Best Cell Phone Plans For Frugal People

You don’t need to pay an arm and a leg for cell phone service. The MMM cell phone service recommendations are maintained by Christian Smith, creator of Coverage Critic.

Affiliate Note: Some of these companies offer commissions for online referrals. Other ones don’t. Details about Coverage Critic’s financial relationships with cell phone carriers can be found here.

“I’d like a good amount of data, but I don’t need top-notch coverage.”

Mint Mobile logo

Mint Mobile runs over T-Mobile’s network and offers outrageously good prices. Subscribers can choose plans with either 5GB, 15GB, 20GB, or 40GB of full-speed data each month.

Mint prices plans based whether a subscriber pays for 3, 6, or 12 months of service upfront. Normally, subscribers who pay for 12 months of service get the best rates. However, new customers can purchase 3 months of service at the rate usually reserved for a year of service.

Promo: Mint is offering all plans for $15 per month for the first three months.

Example plan: One line with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 15GB of data for as low as $20 per month.

Mint Mobile’s Website | Coverage Map

“I’d like a lot of data and great coverage.”

US Mobile Logo

US Mobile’s Warp service runs over Verizon’s network and offers great prices. Unlimited* data plans cost $15-$45 per month.

Example plan: US Mobile’s Unlimited Starter includes calls, texts, and 35GB of premium data for $23-$29 per month.

*US Mobile’s “unlimited” plans typically offer a large allotment of full-speed data. If a subscriber uses all their full-speed data, speeds are throttled to slower but still usable speeds.

US Mobile’s Website | Coverage Check

“I want unlimited data and solid coverage.”

Cricket logo

Visible is owned by Verizon and offers only two plans. Both plans include unlimited minutes, texts, and data. The standard plan is $25 per month. A premium plan, which includes features like high-priority data for better speeds when the network is congested, comes in at $45 per month.

Rates are even better on annual plans. If you purchase a year of service upfront, the standard plan drops to about $23 per month and the premium plan falls to about $33.

Example plan: One line with unlimited calls, texts, and data for $25 per month.

Visible’s Website | Coverage Map

“I want a great deal, and I don’t need tons of data.”

T-Mobile logo

T-Mobile’s Connect plans are an excellent deal for people who don’t use lots of data. While T-Mobile doesn’t have the best coverage among wireless networks, the company still offers solid service in most places.

The Connect plans include unlimited minutes and texts. Plans vary in their data allotments and monthly price:

  • 5GB – $15 per month
  • 8GB – $25 per month
  • 12GB – $35 per month

Example plan: One line with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 5 GB of data for $15 per month.

T-Mobile’s Connect plans may require a one-time purchase of a SIM card for $10 per line.

T-Mobile’s Website | Coverage Map

“I want solid service with great international coverage.”

Fi logo

Google Fi offers solid service with extremely simple international roaming options. Fi’s generous international roaming policies allow subscribers to receive service at no extra charge in roughly 200 countries.

Fi is decently priced for those who don’t use much data. For heavy users of data, Fi’s pricing is not terribly competitive.

Example plan: 4 lines with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 2GB of shared data for $22 per line each month.

Fi’s Website | Coverage Check

Further Details

eSIMs: Many recent phones, including the last several iPhone models, support eSIMs. With an eSIM, a person can switch between carriers or add a second carrier without needing a physical SIM card.

  • Many carriers offer an eSIM free trial
  • You can beat expensive international roaming fees with data-only eSIMs from Airalo

Coverage quality: Verizon and AT&T leads the nation in coverage quality. If you spend a lot of time in cornfields or climbing mountains, I recommend opting for a carrier that uses Verizon’s network. T-Mobile’s coverage is more limited than the other major networks, however the network often has less congestion and regularly offers the best speeds in densely populated places. You can check coverage quality across the major networks at any location Coverage Critic’s interactive coverage map.

Internet options: Coverage Critic is behind Broadband Map, a new website for finding internet service providers. After searching for your address on Broadband Map, you can see internet service providers available in your area.

About Christian: Christian runs Coverage Critic, where he helps consumers cut through bullshit and make sense of the wireless industry. He’s a Mustachian, bike addict, and nature lover.

You can find Christian on Twitter here.

  • Mighty Investor May 3, 2020, 2:57 pm

    For those who care about screen quality but are still in the budget category, I’d suggest also looking at the slightly more expensive Moto G7. I couldn’t deal watching YouTube videos on the lower quality display on the G7 Power or G7 Play after exhaustively playing with both in real life. I get that other people have other priorities. The battery life on the G7 Power is epic, though!

    • Coverage Critic May 3, 2020, 6:19 pm

      The regular G7 is a great option for people looking for something a bit fancier than the G7 Play!

      I’ve never had an issue with the screen on the G7 Play, but I have somewhat low standards. I’ve found I enjoy a video in 480p about as much as I enjoy the same video at full HD quality. I know a lot of people don’t feel the same way though.

  • Craig Parsons May 3, 2020, 2:57 pm

    Any suggestions for coverage in Canada and US?

    • dB May 3, 2020, 3:16 pm

      Exactly this. I feel like I’m being held hostage to ATT because of the friction-free cross-border service and billing.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 3, 2020, 3:49 pm

      GOOGLE FI!

      This is exactly the reason I use it (aside from low prices and Google-level reliability) – because I spend at least a couple months every year back in the homeland of Canada. Plus occasionally visit other countries as well.

      The phone and the plan work the same regardless of which country you are in – it’s 20 bucks a month base cost and one cent per megabyte all over the world.

    • Coverage Critic May 3, 2020, 6:22 pm

      As MMM mentioned, Fi is an amazing option if you don’t usually use more than a gigabyte or two of data each month.

      If you’re a heavier data user, there might be better options. Off the top of my head, I think T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid may be worth considering. With the international data add-on, I think you’d pay $45 for a single line and get unlimited talk & text in the U.S. & Canada, 10GB of normal data, and 5GB of data in Canada.

