We earn a commission from brands listed on this site. This influences the order and manner in which these listings are presented.
Advertising Disclosure
Last Updated: Jul 2024

The Top Cell Phone Plans of 2024
Get the most out of your plan

From prepaid to family plans to unlimited streaming, everyone needs something different from their wireless carrier. Compare our top picks below.

Our Top 3 Cell Phone Plans Available in Virginia
Easy Signup
Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile
exceptional
9.9
SALE: All plans $15/mo
Shop Now
Tello
Tello
excellent
9.3
No extra fees
Shop Now
Ultra Mobile
Ultra Mobile
very good
8.8
Plans start at $10/month
Shop Now
mint
Show more

Our Best Cell Phone Plan Provider

Choosing the right phone plan is an important decision - so it’s important to choose wisely. If you’re looking for a cellular company that you’ll be able to stick with for the long run, pay attention to the below factors to make sure that you end up with a provider that’s going to be a great fit — whether for you or your family. 

What to Know About Choosing a Cell Phone Plan:

Some of the factors that you may want to bear in mind when weighing up your options include:

Prepaid vs Bill Pay

Some providers charge for their services via a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model. Under this model, users pay for their service by prepaying for connection vouchers that enable them to remain on the network. The opposite of this is bill pay. Under the bill pay model, subscribers receive a bill at the end of each month with an invoice to pay. Typically this is a fixed monthly fee. But sometimes users may accrue additional charges by using services not included in their package such as: Phone calls that were not included in the package. For instance, those placing international calls may find that they incur extra charges Using more data than was included in the package If you’re shopping for your business then you may prefer to go with a bill pay model so that you can buy bulk subscriptions for all your subscribers. Bill pay is also more convenient for consumers because you don’t have to top up periodically to avoid losing connectivity. 

What’s a Data Cap?

When it comes to the type of cellular data that cell phone providers offer, everything is not created equally. While 4G (LTE) is now the standard for reasonably fast connectivity — and can typically support download speeds of up to 100 Mbps — its successor, 5G, is now rolling out around the world. Besides the type of network that providers offer, they also differ in terms of:

  • The bandwidth that they support. This is the total speed of data transfer across the network. During times of heavy load — or when users exceed their data allowance — providers may throttle the network which means reducing speeds. This is done in order to preserve network performance. 
  • How much data in total they allow users to access each month. This is sometimes known as a data cap. These vary very widely according to plans. Some providers offer ‘unlimited’ plans — although in practice these are rarely actually unlimited (read the fine print and you’ll likely find there’s a fair use clause). And others provide users with a certain number of gigabytes of cellular data per month. If users go over this then they may be throttled and/or charged extra.

MNOs vs MVNOs

Broadly speaking there are two types of providers that offer cellphone connectivity services: Mobile network operators (MNOs) own and maintain their own infrastructure. That means the base stations and other components that make the network “run”. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). Unlike MNOs these don’t actually own the infrastructure they use to provide the network. Rather they lease it from them.  What difference does this make to consumers? MVNOs can be cheaper because they don’t need to pass on the costs of maintaining the network. But MNOs can offer better service and customer support because, after all, they own the network that provides connectivity. 

How Much Do Phone Plans Cost?

Prices between providers vary upon the packages offered. Some factors that will commonly affect these include:

  • Subscription periods. Cell phone providers typically try to incentivize users to sign up for longer subscription periods by offering long-term discounts. Some will offer three years plans designed to appeal to those that really want to commit to a network for a lengthy period of time.
  • What’s included. In general the more data, minutes, and other services that are offered the more consumers can expect to pay for those plans.

From some of the plans we have reviewed:

  • Verizon Wireless offers a data plan for about $70/month
  • Tello offers a basic coverage plan for $19/mo for a pay-as-you-go service, so the prices do vary

Find the Best Plan For You

In order to find the very best phone plan for you and your family pay attention to your usage patterns and make a list of the features that are important to you (international calling minutes? A high monthly data plan?). Then sign up for a provider that best fits your needs. If you’re really confident in your choice you can likely lock in discounts by signing up for long-term contracts. 

