Best Cell Phone Plans and Deals for 2020

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Best cell phone plans and deals
Image Credit: Dreamstime/Clark.com

Paying too much for cell phone service? If you’re willing to switch providers, there are cheap phone plans starting at around $10 a month!

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you choose the best cell phone plan for you — and your wallet.

Looking For a Cheap Cell Phone Plan? Here Are the Best Deals!

Table of Contents: 

Money expert Clark Howard and his team have reviewed more than 100 cell phone plans to identify the best options. Price, network reliability and customer satisfaction are three main factors that we considered.

Before we get to Team Clark’s top overall picks, here are the best cell phone plan deals right now:

Deal Alert: Best Offers Right Now!

  • Mint Mobile: For a limited time, buy three months of Mint Mobile service and get three months free! Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network. (Team Clark review)
  • AT&T Prepaid: New monthly plans! 5GB for $30 a month and 15GB for $40 a month. Better deals available for multi-month plans.
  • Boost Mobile: Limited-time deal! Get unlimited talk, text and 2GB of data on T-Mobile’s network for $10 a month. New BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) customers only.
  • Visible: Verizon-owned Visible introduces Party Pay. Now you can pay as low as $25/month per line when you have a group of four. Unlimited talk, text and data. (Team Clark review)

Clark’s Picks: The Best Unlimited, Family and Cheap Cell Phone Plans

Clark has a grandfathered unlimited data plan with T-Mobile and a total of 12 lines on his account. He likes T-Mobile if you want to stick with an unlimited plan from a major network.

However, there are cheaper options that let you keep your preferred network. They fall into these categories:

  • Discount brands owned by major networks: Verizon owns Visible, AT&T owns Cricket Wireless and T-Mobile owns Metro by T-Mobile.
  • Prepaid brands from major networks: Verizon Prepaid, AT&T Prepaid, T-Mobile Simply Prepaid and T-Mobile Connect offer prepaid service from the major networks.
  • Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs): These brands don’t own any cell phone towers, but they partner with the major networks to offer affordable wireless service.

These low-cost cell phone service providers have deals for people who need unlimited data, families and those who just want the cheapest phone plan.

Here is a partial list of your options:

Which Carriers Use Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile’s Networks?

Verizon AT&T T-Mobile
Visible (Review) Cricket Wireless (Review) Metro by T-Mobile (Review)
Total Wireless (Review) H2O Wireless Mint Mobile (Review)
Xfinity Mobile (Review) Consumer Cellular (Review) Republic Wireless (Review)
TracFone, Straight Talk (Review), Net10 Wireless (Review) and Red Pocket Mobile (Review) partner with all major networks

IMPORTANT NOTE: T-Mobile has merged with Sprint, but some low-cost carriers are still providing service on Sprint’s nationwide network. Over time, the networks will combine. Details here.


Cheapest Cell Phone Plans 

The cheapest cell phone plans start at between $10 and $15 per month. For example, Boost Mobile offers unlimited talk, text and 1GB of high-speed data on T-Mobile’s network.

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Best Cheap Cell Phone Plans 

Wireless provider Boost Mobile Xfinity Mobile (Review) Mint Mobile (Review
Plan Unlimited talk, text and 1GB of high-speed data Unlimited talk, text and 1GB of high-speed data (5G and LTE) Unlimited talk, text and 3GB of high-speed data (5G and LTE)
Monthly price
  • $10
  • Taxes and fees included
  • 2x the data (2GB) for 3 months if you bring your own phone
  • $15
  • Taxes and fees extra
  • $15
  • Must prepay for 3 months ($45 total)
  • Taxes and fees extra
Network T-Mobile (Coverage map) Verizon (Coverage map) T-Mobile (Coverage map)
Bring your own phone Yes (Check compatibility) iPhones and select Androids (Check compatibility) Yes (Check compatibility)

More Cheap Cell Phone Plans for Light Data Users: 


Cheap Unlimited Data Plans 

Visible and Mint Mobile are two online-only carriers that feature cheap unlimited data plans. These days, it’s not uncommon to find an unlimited plan for $40 a month or less.

You can save even more if you’re on a family plan, which we’ll review later in this guide.

Mint Mobile 

Mint Mobile Review: T-Mobile’s Network for Only $15 per Month

Mint Mobile, a T-Mobile MVNO, has introduced a $30/month unlimited data plan that includes 5GB of mobile hotspot. You must prepay for three months of service to get the deal. 

  • Plan: Unlimited
  • Monthly price: $30, but 3 months of payment ($90) is due at once
  • Network: T-Mobile (Coverage map)
  • Bring your own phone: Yes (Check compatibility)
  • Fine print: Data is unlimited, but speeds are reduced after 35GB per month
  • Team Clark review

Visible

Visible cell phone

Visible is owned by Verizon and has one simple plan for $40/month. Party Pay discount available to groups of two, three or four. 

  • Plan: Unlimited
  • Monthly price: $40 or as low as $25 with Party Pay discount
  • Network: Verizon (Coverage map)
  • Bring your own phone: Most iPhones and select Androids (Check compatibility)
  • Fine print: Data may be temporarily slower than other traffic when the network is busy
  • Team Clark review

Metro by T-Mobile — Formerly MetroPCS

metropcs

Metro by T-Mobile has two unlimited plans, including a $60/month option that comes with Amazon Prime. There are frequent specials and promotions for multiple lines. 

  • Plans: $50 unlimited and $60 unlimited
  • Monthly price: $50 to $60 for a single line; significant discounts for more lines
  • Network: T-Mobile (Coverage map)
  • Bring your own phone: Yes (Check compatibility)
  • Fine print: During congestion, speeds may be reduced after 35GB per month
  • Team Clark review

Cricket Wireless

Cricket Wireless logo

AT&T-owned Cricket Wireless also has two unlimited plans. Its regular prices aren’t the lowest, but you can find limited-time deals on plans and devices. 

