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.

  • Oliver May 7, 2020, 1:13 pm

    I am still paying for the iPhone XR for another 8 months so I am sticking to that.
    Yeah thats true, I am a bit comfortable in the apple ecosystem at the moment.
    If the iPhone SE wasnt 200 usd more expensive in Sweden that would be the right phone but right now Its probably smart to stick to the one I am still paying for until Its worth selling or breaks.

    Just need to pay this phone off so I can switch to a cheaper carrier, in the long run I guess thats whats most important.

  • Bernie Yeater May 7, 2020, 1:21 pm

    I once tried Metro PCS, a service of T-Mobile. I was managing a project near an Automotive plant on the north end of Detroit. No signal. It severely impacted my ability to coordinate things. I found about that Verizon has a program for Veterans and Military for $45 a month. it was $15 more a month but all my calls get through. I bought some Moto G6 of of Amazon for $85 a piece. We have three on the plan. Was considering Visable, but I understand that Verizon extends its service in areas they do not have towers by buying space on Sprint and T-Mobile. These extension agreements are not available to Visable.

  • Sarah May 8, 2020, 12:24 am

    Hi! I’ve been reading through the article, your site, and the comments and responses, and I know we all appreciate your help because we feel like we’ve been blindfolded for a long time. We live in a rural area so AT&T and Verizon networks are pretty much our only option. The catch is that we spend a little bit of time in Canada each year, and my husband spends a month or two in Europe (Switzerland, France, Austria) each year. AT&T had an international add on monthly fee and currently we have unlimited everything including Canada but I really don’t like the $130/month bill. Visible looks good for here (I kept re-reading their site trying to figure out the catch- unlimited everything?), Consumer Cellular? It’s so hard to find the details with each company like do they charge more or just slow your speeds if you go over on data or what really is their international policy? I loved Mint mobile’s concept but after digging for ages had to go to google to find out they use T-Mobile’s network. I still feel like I’m wading through the muck. Any suggestions? Much appreciated.

    • Coverage Critic May 8, 2020, 10:07 am

      Frequent international travel can definitely make picking a plan more complicated. How many lines will you need in total and how much data do you typically use?

  • Tom May 9, 2020, 5:00 am

    I use unlocked OnePlus phones with service by US Mobile, whom I found using the website I was a little surprised none of these 3 have been mentioned by Chris or any of the commenters.

  • nice joy May 10, 2020, 10:33 am

    Thanks for your recommendations . I have 3 prepaid Verizon connection 3 GB +3 GB+ 15 GB pays around $97 including tax and fees. New connections get 6+ 6+16 get for $85. I was going to switch to t mobile with 2 GB + 2 GB +8 GB total 55… Then realized that t mobile prepaid don’t have any coverage for data [ can still make calls and text] in rural areas and small towns…. This is a problem when I take remote road trips. So I am planning to keep one phone with Verizon with 6 GB $35 and switch the other 2 lines to T mobile 15 +15 . What do you think?

    • Coverage Critic May 27, 2020, 1:45 pm

      I think that’s a good option if you don’t need especially extensive coverage on either of the T-Mobile lines!

  • Andy May 11, 2020, 2:29 am

    Hey Chris, This is really helpful!

    How do you handle phone numbers with all of the switching of carriers? Do you port one number, or never use your sim card number?

    I went about 2 years with using mysudo and google voice on my iphone, and they were so unreliable that I recently switched back to using a sim-number for “phone calls”. I try to do as much as possible through Wire and Signal, but still use my phone number a good bit.

    I’ currently on RedPocket’s verizon plan. It’s better than the ATT service I had on cricket, but still finicky service at my house (I live out in the country). I’d be interested in trying some other verizon options, but porting my number has always seemed to be a hassle and potentially dangerous (Lost my wife’s number accidentally several years ago…).

    I’d love to hear your thoughts!

    • Coverage Critic May 11, 2020, 1:54 pm

      Hey Andy,

      Great question. I tend to keep things simple and get a new number with each carrier I review. About a year ago, I ported my personal number over to Google Voice. For the most part, I love Google Voice, but I’ve definitely experienced my share of frustrations with it as well.