  • T May 3, 2020, 3:26 pm

    An alternative (that I use) would be to use both the following:
    * Data-only T-Mobile plan: $10+tax for 2GB, $25+tax for 6GB, including free data with reduced speed abroad
    * Google Voice: free calls and texts in US + Canada

    • JR May 4, 2020, 2:51 pm

      What device do you have?

      I tried this once with AT&T, trying to use an old phone as a data-only mini-iPad, and they automatically bumped my plan up to a voice+data plan because they detected via IMEI that the device was a phone. If I could do what you’re saying on an iPhone, I’d save megabucks. I make like 4 phone calls a month but need data for my job.

  • Jack May 3, 2020, 4:30 pm

    I’d also like to see a comparison between voice quality across networks. I use my phone for business and even though everyone says that Google Voice for example provides the same audio quality as other phone services, people always tell me they can tell the difference when I call them from that versus my AT&T prepaid line (the second is higher quality).

    Again supposedly there’s no difference but I have found that isn’t true. Also notable is that I miss more calls on my Google Voice line that I do on my regular line. The phone just doesn’t ring.

    Again, a no-go for business because missing just one phone call will mean for me missing as much as I’d pay for a better phone service.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 3, 2020, 5:47 pm

      I agree with this – one of the reasons I switched away from Republic Wireless back in 2015 is that I was missing calls and texts plus dropping calls. However, they have probably improved significantly since then.

      But note that Google Fi (full cellular network coverage plus super reliable wifi calling when available) is different from Google Voice (all routed over the internet), so it does not have these reliability problems. I find the sound quality is as good as any other phone call, but nowadays I try to avoid phone anyway – chat apps including google hangouts and google duo open up much higher fidelity connections. But I understand that in a business situation when strangers are calling, they typically still use the Antiqueophone Network.

      • Kay May 3, 2020, 10:30 pm

        Actually Google fi does have voice quality problems. I’ve used it for 3 years now with a moto X4 and it was great until this last year when Android made some updates. Now the voice quality is terrible and people can barely hear me or tell me I’m cutting in and out.. right in my home office on Wi fi. I really love my Google fi and I’m very sad to have come to the conclusion that it no longer works well. It’s not my phone either. my husband got a new used Google pixel 3a and the same issues occur – this is also found in the forums. Seems to be an issue between Android updates and Google fi. I’ve tried all the fixes suggested from cleaning the microphone to resetting to factory settings and nothing changes. I’m thinking of going to mint mobile but have not seen much detail here about that one. Appreciate this place to look for information though!

        • Matt in Michigan May 17, 2020, 12:09 pm

          Yeah I really wanted to use Fi but where I live tmobile coverage is terrible inside my house. If I step outside it’s great. . I didn’t think it’d be an issue due to wifi but it just doesn’t work consistently. I’ll miss calls while inside and phone go’s to no service when inside. I even tried setting it to wifi preferred within the Fi app but that doesn’t seem to make a difference.
          Maybe I’m missing something?

        • Bill Smith July 10, 2020, 9:14 am

          I switched from FI to Mint. The experience on the X4 isn’t perfect, I get a message periodically that “wifi calling is disabled” and sometimes I need to reboot the phone to get it back. Overall, I’m happy with the service. I think the X4 has some issues with wifi calling, and I don’t think it’s limited to any particular service. My son has an old iPhone SE and has none of my issues.

          • Suzanne October 12, 2022, 2:11 pm

            I had Mint for a few years. It started dropping calls after 15 minutes.
            I got Red Pocket and have had no problems. Mint was a good $15 and Red Pocket is $8.25 with 1GB which is enough for me. It’s a few extra dollars to get more data. I did the 1GB because I can add data if I run low. I have done this twice in a year. And the extra effort takes a few minutes but the savings is worth it.

        • Aphx February 20, 2021, 9:24 am

          Kay, had exactly the same problem with Google fi. Switched over to mint mobile, and my x4 is withing just fine.

      • Rachel May 4, 2020, 2:01 pm

        I’ve had a great experience with Republic Wireless since switching to them in December 2014. Before I cancelled my Verizon service, we took a long roadtrip with both my Verizon phone and my new RW phone, from New York to Iowa to Alabama and back to New York, and coverage was never worse and occasionally better with the RW phone, so I made the switch, and I’ve been happy ever since then. I currently pay $34/month (including taxes) for the My Choice Talk & Text + 3 GB Cell Data plan. I’ve generally had good service all over the US, except for rural areas where cell signal is weak on any network. (Unfortunately I couldn’t get cell service in Europe, but I had good call quality over wifi). I’ve used my RW phone to create a mobile hotspot for my laptop. I like the motorola smart phones I’ve bought through RW – currently using the Moto x4. I wonder why Republic is not included in the coverage critic recommendations.

        • SP May 16, 2020, 11:46 am

          I miss calls all the time on Republic Wireless. My husband misses less, and we have different phones, so it may be phone-specific. His call quality while on Wifi is so terrible that he almost always switches over to cell data, even when we’re home. We can have video chats without a problem, but phone calls will have tons of different, random issues, so it’s not our wifi. Happy to see more great alternatives to Republic Wireless since I’ve been thinking about switching for a little while now. It’s a problem for us when daycare can’t get ahold of either of us during the day.

    • Coverage Critic May 3, 2020, 6:11 pm

      Hey Jack,

      You might find the “Call Performance” sections of RootMetrics’ reports interesting.

      Some calls via Google Voice will definitely be handled differently than conventional calls (e.g., Google Voice calls from a PC or via the Hangouts app). I’m a huge fan of Google Voice myself, but I’ve also run into a handful of issues with it that I don’t experience with conventional cell service.

