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Which Phone Company Is Cheapest
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor focused on covering the latest developments in the dynamic world of telecoms, broadcasting and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter for USA Today.
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As concerns about a possible recession continue, you may be hunting for ways to save money. And while most people can't afford to give up a cell phone, you can get better value by switching to a carrier-friendly carrier.
There are many ways to do that in 2022, from prepaid carriers like Mint Mobile to efforts by cable companies like Comcast's Xfinity Mobile and Charter's Spectrum Mobile. All may cost less than an unlimited plan from AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile.
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While there are many options out there, I've listed a few to consider as other ways to save on your credit. This post can quickly become redundant, as with most other wireless carrier coverage, I'll focus on single line options and those who need four lines.
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To get the best deal, you need to make sure you have the insurance you need. Cutting costs won't help if the service doesn't work.
The complex geographic variation across the US makes it difficult for us to provide a blanket recommendation for any one carrier. T-Mobile's service may be better in New York, but if you're in rural Iowa, Verizon may be more reliable.
While your mileage may vary, the good news is that these networks are growing and improving all the time, especially as the big three players continue to race to cover the US with 5G. Ten years ago, you left the network complaining about its poor service, but now the race to get customers has increased.
If you know any friends or family in your area who are already using the provider you're considering, ask about their experience. You can go to the company's store and see if they offer any free ways to try the service before you switch, such as T-Mobile's Network Pass. Using the same Visible program, you can try out parent company Verizon's network, but AT&T Cricket recently added its own version that lets you sample its service for two weeks.
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You should also check what network they use when it comes to prepaid carriers and mobile options from cable companies. Mint Mobile, for example, operates on T-Mobile service, while Comcast's Xfinity Mobile and Charter's Spectrum Mobile use Verizon. In these cases, downloading either of the two apps above is a quick and easy way to check T-Mobile or Verizon's coverage in your area before switching.
We have a list of some of the leading providers and the networks they work with broken down here. Now, look at the options.
Boost Mobile has added an unlimited plan that gives new users unlimited talk, text and data, including taxes and fees, for $25 per month. Unlike Mint Mobile's 12-month plan, our previous pick for this slot, the Boost plan isn't tied to 12-month renewals. However, you must be a new Boost customer to receive the offer.
The plan includes 5G access and 30GB of high-speed data per month (if you blow that your data will slow down until your next pay month). Also included is a hotspot, where data is pulled from your high-speed allotment. One thing to note: You need to set up automatic payments to get the $25 per month rate.
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Verizon's Visible recently adjusted its unlimited plans, dropping its base price from $40 per month to $30 per line. In doing so, it also fixed some features, perhaps the most important of which was removing access to Verizon's ultra-fast ultra-wideband 5G network (which requires you to pay $45 a month for the Visible Work plan). The carrier also eliminated its Party Pay Family plan—an option that allows for rates as low as $25 a month.
But if you don't need fast speeds and want to stay on the Verizon network, this price is hard to beat. You can get unlimited hotspot (capped at a maximum speed of 5 Mbps) and unlimited talk, text and data in the US.
Ryan Reynolds' phone company has made a name for itself with its sales, but this is one of the best unlimited data offers we've seen. For 12 months, you can get unlimited talk, text and data for $30 per month per line. Running on T-Mobile's network, you get 35GB of high-speed data each month on 5G and 4G LTE, though if you blow it before your 30-day period is up, your speed will slow down to "3G speeds."
Google's mobile service has received a pricing update that makes it a more attractive option for major providers. For a family of four, you can now get its unlimited plan for $80 per month ($20 per month, per line) which not only includes unlimited talk, text and data, but also 5GB of mobile hotspot. There is also free roaming in Canada and Mexico, although taxes and fees are not included in the sticker price.
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Google Fi works on T-Mobile and US cellular networks, and its service includes 5G access, although we should note that iPhones that work on Google Fi can't use 5G.
US Mobile, which operates the respective networks of T-Mobile or Verizon, costs $80 per month ($20 per line) for four lines in the Unlimited Basic option. For that price, you get 30GB of high-speed data including 5G, but no features like international roaming or hotspots. As with Fi, taxes and fees are not included in the sticker price.
AT&T's prepaid brand has a decent deal if you need four lines: $25 a month for unlimited talk, text and data. $55 per month per line, but Cricket offers a steep discount if you're willing to add more lines to the account.
Unlike Visible, this is a family plan where one person pays all the lines, so you may want to do this with people you know and can count on to pay on time. Although priced roughly the same, Visible's plan includes unlimited hotspot data, giving it an edge over the Cricket. As can be seen, tax is included in the cricket price.
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Cricket's T-Mobile competitor Metro has the same four-line $100-a-month unlimited deal, but you have to buy a plan in-store and switch providers to get the deal.
If you're looking for a backup phone service that's rarely used, TextNow has a free plan. Operating on the T-Mobile network, the service offers free unlimited talk and unlimited text messaging, though ads are placed in its app where you can call and text people. No data is included with this option and removing ads without adding data will run you $10 per month. Make sure you are connected to Wi-Fi if you want to watch YouTube, FaceTime or browse the web.
Text messages are done through the company's TextNow app, not through Messenger or WhatsApp, as those services require data.
Getting 1GB of high-speed mobile data starts at $9 a month, and the company will drop you down to "2G speeds" if you use it before your billing cycle starts again. If you use Wi-Fi a lot, this might be a better option. 2GB runs $16 per month, while the company offers up to 5GB of high-speed data for $28 per month.
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US Mobile has a great option for 5GB of data for $15 per month, which beats the offerings of Mint ($15 per month for 4GB of data), Boost Mobile ($15 for 2GB of data) and others on par.
Boost, however, has $100 for new customers that provides 1GB of data per month for a year. That comes to $8.33 per month. Boost today offers service on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks, though parent company Dish is in the process of building its own wireless network.
If you don't have Boost, use Wi-Fi a lot (but still need some data) and price is a big driver for you, then this is the way to go for a new service.
Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile and Optimum Mobile may be options depending on where you live. Optimum uses T-Mobile while Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile use the Verizon network.
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You must have an internet package from the relevant provider to avail these deals. As for pricing, expect it to vary. Xfinity also recently set up Spectrum's plans with unlimited talk/text/data
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