These are the best cheap data plans you can buy in the U.S.September 14, 2021
Have a carrier in mind, or just looking for a cheap plan? Here are some of the cheapest data plans you can get.
If you want to save money on your cell phone plan, there are more options than ever with new ways to save on the major carriers or by going with a smaller prepaid carrier. MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) or alternative carriers lease coverage from the larger networks and resell it for less. That being said, depending on your average usage and needs, a plan from one of the Big Three could still be your least expensive option. Here are some of the cheapest data plans in the U.S. right now.
Before choosing a plan
Before choosing a carrier and/or a wireless plan, first, determine your needs and usage habits. If this is your first smartphone, I’d like to firstly welcome you to the 21st century and secondly encourage you to try out your options without getting yourself into any yearly or multi-year contracts. There are a ton of cheap Android phones to choose from that will give you the freedom to feel out various plans before settling on one.
If this ain’t your first rodeo, then reflect on your phone habits from the past. How much data have you actually used in an average month? Do you really need an unlimited plan, or are you actually on Wi-Fi more than you realize? Could you benefit from a 55+ discount?
Most carriers are more concerned with making you overbuy by convincing you that you need unlimited everything when the fact is that 90 percent of Americans don’t. Once you know what you need, picking the right plan gets a lot easier.
You could opt for the cheapest data plan there is, but if you end up using more than what’s allotted, you could pay far more in overages when you could’ve just picked the right plan for you. See if these options fit your usage habits.
The best cheap cell phone plan overall
Many Americans use significantly less data than they think. If this is the case for you, why not consider reducing your monthly bill and getting only what you need from your cell phone plan?
Mint Mobile’s 4GB plan is the best cheap cell phone plan overall thanks to enough data for most light users as well as unlimited talk and text. Mint Mobile starts customers out with a three-month plan with a low introductory rate. You can keep this rate if they renew for 12 months though they must pay the full amount upfront. You can go with a shorter renewal though your price will be a bit higher per month.
Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network including 5G allowing for great coverage and speed when using a compatible 5G phone. You can buy a phone from Mint Mobile but if your phone is already paid off and unblocked, there’s a good chance you can bring it with you. You can check to be sure before you complete your purchase.
Mint Mobile also allows you to use your data as a hotspot and doesn’t restrict video streaming quality on this plan. If you find you need more data, you can add it one or three gigabytes at a time or simply upgrade to a larger plan by paying the price difference.
Plenty of data
Mint Mobile 4GB
Renew for a year to save more
Mint Mobile offers plenty of data for most people on the T-Mobile network with the ability to upgrade mid-cycle if needed.
Other great cheap cell phone plans
Mint Mobile’s multi-month approach isn’t for everyone and the T-Mobile network might not be the perfect fit either. If you need something a little different, Cricket is an AT&T prepaid carrier and offers a solid set of plans with some great family discounts. You may end up paying a bit more in the long run but getting on the right network is more important for getting the most out of your phone. Something like Google Fi isn’t the best value but comes with some great international features that are great for travelers.
Cricket is owned by AT&T and operates on the AT&T network. With no fixed contract, you pay monthly for Cricket, and you’re able to save extra money with multiple lines. Four lines on the Cricket Core unlimited plan will only cost you $100 per month. But depending on what you want, you can also choose from a no-frills 2GB or 10GB plan that includes unlimited talk and text and Wi-Fi calling. For mobile hotspot data or faster data speeds, you’ll have to upgrade plans.
Google Fi is owned by Google and operates on the T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular networks. Google Fi’s most interesting feature is the refund you get for data you pay for but don’t use. Its cheapest plan starts at $20, with each GB costing an additional $10. Once you reach 6GB on a single line, additional data is free. The plan also comes with unlimited calls and texts, free mobile hotspot, international data, texts, and calls abroad, and free calling to international countries.
Boost is owned by Dish and operates on the new T-Mobile network while Dish builds its own 5G network. You pay month to month, with no contract necessary. You’ll likely sign up for a plan on the Expanded network (T-Mobile’s), with plans that start at $10 per month for 1GB of 4G LTE and 5G data as well as unlimited talk and text and free mobile hotspot. If you need more, there’s also a Shrink-It plan with 15GB of data that’ll save you $10 per month after six months of on-time payments.
T-Mobile Connect is the lowest-priced prepaid plan from T-Mobile that starts at 2.5GB for only $15 a month or 5.5GB for $25 per year. What’s unique about this plan is that it features an increasing data cap of 500MB per year through 2025. Though this plan isn’t nearly as generous as some of T-Mobile’s other plans, you still get unlimited talk and text, free mobile hotspot, and Wi-Fi calling. But keep in mind that taxes and fees aren’t included.