  • Ryan May 3, 2020, 5:18 pm

    Mint mobile should be on this list as well. It is the T-mobile network and you get unlimited talk & text and 3gb of data for $15 per month

    • Coverage Critic May 3, 2020, 6:13 pm

      I’m a huge fan of Mint! In many cases, I think T-Mobile’s Connect plans are even better, but if you expand the + Show more recommendations… sections, you’ll see Mint is listed.

    • Carrie May 5, 2020, 8:22 am

      I’ve used Mint for a year and had no problems and it’s cheaper than any other plans I’ve found.

  • Wayne Carpani May 3, 2020, 5:27 pm

    Can you do Canada? We have the some of the highest cell rates in the world. Thanks

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 10:35 am

      We’re hoping to have something soon. Stay tuned!

  • Steve May 3, 2020, 5:34 pm

    Check out Visible. $25 a month with their party plan.
    Runs on Verizon’s network. 4G only.
    No roaming yet. Some issues with onboarding new customers

    • Coverage Critic May 3, 2020, 10:14 pm

      Yeah, I’m a fan of Visible. You’ll find it on this list if you expand the “+ Show more recommendations…” sections.

      At the moment, subscribers experience issues with the carrier a little more often than I’d like. Visible is a pretty new carrier though. Hopefully it’ll have most of the issues sorted out soon.

      • Jayel April 29, 2023, 5:55 am

        Unfortunately Visible onboarding is still jacked up three years later. It’s taken DAYS to do a simple port and activation and still not complete. they got rid of their call centers and now technical support is all chat-based. Across multiple phones, multiple apps, websites, computers, browsers, it returns the same “there’s an issue with your payment method” even though we confirmed w/ three different banks the request never came through. Grateful/hopeful to get unlimited everything for only $25/mo, eventually. Fingers crossed they get it squared away soon!

  • Urzzz May 3, 2020, 6:26 pm

    Hi Chris! I’m curious what your thoughts are on Visible Network? I’ve switched out of Ting after 2-3 yrs because my typical monthly bill was still $40-55 range including the $6 per line fee, and taxes, etc. Now, I’m on my 3rd month of Visible, which uses Verizon network, and I do get unlimited everything (incl data, which I can use my phone as a hotspot for my laptop, when needed). So far so good for a flat monthly $25 fee. Thanks!

    • Coverage Critic May 3, 2020, 6:56 pm

      Visible has a ton of potential! Unlimited talk and text on Verizon’s extensive network for $25-$40 per month is a fantastic deal. That said, Visible seems to be working out a lot of the details of its service, the set of allowed devices is small, and a lot of people report lousy service during periods of network congestion.

      If you’re with Visible and having a good experience so far, I’d definitely stick with it!

      (For a sampling of issues people sometimes have with Visible, I’d suggest An awfully large portion of the posts in that community involve people reporting issues. When I trialed Visible, I had a mostly positive experience, but my speeds were initially throttled in a way that was inconsistent with Visible’s official policies.)

    • Nick May 3, 2020, 9:36 pm

      I have to say I love Visible. We have a cabin in the woods that only gets Verizon coverage. I was able to connect using the hot spot and work remote. I ended up using 25GB+ and didn’t have any issues with being throttled or cut off. As a tip to get around the one device hotspot limit Windows 10 has a “mobile hotspot” that will share a computer’s internet connection with up to 5 other devices. Simply connect a PC to your Visible phone and then use the PC to share the connection with other devices.

  • Wendy May 3, 2020, 6:35 pm

    If I very occasionally go abroad (from US to Irealand/Europe) and don’t use a tremendous amt of data, what is the best route for me to go regarding voice/data?

    • Coverage Critic May 3, 2020, 9:24 pm

      If you use under ~2GB of data each month, Google Fi could be a great option. With Fi, you can get coverage in almost every country at the same rates Fi charges domestically.

      If you’re a heavy data user, I think the most frugal route would be using a low-cost carrier while in the U.S. then buying temporary, preloaded SIM cards when you arrive in other countries. In most European countries, I think these SIM cards will be both easy to find & cheap.

  • Laura May 3, 2020, 7:02 pm

    I’ll stick with my TracFone. We barely use data, text, or minutes, and everything rolls over so you don’t pay for anything you don’t use. Comes out to be $8/mo per line, with Verizon coverage.

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 11:16 am

      TracFone has a lot of good deals! It’s actually the parent company of one of the companies listed, Total Wireless.

    • David May 4, 2020, 4:13 pm

      As a low volume user Tracfone works better for me than any others that I found. I pay $22 every 90 days for more minutes and text than I use. Data is $10/gig which lasts me 5-6 months.

    • Mike Spangler May 6, 2020, 2:16 pm

      Same here. The problem is that Verizon’s 4G tower is in a different location than the older tower, and a hill blocks the 4G signal. So unless Verizon installs a 4G transmitter on the old tower, I’m going to have to dump Traqfone in the fall (before they turn off the old tower) and get something else. But it is hard to beat $7 per month. And I don’ t need data, the flip phone wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway.

  • Anil May 3, 2020, 7:44 pm

    I am curious about the total wireless plan, coverage and phones. I’ve had VZW for years and prices never get better.

  • Elliott C Miller May 3, 2020, 9:05 pm

    I use walmart’s plan and recently downgraded to the 4GB/month one for 30$ . I don’t need that much data since I am at home. Although I use more data when I’m outside so i might switch to the 14GB for 40$ plan when this is over. I’ve yet to find something better than this. But am open to suggestions.

    Ting and Google Fi don’t even come close, so many plans have this 10$/GB and that isn’t acceptable for me.

    • Coverage Critic May 3, 2020, 9:15 pm

      I agree with you that Ting and Fi don’t make much sense if you’re using more than a few GB of data each month. And it sounds like you’re already getting a pretty good deal with your existing carrier which is great!

      If you’re wanting to consider something else, Mint Mobile might be a good option. The 8GB/month plan goes as low as $20 per month. There’s also a 12GB option for as low as $25 per month.

