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Which Cheap Cell Phone Plans Don’t Suck?

Finding a cell phone plan that includes all the features you need and fits your budget is a daunting task. There are the four big cell phone carriers, which are hugely popular but expensive. And there are countless small carriers that promise low prices but often disappoint with service that sucks.

So, which cheap cell phone plans are actually worth their weight? Which offer the best service for your buck? We’ve done the hard work for you and found the top cell phone plans offering affordable low prices and quality service – the plans that don’t suck.

Prepaid Cell Phone Plans With Data

One of the biggest expenses on everyone’s cell phone bill is data. You may not make many calls, but your internet browsing habits are costly. Unfortunately, cell phone carriers make a ton of money off data, too.

There are two options for those looking for cheap data: Ting and Republic Wireless. You can bring any phone you’d like to these carriers, and you won’t have to deal with a service contract or monthly fees. Here’s what makes these two great carriers both cheap and reliable.

Ting: Ting offers one cell phone line for just $15 per month. Included in that price is 100 minutes of phone calls, 100 text messages, and 100MB of data, all on the Sprint network. With the motto “only pay for what you use,” Ting’s 100 per service limit is only a suggestion. If you don’t make any calls, or don’t send any texts, you won’t be charged – and your bill will include just $3 for data. Want more data? Ting charges $10 per gigabyte for bigger data users.

Republic Wireless: Republic Wireless uses the T-Mobile network and offers a great deal for those who aren’t looking for a complicated plan to fulfill their data needs. For $20 a month, you’ll get 1GB of data. You’ll also get unlimited minutes and text messages, meaning you can use your cell phone normally with no real cost. Republic Wireless keeps prices low by using available WiFi for calls, texts, and data usage.

Non-Prepaid Cell Phone Plans With Data

In addition to high data prices, any traditional (or non-prepaid) cell phone plan is particularly pricey. Fortunately, there are advantages to choosing a non-prepaid plan with the right carrier.

Surprisingly, two of the biggest carriers in the U.S. are also the carriers offering the top affordable non-prepaid cell phone plans, with data included: Sprint and U.S. Cellular. Here’s why you’ll love these carriers’ plans.

Sprint: With a strong nationwide network and a host of features to choose from, Sprint’s 2GB data plan is a steal when compared to the prices of its competitors. For just $45, you can enjoy unlimited phone calls and text messages along with your 2GB of data. As an added bonus, Sprint’s plan includes unlimited 2G data, so if you exceed the 2GB limit you won’t have to pay a high price; you’ll just have to face slower data speeds.

U.S. Cellular: If you live in a region that’s serviced by U.S. Cellular, the carrier’s Total Plan offers great service for its price. The Total Plan gives you 2GB of data each month for $55, with an unlimited number of minutes and texts. While all calls and texts are covered nationwide, data isn’t. You do need be careful that you don’t use data while roaming outside of the U.S. Cellular network, or you’ll only be able to use 400MB per month.

Pay-As-You-Go Cell Phone Plans

Always one of the most expensive cell phone plan options, pay-as-you-go means you pay for what you use – there are no limits, but this means you can rack up a very expensive bill.

However, if you’re someone who doesn’t spend a ton of time on your phone, you can save significantly with the pay-as-you-go plans from T-Mobile and AT&T. Here’s why you should choose one of these two big carriers’ great, cheap plans if pay-as-you-go works for you.

T-Mobile: Priced at a shockingly low $3 per month, the T-Mobile Prepaid Pay As You Go plan is very cheap. It’s also very reliable thanks to the huge T-Mobile network. In addition to the $3 fee, you’ll pay 10 cents per minute and 10 cents per text message – the first 30 minutes and text messages are free. There’s no option to add on data, so smartphone users won’t want to choose this plan.

AT&T: Like T-Mobile, AT&T offers a surprisingly low pay-as-you-go price. But AT&T charges per day instead of per month. Each day you use your phone, you’ll be charged $2. You have unlimited minutes and text messages at your disposal all month long. If you’d like to add on data, you’ll pay just 1 cent per 5KB or $1 per 100MB, keeping costs relatively low.

Switch to MVNOs to Save Big

Before you pick a specific cell phone carrier or plan, you need to know the secret to scoring big savings: MVNOs. MVNOS, or mobile virtual network operators, are cheap cell phone carriers that offer fantastic service.

How can you be sure a carrier will offer you reliable service everywhere you go without sky-high prices? MVNOs use the same networks as the world’s four biggest carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. They essentially share the networks, letting you use these expensive major carriers’ coverage for far less. Any cell phone carrier that’s an MVNO, like Cricket Wireless (which is operated on the AT&T network) or Virgin (which shares with Sprint) will give you the stellar cell service you seek without costing you much.

So, when you’re shopping for a cheaper cell phone plan, don’t forget to look for MVNOs. No matter the type of plan you’re looking for, this is the top way to determine whether or not your new plan will suck.

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