      I think the odds of losing a number while porting are awfully low these days, but it definitely happens. IMO, it’s worth the gamble to port unless there’s some unusual reason why losing a number would turn out to be a nightmare.

      I’m not super knowledgeable about all the under-the-good logistics of number porting, but I have the impression that the process has been streamlined in recent years. In some cases, it’s now possible to port numbers almost instantly.

  • Ted Gamble May 12, 2020, 12:35 pm

    Hello Christian, AKA The Coverage Critic, great stuff! I am wondering if you have any suggestions for Canada, specifically British Columbia. My wife and I are both nurses and have a corporate deal through our Health Authority, Island Health; however, I am still paying $160/month in Canadian $”s but still, I think we can do better. We are both only casual users really, no huge data or text usage, about average I guess. I really appreciate MMM and the work done by you all to bring financial understanding to the Masses. God know’s our educational systems do not provide financial literacy. Thank you, Be well. Tedg

    • Coverage Critic May 13, 2020, 2:44 pm

      Hey Ted, we’ve got a list of providers we recommend in Canada over at Public Mobile might be a good option for you two. You can see Public Mobile’s coverage map here.

  • Jennifer A Barrett May 13, 2020, 5:20 pm

    Any thoughts on PagePlus? They run on Verizon, and offer single plans with very low prices. We’ve had a great experience with the 2 GB and unlimited talk/text they offer for about $30/mo per line, after taxes.

    • Coverage Critic May 15, 2020, 3:29 pm

      I haven’t tried it myself, but my impression is generally positive. It shares the same parent company as one of our recommended carriers, Total Wireless. With the Verizon network, you should have pretty extensive coverage.

  • Peggy May 14, 2020, 5:04 am

    What’s the best option for a single line low usage service? Most usage is on home wifi, maybe 3 hours of call time a week and rare internet usage. I have a Republic Wireless internet only line on an older phone that I own, and my work Verizon iphone that I’ll lose when I retire next month. Was thinking of just adding cellular to my RW plan. Recommendations, anyone?

    • Coverage Critic May 15, 2020, 3:26 pm

      Mint or T-Mobile Connect will likely give you an experience similar to RW but at a lower price.

  • Dave May 14, 2020, 9:53 pm

    Thanks for the helpful comparison of cell plans!! I was curious why no one’s mentioned Cricket. Especially for locations that AT&T covers amazingly well, Cricket as a MVNO is very straight forward, easy to switch to, and have cheap phone options. (What average Joe needs a Pixel or an Iphone?!). It’s possible I might just be a naive loyalist, as my first phone back in the day was on Cingular…

    Right now I’m on a plan for 2 phones/$60 for 4 gigs. Great coverage for New England. Do I need to switch? It’s tempting to move to Mint Mobile, but I’m always suspicious of activation fees.

    • Coverage Critic May 15, 2020, 3:23 pm

      Hey Dave,

      I may add Cricket to the list soon. I don’t think Cricket’s current offerings are crazy well-priced for 1-3 lines, but the 4 & 5 line family plans are a pretty good deal.

      While you might be able to find something a bit cheaper, $30 per line is not bad. I don’t think it’s necessary for you to switch if you’re having a good experience. For what it’s worth, Mint doesn’t have activation fees.

  • ThisTooShallPass May 17, 2020, 4:26 pm

    Hi Chris,
    Am I missing something when you prefer T-Mobile connect over MINT? Because, MINT says they provide unlimited data (although at a reduced speed after monthly allowance). Everything else seems to be equal? Isn’t $15/month MINT is worth more than $15/month on T-Mobile Connect?

    Secondly, my wife and my son have being using H2O Wireless for years now (their emergency plan when no near WiFi).
    Prepaid $10/90days plan (100 minutes, 200MB data, WIFI Calling), which basically works out to $3.33 /month.

    Thanks for your passion in helping others.