  • Troy May 4, 2020, 1:55 am

    Hey Chris, what is your best recommended plan for someone wanting unlimited data? I’m currently on T-Mobile’s unlimited plan for me and my wife and paying $100, I like that I never have to worry about data and also that when I travel internationally I get data and texting free at most countries (although data is slow).

    Is there any better option that meets that criteria?

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 10:33 am

      The international roaming features on T-Mobile’s fancier plans are pretty great. You probably can’t find something that offers the same convenience and unlimited data at a better price.

      You could consider two unlimited lines with Visible (~$50-$70 per month) then buy preloaded SIM cards in destination countries when you travel. If you’re only traveling internationally a few times per year, that would probably work out to be cheaper. I’ll admit it’s not as convenient though.

      • Troy May 4, 2020, 5:19 pm

        Thanks! I’ll check out visible, haven’t heard of them before.

  • Sterling Pfenning May 4, 2020, 3:46 am

    I’m a fan of US Mobile! Unlimited talk and text for $10 a month on verizons network they also offer t-mobile for any CDMA phones. I don’t use data on my phone so this worksgreat for me! ( They do have Data plans)

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 10:27 am

      I’m a fan of US Mobile also. If want a single line on Verizon’s network and don’t use your phone much, it’s hard to find a better deal! The new eSIM-based international roaming options US Mobile is working on also look pretty exciting.

  • Tim May 4, 2020, 10:47 am

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for this awesome information!

    Awhile back I switched to Google Fi – and even now I am thinking there are cheaper options! I generally never turn on my data and only use internet through wifi at home or at work.

    Here is my question: I have had in the back of my mind for awhile the idea of getting rid of my Comcast internet and using cell phone service internet as a hotspot instead. This is kind of the reverse of what I am doing now, which is never using data.

    What do you think of this idea? Right now, I don’t think the numbers bear out. Do you think they will in the future? I saw the Total Wireless plan you mentioned and it made me think of this idea again.


    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 11:14 am

      I’ve heard stories of people switching to exclusively mobile internet and saving money as a result. I don’t think it’s a great option for most people though. The cost per gigabyte of data for conventional home internet tends to be far lower than the cost per gigabyte used over a cellular connection. I don’t see that changing in the near future. Conventional home internet also tends to be much faster and a bit more reliable than cellular connections.

      That said, if you barely use internet at home, it’s definitely doable to drop home internet altogether and just rely on a mobile connection.

  • Kerry May 4, 2020, 11:14 am

    I’m on AT&T and have a family of four with two teenagers who are actually pretty good about using Wi-Fi when possible. I’ve been looking at Consumer Cellular because they use AT&T network so I know the coverage is good for me. And I’m in their AARP target demographic. Do you have any opinions on them?

    Thanks in advance

    • Coverage Critic May 6, 2020, 12:11 am

      I trialed Consumer Cellular about a year ago and had a good experience. Customer support is great and the pricing is decent, particularly for two-line plans. Consumer Cellular’s service over AT&T’s network should be really solid in most places.

  • patrick dean May 4, 2020, 12:20 pm

    Hi Chris,
    I live in a fairly rural place with rugged topography and the only network that works is AT&T. Thoughts on cheaper options?

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 12:37 pm

      Consumer Cellular or BOOM Mobile’s Blue plans could be worth considering. AT&T occasionally has good deals running on its prepaid plans also.

      • patrick dean May 4, 2020, 1:48 pm

        Thank you!

    • Dawn O December 18, 2020, 2:07 pm

      I’m admittedly late to the party, but wanted to share this often overlooked ATT option. $300 for a full year paid up front. Unlimited talk and text. Excellent coverage and 5 GB data with rollover. That’s $25 a month for REAL coverage. I’m on my second year and loving it. I even occassionally use my phone as a hotspot and I’ve never gone over my data.
      This deal is not often posted, but it’s available. Just call and ask.
      Best of luck in the hopefully awesome new year!

      • Coverage Critic December 21, 2020, 2:00 pm

        That $300/year deal is pretty great (I think what AT&T is running right now is 8GB/month with no rollover). I think I’m overdue for adding the plan to the page. Thanks!

  • ron manuel May 4, 2020, 12:21 pm

    My wife and I have Ting. I’m happy with the company and the customer service is superb. They recently suggested that I switch from a Sprint SIM to a Verizon SIM, which I did because I believe Verizon has slightly better coverage. But 10 miles out of my small city, no one has great coverage and I loved wifi calling with Sprint. Ting didn’t mention to me that their Verizon service does not have wifi calling, and I’m disappointed in that aspect of the switch.

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 8:00 pm

      The lack of Wi-Fi calling on Ting’s Verizon service is one of the big downsides. A Ting employee I spoke to suggested they were working on adding support for Wi-Fi calling, but I don’t know if/when that’ll happen.

  • Jennifer May 4, 2020, 12:29 pm

    I suggest, especially for those people who have previously been AT&T customers to try Consumer Cellular, especially if you’re not a heavy data user. I’m paying $29 a month for unlimited talk and text and 3 GB of data I could pare it down even further–to under $25 a month if I could reduce my voice calls but I’m working at home for the foreseeable future so no way to do that. I’m on the Maine coast in a really rural area so a lot of the cheaper plans mentioned in the post aren’t an option for me.

  • Robbie Moreland May 4, 2020, 12:47 pm

    With T-Mobile Connect ($15/month), is their “capped” 2G only counted when you’re NOT on Wifi? So, as long as I’m on Wifi, I’m not using any of my Data allowance?

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 10:24 am

      Yup! As long as you’re using Wi-Fi rather than your cellular connection, you won’t drain from the 2GB allotment.

  • Thrifty May 4, 2020, 1:04 pm

    Thoughts on PagePlus Cellular? Operates on VZ, can get 4 months of service for $10, balance carries over. Kind of expensive per minute, but great for low usage ppl. $2.50 per month !!

