Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T is heavy on glitter. They offer tons of shiny features such as 1080p video streaming, generous hotspot plans and very high data throttling caps. But if you do not need lightning-fast features or high-speed streaming, you can save a lot of money every month by choosing one of the smaller, lesser-known mobile providers. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) charge cheaper rates because they rent wireless capacity from larger companies instead of maintaining their own mobile phone towers.
They may not have the money for splashy advertising campaigns, but an MVNO can offer many core features that were once limited to the big three. Today, it is reasonable to expect that all the best cheap phone plans include 5G network access with the option to use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. These are our favorites.
Can’t see anything useful for you? Read our best unlimited plans, best Android phones, best iPhones and best cheap phones guides for more recommendations.
Updated June 2022: We have updated prices and details in all sections of this guide.
Special offers for Gear readers: Get one 1 year subscription to THE CABLE for $ 5 ($ 25 discount). This includes unlimited access to THE CABLE.dk and our printed magazine (if you like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
Mint was launched in 2016 and has become the best value among smaller mobile networks. Its unlimited plan is our favorite data service and starts at $ 30 a month (for your first three months) for impressive benefits. This is a new introductory offer – it will return to $ 40 per. month when it is time to renew at the end of these three months. Mint Mobile allows you to renew the service every three, six or 12 months.
You get 4G LTE and 5G in each plan, though speeds on the Unlimited plan are reduced after using 35 gigabytes of data per month (videos are also streamed at 480p unless you’re on Wi-Fi). All plans have unlimited voice and text messaging and you can make free calls to Canada and Mexico. You also get mobile hotspot feature with your phone so you can connect your laptop to the internet even though the connected data is limited to 5 GB per. month.
There are four levels: 4 GB for $ 25, 10 GB for $ 35, 15 GB for $ 45, or Unlimited for $ 40. Prices are the lowest if you pay for one year at a time. Mint has an offer that lowers prices to $ 15, $ 20, $ 25 and $ 30 per. month, respectively, for the aforementioned plans, for the first three months. These prices will return to the actual rates if you choose to pay every three months, but if you commit to one year, you can keep the reduced rate. There is also a small discount if you commit to six months at a time. Mint does not include wireless taxes and fees in its prices. Both plans will cost $ 10 more per month if you do not pay annually.