Best low-cost cell phone plans

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How can you get a cheaper cell phone plan without sacrificing service? Consumer Reports has the answer!

Read more: You’re probably paying double what you should for cell phone service

Since half of the people who switched cell phone carriers in the past year saw a reduction of about $20 in their monthly bill, it definitely pays to shop around for cell service. (This was according to a survey of 90,000 Consumer Reports subscribers.) But, only 6% of people in the survey reported switching their cell phone plan.

It can be daunting to try to compare apples to apples when you’re talking cell phone service. After all, there are so many plans to choose from, and not all providers are the same. Some providers may have better service in some areas than others, while some offer different kinds of plans than others. It can truly make your head spin!

Luckily, Consumer Reports recently ranked the ‘big four’ cell phone companies to see how they stacked up against each other in terms of quality and price.

Comparing the big four cell carriers

According to Consumer Reports, you shouldn’t need to pay more than $50 a month for one line of service, and you definitely shouldn’t be stuck in a contract at this stage of the game, since most plans are contract-free.

T-Mobile ranked the best overall in terms of customer satisfaction, but AT&T and Verizon graded highly for voice, text, and Web service.

But in terms of price, this is how all four compared:

Best low-cost cell phone plans

Read more: 5 ways to make your iPhone more secure

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Consider smaller carriers

If you just aren’t content to pay that much for service, many people have been completely happy with carriers that are not a part of the big four.

With some smaller carriers, you can expect to pay around $20 a month for service! The key is picking the right one for where you live and for your needs.

Respondants of the Consumer Reports’ cell phone survey shared their favorite smaller providers.

These included:

Though these companies scored big on value, they also scored big for knowledgeable, responsive staff members. Additionally, companies like Republic Wireless and Ting Wireless only charge customers for the cell service actually people use versus the plan they signed up for.

Some other options for low cost service include RingPlus, Google Project Fi, which runs on two LTE networks, Metro PCS and Virgin Mobile.

Two tools to compare cell phone plans

In order to help you pick the best plan, you might want to check out a tool called Whistle Out. Just select your device, how many minutes, texts, data and lines you’ll need, and sort! This tool can sort through 232,568 plans and 28 different carriers.

You could also try a tool called Wirefly that has a helpful feature that lets you sort by phone, plan, price or other data. However, Wirefly does not compare as many carriers.

All in all, now is a great time to compare cell phone plans and make a switch. More than likely, you’ll save yourself a big pile of money!

Read more: AMC may soon allow texting in movie theaters—¹

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