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 11:40 am

      I haven’t used PagePlus myself, but it’s also a sibling brand of TracFone like one of our recommended carriers, Total Wireless.

      With Verizon’s network, PagePlus should offer good coverage. If you barely using your phone and only pay $2.50 per month, I think you’ve found something great for your needs!

  • Nicole Young May 4, 2020, 1:09 pm

    Hi Chris,
    Would love your help! I provide a phone to my 38- year old godson who lives in a San Francisco single occupancy hotel where he can’t get WiFi. So, he needs lots of data at a price I can afford to give him. He has an Android phone. what do you suggest?

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 1:18 pm

      Hi Nicole,

      Mint Mobile might be a great option if 8-12GB of data each month is sufficient. Verizon’s Visible offers a reasonably cheap unlimited plan that could also be an option. Unfortunately, Visible isn’t compatible with as extensive a range of phones as Mint. You can check compatibility with Visible here.

  • Oliver May 4, 2020, 1:09 pm

    Hi! I have been using iPhones for a long time and now have the iPhone XR. Bought the Pixel 3a tro try it out and see if its worth switching to and selling the iPhone but the savings would not be that good.

    I feel like the iPhone XR is still a bit to expensive for my budget but I have a hard time making the sacrifice of losing the comfort of the iPhone for more budget friendly android phones like the moto or so.
    If the SE was cheaper in Sweden I would go for that but maybe its best to keep the XR as long as possible?

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 11:37 am

      It really depends on what kind of resale value you could get out of the XR and how much you value sticking with the iPhone. I do think most iOS users will come to feel comfortable with the Android ecosystem once they’ve used it for a few months.

  • Megan May 4, 2020, 1:24 pm

    The xfinity mobile listing here is misleading. It’s $12/month for 1 GB or less and all the 5 free lines can share that. So if you have two lines that stay under 1 GB per month it’s $6 for each of those lines… add some friends in and for 5 lines it’s $2.40/line. The way it’s listed here makes it seem like it’s $12/line. This is speaking as someone who uses this plan.

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 1:53 pm

      Hi Megan,

      You can get the ultimate Mustachian deal if you have five very light data users sharing 1GB of data (which Xfinity only charges $12 for in total)! In that case, you end up paying only a few bucks per line for awesome service over Verizon’s network. We considered listing an example plan along those lines. In the end, I thought using an example with 5 lines and 10GB of shared data (which Xfinity charges a total of $60 per month for) would capture a more common use case.

      (Added 5/17/20: The 1GB plan is now $15 per month.)

  • Eric B May 4, 2020, 1:24 pm

    Is Verizon still CDMA only? I went with an AT&T MVNO because I wanted to have a GSM phone (for occasional overseas travel) and my friends on T-Mobile/Sprint had too many coverage issues.

    I didn’t see any mention of Pure Talk USA, but I switched to them a year or two ago, and at the time I think they had the best AT&T network pricing. I pay roughly $44/month (after all taxes and fees) for 2 lines with unlimited talk/text, and enough data for our needs (I think the total across the two lines is < 5 GB). I think it was a better deal than Consumer Cellular and BOOM when I last checked.

    • Eric B May 4, 2020, 1:47 pm

      Should have done more research before submitting that comment. Sounds like CDMA is on its way out and you no longer need a special phone for Verizon. At least that’s my understanding. Please correct me if I’m wrong :)

      • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 8:05 pm

        CDMA and GSM are on the way out as all the major carriers move towards more LTE. Not all phones with LTE capabilities will be universally compatible across LTE networks though.

        I’d definitely check device compatibility ahead of time with carriers running over Verizon’s network.

  • joe adler May 4, 2020, 1:27 pm

    Hello Chris … thanks for the information.

    Any suggestions for visitors to the USA. We live in Canada and roaming rates in the US on Canadian plans are pretty high. We travel frequently to the USA with a mix of travel to urban and rural locales.

    We have used old pay as you go T mobile plans in the past (pay per day used) but see no such offerings recently. Any thoughts or suggestions?


    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 11:34 am

      How often do you come to the U.S., and what does your minutes/text/data usage look like while you’re here?

  • Scott Sichler May 4, 2020, 1:29 pm

    We live part of the year in Mexico and it’s hard to beat the Telcel plans. Example – 300 pesos ($12.40US) buys you 30 days of service, unlimited talk/text in North America (US, Canada, Mexico), 4GB data North America, and unlimited social media apps including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram in Mexico. You can even hotspot to your computer in Mexico and get unlimited data for social media. Roams on T-Mobile in the US.

  • Ryan May 4, 2020, 1:56 pm

    What, no love for Republic Wireless? I’m surprised, since that was the OG phone plan MMM touted a few years ago. I’ve been a happy Republic user since 2015 with no real problems. With taxes and fees, I’m paying a total of $25/month for unlimited calls and texts plus 1G data when not on WiFi, which is more than I could possibly burn through in a month (though you can add 1G for $5 anytime).

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 10:29 am

      These days, I think Mint Mobile and T-Mobile Connect can deliver a similar (maybe even better) experience with lower prices.

  • Rebecca May 4, 2020, 2:33 pm

    Thinking of making the switch from AT&T, but curious how do wearables work with these other phone plans? I have an Apple Watch from AT&T that tethers to my phone number – do you know if those can be ported to this alternative providers, too?

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 11:33 am

      Is there a cellular connection on the watch itself? If so, options are pretty limited. The services I’m aware of that support an LTE Apple Watch are (a) postpaid accounts with the Big 4 carriers and (b) Xfinity Mobile. I expect more carriers will support the Apple Watch eventually, but I don’t know how quickly that’ll happen.

      (5/17/20 Update: Regional carriers C-Spire, US Cellular, and Appalachian also support Apple Watches.)

  • Lori May 4, 2020, 2:35 pm

    Hi Chris, we are locked to an AT&T provider due to a cell booster at our house and use Consumer Cellular. They have great customer service. I didn’t see any AT&T options in your top list.

