3 per month for 100 minutes, 100 texts and 100MB of data.

  • At a glance: Additional minutes and megabytes of data are 3 cents each; texts are 1 cent each.

US Mobile: Build your own plan

  • Price: Starts at $2 per month for 75 minutes, plus selected tier of texts and/or data.

  • At a glance: Usage is divided into levels, and you select the amount of minutes, texts and/or data you need.

THINGS TO KNOW

Ultra Mobile

The Ultra Mobile PayGo plan runs on T-Mobile's network and is available at select T-Mobile stores. Incoming and outgoing texts and calls count toward your 30-minute maximum, including calls to check your voicemail. You can set up automatic payments to make sure your plan renews and stays active each month.

US Mobile

US Mobile runs on Verizon’s and T-Mobile’s networks. You can build your own plan by selecting the amount of minutes, texts and/or data you want from the available tiers. Tiers start at $2 for 75 minutes, $1.50 for 50 texts and $1.50 for 50MB of data. You can change your plan from month to month.

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More ways than ever to get cheap cell phone service

Selecting cell phone service isn’t as easy as it used to be. Smaller carriers that contract with, or are owned by, the big three have flooded the market in recent years, and the plans they offer tend to evolve by the day. While it takes more time to find the right plan, the influx of options makes cell service a highly competitive space. That’s good for you. So go ahead, shop around. You might just save a buck.


METHODOLOGY

We evaluated cell phone plans offered by popular carriers, considering monthly plan price before taxes and fees.