    • Coverage Critic May 18, 2020, 10:18 am

      So I don’t always prefer T-Mobile Connect over Mint, but I do think T-Mobile Connect is the better bet for people who consistently use under 2GB of data per month. T-Mobile Connect doesn’t require upfront payment for multiple months of service. As far as I can tell, Connect subscribers get prioritized a bit better than Mint subscriber during periods of network congestion.

      On the other hand, if you need more than 2GB of data, Mint is probably going to be a better bet than T-Mobile Connect.

      One thing I would note–I wouldn’t think of Mint’s plans as conventional unlimited plans. After subscribers run out of data, they can continue using the internet at 128Kbps. It’s super useful if you’ve run out of regular data and need to pull up an email or a boarding pass. It’s too slow to provide a decent experience for more intensive data use (e.g., streaming video or surfing social media).

      Sounds like that H2O plan is a great deal for super-limited use!

      • ThisTooShallPass May 18, 2020, 11:15 am

        Great. Thanks for your research and all the info. Much Appreciated!

  • Susie May 21, 2020, 11:30 am

    I bought a Nokia 2018 phone for $215 (Amazon). My phone plan is Airvoice Wireless, $21.45/no. Unlimited calling & texts, 2GB data. Perfect for me. No dropped calls, enough data for me each day. I’m retired and do not work any longer.

  • Kelly Monaghan May 23, 2020, 12:24 pm

    I’m considering Visible and have a few questions: (1) Is there any downside to a party plan? And if not, how would I find two more folks to go i with me an my wife. (2) when no pandemic is raging, we spend 5 to 6 months in Canada; how does Visible work with that kind of situation?

    • Coverage Critic May 26, 2020, 12:58 pm

      There’s a community on Reddit dedicated to helping people form Visible parties.

      I don’t believe Visible has international roaming options, so it won’t be a good option while you’re in Canada.

  • Tabot May 25, 2020, 10:46 am

    I have had good luck buying phones from I can get an iPhone xr right now in good condition for $450. I also like that I’m not buying a new phone and contributing to e waste.

  • Joe May 27, 2020, 1:05 pm

    Need a new phone as was assessing deals for a phone with service. Found SFone Wireless with an $150 Iphone with a $14 plan no contract, no commitment. Are these plans worth it or is there a hitch?

    • Coverage Critic June 4, 2020, 12:03 pm

      The pricing seems decent. I don’t have any opinion on SFone though–as far as I can tell, it is very small and really new.

  • Miles May 28, 2020, 1:09 pm

    Does anyone have experience with the $200 debit card you get when signing up for Visible and purchasing the Iphone SE? When do you receive the debit card? Is it a debit card you can spend on anything? Or, is the spending limited in some way? Also, is it possible to swap service from Visible to Xfinity and use the Iphone SE purchased through Visible?

  • Dan June 3, 2020, 7:19 pm

    We switched from full retail price from Verizon, $130/month for 2 lines with 4 gigs shared data, to Sprint $70/month for 2 lines with unlimited talk/text/and data.
    Do you have any thoughts on Sprint or TMobile unlimited plans?

    • Coverage Critic June 4, 2020, 12:06 pm

      If you don’t need extensive coverage, those plans may be a decent option–they tend to be cheaper than the unlimited plans offered by AT&T and Verizon. Visible (a brand owned by Verizon that offers low-cost, unlimited plans) might be worth considering also.

  • Navy Ed June 4, 2020, 8:29 am

    Any recommendations for overseas usage? I am re-locating to Japan in a year and want to bring my US phone & number with. A buddy said that Sprint has free roaming in Japan, which I assume means my bill would be the same as it would be if making calls and using data in the US. The other caveat, is that I will need four lines, so if something like the Sprint family plan ($100/4 lines unlimited-ish).
    Any advice?

    • Coverage Critic June 4, 2020, 12:17 pm

      I think Japan is covered under Sprint’s Global roaming program. While that would give you free texting and data, I believe you’d still be charged for calls. Also, data would be throttled to sluggish (2G) speeds.

      Are you relocating to Japan indefinitely? Most U.S. carriers prohibit (or at least frown on) subscribers roaming in other countries for really extended periods.