  • Biggsie May 4, 2020, 3:02 pm

    This is awesome! Can you add iPad and Apple Watch compatibility to the reviews? I have Xfinity internet and this nudged me to look into Xfinity Mobile again. Stoked to learn that they now support Apple Watch. Unfortunately they don’t yet support iPad.

    I just got an LTE iPad for my mom and put in my Verizon data plan so she could drop her internet (and save $$.)

  • Barry May 4, 2020, 3:04 pm

    I’ve found that the prepaid options from the majors work very well. I’ve had prepaid service from Verizon and AT&T and the bills were ~$50/month for unlimited service. Xfinity mobile’s was great too. I also think Visible, Verizon’s prepaid service, can get someone unlimited data for as low as $25/month but starts at $40/month.

  • Jeremiah May 4, 2020, 4:58 pm

    no mention of the Spring/Tmobile merger? I think that will change the landscape considerably

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 10:32 am

      I expect it will. In fact, the T-Mobile Connect plans I recommend were released as part of T-Mobile convincing regulators to approve the merger.

      It’s probably going to be a couple years before it really feels like T-Mobile and Sprint have become one company. As the landscape changes, I’ll update my recommendations.

  • Alexander Schotz May 4, 2020, 5:04 pm

    Hey what’s your recommendation for 2 people who need unlimited talk and text but use little data. We usually use a total of 1-2 gigs but have gone over 2 on occasion. We currently have fi but it seems that some of the options listed would be cheaper

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 8:09 pm

      Either 2 of Mint Mobile’s 3GB plans or 2 or T-Mobile’s 2GB Connect plans would probably work well for you!

      • Alexander Schotz May 5, 2020, 9:04 am

        So can you clarify the T-Mobile and mint plans pricing for two people. From what I can understand it looks like both T-Mobile and mint would be $15 per month for 2 GB of data and I’m assuming that $15 is per person so for two people it would be $30?

        Xfinity is 12 per gig so we need 2 gigs is that 24 or do I need to multiply for 2 people

        • Coverage Critic May 6, 2020, 12:02 am

          -T-Mobile Connect charges $15 per line each month (so a total of $30) for 2GB per line.
          -Mint’s pricing varies depending on how many months of service are purchased upfront (Mint has 3, 6, and 12 month options). However, Mint lets new customers purchase 3 months of service at the monthly rates normally reserved for people buying 12 months of service. Two lines on Mint’s 3GB plan with the 12-month pricing (or the new customer pricing) would work out to $15 per line each month (so a total of $30 per month).
          -Xfinity Mobile has three options for by-the-gig pricing. 1GB of shared data for $12, 3GB for $30, or 10GB for $60. If you wanted 1GB of data total, you could have 2 lines for $12 ($6 each). Alternatively, you could have 2 lines share 3GB for $30 ($15 per line).

          (Added 5/17/20: The 1GB plan from Xfinity Mobile is now $15 per month.)

  • Jenny May 4, 2020, 5:19 pm

    Republic Wireless has been really great for me for the last 6.5 years. I was paying about $19/month with the 2.0 data refund plan for years, but when I finally replaced my phone recently and switched to the 3.0 plan, I was able to pay for a full year for the price of 9 months. So, even though I don’t get a refund on my unused data anymore I’m still paying what amounts to about $18/month (1GB data). When I was commuting to work, 1GB/month was more than enough data to manage my various public transit and ridesharing apps away from home, since I don’t have a car, and now that I’m home all the time I have oodles of data left over every month. I have found Republic to be extremely reliable and people-oriented, and their quality has only improved over the years.

  • Daniel May 4, 2020, 5:24 pm

    Limited choices with the Apple watch. What are your recommendations for an LTE Apple watch? I was told about a year ago that none of the “prepaid” services support it. That is why we had to switch from Consumer Cellular after they saved us thousands over five years.

    • Coverage Critic May 5, 2020, 8:30 pm

      I’m not super up-to-date on smartwatches, but as far as I know there are only two options for Apple’s on-watch LTE right now: (a) postpaid accounts with one of the four major carrier & (b) Xfinity Mobile.

      So I suppose my recommendation is Xfinity Mobile if you have internet from them. I expect that other carriers will eventually support the watch eSIM, but I don’t know when that’ll happen.

      (5/17/20 Update: Regional carriers C-Spire, US Cellular, and Appalachian also support Apple Watches.)

  • Sean May 4, 2020, 5:26 pm


    Wondering if you had any opinion one way or the other about Twigby? I came across it in my research and it seemed competitive.

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 7:27 pm

      If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of performance for a good deal, Twigby could be a great option! I trialed one of their plans a few months ago and had a good experience.

      The Sprint-based coverage for data access is going to be somewhat lackluster, but if you mostly spend time in well-populated areas that might not matter much. Twigby’s support is exclusively chat-based. I don’t mind that, but I know some people really prefer to be able to talk to a support agent over the phone.

  • bfraz May 4, 2020, 5:56 pm

    It’s NOT That Simple! We pay $185 a month – yeah, it’s love-hate.

    We live up a creek, literally, here in rural Oregon. No wired service for internet and no cable for TV access. We must boost our cellular signal with WeBoost, or we would not have any cell service at all. One tower, 7 miles away.
    For now Verizon has us by the throat. We use a Verizon mi-fi and then hot spot each of our two Verizon compatible Samsung Note 5 phones for ALL our internet. The mi-fi (it’s just a third hotspot really) is speedy enough – 12 -20 Mbps for the first 15 GB of data – that’s about a week’s worth. Once we’ve used the 15 GB of 4G LTE data, our Hotspot’s data speed is reduced to 600 Kbps (max) for the rest of the billing cycle. In the evenings that can drift downward to more like 60Kbps according to our speed tests. Yes, welcome to the dark ages. Our lives may soon be better thanks to some low earth orbit satellites (Starlink).

