No one ever wants to pay more for something than they feel they should. Cutting expensive subscriptions and resisting the temptation to eat out are a couple of ways to lower your regular costs, but there are a few things you can’t compromise on, like cellphone plans. Luckily, you don’t need to get rid of your service — you only need to find a cheaper phone plan.
In 2023, there are plenty of ways to do just that, from prepaid carriers such as Mint Mobile to cable companies’ mobile endeavors, like Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and Charter’s Spectrum Mobile. All of them could be more affordable than an unlimited plan from AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. Cheap phone plans now also have many of the features traditional plans offer, including an unlimited option, and they often run on a larger carrier’s network.
Though there are dozens of phone plan options out there, I’ve listed a few for you to consider, as well as some other ways to save on your bill. Since there are so many options, things can quickly get unwieldy, so as with some of CNET’s other wireless carrier coverage, I’ll focus on options for a single line and for folks looking for four lines.
Read more: Best Prepaid Phone Plans
Know your area and which carrier runs on which networks
To get the best deal, you need to make sure you have the coverage that you need. Cutting costs won’t help if it means the service won’t work for you.
The US’ complex geographic variables make it hard for us to give a blanket recommendation of any one carrier. T-Mobile’s service in New York may be excellent, but if you’re in rural Iowa, Verizon could be more reliable.
While your mileage may vary, the good news is that these networks are growing and improving all the time, particularly as the three major players continue the race to blanket the US with 5G. It’s quite possible that, a decade ago, you left a network complaining about its sparse service, but now it’s been beefed up because of that race to acquire customers.
If you know any friends or family in your area that already use the carrier you’re considering, ask about their experience. You could also go to a carrier’s store and see if they offer any free ways to try out the service before switching over, such as T-Mobile’s Network Pass. Verizon now offers a similar 30-day “Test Drive” program, while the Cricket prepaid service has its own trial program that lets you sample parent AT&T’s network.
Read more: Best Unlimited Plans
When it comes to prepaid carriers and mobile options from cable companies you should also check to see which network they are using. Mint Mobile, for instance, runs on T-Mobile’s service (and will soon be acquired by T-Mobile), while Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and Charter’s Spectrum Mobile use Verizon. In these cases, downloading either of the two apps above could be a quick and easy way to try out T-Mobile or Verizon’s coverage in your area before you switch.
We have a list of a few of the major alternative providers and which networks they run on broken down here. Now, onto the picks.
Best cheap phone plans of 2023
Single lines with unlimited data
Family plans with unlimited data
Best for no or limited data
Cheap phone plan FAQs