Cheap Phone Plans to Dump Your Costly Carrier

Few these days get by without a cellphone and the monthly expense associated with a cell phone plan is ripe for savings since recurring expenses can really add up. Consider unlimited data plans for one line with either AT&T ($60 + $6/mo incl. taxes/fees) or Verizon ($80 + $8/mo), which works out to $800 – 1,100 in annual spending or $1,150 – 1,600 in pre-tax personal income to maintain. Unless you need to use significant amounts of data at elevated speeds, you are better off switching to one of the cheap phone plans with limited data in order to greatly increase your savings (based on Q4 2016 Nielsen data, the average data usage for 18 – 54 year-olds is in the 2.1 – 3.6 GB/mo range. The median or 50th %ile for data usage is less than average, since large data users will skew the average towards a higher value).

While you may opt to maximize your savings at the expense of the hassle of obtaining a compatible phone, you likely do not have to switch phones altogether and can continue using your current operator’s network but at a discounted rate. The biggest savings are found through MVNOs (Mobile Network Virtual Operators) which buy data from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in bulk, and offer to consumers at no-frill lower rates, without taxes and fees. MVNOs generally require you to bring your own phone over – which is not a problem if you want to get more life out of your old one or upgrade to a newer model at a discount (e.g. by purchasing one on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, etc.). For the median data user, one can expect to spend up to $35/mo, which works out to an extra $400 – 700 saved per year. Keep in mind, even if you exceed your allowed data limit, you can often continue to use data for the rest of the month, but at slower (2G – 3G) speeds.

List of MVNO Providers

Below is a comprehensive list of providers, based on high-speed monthly data limits, categorized by operator network, for a single line unlimited talk / text, all under $45/mo taxes/fees included. If there are any major MVNOs I missed, please reply in comments and I can add them to the list.

<1 GB

$20 – Airvoice Wireless (AT&T) (100 MB)

$20 – Boom! Mobile (Verizon) (250 MB)

$22 – Tello (Sprint) (200 MB)

 

1 GB

$20 – Republic Wireless (T-Mobile/Sprint)*

$24 – PureTalk (AT&T)

$25 – Boom! Mobile (Verizon)

$29 – Tello (Sprint)

$30 – Airvoice Wireless (AT&T)

 

2 GB

$30 – Republic Wireless (T-Mobile/Sprint)*

$30 – MetroPCS (T-Mobile)

$30 – Boom! Mobile (Verizon)

$39 – Tello (Sprint)

 

3 GB

$27 – H2O Wireless (AT&T)

$29 – PureTalk (AT&T)

$35 – BoostMobile (Sprint)

$40 – MetroPCS (T-Mobile)

 

4 GB

$35 – Cricket (AT&T)

$45 – Republic Wireless (T-Mobile/Sprint)*

 

5 GB

$35 – PureTalk (AT&T)

$40 – Boom! Mobile (Verizon)

 

6 – 8 GB

$36 – H2O Wireless (AT&T) (6 GB)

$45 РCricket, H2O Wireless (AT&T) (8 GB)

 

* – Requires specific Android phones only.

Note: To get above rates, some MVNOs may require you to set-up auto-pay.

 Savings Overview

Summary: Consider doing away with costly (limited and unlimited) carrier plans by switching to an MVNO on the same network. To maximize savings further, obtain a compatible phone for an MVNO on a different carrier’s network.

Amount of time to implement: <15 minutes to apply. Likely need to spend additional 30 – 60 minutes to port over completely once new sim card (~$5) is received. No effort thereafter, except occasionally checking up if better MVNO options are available.

Savings: Switching to a cell phone plan below $35/mo, taxes + fees included ($400 – 700+ annually if switching from unlimited major carrier plan).

Comments

  1. We switched to Republic Wireless a few months ago. I’m liking the service. My wife has a Samsung 7 and I have a Moto G4; both work fine. I actually like my phone better than the more expensive one (it’s a bit bigger and so is the text).

    • Glad to hear. One of my close friends has been with them for 5 or so years and couldn’t be happier. He’s not an iPhone guy anyways, but good to know they have compatibility with Samsung now.