Best unlimited cheap cell phone plans
People rely on their phones more than ever and many people just want a ton of data without needing to think about how much they’ve used. Luckily there are a handful of great unlimited options available. Most of these plans can reduce your speeds if you use too much data though you won’t be completely cut off and hitting these upper limits is pretty difficult.
Visible operates on Verizon’s LTE and 5G network with no contracts or hidden fees. Visible only has one plan and it’s totally unlimited including a 5Mbps hotspot feature. You will need an approved phone with VoLTE support on the Verizon network to get signed up but this includes some of the most popular phones including the Galaxy S21 series and most newer iPhones.
Visible doesn’t have any family plans though you can save a lot of money by joining a Visible Party. When you join a party with four or more members, your monthly price drops down to just $25 per month. Joining a party is quick and easily done on Visible’s website so there’s no reason not to join.
One unlimited plan
Get all the data you need for a low monthly price with Visible on the Verizon network with both LTE and 5G support.
Other great cheap unlimited cell phone plans
Visible is far from the only unlimited option around with nearly every carrier offering an unlimited plan. Mint Mobile’s unlimited plan can be a bit more expensive per month even with a 12-month renewal though it’s a lot more flexible with the T-Mobile network working with just about any unlocked phone. You can also find a plan with some nice extras such as Metro by T-Mobile’s cloud storage.
Mint Mobile is owned by Ultra Mobile (and Ryan Reynolds) and operates on the vast T-Mobile network. You pay upfront for 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months. The longer your term, the more money you save. Its cheapest unlimited plan will only cost you $30 per month and comes with up to 35GB of high-speed data, unlimited talk and text, and 5GB of mobile hotspot data. If you want to test Mint’s service and be certain that you get good coverage, you can sign up for a free trial.
Metro by T-Mobile
Metro is owned by T-Mobile and operates on its network. No fixed contract is required, and its cheapest unlimited plan starts at $50 per month and comes with unlimited talk and text, up to 35GB of high-speed data (later subject to deprioritization), 5GB of mobile hotspot data, and 100GB of Google One storage. You can upgrade plans for $10 more per month and get 15GB of mobile hotspot data and a Prime membership included. And if you add more lines, you can save more.
Boost uses two networks, but most new customers will join its Expanded Network that leverages T-Mobile’s network for 4G LTE and 5G coverage. Its cheapest unlimited plan starts at $50 per month and comes with 35GB of data (speeds reduce to 2G speeds after), unlimited talk and text, and 12GB mobile hotspot data. For $60 per month, you’ll get 30GB of mobile hotspot data, which could be worth it for anyone who consumes loads of data.
Cricket Wireless, which operates on AT&T’s network, offers two unlimited plans for either $55 per month (Cricket Core) or $60 per month (Cricket More). The main difference between the two is that your speeds are limited to 8Mbps on Cricket Core, and you won’t get the 15GB of mobile hotspot data and 150GB of cloud storage you would with the more expensive Cricket More plan. But both plans come with unlimited talk, text, data, international texting, and roaming in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
T-Mobile is about as close to truly unlimited data as it gets, with a massive 50GB prioritization point for its cheapest plan, T-Mobile Essentials. This plan starts at $60 per month, but it comes with 50GB of premium 4G and 5G LTE, unlimited talk and text, unlimited mobile hotspot data (3G speed), international texting, and talk, text, and 2G data in Mexico and Canada. To make your monthly bill go down, just add a third line for free.
Best cheap prepaid phone plans
Sometimes less is more, and that can be the case with data. Many people don’t even use 4GB of data per month. You can also make good use of Wi-Fi to reduce your usage if you’re trying to save even more money on your phone bill.
Tello allows you to customize your phone plan with your choice of data starting at just 500MB and going up to 25GB. You can also choose your talk minutes starting at just 100 minutes. Texts are unlimited when you add any minutes to your plan. All of this works on T-Mobile’s network with LTE and 5G support.
Tello offers a few premade plans starting with the Economy plan with 1GB of high-speed 4G LTE and 5G data, as well as unlimited minutes and texts for $10 per month. You’ll also get free tethering and calls to the U.S., Canada, Mexico, China, and Romania. If you prefer to build your own plan and pick how many minutes or data you’ll need, you can do so at a reasonable price.
Just the basics
Tello’s Economy plan comes with unlimited talk and text with 1GB of data with the ability to add more as you need it.