    So, it just isn’t as simple as most city people make it out to be. (Or is it?)

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 10:37 am

      It sounds like you have more limited options than most people. If you’re interested in an experiment, you could consider trying a line on Visible for one month. Visible offers a low-cost, unlimited plan over Verizon’s network. Hotspot access is unlimited, but the speeds may be throttled & you can only connect one device at a time.

      If you had a good experience during the trial month, you could move over completely.

  • MarcelDurden May 4, 2020, 6:41 pm

    CC, great stuff here thank you for your efforts and insights. What would you recommend for someone who wants the following: Verizon’s coverage for reliability, iPhone 7 (not sure if it’s unlocked or not but I own it at this point and considering getting the 5G iPhone when released hopefully this year), 2-3GB of data/month, travel international a couple times a year, unlimited text and calls. I’m currently with Verizon and pay about $90-110/month (they have a cheap $25 passport plan for international I believe). I don’t have Xfinity anything (although could maybe use my parents Xfinity credentials, not sure how they track/verify your account but I don’t live with them). Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Coverage Critic May 4, 2020, 7:13 pm

      You could consider dropping down to Verizon’s prepaid, 6GB per month plan. I think that would cost $35 per month (or a bit more without automatic payments).

      For short trips to other countries, you could use Verizon’s Prepaid International Travel Passes. Those would set you back $5-$10 (usually $10) per day of travel.

      On longer trips, I’d strongly recommend grabbing temporary, prepaid SIM cards in the countries you visit. In many countries, these are super cheap and easy to find (especially in touristy areas).

  • Gaelynn Lea Tressler May 4, 2020, 10:41 pm

    Oops I pressed send too soon! the reason I am leaving this comment is because I have a question for you. I am a traveling musician (usually, not during COVID obviously!) But I am wondering if there are any cheap plans that have an option for using your data as a mobile hotspot. I travel a lot and I use the hotspot in the car while my husband is driving… I do things like email and social media updates when were traveling to gigs. So I don’t know if there is anything available that would still give me access to a hotspot for an affordable price. Right now I am tethered to Verizon Wireless at about $130 a month because I get 30 gigs of Hotspot data every month… unfortunately when we’re traveling I actually do use that much. So I’m not sure if there are any options out there that would give me the same kind of Hotspot data… Any recommendations would be appreciated! At least my phone was cheap and so that is good: But I would like to save more money if possible. Thanks and have a great day!

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 11:31 am

      Almost all these plans allow some mobile hotspot use. You could consider Visible, a flanker brand of Verizon, that offers low-cost plans with unlimited hotspot access. One caveat there: Visible only allows one connected device at a time with mobile hotspot.

  • Olivia May 5, 2020, 2:27 am

    I’m still with Republic Wireless because I spend 6 months a year in Europe. Since it’s wifi based outside the country, i can use it anywhere I have wifi. Is there anything similar and cheaper in the plans you’re offering?

    • Coverage Critic May 27, 2020, 1:43 pm

      A number of carriers offer similar Wi-Fi calling features. You could also consider running a line through Google Hangouts or another VoIP service. That would allow you to call over Wi-Fi regardless of your carrier or location.

  • Nick Spadaro May 5, 2020, 6:16 am

    We live in the boonies and have tried Verizon, At&t, and T mobile to no avail. With no internet available at the house good data is paramount. So far the best we have found is US Cellular, (There is an US cellular tower on a nearby mountain top that we have line of sight to.) Unfortunately there are no MNVOs for US cellular that we have been able to find so we are just plain stuck paying top dollar. Know of any solutions?

    • Coverage Critic May 5, 2020, 8:41 am

      If you don’t use a ton of data, consider looking at Google Fi. With what Fi calls a “Designed for Fi” device, you’d have access to T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular’s networks. If you’re a heavy data user, Fi may be so expensive that sticking with US Cellular is a better option.

  • Robert May 5, 2020, 8:26 am

    Hi and thanks for insights

    I live in Asia and am moving back to the states (last month until lockdown and my flights cancelled). Here in Thailand all the carriers allow tethering which is great as I can connect my laptop or iPad anywhere.

    If I recall 5 years ago tethering was an expensive addon.

    My question becomes then, when you recommend some plans which sound solid could you note the cost to share data to your other devices.

    Lastly on international trips SIMS are absolutely the way to go in Asia. I travel the region frequently and have a wallet full of cheap SIM cards with generous data options. Good for Hong Kong / Thailand / Singapore / Korea / Vietnam / Philippines.and others. Then use Whatsapp or Skype or even Zoom. Some frequent travelers buy dual SIM phones just for this reason. I’m an apple fan boy so I swap.


    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 11:28 am

      Tethering and mobile hotspot are gradually becoming something like standard features. Most of the plans I recommend allow tethering, and most of the plans treat data used while tethering similar to on-phone data use. I’m limited in how many details I can give about plans on the MMM recommendations page without throwing too much information at people. If you’re looking for details on tethering policies, I try to discuss them in my comprehensive reviews on Coverage Critic (though a handful of my older reviews are missing this info).

  • Chris B May 5, 2020, 8:48 am

    What are your thoughts on RedPocket?

    3GB LTE with unlimited voice and text is $15/mo. 8GB is $19!

    Allegedly good coverage and almost any BYO phone supported.

    • EJ May 5, 2020, 10:12 am

      I was wondering the same thing. From my research RedPocket is the best deal for a single user that doesn’t use tons of data. I got one family member on the plan and he has had no complaints after 6 months. He is a low data user on the $10 a month plan using Verizon data. I have read that switching from Verizon is a pain because the RedPocket-Verizon contract does not allow Verizon users to switch straight to Verizon data on RedPocket.

    • Coverage Critic May 5, 2020, 8:49 pm

      I’m not a fan. I went into a bit more detail in another comment. The short version is that I’ve found Red Pocket to be unprofessional. That said, I agree Red Pocket has good prices.

