Saving money is probably high on your list of priorities. You have better (or at least more fun) things to spend your money on than a cell phone plan! With that being said, a cell phone plan is essentially mandatory in today’s day and age. You need to be able to stay connected with your peers, as well as have a way to call or text your family in case of an emergency.
The good news is that there are plenty of great cell phone plans out there for everyone. The plans we’ve got for today offer excellent value for money, with plenty of data and minutes included.
Plus, we’ll tell you one plan you should definitely avoid! Let’s get to it!
What makes a great cell phone plan?
Before we dive into our list, I think it’s important to break down the factors that make a great cell phone plan. While some of these will be obvious, they’re still important to think about!
The first and most important is price. Most of us have some sort of price limit that we’re willing to pay, so you’ll want to find a plan that fits your mold and doesn’t break the bank. When looking at plans, it’s important to look into the pricing structure on offer. Generally, there are two varieties:
- Contract: You pay a certain amount per month for a set period of time (usually 1 or 2 years). This amount is usually lower than if you were to pay monthly, but opting out of your contract may incur fees.
- Prepaid: You pay a certain amount per month but aren’t locked into a contract. Once you’ve used this up, you’ll either need to pay for another month or switch to another plan.
While both have their pros and cons, we think contract plans offer the best value for the money for most.
The second factor to consider is data. Throughout the week, you’re probably using your phone for more than just calls and texts—you’re also using it for email, social media, online banking, and more. This means you’ll need a good amount of data to keep you going throughout the month.
Most entry-level cell phone plans have at least 6GB of data these days. However, given that the average U.S. cell phone user consumes around 11GB every month, most users will probably be looking for plans with 15GB or more.
Texts and Minutes
Texts and minutes aren’t nearly as important as they used to be. With apps like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Facebook Messenger, most people communicate via text or messenger these days.
That being said, it’s still important to have a plan with a decent amount of texts and minutes, in case you need to make an emergency call, or you’re running low on data.
The final factor to consider is coverage. This is especially important if you live in a rural area or frequently travel outside of your home state.
When looking at coverage, it’s important to check which networks are available in your area, as well as what roaming options are available.
The Best Cell Phone Plans
Now that we know what to look for, let’s take a look at some of the best cell phone plans on the market!
Best Overall Cell Phone Plan: Mint Mobile Unlimited
Mint Mobile is a fairly new player in the cell phone market, but they’re already making waves thanks to their great plans, rock-bottom prices, and star-studded boardroom. (Ryan Reynolds, anyone?)
Mint Mobile offers a range of plans starting at $15 per month and maxing out at $30 per month (when you opt-in to a 12-month contract). While the cheaper plans offer great value, the $30 per month plan is the one we’re most excited about.
For just $30 a month, you can get unlimited talk, text, and data on T-Mobile’s 5G/4G LTE network. Plus, that unlimited data can be used as a 5G hotspot if you’re ever struggling to find a strong Wi-Fi connection!
What’s not to love?
Check out the full Mint Mobile Review.
Best Build-Your-Own Cell Phone Plan: Tello Mobile
If you’re looking for a cell phone plan that you can tailor to your specific needs, Tello Mobile is definitely worth a look.
Tello offers a range of “Build Your Own Plan” options, starting at just $5 per month for 500MB of data and maxing out at $39 per month for unlimited. You can choose how many minutes, texts, and data you want—and you’re only charged for the features you use!
Plus, if you find that you need more minutes, texts, or data than you originally thought, you can easily adjust your plan mid-month. Tello doesn’t charge any fees for account changes, so it’s easy to stay flexible.
Finally, Tello runs on T-Mobile’s network—so you know you’re getting good coverage.
Check out the full Tello Mobile Review.
Best Cell Phone Plan For iPhone Users: Visible
Visible is one of the few companies giving Mint Mobile a run for their money at the moment. Visible is an offshoot of Verizon, so you know you’re getting great coverage.
Plus, their prices are pretty unbeatable—you can get unlimited talk, text, and data for just $40 per month! That’s $10 more than Mint Mobile, but it’s still a great deal.
The big selling point for Visible is its “Party Pay” feature. This lets you add up to 4 additional lines for just $25 each per month. So, if you have a few friends who are also looking for a great cell phone plan, Visible could be the way to go!
Finally, if you’re wondering why Visible is the best choice for iPhone users, we’ve got two compelling reasons:
- Visible offers a 15-day free trial for iPhone users.
- Visible allows you to add an Apple Watch to your plan for $5 per month.
As an Android user, I can’t help but feel excluded… but I’m still impressed with the value Visible has packed into this plan!
Best Cell Phone Plan For Extras: Google Fi Simply Unlimited
Google Fi is an interesting beast. It’s a bit different from other cell phone plans, but it could be a great option for students who travel frequently.
First, let’s start with the basics: Google Fi offers unlimited talk, text, and data for $50 per month. Not bad!
However, there are a few caveats. First, Google Fi only works with select phones (mostly Android devices). Second, if you use more than 35GB of data in a month, your speeds will be throttled.
So why choose Google Fi? Well, first, their coverage is excellent—they have partnerships with three different networks (Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular), so you’re sure to get a good signal almost anywhere you go.
Plus, Google Fi plans come with useful extras, including:
- A VPN
- Free International Calls and Texts
- Automatic Spam Blocking
So, if you’re looking for a comprehensive cell phone plan with a few extras thrown in, Google Fi is definitely worth considering.
Check out the full Google Fi Review.
Best Budget Cell Phone Plan: T-Mobile Connect
T-Mobile is one of the biggest service providers around. But unlike some other major names (*cough* Verizon), they’ve still put together a few extremely affordable phone plans.
For just $15 per month, T-Mobile Connect gets you unlimited talk and text plus 3GB of high-speed data. Still too expensive? There’s also a $10 per-month plan!
So, why choose T-Mobile Connect over some of the other budget plans out there? First and foremost, T-Mobile’s reliability as a service provider. The company claims to cover 99% of the U.S., so you’re going to be fine no matter how far from civilization your school is.
In addition, T-Mobile connect is the only budget cell phone plan that gets better every year. For every year you hold onto your plan, T-Mobile increases your data allowance by 500MB.
So, after two years on the $15 per month plan, you’ll be getting 4GB of data. Not a huge increase, but still better than nothing!
The One Cell Phone Plan To Avoid: Boost Mobile
Boost Mobile is one of the most popular cell phone providers out there, but their plans just don’t offer good value for money. For starters, their cheapest plan will set you back $35 per month—and it only includes 2GB of high-speed data. Yikes!
Plus, if you go over your data limit, you’ll be charged an eye-watering $5 per GB. So, if you use 5GB of data in a month, you’ll end up paying $50… which is the same as Google Fi charges for unlimited data!
In short, unless you’re absolutely positive that you won’t use more than 2GB of data in a month, we recommend avoiding Boost Mobile. There are far better (and cheaper) options out there.
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of great cell phone plans out there, and it can be tough to decide which one is right for you. We’ve highlighted a few of our favorites, but ultimately the best plan for you will depend on your specific needs and budget.
Do you need unlimited data? International calling? A flexible plan that can be customized month-to-month? Think about what’s important to you, and then use our guide to find the perfect cell phone plan for you. Trust us—you’ll be glad you did!