      If you’re going to be in Japan for a long time, the best bet might be to get reasonably priced service from a Japanese carrier. You could then port any U.S. numbers you need to keep to Google Voice or another VoIP service. With many VoIP services, you could call & text from your U.S. number using an app on your phone.

  • Hunter June 8, 2020, 10:14 pm

    Per the recommendations here, my husband and I decided to switch to Mint. We have enjoyed the service for the most part, but have had issues with SMS and MMS messages sending sometimes. Usually a reboot will fix the issue for awhile, but I prefer not to have to restart my phone multiple times per day. We both have Moto G7s. Has anyone here experienced these issues? Have you been able to find a fix? I’ve read some posts on Reddit, but I couldn’t find anything conclusive on there.

    • Coverage Critic June 9, 2020, 5:02 pm

      Hey Hunter,

      Sorry to hear about the messaging issue. Happy to try and help you troubleshoot. Did you use the same phones and numbers with your previous carrier?

  • Emily June 9, 2020, 6:57 pm

    I REALLY need to stop giving AT&T so much money every month. On top of being unnecessarily expensive, they have absolutely terrible customer service. I am planning to switch to prepaid Verizon based on this article. Thank you!

  • Gogo Guss June 12, 2020, 1:45 pm

    Coverage Critic thank you for the great work here…I currently have Verizon and love the coverage while traveling but do you have a recommendation for a single line user with a Verizon S9 plus phone and I use only about 2 GB of data per month?

    • Coverage Critic June 12, 2020, 4:21 pm

      Thanks! Which Verizon plan are you on now?

      If you want to stick with Verizon, you could switch over to the Verizon Prepaid plan with 6gb of data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited texts. With the autopay discount, that plan would come out at $35/month + taxes and fees (first month of service would be $40).

      You could also consider US Mobile’s service over Verizon’s network. US Mobile may be a particularly good option if you don’t use many minutes or texts.

  • Brenda Piampiano June 15, 2020, 3:39 pm

    I (foolishly, it turns out) recently signed up for a 2 year commitment with REed Pocket because its site claims it sells access to all four networks. I need Verizon for access from a cabin I have in a remote section of Maine. Not understanding what I was getting, I received a phone with an ATT sim card. I am STUCK. They say I can “unlock” the phone after a period of time—but how do I get a VErizon SIM card. I also have travelled abroad and wanted to buy a local SIM card when I am in a place for several weeks. I can only do that if I have an unlocked phone. My previous service was with Verizon—good service but LOCKED and expensive. Also my new I-Phone SE has problems: music and podcasts cannot be heard through ear buds, only “out loud”. So far no solution from Apple. Any ideas on how to get a VErizon SIM card and get action on Iphone problems?

  • Mariela June 15, 2020, 3:58 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! I live in Malibu, CA where cell coverage is less than ideal; as many I am tired of the monthly bills from ATT and the lousy CS. Where can I check the “real” coverage? Any site that will provide good information about true cons and pros?

  • Patrick McCarthy June 16, 2020, 1:38 pm

    This is awesome. Really interesting and helpful. I am a Google Fi customer and I do love it and love my Moto X4. I am clearly overpaying because I do not like rationing my data and insist on having unlimited data. That said – I am seeing Yahoo Mobile (on Verizon’s network) advertised at $40/month for unlimited data. I will miss Google Fi when I travel, but I don’t travel that much. Any thoughts on Yahoo Mobile? Or other recommendations for those of us who just can’t stand the feeling of checking my data usage. What are the best unlimited data options?

    • Coverage Critic June 17, 2020, 10:38 am

      Thanks Patrick, data rationing with Fi can definitely be frustrating!

      About two years ago, Verizon launched a low-cost brand called Visible. Yahoo Mobile resells Visible service. While the service is more-or-less identical & the base pricing is the same, only Visible offers what it calls “Party Pay.” With Party Pay you could knock your bill from $40 per month to as low as $25 per month.

      With Visible/YM, the pricing is great and the coverage is excellent. On the downside, Visible subscribers seem to run into miscellaneous issues a bit too often. It could be that Visible is still sorting out some things as a relatively new carrier. I’d suggest giving it a try for a month and sticking with it if you have a good experience.

