Best cell phone plans and deals for August 2019

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Paying too much for cell phone service? If you’re willing to switch providers, there are cheap phone plans starting at around $10 a month!

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you choose the best cell phone plan for you — and your wallet.

Looking for a cheap cell phone plan? Here are the best deals!

Best cell phone plans: Table of contents

Money expert Clark Howard and his team have reviewed more than 100 cell phone plans to identify the best options. Price, network reliability and customer satisfaction are three main factors that we considered.

Before we get to Team Clark’s top overall picks, here are the best cell phone plan deals for August 2019:

Deal alert: Best offers right now! 

Clark’s picks: The best unlimited, family and cheap cell phone plans

Clark has a grandfathered unlimited data plan with T-Mobile and a total of 12 lines on his account. However, he says the best cell phone plan for your money may be offered by a smaller carrier like Cricket Wireless, Mint Mobile or Total Wireless.

These companies are referred to as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). They don’t own any cell phone towers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, but they partner with those companies to offer wireless service — often for half the price!

MVNOs have deals for people who need unlimited data, families and those who just want the cheapest phone plan.

Clark’s bottom line is that you may be able to save a lot of money by switching from one of the Big 4 to a low-cost cell phone provider that has the same network coverage.

Here’s a partial list of Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint alternatives:

Cheapest cell phone plans 

The cheapest cell phone plans start at between $10 and $20 per month. These inexpensive plans typically offer unlimited talk, text and around 1GB of high-speed data. Customer support may be limited.

More cheap cell phone plans for light data users: 

  • Twigby: Unlimited talk, text and 1GB of high-speed data for $14.25/month for 6 months; primarily uses Sprint’s network (Team Clark review)
  • Tello Mobile: Unlimited talk, text and 1GB of 4G LTE data for $10/month; runs on Sprint’s network
  • Red Pocket Mobile: 1000 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of LTE data for $15/month; plans on any major network (Team Clark review)

Cheap unlimited data plans 

For unlimited data, Clark likes the T-Mobile Magenta plan (formerly T-Mobile One) if you want to stick with the Big 4. T-Mobile Magenta is $70 a month for a single line and $160 a month for four lines, taxes and fees included.

Netflix’s base streaming plan is included with T-Mobile Magenta for two lines or more, so those who only need a single line of service may be better off with one of the cheaper unlimited talk, text and data plans listed below.

(Note that some providers reduce speeds once a plan’s applicable high-speed data threshold is reached.)

Best cheap unlimited data plans

Metro by T-Mobile — Formerly MetroPCS

Metro by T-Mobile logo

MetroPCS has a new name and two new unlimited plans, including a $60/month option that comes with Amazon Prime. Both plans have mobile hotspot. 

Cricket Wireless

Cricket Wireless logo

Cricket Wireless is AT&T’s prepaid brand and also has two unlimited plans. The cheaper option restricts data speeds to 3 Mbps. 


Visible logo

Visible is owned by Verizon and has one simple plan for $40/month. Videos stream at DVD-quality resolution of 480p.

Xfinity Mobile

Xfinity Mobile logo

Available only to people with Xfinity internet service, Xfinity Mobile from Comcast runs on Verizon’s top-rated 4G LTE network. It also relies on 18 million Wi-Fi hotspots.

Spectrum Mobile

Spectrum Mobile

Also on Verizon’s network, Charter’s Spectrum Mobile is very similar to Xfinity Mobile. The difference is that it’s only for Spectrum internet customers.

Best cell phone plans for average data users 

Staying under 5GB of high-speed data per month really isn’t that difficult if you have a reliable and secure Wi-Fi connection at home. Plans in this category are typically around $30 a month.

Wireless provider Total Wireless
Plan  Unlimited talk, text and 5GB of high-speed data
Monthly price 
  • $35 or $33.20 with auto-refill
  • Bring your number and get 50% more data
Network Verizon (Coverage map)
Bring your own phone Yes (Check compatibility)

Total Wireless Review: Pros and cons

Pros Cons
Affordable single line and family plans Lack of an unlimited data plan option
Verizon’s dependable network No mobile hotspot
Good phone selection Customer service falls short

More cell phone plans for average data users: 

  • Mint Mobile: 3-month introductory plan is $20 for 8GB of high-speed data; runs on T-Mobile’s network
  • h2o Wireless: 4GB + 1GB bonus for 3 months costs $35/month; AT&T’s network

RELATED: Mint Mobile review: T-Mobile’s network for only $15/month

Best family plans 

If you have four lines of service, your monthly cost per line will really go down! The T-Mobile Magenta plan is $40/month per line with auto pay — and Netflix is included.

This plan features unlimited talk, text and 4G LTE data. Video streams at DVD-quality, 480p.

Wireless provider T-Mobile
Plan T-Mobile Magenta
Monthly price Four lines for $160 with auto pay, taxes and fees included
Network T-Mobile (Coverage map)
Bring your own phone Yes (Check compatibility)

More cell phone plans for families: 

  • Cricket Wireless: Four lines of unlimited talk, text and data access for $100/month; data speeds slowed to 3 Mbps
  • Total Wireless: 25GB shared data for up to four lines for $100/month or $95/month with auto-refill

Best cell phone plans for seniors

There are special deals for those 55 and older! Consumer Cellular, which utilizes AT&T and T-Mobile’s networks, offers a 5% discount to AARP members.

Although its prices aren’t the lowest, the carrier made the cut for its high customer satisfaction scores.

More cell phone plans for seniors: 

RELATED: The best cell phone plans for seniors

Best phone plans for international features 

In addition to T-Mobile Magenta, Clark says Google Fi has excellent international plan benefits. When traveling abroad, you use data just like you would at home. It’s the same rate of $10/GB in 170+ countries and territories.

With Google Fi, unlimited international texts are included in the plan and cell service is 20 cents a minute overseas.

Google Fi logo
Wireless provider Google Fi, formerly Project Fi (Review)
Plan Unlimited domestic talk and text, plus data by the gig
Monthly price 
  • Calls and text: $20
  • High-speed data: $10/GB (no charge after 6GB for one person with Bill Protection feature)
  • Add extra people: $15 each
Network Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular (Coverage map)
Bring your own phone Yes (Check compatibility)

How to choose a cell phone plan

How do you know if one of these deals is right for you? Team Clark has come up with the top five questions you need to answer when shopping for a new cell phone provider.

  • How much data do I need? Unlimited plans prevent overage charges, but you may use less data than you think if you’re connected to Wi-Fi at home and work. Plans that charge for a fixed amount of data can be much cheaper.
  • Which network is best? Every wireless provider has a coverage map on its website. If you’re happy with your network (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint), consider a low-cost carrier that uses your existing provider’s towers.
  • Single line or family plan? Looking for more than a single line? In general, you’ll pay a lower price per line if you add two, three, four or even more lines of service.
  • Prepaid or postpaid? Prepaid service is paid for in advance, while postpaid service is when you pay at the end of your billing cycle. No credit check is required for prepaid service.
  • Is my phone compatible? Most carriers will sell you a new phone, but if you want to bring your own device it must be unlocked. Check compatibility on the wireless provider’s website before you sign up.

If this is your first time switching cell phone providers, check out this guide that we put together to take you step-by-step through the process. It’s easier than you think!

Let us know in the comments below if you’ve been able to save money by switching to a new cell phone plan!

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