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The best cheap cell phone plans!

Rising prices all around you should convince you the best cheap cell phone plans are worth a look. With a little research, you can find a plan that keeps your monthly payment at $40 or less, all without sacrificing data.

Oh, don’t get us wrong you can go with smaller data allotments if you don’t use much each month, as that will help drive your costs even lower. But even unlimited data plans can be had for $40 or less.

You will have to make some sacrifices when you opt for one of the best cheap cell phone plans. Say goodbye to a lot of perks like complimentary streaming subscriptions; hotspot data may not be part of your plan either. But those are small trade-offs to make when a lower monthly bill awaits you.

As part of our search for the best cell phone plans overall, we’ve kept an eye out for low-cost plans with all sorts of data allotments. Our best cheap cell phone plan search takes into account the merits of prepaid vs. postpaid phone service while also examining whether MVNOs are worth the money. You can look at our methodology for making picks just below our rankings of the best cheap plans. As it turns out, you may be as surprised by what you can get for $40 or less, including some of the best-unlimited data cell phone plans we’ve come across.

Whether you’re buying a new phone or just looking for ways to save money on your cell phone bill, we can help you find one of the best cheap cell phone plans that are out there right now.

The best overall cheap cell phone plan

Mint Mobile | 4GB | $15/month – Best overall cheap cell phone plan
Mint Mobile won a Tom’s Guide award in 2022 for the innovative ways it delivers value with the best cheap cell phone plans. Go for Mint’s 4GB option, and you’ll pay just $15 each month, though all of the plans currently on offer at Mint cost less than $40 including its unlimited data plan. There is one catch to these low prices, as they only last for the first three months of service. After that, to keep the low rate, you need to sign up for a full year. There are also three- and six-month options. Mint also includes hotspot features and 5G access with its plans, and a new family plan option means everyone pays the same discounted price per line.

Pros: Very affordable, a decent amount of data
Cons: Offer changes after 3 months

The lowest-priced cell phone plan
Tello Economy | 1GB | $10/month – Lowest priced cell phone plan
Tello offers the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to a new cell phone plan. You only pay $10 a month but you will find yourself with just 1GB of data. However, for that price, Tello is throwing in unlimited calls and texts, free mobile tethering, and no contract to tie you in. In other words, this is the perfect plan for anyone on a budget who doesn’t need much data. If 1GB is too small of a data pool, Tello has other low-cost options, all of them for less than $40 a month, including a $19 5GB plan and a $29 unlimited data option.

Pros: Cheapest cell phone plan, unlimited calls, and texts, multiple plans available for under $40
Cons: $10 plan is very limited on data

Best cheap plan with extensive coverage
Verizon | 5GB prepaid | $40/month – Best plan for coverage
Verizon and cheap aren’t two words often found near each other, and at first blush, the price of its 5GB plan doesn’t compare favorably to the best cheap cell phone plans. But take off $5 for enrolling in autopay, and your monthly fee goes down to $35. Then, Verizon will cut another $5 when you stick with the plan for three months plus $5 more for staying put for nine months. That brings the cost to $20 over time. This plan’s main bonus is the access to Verizon’s leading speeds and great 5G coverage though the fastest 5G is reserved for prepaid customers who get Verizon’s $75/month Unlimited Plus plan.

Pros: Great coverage and speeds, Monthly rate drops over time
Cons: Not the cheapest prepaid around

The best value on unlimited data
Visible | unlimited data | $30/month – The best-unlimited data prepaid on a budget
Visible has dropped the price of its basic unlimited data plan to $30 a month, taxes and fees included. That means you’ll pay the same at Visible as you would at Mint, without the 12-month commitment Mint requires for its best rate. As a Verizon MVNO, Visible uses Verizon’s speedy network, and you can even get 5G access depending on which phone you use. You can find out whether Visible works for you by taking advantage of the carrier’s free 15-day trial and the best Visible deals can help you save even more.