      If you’re looking for other low-cost unlimited plans, Cricket Wireless (runs over AT&T’s network) could be another good bet. The single-line plans are a tad expensive, but the family plans go as low as $25/line each month on unlimited plans.

  • Jay June 26, 2020, 8:34 am

    Do any of these plans allow you to use data in Mexico? Sometimes I go over there and being able to use my data for google maps or do a quick search is very helpful. I know I can download these maps ahead of time but just curious.

    • Coverage Critic June 26, 2020, 11:08 am

      Google Fi would allow you to use data in Mexico at the same rates you’d pay for data in the states. The other plans don’t allow that sort of super user-friendly data roaming in Mexico. Some will allow light roaming use with minor upcharges (e.g., Mint Mobile).

  • Bob July 6, 2020, 11:19 am

    Switched to Total Wireless, but they do not understand how to port numbers from Verizon. Their website requires a 4 digit PIN but the number transfer PIN is 6 digits, meaning you need to call and talk with a person. They then may demand that you provide a 4 digit PIN. I pointed this out as I learned the issue, but the agents are obviously not the ones designing the process. Just be aware if you are moving numbers from Verizon you will have issues, but once there seems good so far in our first week in.

    • Coverage Critic July 7, 2020, 1:31 pm

      Sorry you ran into trouble! Do you know how the issue was ultimately resolved?

      Given Verizon’s popularity, I’m surprised Total Wireless wasn’t immediately familiar with Verizon’s six digit transfer pins.

  • Dave Rumsey July 9, 2020, 6:41 pm

    Now that we moved to Colorado, the Cricket ATT network is not working well enough for traveling. I like the idea of Verizon Prepaid but have heard that Verizon has poor coverage in our neighborhood. I have heard good things about Straight Talk for the fact that they use all of the networks. Do you have any experience with Straight Talk and the use of all network carriers? Thank you.

    • Coverage Critic July 10, 2020, 1:38 pm

      Hi Dave,

      Colorado unfortunately is lousy in general when it comes to cell phone coverage. While Straight Talk offers service with all the major networks, it doesn’t offer service over every network simultaneously (i.e., any given phone will only be attached to one network).

  • Mike G July 21, 2020, 9:14 am

    What is the story with Altice Mobile? Any information on network quality and value would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Coverage Critic July 23, 2020, 8:24 am

      Altice offers a well-priced unlimited plan. It originally ran over Sprint’s network with some roaming access to AT&T’s network. Sprint’s network isn’t great in terms of coverage, and I believe data speeds are severely limited when roaming on AT&T’s network.

      Sprint and T-Mobile recently merged, so Altice will be shifting to run over the New T-Mobile network. I’m guessing that’ll lead to a better experience for most Altice subscribers.

      • Nick July 24, 2020, 11:48 am

        I’ve considered Altice too, but doesn’t that sort of lock you into to be a cable/internet subscriber with them? I would imagine they don’t give you the $30/month for life phone service if you don’t use their phone and internet. If that’s the case, it makes it hard to leave or change providers for a better price.

        • Coverage Critic July 24, 2020, 1:36 pm

          My impression is that you just loose eligibility for a $10/month/line discount if you’re not an Optimum or Suddenlink customer.

  • Cindy Brown July 22, 2020, 8:52 am

    I’ve used Verizon prepaid since Feb 2019. Because we’re longtime customers, we get a loyalty discount of $10 off the $40 5GB plan. Combine that with auto pay discount of $5 and we pay $25/line for 5GB and unlimited talk and text. That’s the same price Mint charges for their three-month renewal and I get 2G more of data.

    The best part of prepaid plans is you only pay state and local taxes, none of the other crazy fees that contracts charge. And anytime there’s a deal they’ll switch you to it easily. No questions asked.

    I do check in on their deals once a month. Our plan started at 80, then 60, and now we pay $50 for the two lines. Caveat? You have to own your phone outright. Not a problem for us.