Our Top 3 Picks

  • 1
    Mint Mobile

    Mint Mobile

    • Best ForBest cell phone plan overall
    • Starting PriceFrom $15/month
    • PlansPrepaid

    Mint Mobile - Best cell phone plan overall

    Mint Mobile gives you access to 5G, cutting-edge technology with high network speed and reliability. Plans also come with unlimited talking and texting, so you never need to worry about topping up or checking if you’re near the limit. And by connecting to your network's servers through the internet, their WiFi messaging and calling feature can also be useful when overseas.

    "With Mint Mobile, you will get reliable service and fast download speeds. They have the fastest download speeds of any mobile network operator I’ve tried,” says Joe Troyer, CEO of tech company Digital Triggers.

    After a few months of using the plan, the customer support team will reach out to help you select one that better suits your usage needs. You can keep your 4G LTE device if you decide on Mint’s “Bring Your Own Phone” program. Although the connection will slow down if you reach the monthly data limit, your service will remain active.

    Why we chose Mint Mobile: Mint Mobile offers robust coverage and cost-effective and customizable plans to match your specific data usage patterns. They’re also committed to providing personalized recommendations based on your usage, improving your experience.

    Our experience: We found Mint Mobile's service highly reliable in urban areas, with a strong signal on their 5G and 4G LTE networks. While several new phones maintained consistent and dependable connections, a few older cell phones weren’t updated and required additional support during the setup process.

    Pros
    • WiFi-based texting and calling
    • You can keep your device with the “Bring Your Own Phone” program
    • Personalized recommendations for plans based on your usage
    Cons
    • Older phones can have trouble connecting to the network
    • Connection slows down if you go over the monthly usage limit
  • 2
    Tello

    Tello

    • Best ForBest for low-data plans
    • Starting PriceFrom $5/month
    • PlansPrepaid and custom plans

    Tello - Best for low-data plans

    Tello offers new prices, including unlimited nationwide talking and texting, with free calls to over 60 countries. And with the “Build Your Own” subscriptions, you can tweak data or minutes to further lower the cost.

    “The coverage is superb, and I can make phone calls from almost anywhere I go without any difficulty,” says Michael Collins, managing director of IT company SphereIT.UK. He also states, "4G speeds are consistently fast and responsive.”

    All of Tello's default and customizable plans offer 4G and 5G LTE data and mobile hotspot sharing. When you reach your monthly limit, they downgrade your network to 2G, which even comes with the “No Data” custom subscription.

    Why we chose Tello: Tello offers unlimited international calling to over 60 countries—this can be useful if you have family living overseas and want to stay in touch. We could opt for “Build Your Own” plans starting from 1GB/month if we didn’t need as much data and only wanted unlimited texting and calling.

    Our experience: Tello’s plans were straightforward to set up and connect, and the SIM card worked with various new and old phones. Throughout our testing, we experienced consistent cell coverage within the US for all our calls, including international ones.

    Pros
    • Consistent cell coverage
    • Most affordable option on this list
    • Minutes include international calling to over 60 countries
    Cons
    • Download speeds can be inconsistent
    • They don’t include the latest devices
  • 3
    Ultra Mobile

    Ultra Mobile

    • Best ForFlexibility of short prepaid plans
    • Starting PriceFrom $15 per month
    • PlansUnlimited domestic talk and text plus high-speed data. Unlimited international calling to 90+ countries and unlimited global text

    Ultra Mobile sells low-cost prepaid cell phone plans with unlimited domestic and international calls to 80+ countries on T-Mobile’s cellular network. They offer three different single-month plans with 250MB, 2GB, or Unlimited data. Option to renew on multi-month plans and unlock further savings is available after the first month of service.All Ultra Mobile’s plans include 5G and 4G LTE coverage up to varying data limits, unlimited global text, and mobile hotspot. 

    Prepaid mobile plans serve a certain purpose and as long as you know what it entails, then Ultra Mobile may be a good choice for you. If you’re in the U.S. on a temporary basis, have reasons to not want to use your credit card, or don’t want anything more than a one-month commitment, Ultra Mobile’s prepaid phone plans are a viable option for you.

    Pros
    • Unlimited calls to 90+ countries
    • No long-term contracts
    • Up to 10 GB mobile hotspot per month
    Cons
    • More expensive than contracts from big providers
    • Poor customer service ratings

43,143 people

visited a mobile plan provider this month

social-proof
Our ReviewsRead all reviews
Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile
Read Review
Tello
Tello
Tello
Read Review
Ultra Mobile
Ultra Mobile
Ultra Mobile
Read Review
Read all reviews