Pros: Very affordable, 5G unlimited data
Cons: There are cheaper prepaid plans, 5G data speeds are capped

An excellent price from one of the major carriers

T-Mobile Connect | 3GB data | $15/month – Low-cost cell phone plan from a big-name carrier
Opting for service from either Mint or Tello means forgoing the major carriers. But you can find cheap plans at some of the Big Three, including T-Mobile and its low-cost T-Mobile Connect options. The $15 monthly plan just grew to 3GB of data — T-Mobile boosts the allotment by 0.5GB every year. There’s also a 1GB option for $10, matching Tello’s price. Once you hit your data cap, you’re out of data until your next cycle begins instead of simply being limited on speeds.

Pro: Low costs, 500Mb data boosts annually
Con: Out of data once you hit your cap

Best overlooked value
Cricket | 10GB | $40/month – A better budget option than before
If you’ve dismissed Cricket as an option in the past, it’s time to re-examine this AT&T-owned discount carrier. Cricket stopped imposing a speed cap on plans, so you now enjoy the full benefits of AT&T’s network, including 5G coverage. With Cricket’s $40 plan, you get a generous 10GB pool of data, and you can save another $5 each month by enrolling in autopay.

Pros: Autopay discount, no more speed caps
Cons: Very few perks

Best cheap plan for Google Pixel phones

Google Fi | Flexible plan | $40 a month – Best plan for the Pixel 6a
The pricing of Google Fi’s flexible plans $20 for a talk and text, plus $10 for each GB of data you use doesn’t compare favorably to the other options among the best cheap cell phone plans. With the Pixel 6a now available, though, Google Fi is worth considering, since the latest Pixel is optimized for Google’s network. Google Fi does have some advantages, including the ability to use your plan when you travel to more than 200 countries.

Pros: Overseas coverage, you’re only charged for data you use
Cons: $40 only gets you 2GB of data

The best cheap AT&T cell phone plan

AT&T | 16GB 12-month prepaid | $25/month – Great value on AT&T
Usually, the main carriers stay clear of offering cheap cell phone plans, but this AT&T prepaid plan offers some overall excellent value especially now that AT&T has doubled the data while keeping the same price. For just $25 each month, you get a 16GB data cap. While that isn’t as cheap as Mint Mobile or Tello, it is a great price to pay for AT&T. While you can pay for a month at a time AT&T charges $30 a month for 5GB and $40 for 15GB, with further discounts available if you pay through Walmart investing in a full year can get you the best price possible.

Pros: Major carrier, a good amount of data for price
Cons: Best price requires a longer contract

Obviously, price is going to be paramount when considering a cheap cell phone plan. After all, if money is no object, there are plenty of pricey plans that will deliver maximum perks and data.

But the price isn’t the only criteria to look at. You’ll want to consider who provides the best cell phone coverage in your area and whether the discount carrier you’re considering uses that carrier’s network. With the exception of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, none of the discount carriers we’ve mentioned here operate their own network. Rather, as mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, they piggyback on the cellular networks built by one or more of the major carriers. Some carriers, such as Republic Wireless and Google Fi, also offload calls and texts to Wi-Fi when available, as part of their efforts to keep monthly costs low.

You’ll also want to look at the variety of plans each carrier offered and whether you could move to a different plan if your talk, text, and data needs change. We’ve focused on plans for individuals, but if you’re searching for the best family cell phone plan, look into whether a carrier offers discounts on multiple lines. While perks generally aren’t included with cheap cell phone plans, look to see if there are some added benefits such as hotspot data.

We are constantly looking at what phone carriers offer, as part of our research into the best cell phone plans. That includes looking at what’s available from the major carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon as well as from discount carriers. We check prices monthly, comparing what different services have to offer.

For our best cheap cell phone plans guide, we set a limit of $40 per month, only looking at plans that fall under this threshold. Price is paramount in our rankings, though we do make note of how much data each plan provides as well as any perks to keep in mind. That can help distinguish two equally priced plans or even make a slightly more expensive plan a better value overall.

Because cell phone coverage can differ from area to area, we try to include a wide variety of cell phone plans priced at $40 or less, so that you can find the best rate for the wireless service with the strongest coverage in your area.

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