Other great cheap prepaid cell phone plans
Tello is very cheap but its custom nature isn’t a perfect fit for everyone. There are a ton of other options starting with T-Mobile’s growing Connect prepaid plan. If T-Mobile’s network isn’t the right fit, you can sign up with another carrier like US Mobile for Verizon or AT&T Prepaid. Just keep in mind that it might be a little more difficult to add data if you need it.
It doesn’t get much cheaper than T-Mobile Connect’s $15 per month for 2.5GB. This plan will give you all the essentials you need from a phone plan, including unlimited talk and text, free mobile hotspot, Wi-Fi calling, and a bonus of 500MB for free every year. International features such as roaming or calls aren’t optional on this plan, but you can always add a data pass if you run out of data.
Talk and text on Republic’s one and only plan costs $15 per month. For each GB of data you decide to add, you’ll pay an additional $5 per month. It’s the perfect plan for light data users and anyone who doesn’t want to waste money on unused data. Republic operates on T-Mobile’s network and makes it extra easy to connect to hotspots around the country so you save your data. If you want to save further, you can pay by the year instead of by the month.
Mint Mobile offers four distinct data plans, and each comes with unlimited talk and text, free calling to Mexico and Canada, as well as free mobile hotspot data. Mint’s cheapest plan is $15 per month, and it’ll get you 4GB of data. This should be enough for the average user, but you can always upgrade if need be. To get the best deal from Mint and lock in its introductory rate, make sure to sign up for 12 months upfront.
US Mobile uses either the Verizon or T-Mobile networks to offer customers high-speed data at “Ludicrous” speeds. With a flexible plan structure, you can choose unlimited talk and text with 30GB of data for $30 per month. To use mobile hotspot data, you’ll need to pay an extra $5. If you don’t need unlimited minutes and texts, you can build a customized plan to save even more, or you can opt to go entirely unlimited and have no data caps whatsoever.
Simple Mobile is owned by TracFone Wireless and operates on the T-Mobile network. No fixed contract is required, and its cheapest 3GB plan comes out to be $25 per month. This plan includes unlimited talk and text, tethering, unlimited international calling to 69 countries, and international roaming in 16 countries. Should you run out of data, you can always purchase an add-on of 2GB for $5.
If you’re a new customer to Boost Mobile, you can get a 5GB plan for $25 per month. However, you must use the T-Mobile network with this plan. You’ll get unlimited talk and text and free mobile hotspot. Once you’ve reached your monthly allotment of 5GB, your data speeds will slow down to 2G speeds, so make sure that this amount of data is right for you.
If you’re ok signing up for a few months at a time, AT&T has an online offer for a multi-month 8GB plan that can save you some money while still giving you great coverage for as little as $25 per month. This plan is offered in a three-month or 12-month term, and it comes with HD streaming, roaming in Mexico and Canada, free mobile hotspot, and rollover data.
T-Mobile Simply Prepaid
T-Mobile Simply Prepaid’s cheapest plan starts at $40 per month for one line and includes discounts as you add more lines. Along with 10GB of 4G LTE data, you get unlimited talk and text, Wi-Fi calling, free mobile hotspot data, and music unlimited, which means that streaming music won’t eat up your data allotment. If you want international features, you can purchase an add-on with this plan, unlike T-Mobile Connect.
Cheapest cell phone plans for seniors
Many carriers will offer a discount to seniors 55+ on their cell phone plans, which is a great way to take advantage of amazing service at a lower price. However, if you’re someone who simply doesn’t need that much data or extravagant perks, then these plans will guarantee that you only get what you need and not pay a penny more.
T-Mobile has excellent core plans, and fortunately, each one comes discounted if you’re 55+. The least expensive one is T-Mobile Essentials, which will cost $40 per month for one line (as opposed to $60) or $55 per month for two lines (as opposed to $90). This plan is only available for one or two lines though if you choose the larger Magenta 55+ or Magenta Max 55+ plans, you can bring up to four lines.
This plan includes unlimited talk and text, 50GB of premium data, unlimited mobile hotspot at 3G speeds, international texting, and unlimited talk, text, and 2G data when in Mexico and Canada. If you’re a senior that spends a lot of time on the go, this is a plan that can keep up with you with plenty of retail locations if you need help.
Unlimited data for two
T-Mobile Essentials Unlimited 55+
Unlimited everything with room for two lines
T-Mobile’s cheapest unlimited plan is even cheaper for 55+ customers with full 5G support and a ton of retail locations.
