Mobile Data Plans Vary Widely in Price & Usage Limits
With the smartphone emergence and the decline in cellular usage for actually calling people, the new challenge from a financial standpoint is to figure out how you can get the cheapest mobile data plan. Otherwise, the lifetime cost of a smartphone can really kill your savings.
I’m going to highlight the cheapest mobile data plans out there, but you may also want to check out this list of prepaid MVNO’s and cheapest mobile hotspots to find the plan that is right for your use.
Unlimited Mobile Data Plans Usually Come with a Catch
There are very few truly “unlimited” mobile data plans these days. Just about every carrier throttles your data once you hit a certain threshold, or limits video streaming or other services. Always read the fine print when buying a mobile plan. And aim for prepaid plans, as they are typically cheaper and you’re not locked in to a contract.
Your best bet is to try to limit your mobile data use (use wifi when you can). Pro tip: since many of these plans come with free text messaging and calling, but pricey data, so you may want to learn how to send text messages to email, so you don’t have to constantly pay data fees when accessing your email account on a web browser.
Here’s a run-down of all of the major national mobile phone providers who offer data plans.
One of the leaders in the cheap smart phone data plan space now, Republic Wireless plans start at $15 per month for unlimited talk, text, and wifi data, with data plans ($5/GB) available for reasonable prices.
If no wifi is available, Republic kicks you over to Sprint or T-Mobile’s network.
If you want a data plan that is affordable, yet customizable to fit your data usage, this is a solid pick.
Update: you can now bring your own phone to Republic Wireless, which is a huge positive development.
- $15+/month: unlimited talk, text, and wifi data + $5/per mobile GB data.
Xfinity Mobile is the new MVNO from Comcast Xfinity that runs on Verizon’s network. It is only available to Xfinity Internet customers within Xfinity’s service map. Check out my full Xfinity Mobile review for more information.
- $0/month. Everyone gets unlimited text, text, and 100MB data per month.
- Choice of 2 data plans: $12/GB or unlimited for $45/mo. (4G LTE speeds up to 20 GB before reduced speeds)
Mint Mobile is a relatively new MVNO that uses T-Mobile’s network.
They offer a nice choice of affordable data plans, including:
- $25/month: unlimited talk, text, +3GB 4G LTE data
- $35/month: unlimited talk, text, +8GB 4G LTE data
- $45/month: unlimited talk, text, +12GB 4G LTE data
FreedomPop is a national Sprint MVNO that operates in a similar way to Republic Wireless with wifi calling in addition to basic talk, text, and data. Details include:
- $0/month: unlimited talk, text, and 500MB data – more data costs extra.
- Earn free 4G LTE data every month by adding friends
- Earn unlimited free data by completing partner offers
- You can bring your own phone.
Total Wireless is a Tracfone brand that is sold online and at WalMart.
- $35/month: unlimited talk, text, and 5 GB data. Additional data can be purchased for more.
Verizon Data Plans:
Verizon prepaid data plans include:
- $35/month: unlimited talk, text, and 3 GB data
- $45/month: unlimited talk, text, and 8 GB data
- $65/month: unlimited talk, text, and data
Sprint Data Plans
If you’re looking for straight up cheap mobile data plan only, Sprint has a few options.
With Sprint’s “Unlimited Kickstart plan”, you can get unlimited talk, text, and data for $25/month. Note that video and gaming resolution is capped.
AT&T Data Plans:
AT&T data plans start at $50/month for 3 GB of data and unlimited talk and text.
- $50/month: unlimited talk, text, and 3 GB data
- $70/month: unlimited talk, text, and data
T-Mobile Data Plans:
T-Mobile recently started offering a cheap unlimited data plan that is prepaid. For $50 a month, you get unlimited data, talk, and text. That is an outstanding value.
T-Mobile also has “Simply Prepaid” (no contract) plans:
- $40/month: unlimited talk, text, and 10GB of 4G LTE
Straight Talk is a Tracfone subsidiary. I just discovered Straight Talk recently, and they also offer an unlimited mobile plan. It looks like a great option for high data users.
- $45/month: unlimited talk, text, and 25 GB data
- $55/month: unlimited talk, text, and 60 GB data
Metro PCS is now nationwide in coverage and no longer has US roaming charges – as it is part of T-Mobile and runs on their network.
- $40/month: unlimited talk, text, and 10 GB data
- $50/month: unlimited talk, text, and data
Boost mobile data plans include unlimited talk and text, starting at $50/month if you auto re-boost. You can’t get just a data plan with Boost.
- $35/month: unlimited talk, text and 3 GB data
- $50/month: unlimited talk, text, and data
Virgin Mobile Unlimited:
Virgin Mobile runs off Sprint’s network and offers the following plans:
- $35/month: unlimited talk, text, and 5 GB data
- $45/month: unlimited talk, text, and 10 GB data
- $60/month: unlimited talk, text, and data
Mobile Data Plan Discussion:
- Are you using your phone for data only? Which plan do you use?
- How much data are you using each month?