  • TQ July 23, 2020, 2:47 pm

    How does Republic Wireless stack up? I have been a user for 7 years. I took advantage of their annual plan this year. I received 3 months free during the COVID shutdown vs 2months. My bill is just under just $19 per month with the beta discount. Thanks for your feedback.

    • Coverage Critic July 24, 2020, 1:31 pm

      These days, I think Mint beats RW for the most part. Mint offers very similar coverage to RW and can be cheaper (particularly for people who use a fair amount of data). I also feel like I hear a greater portion of RW subscribers complaining about miscellaneous issues.

      That said, if you’re only spending $19 per month, you’re doing pretty well! I wouldn’t pressure you to switch if you’re having a good experience.

      • Arkansas Kate July 30, 2020, 9:35 am

        I tried to sign up for Mint last fall and had no service whatsoever even in the middle of Little Rock. I was pretty mad about it. I checked all of the zip codes I spend time in with their map before buying, and they told me I’d have their best service in all of them, but I got nothing. I’m now paying a variable amount (based on data usage) averaging about $41 for Google Fi, and getting good service. I’d love to reduce that bill, but I’m not ready for the frustration of testing out what providers actually work in my area…

        • Mr. Money Mustache July 31, 2020, 10:21 am

          Great choice! Google Fi has the secret advantage of not even needing a cell signal whenever you are in good Wifi, which is absolutely essential in my book.

          Also, if you are looking to cut data use be sure to disable cellular data access for things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube on your phone. Those can eat up several megabytes from just one casual flick of the thumb because they are auto-loading lots of images and videos, whether you are interested in them or not (the bonus is this restriction will keep you from looking at social media when you are out and about, which is usually a life boost anyway :-)

  • John Rhoads August 4, 2020, 6:39 pm

    Using and loving it. Sprint towers I think.

    Currently $10 for 1GB and unlimited/unlimited. Data switches to 3G after your 1GB and you can buy top ups if you need.

    Referral codes can get you cheap(er) service.

  • fireweed August 17, 2020, 8:36 pm

    About mintmobile. Just switched over two phones from consumercellular. Have been test calling between the two. Sometimes, actually too often, calls are going straight to voicemail. Sometimes calls don’t go through at all. I switched after watching rave reviews on youtube and to save few dollars. These are known issues I found out. Going back to consumercellular. I live in a large metro area btw.

    • Coverage Critic August 18, 2020, 1:33 pm

      Sorry to hear about your negative experience. I’m guessing the issues may have been related to VoLTE settings or compatibility. What phone were you using when you ran into the issues?

      • Fireweed August 18, 2020, 1:36 pm

        Motorola g6 and Moto g7 play.

  • Jeff August 20, 2020, 10:48 am

    What would you suggest for my wife and I. Our voice minutes can vary quite a bit, texts are relatively minimal, and data would likely beat least 5 gig for me and 1-2 gig for her. We are now on a business unlimited Verizon plan (through my firm) that allows calls to and from US, Canada and Mexico for between $60 and $65 per phone per month. I use my phone in connection with work but am reducing work schedule and partially retiring. One main concern is that we now spend our winters in Mexico (4-5 months) and it is very convenient being able to use our phones freely while there (we do have WiFi in both Ohio and Mexico). While in the US, my wife makes frequent calls to her family in Mexico. I’d love to lower the bill but hate to give up the ability to call to and from Mexico.

  • tom August 22, 2020, 4:36 pm

    How does google-fi stack up?
    What about a table comparing costs, features?

    • Coverage Critic August 25, 2020, 3:02 pm

      Google Fi is great if you don’t use much data and can benefit from the carrier’s top-notch international roaming features. Unfortunately, Fi tends to be expensive for moderate & heavy users of data.

      A table would be nice, but it’s hard to condense all carriers’ policies and price structures. I’d either need to simplify things so much that the table wouldn’t be very accurate, or I’d need to put so many notes & caveats in the table that it wouldn’t be very readable.

  • Beau W September 6, 2020, 4:46 pm

    Thanks for creating this page it’s really great. I’m using Tello mobile and have no complaints as of yet. The price is a hell of lot better for my budget. I’m using a older Samsung phone that was the perfect price.