      I think EJ is right that Red Pocket’s Verizon-based service is especially issue-prone. The AT&T service is probably a better bet.

  • Rob T May 5, 2020, 9:45 am

    I tried to switch to the T-Mobile Connect plan today (5/5) and found that it was a limited time offer that ended late April. No longer available. It would be nice to add that caveat to your initial reporting. Received MMM blog post on 5/3, so the offer was out of date when posted. Disappointing!

    • Coverage Critic May 5, 2020, 3:15 pm

      I’m confident it’s still available. Take a look here at T-Mobile’s website. T-Mobile has committed to offering the plan for several years.

      • Barb May 5, 2020, 4:58 pm

        I just switched my TMobile plan from the 55 +unlimited plan to the $15 connect plan. It took awhile to find it, even when talking to customer service reps. Turns out you are changing from Postpaid to Prepaid plans and that needs to be clarified, different “worlds”. They agreed to send me a free Sim card, (waived the $10 fee). We’ll see how it goes.

  • Beth J May 5, 2020, 5:52 pm

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for all the great info. It came at a great time.

    How well do iPhones function with Google Fi? I’ve read the main points on their website but wondering about difficulties with texting non-iphone users or other annoyances. Thinking of switching from StraightTalk for the international calling freedom.


    • Coverage Critic May 5, 2020, 8:20 pm

      Not super well unfortunately. There are a few minor feature limitations (no visual voicemail or texts over Wi-Fi). More importantly, you won’t have access to Fi’s network-switching features. Instead, you’ll have access to only T-Mobile’s network (no Sprint or U.S. Cellular).

      In my view, there are cheaper ways for iPhone users to get coverage from T-Mobile. If you are constantly traveling internationally, Fi may still be worth it. If you only go abroad a few times per year, it would probably be better to just choose a cheaper carrier that uses T-Mobile’s network and buy local SIM cards in countries you travel to.

  • David R May 5, 2020, 9:10 pm

    I’ve considered switching from our family plan (shared with my wife and her parents) to one of the off-brand carriers, but I’ve always been worried about deprioritization. I can only assume that Verizon would deprioritize Total’s traffic over its own customer’s traffic. So in high-usage situations (sports stadiums, traffic jams, etc), my data speeds would slow to a crawl while my neighbor’s Verizon phone would work fine. Is this a real issue?

    • Coverage Critic May 5, 2020, 11:51 pm

      Deprioritization can be a real issue. Unfortunately, networks don’t usually explain prioritization policies in clear terms. Small carriers are often contractually prohibited from discussing the policies too explicitly.

      I have a lot of experience using potentially deprioritized services in situations with a lot of people (concerts, traffic, etc.) without issue. On the flip side, I think it’s possible to experience deprioritization from congested cell sites even when you’re not shoulder-to-shoulder with other people.

      The simplest way to figure out whether deprioritization is going to be an issue is to just try a carrier for a month. In the vast majority of cases, consumers don’t run into serious issues with deprioritization.

      As a side note, there are a handful of low-cost options that I don’t think are typically subject to deprioritization (e.g., T-Mobile Connect, Fi)

  • Carla Flaim May 6, 2020, 5:21 am

    Hi Chris,
    We live in a rural spot that has no available internet – no Xfinity, no broadband, no FIOS, nothing. We have DirectTv but even AT&T doesn’t offer anything where we live. I ended up going with a Sprint mobile hotspot with 100gb (there are two of us working from home) and to supplement an iphone from Sprint with mobile hotspot capabilities. I spent a lot of time researching best options, and yet I feel like maybe I missed something. I upgraded my phone (was on Google FI) because there were a couple of times of maxing out the hotspot due to windows updates etc pushed out by work IT team. Any suggestions? We spend about $180 altogether.

    • Coverage Critic May 27, 2020, 1:39 pm

      In the grand scheme of things, I think the Sprint hotspot is a pretty cost-effective option. Other good options could be Boost Mobile hotspots or Verizon’s flanker brand Visible.

      Visible offers unlimited mobile hotspot access at a good price. The downside is that you can only connect one device at a time to each phone running a mobile hotspot.

  • Tony Villa May 6, 2020, 8:30 am

    Hi, Chris. I’ve been a Verizon customer for some time & my wife & I still have about 18 monthly payments due on the phones that we last upgraded to. How portable are these payment plans? That is if I want to leave VZ would we have to pay the remaining balance of the purchase contracts in full before we could switch? We are paying $ 70/mo for 8GB of shared data, unlimited talk & text, line access = $ 20.00/month. Do you think we can do much better than this? Thanks

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 10:20 am

      I’d reach out to Verizon to be sure of the policies on your payment plan, but I think that if you suspend your service you’ll just continue to get billed monthly for payments due on the phones. I believe Verizon also allows you pay ahead of time as long as you pay for your phones in full.

      So does your base price come out to $110 per month? You could do a lot better than that. On Verizon’s prepaid plans, you could get more data and only pay $70 per month. Other carriers like Total Wireless may have even better deals.

      • mike May 9, 2020, 7:07 am

        I tried TING abou 2 yrs ago for wife and I and found the monthly cost to be about $70/mo. based on our usage lots of text messaging. You can see your cost go up as you use service which was kinda fun.

        So switched BACK to verizon prepaid and cost was $70/mo. Last year Verizon lowered my cost to $60/mo for unlimited talk/text and we each get 3gb data. This is $30/mo for both of us and seems like a good deal.

  • Ivy May 6, 2020, 7:02 pm

    Any recommendations for talk only service, flip phone for senior? My grandma doesn’t text or use data. Would greatly appreciate your insight. Thanks…

    • Coverage Critic May 7, 2020, 10:10 am

      It depends on how many minutes she’ll need. If use it really low, US Mobile could be great. If a lot of minutes are needed, T-Mobile Connect is so cheap that it may be a decent deal even if she doesn’t use any of the allotted data or texts.


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