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  • Plans: Cricket Core and Cricket More
  • Monthly price: $55 to $60 for a single line before $5 auto pay savings; multi-line discounts available
  • Network: AT&T (Coverage map)
  • Bring your own phone: Yes (Check compatibility)
  • Fine print: Data speeds may be slowed during congestion and 8 Mbps max on cheaper plan
  • Team Clark review

Xfinity Mobile

Comcast's Xfinity Mobile cell phone service

Available only to people with Xfinity internet service, Xfinity Mobile from Comcast runs on Verizon’s top-rated LTE network and now 5G. It also relies on 18 million Wi-Fi hotspots.

  • Plan: Unlimited
  • Monthly price: $45 per line, plus taxes and fees
  • Network: Verizon (Coverage map)
  • Bring your own phone: iPhones and select Androids (Check compatibility)
  • Fine print: Data speeds may be reduced after 20GB of usage in a billing cycle
  • Team Clark review

Spectrum Mobile

Spectrum Mobile low-cost cell phone provider using Verizon's network

Also on Verizon’s network, Charter’s Spectrum Mobile is very similar to Xfinity Mobile. The difference is that it’s only for Spectrum internet customers.

  • Plan: Unlimited
  • Monthly price: $45 per line, taxes and fees included
  • Network: Verizon (Coverage map)
  • Bring your own phone: Select iPhones and Androids (Check compatibility)
  • Fine print: Data speeds may be reduced after 20GB of usage in a billing cycle
  • Team Clark review

Best Cell Phone Plans for Average Data Users 

Staying under 5GB of high-speed data per month really isn’t that difficult if you have a reliable and secure Wi-Fi connection at home. Plans in this category are typically around $30 a month.

T-Mobile Connect
Wireless provider T-Mobile Connect (Review)
Plan  Unlimited talk, text and 5GB of high-speed data; mobile hotspot supported
Monthly price  $25, taxes and fees extra
Network T-Mobile (Coverage map)
Bring your own phone Yes (Check compatibility)

More Cell Phone Plans for Average Data Users: 

  • Mint Mobile: 3-month introductory plan is $20/month for 8GB of high-speed data; runs on T-Mobile’s network (Team Clark review
  • H2O Wireless: Unlimited talk, text and 6GB of high-speed data for $27/month with auto-refill; AT&T’s network
  • AT&T Prepaid: Unlimited talk, text and 5GB of high-speed data for $30/month. Mobile hotspot included.

Best Family Plans 

If you have four lines of service, you can pay as low as $25 a month on a family plan. Visible’s Party Pay is similar to a family plan, but it’s unique because every member is billed separately.

Visible cell phone
Wireless provider Visible (Review)
Plan Unlimited with Party Pay discount
Monthly price $35 per line for 2 people, $30 for 3 people and $25 for 4 people; taxes and fees included
Network Verizon (Coverage map)
Bring your own phone Most iPhones and select Androids (Check compatibility)

More Cell Phone Plans for Families: 


Best Cell Phone Plans for Seniors 

There are special deals for those 55 and older! Consumer Cellular, which utilizes AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks, offers a 5% discount to AARP members.

Although its prices aren’t the lowest, the carrier made the cut for its high customer satisfaction scores.

Consumer Cellular
Wireless provider Consumer Cellular (Review)
Plan Unlimited talk, text and 3GB of high-speed data (Other plans available)
Monthly price $30 before taxes and fees
Network AT&T, T-Mobile (Coverage map)
Bring your own phone Yes (Check compatibility)

Another Cell Phone Plan for Seniors: 


Best Phone Plans for International Features 

Clark says Google Fi has excellent international plan benefits. When traveling abroad, you use data just like you would at home. It’s the same rate of $10/GB in 200+ destinations.

With Google Fi, unlimited international texts are included in the plan and cell service is 20 cents a minute overseas.

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Holding a smartphone with Google Fi service and a large Google Fi logo blurred in the background
Wireless provider Google Fi, formerly Project Fi (Review)
Plan Unlimited domestic talk and text, plus data by the gig
Monthly price 
  • Calls and text: $20
  • High-speed data: $10/GB (no charge after 6GB for one person with Bill Protection feature)
  • Add extra people: $15 each
  • NEW: Unlimited talk, text and data for $70/month (Details here)
Network Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular (Coverage map)
Bring your own phone Yes (Check compatibility)

How to Choose a Cell Phone Plan

How do you know if one of these deals is right for you? Team Clark has come up with the top five questions you need to answer when shopping for a new cell phone provider.

  • How much data do I need? Unlimited plans prevent overage charges, but you may use less data than you think if you’re connected to Wi-Fi at home and work. Plans that charge for a fixed amount of data can be much cheaper.
  • Which network is best? Every wireless provider has a coverage map on its website. If you’re happy with your network (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile), consider a low-cost carrier that uses your existing provider’s towers.
  • Single line or family plan? Looking for more than a single line? In general, you’ll pay a lower price per line if you add two, three, four or even more lines of service.
  • Prepaid or postpaid? Prepaid service is paid for in advance, while postpaid service is when you pay at the end of your billing cycle. No credit check is required for prepaid service.
  • Is my phone compatible? Most carriers will sell you a new phone, but if you want to bring your own device it must be unlocked. Check compatibility on the wireless provider’s website before you sign up.

If this is your first time switching cell phone providers, check out this guide that we put together to take you step-by-step through the process. It’s easier than you think!

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve been able to save money by switching to a new cell phone plan!

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