  • Morgan March September 29, 2020, 12:16 am

    My wife and I have Republic Wireless, and have paid for a year and gotten 2 months off on the cost of $20 a month, with ca 6 months paid for left. We each have 1 GB each in data allowance. All is good as long as we have home internet. Here is the crux – we need to move somewhere without internet access on a farm, and we need a whole lot of data say 20 GB minimum, we want it to be month to month since we don’t know how long we will be staying, and we want to be bale to use our computer and our phones on a hotspot, not get another phone line per se, since we have our phones paid for already. Cheapest way? We would have to buy new hardware too, potentially…
    Any advice?

    • Coverage Critic October 21, 2020, 10:54 am

      Do you know if Republic Wireless will have service at the farm? Your cheapest option might be to keep the RW lines and get a standalone hotspot device for your computers (and possibly some of your phones’ data use).

      I list some standalone hotspot plans I like here. Cricket has solid hotspot plans that don’t require long-term commitments. I think it’s $35/mo for 20GB of data and $50/mo for 40GB of data.

  • Amy October 13, 2020, 2:46 pm

    Hi there. I get to work remotely more often now and sometimes I’m in the middle of nowhere (Utah). Is using a hotspot for internet access my only option? And I”ve been told that if I go that route, I should have unlimited data. Any options you can recommend? Thanks

    • Coverage Critic October 21, 2020, 10:41 am

      A cellular hotspot is probably your best option. In some situations, alternatives like a satellite connection could make sense.

      If you choose to use a hotspot, you could either use a standalone hotspot device or set up a mobile hotspot from your phone. I share some of my favorite plans for standalone devices here. If you’re looking to run a hotspot from your phone, the carrier Visible might be a good bet.

      As a heads up, I don’t think there are any plans on the market with truly unlimited hotspot access. Plans all either cap hotspot data or reduce speeds after a certain amount of use.

  • Jonathan October 22, 2020, 12:26 pm

    I’ve had a lot of luck using Twigby. I got 3 GB with unlimited talk/text for $20/month. It uses Sprint’s network, but since Sprint and TMobile are merging that shouldn’t be a big issue

  • Scott Bookout December 18, 2020, 12:16 pm

    My wife and I are currently Verizon Wireless prepaid customers and we just reviewed our options. We’re now on “loyalty plan” that gives us 5 GB each and after loyalty discount and autopay we’re paying $25 each (about $55 after taxes). With the staying-at-home thing, we’re nowhere near our 5 GB limit.

  • larry english December 19, 2020, 7:01 am

    satisfied customer of TELLO.COM

    $10 1GB, unl talk and text

  • Ken December 29, 2020, 8:25 pm

    I joined Hello Mobile about 2 months ago. I have 2 lines both with unlimited calls, texts, and data. My total bill is $40. It seems to be the best deal out there right now if you want unlimited data. It uses the Tmobile network and I have not noticed any difference in service than I had on Metro By Tmobile.

    • Coverage Critic February 4, 2021, 9:52 am

      I hope your experience with Hello Mobile continues to be good! For what it’s worth, I’ve seen enough horror stories about customer support issues and unprofessional behavior at Hello Mobile that I typically recommend people steer clear of the company.

  • SirFrancis January 6, 2021, 10:51 am

    I am a Google Fi member & have been for several years now, great service across the board! Between secure WiFi at public locations & no Roaming in Canada, Mexico, Europe, etc it’s great!
    Granted, I’m on WiFi at home, work, & my main grocery store so I use very little data, which isn’t the cheapest, but is fair & pay for what you use.