Other great cheap cell phone plans for seniors
All of the major postpaid carriers have some 55+ discounts but most of them still end up quite a bit more expensive than prepaid options. Visible is a great choice for anyone including seniors thanks to its simple plan and great coverage. Something like Consumer Cellular is known for its customer service and has some valuable discounts specifically for seniors.
Though Visible isn’t technically a plan with a seniors discount, it is one of the simplest plans out there and makes things extremely easy by offering one plan at $40 per month. With this plan, you’ll get unlimited talk, text, and data, unlimited hotspot data at 5Mbps, and free calling to Mexico and Canada. If you have great Verizon coverage and don’t travel too frequently (Visible doesn’t offer domestic or international roaming), then this plan will work for you.
Consumer Cellular operates on T-Mobile and AT&T’s towers and is a great option for retirees thanks to its 5 percent discount on monthly services for AARP members. You have the option of getting a talk-only plan starting at $15 per month for 250 minutes. If you only want a little bit of data, you can still get 250 minutes of talk (or more), unlimited text, and 500MB of data for $20 per month. It’s the perfect plan for users that just need the bare minimum.
Republic Wireless makes for a great senior plan. It offers a talk and text-only plan for $15 per month as well as a build your own plan. This means that if you want data, you can add it for $5 per GB. Best of all, Republic Wireless has an Extend Home service at no extra charge that will bring your wireless service to your home. You’ll get standard features of a traditional home phone, such as a handset, voicemail, free CallerID, call waiting, and more.
Cheapest data-only plan
If you don’t spend much time talking or texting, or find that you’re perfectly satisfied using services such as WhatsApp or Telegram to call your friends, then a data-only plan might be something to consider.
US Mobile has one of the most customizable plans out there making it a perfect option for a data-only plan. Because you’re able to build your own plan that comes with free mobile hotspot and “Ludicrous” speeds, you can get up to 15GB of data only for $26 per month. If you need only 2GB, that’ll cost you $10 per month.
US Mobile lets you use either the Verizon network or T-Mobile so you can pick whichever makes the most sense for you. While you can get an unlimited plan, you will only be able to add a smaller hotspot plan to it so if you plan to use most of your data in a hotspot, building your own plan gets you more.
If you’re someone that travels abroad, US Mobile lets you purchase international data packs at low rates as long as you have an eSIM compatible device.
Only what you need
Use your data however you want with a custom plan
US Mobile uses the Verizon and T-Mobile networks to provide great coverage with great plan flexibility and an unlimited option.
Other great cheap data-only cell phone plans
Quite a few carriers allow you to skip talk and text. Data-only options can range from a shared SIM card for your primary phone and a backup like Google Fi offers or a true data-only plan like Cricket offers. The most important thing is to make sure you have good coverage where you live to make sure you can actually use the data you’re paying for.
Google Fi’s latest plan includes a Simply Unlimited plan, made for those who use a ton of data and don’t need its other international perks or tethering. It’s not the cheapest plan at $60 per month, but you’ll get unlimited data in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada with high speeds up to 22GB. If you want to have access to one of the cheapest SIM cards in the USA, then Fi’s Flexible plan is the way to go. It includes a free data-only SIM for free at a minimum of $30 per month for one GB.
If you only want data and have an unlocked LTE-compatible device, Cricket Wireless offers one of the cheapest SIM cards you can get at $9.99. With a Simply Data plan, you’ll get 100GB of high-speed data for $55 per month, along with usage in Mexico and Canada and picture and text messages. If you need less data, 20GB of data will cost you $35 per month. Keep in mind that calling and voice add-on features aren’t an option.
With Tello, you can get a data-only plan with no minutes and unlimited data on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE and 5G network for just $39 per month. You can bring your own device that’s GSM unlocked and use it as a mobile hotspot. Once you’ve reached 25GB, however, your speeds will slow to 2G. But for no contract and no additional fees, this data plan is a good deal. If you don’t need unlimited data, you can always get 8GB only for $25 per month.
Cheapest International Plans
If you often travel internationally or you have family abroad, then you’ll want a carrier with a good international calling plan, cheap data abroad, and easy online account management.
Google Fi hits the mark for international travel with the same data rate when you’re abroad as when you’re at home. Google Fi uses partnerships with a lot of different carriers to make sure you stay connected no matter where you go. If you start with the Flexible plan, data costs a flat $10 per gigabyte. If you go with the biggest unlimited plan, you can use your 22GB of high-speed data at home or abroad. Hotspot data is also included and is shared with your phone data.
