4 Best Cheap Phone Plans (2021): Alternatives to the Big Carriers

Phone compatibility: Only certain phones will work with Fi. The list of compatible phones is small compared to other providers.

Best If You Hardly Use Any Data

Ting ($10–$55 per line)

Ting revamped its data plans from the most à la carte method imaginable, in which you paid on a sliding scale for every single aspect of a phone plan, to a more typical tiered system like its competition.

All plans include 5G network access, unlimited talk and text, and a mobile Wi-Fi hot spot. The $10 plan comes without any data, and you pay $5 per gigabyte of data you use. If you hardly use data, this is the best plan on the market. You have the core features of fast network access and limitless talk and text without the high price of paying for data you won’t use.

The $25 plan includes 5 gigabytes of data, all of which you can use over a hot spot, but the $35 plan lets you use only 8 gigabytes of its 12-gigabyte allotment over a hot spot. Both are solid deals, but they are outclassed a bit by the competition.

However, if you exceed your monthly data allowance, Ting drops you down to 2G network speed. That’s brutal. Practically all MVNOs and MVNO-like carriers drop your speed after you exceed your data, even unlimited plans, but 2G is particularly slow. You can pay $5 per extra gigabyte of data to retain 5G and 4G LTE speeds, and any leftovers of this top-off data carry over to the next month.

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The Ting plan we like most costs $10 per month, although you also have to pay $5 per gigabyte of data.

Phone compatibility: Ting uses the Verizon and T-Mobile networks, so a phone that works on either of those services is likely to work on Ting. Check your device’s compatibility here.

Honorable Mentions

Owned by Sprint for many years, Boost was bought by Dish Network when T-Mobile gobbled up Sprint last year. It has five plans, from $15 to $45 a month, each with Wi-Fi hot spot data, 5G network access, and unlimited talk and text. The lowest tier has a 2-GB hot spot limit, which is pretty darn low if you connect it to a laptop to browse the web. You can use the entire data allotment of each non-unlimited plan over a hot spot, which gives it a leg up over similarly priced plans, such as Ting’s $35 tier.

The unlimited plans make no financial sense at $50 and $60 per month. If that’s your thing, go to Visible or one of the major carriers. The cheapest, lower-tier three plans are for new Boost customers only, and the lowest two require that you bring your own device.

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