  • Lauren January 25, 2021, 7:52 am

    Hi Chris! Thank you so much for all of your research! It is so needed! We have T-Mobile unlimited for 3 people it’s sigh $137 per month. My mother in law is on our plan who uses very little data, I use about 10g (can use less with a work phone and when we go back to the office) and my husband uses like 30g of data. (He has family out of the country) so he is typically the reason I have found it challenging to switch to a more affordable carrier. Our zip is 07848 in NJ. My mother in law will move permanently out of the country but that may not be for another 2 years or so (then we’ll most likely get her a local carrier) but since we’ll most likely still pay it maybe it could be a group plan that works well internationally so we could get a bundled deal. Thank you so much for your time, research and advice!!! We also can only get satelite for our home internet so any perspective on where to go to try and improve hack that would be epic!!! Thank you!!! ☀️🌅

    • Coverage Critic February 4, 2021, 9:31 am

      Hi Lauren,

      Apologies for the slow response here! You could consider Mint Mobile–the carrier has plans with a wide range of data allotments that might give you the flexibility you’re looking for. Your mother in law could go on Mint’s smallest (4GB/month plan), you could go on the 10GB/month plan, and your husband could opt for Mint’s “unlimited” (really 35GB/month) plan. You’d still get service running over T-Mobile’s network, and your total bill would come way down. Depending on how many months of service you purchase upfront, I think your entire monthly bill could fall as low as $65/month + taxes and fees.

      I don’t have any clever suggestions on that home internet front. Though I would keep an eye on SpaceX’s Starlink and other upcoming competitors in the satellite internet space. Starlink internet will probably be available to you in the next year or so. It won’t necessarily be much cheaper than what your using now, but the service will probably be a whole lot better.

      • Lauren February 20, 2021, 12:48 pm

        Hi Chris!

        No worries thank you!! That was what we were going to try since we already have tmobile phones. I did call t mobile and they dropped our rate to $112 a month but still what you quoted us is half that so we are going to give it a shot for 3 months. Especially since we know we are not going to be international anytime soon but when my mother in law moves maybe we can switch to google fi.

        Thank you I actually signed up for beta testing a while ago for starlink and they just reached out to me, saying it was available. Considering I am in a contract with Hughes net and it would be like $500 ish just to begin with starlink, it would be about $1000 total so I am just going to wait till our contract expires and then if we need it we can try that! I greatly appreciate your feedback! Have a wonderful day!!!

  • Simon February 20, 2021, 8:52 am

    Working on getting by bills down I recently discovered and switched from Wal Mart Straight Talk byo phone to US Mobile which uses Verizon. This carrier should be on your list. Great customization and a very MMM-like ethic in play. Cut my bill to $22 from $45. Very customizable plans.

    • Coverage Critic February 23, 2021, 11:24 pm

      Hey, thanks for the comment Simon! I’m actually in the process of re-reviewing US Mobile right now (the carrier has made a lot of changes since I last tried it). I expect it’ll end up on this list soon!

  • Jelena March 26, 2021, 11:31 am

    Any info on Spectrum mobile? They’ve been hounding me with $40 a month unlimited plans, but I can’t find a ton of info or reviews about them.

    • Coverage Critic April 26, 2021, 12:48 pm

      Hi Jelena, sorry for the slow response here!

      Spectrum isn’t available in my area, so I don’t have any first hand experience. From what I’ve heard though, I have a positive impression. Spectrum runs over Verizon’s network which is great. The pricing is good and they let you mix and match between plans (mixing can be an awesome option if you have a family with some heavy users of data and some people who barely use data).

      I’d just watch out for the indirect costs that come with Spectrum. While the prices are solid, Spectrum Mobile can kind of lock you into Spectrum Internet. I think the company charges an extra $20 per line each month if you cancel Spectrum Internet but keep Spectrum Mobile.

  • Tina December 11, 2022, 3:55 am

    Thanks for all the research! Probably going to try out Visible, although looks like the party plan is no longer offered as of this year :(

    I was considering trying out Mint to see how little data I could use, but not sure if I want the headspace for that.

    Any recommendations for when one internationally travels? Maybe just switching to a cheap SIM card/ temporary number is the way to go for like $20

  • Ryan June 27, 2023, 6:23 pm

    Update for those who are or may consider being Republic Wireless customers. RW was bought up by Bing in 2022 and the customer service and actual service have taken a nose dive since then. My wife, who works in real estate and uses her phone all the time, suddenly cannot access her voicemail and has been talking with agents for over 5 weeks now to try to resolve the issue. After 6.5 years of Republic, we’re moving on and grateful for this corner of MMM land to find our next carrier.


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