In the U.S., Google Fi mostly uses the T-Mobile network including 5G support though it can also use UScellular if it provides a better signal. To get this network switching, you’ll need an approved phone including the Google Pixel line as well as the Galaxy S21 series. For other phones, you’ll be stuck with the T-Mobile network but you still get all the international perks.
Google Fi also includes Google’s VPN service so you can be sure your data is safe even when using the web from around the world.
Built for travel
The best plan for international travel hands down
Google Fi feels like it was built for travelers with static data prices around the globe, an included VPN, and a focus on Wi-FI.
Other great cheap cell phone plans for travelers
Google Fi is perfect for those that travel abroad often or spend a lot of time abroad but for those that just need international calling or don’t need to travel very often, there’s a lot of money to be saved. Boost Mobile has long been known as one of the best international prepaid options. With a plan add-on, you can call and travel abroad for cheap. Especially in Mexico. You can also pick from a plan with unlimited calling like Simple Mobile.
Dish-owned Boost Mobile offers some affordable international plans. The cheapest plan comes at $10 per month, and for $5 per month extra, you can add Todo Mexico Plus. This plan will get you unlimited calling to and from all of Mexico, unlimited calls to Canada, unlimited international SMS (text) messaging, and 8GB roaming data for Mexico. You can also pay $10 per month for International Connect Plus, which offers all of the above (except roaming) plus MMS messaging, unlimited calls to landlines in over 70 countries, 200 minutes to select mobile lines in over 50 countries, and reduced per-minute rates to over 200 destinations.
Simple Mobile offers affordable plans, but each one comes with useful international perks—specifically if you have family in Latin-American countries. Along with unlimited talk and text and tethering on each plan, you’ll get unlimited international calling to 69 countries, an international calling credit of at least $10, and international roaming in 16 Latin-American countries no matter what you pay. If you run out of data abroad or at home, you can always add more or go with the truly unlimited plan.
Cheapest Family Plans
You can often save money on your monthly phone plan by entering into family plans with various carriers. With prepaid carriers, you’ll typically pay full price for the first line but receive a discount on subsequent lines. Postpaid carriers like T-Mobile have a lower price per line the more you bring.
T-Mobile’s Magenta plan is one of the best family plans available. It’s not as cheap as the Essentials plan, but it’s a better fit for families thanks to a bunch of extra perks such as an included Netflix subscription, 5GB of high-speed hotspot data, and 2G of data abroad. T-Mobile also includes full 5G support if you have a compatible phone.
Each line gets 100GB of premium data meaning your usage won’t be slowed down unless you use a ton of data each month. Streaming is limited to SD quality though this will look fine enough for most people on a cell phone screen.
If you get at least three lines, the price drops significantly because of T-Mobile’s generous third line for free offer. If you need four lines, you’ll end up paying only $35 per line with taxes and fees included.
Unlimited for your family
The complete package for less
T-Mobile’s Magenta plan comes with everything you need with unlimited talk and text plus plenty of data for even very heavy users.
The best family plan really comes down to your family’s unique needs. For example, a family that plays sports may find unlimited data and hotspot data very valuable for long trips to and from games. It’s also important to pick a carrier that has great coverage where your family will be. Visible doesn’t have specific family plans but with Party Pay, it’s cheap enough for a family, and separate members can even pay their own lines.
Visible is one of the most affordable cell phone plans out there today and a great option for families and friends. Because it uses Verizon’s network, you’ll get great coverage along with unlimited 4G LTE and 5G data, unlimited mobile hotspot at 5Mbps, and free calls to Mexico and Canada. You’ll pay significantly less than you would directly with Verizon, and when you sign up for Party Pay, your monthly bill drops to $25 per month with four lines. Though each account must pay separately, it’s a deal that’s hard to compete with.
Metro by T-Mobile
Metro is owned by T-Mobile and operates on its network. When you sign up for four lines, its top unlimited plan is cheaper than the others. For $120 per month, you’ll get 15GB of hotspot data plus an Amazon Prime subscription. This plan also comes with 35GB 4G LTE and 5G high-speed data per line per month, unlimited talk and text, visual voicemail, Wi-Fi calling, unlimited music streaming, and 100GB on Google One.
Walmart Family Mobile
Walmart Family Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network and offers four main plans without a contract. Each additional line costs $24.88 per month, so the best value comes with the larger data plans. The cheapest family plan, however, starts at $25 per month per line for up to five lines and includes 2GB of high-speed data (reduced to 2G speeds once consumed), unlimited talk and text, as well as free mobile hotspot. If you’re a family of two, the truly unlimited plan for $74.76 is also a great deal.
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