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Known as MVNOs mobile virtual network operatorsthese low-cost carriers piggyback on the major networks and can deliver lower prices, especially for individual users who aren't looking to be part of a family plan. All the major carriers have low-cost brands, and their deals are worth checking first. T-Mobile currently owns Metro. Verizon owns Visible. If you're looking for a wide range of stores and solid customer service, these brands have excellent prices and should be your first shopping stops.
We'll mention them below when appropriate. For the other brands, which typically don't have stores, pay attention to their reputation for customer service and to their enabling networks. Some MVNOs give you an option to choose between different enabling networks, and some are tied to only one. We're ordering our picks by how much you want to spend per month, to give you the best value at every price level.
Depending on your needs, even one of the big three networks could have a plan that works for you. For the best carrier service where you live, check out our for the Fastest Mobile Networks in the US and Canada. Some of the smaller carriers do not sell their own phones or limit their selection to low-end phones that may be locked to their network. We recommend purchasing a cheap phone that is compatible with multiple carriers. If you're on a fixed income, something on our list of the best phones for seniors might be a good fit. You can also check with the carrier to see if your current phone works on its network if you're looking to save a little money.
If you're looking for an unlocked phone that works on all three major US systems, consider any factory-unlocked iPhone that's of the 8 or later varieties, the Samsung Galaxy S9 or higher, the Google Pixel line, or the Moto G series. Or take a look at our list of the best unlocked phones.
In general, when you turn to these less-prominent carriers, you're not going to get the sort of customer service you get from the major networks. The issues we hear about most involve new service activations and billing.
Since there are no retail stores for the smaller carriers, any problems you encounter have to be handled by an outsourced call center employees who often have limited resources and knowledge to adequately address your problem. We've done our best to research all of our recommendations closely, but it would be wise to do some searching on your own before you pull the trigger.
If that's a concern, you'll want to check out Consumer Cellular. For nine years running, our readers have chosen Consumer Cellular as their favorite carrier. Verizon's Visible doesn't have any stores, but it has Verizon behind it. Right now, there are three carriers we recommend that offer solid service at a Lookin for super head dats mobile price. Tellowhich piggybacks off of T-Mobile's network, offers the most bang for your buck.
It's a solid deal if you have an old phone or are looking to buy an unlocked phone Lookin for super head dats mobile works on multiple carriers. It's also the only MVNO in this price range that has relationships with all the major carriers, so you can select the option with the best service in your area.
And while US Mobile doesn't sell phones directly, you can choose a SIM that works with Verizon or T-Mobile phones, so there's a good chance your current phone, or one you've had your eye on, will work on its network. Although Tracfone has many fans, its plans are still on the pricey side. We have a feeling things may become more competitive when the Verizon acquisition is completed, and we'll update when appropriate. Though it may be a little more expensive than other small carriers, Consumer Cellular 's simple, senior-focused plan comes with excellent customer service. If you're looking to drop your landline altogether, you may want to shell out an extra five bucks and get the plan with unlimited calls and texts with MB of data.
US Mobile is, by far, your best choice in this price range. Looking for a basic plan with solid LTE coverage and discounts for automatic payments? H2O Wireless is a great option. Republic Wireless plans have become much more competitive since it was acquired by Dish.
If you're not afraid of commitment, Republic Wireless will give you a hefty discount for annual payments. That said, the plans remaining in this bracket are more impressive than ever. Ultra Mobile is a solid option here, with good plans and inexpensive add-ons for customers who frequently make international calls. International calling to over 80 countries is also included. There are a couple of plans we recommend in this price range, but it's an awkward spot.
Slightly less-expensive plans offer comparable services and, if you're willing to pay a few dollars more, you can get unlimited service. Nevertheless, there are two plans worth mentioning. As the cheapest unlimited plan you'll find on Verizon's network by a pennyit's a great deal, but be prepared to see slower data speeds when the network is congested. If you're looking for a truly unlimited plan, Visible is your best bet. The botique carrier also wins for incredible customer service through its app, phone, text, and web.
Some cable companies offer unlimited plans that are only slightly more expensive than Visible's. Spectrum Mobile offers the same. It's worth keeping in mind that you'll be dealing with a cable company when there are technical or billing issues, which may top the mobile industry when it comes to frustrating customer service. For the extra money, however, you do get 5GB of hotspot data and GB of Google One storage as well as access to its network of retail stores around the country should you encounter any problems.
Ready for the next generation of mobile connectivity? Check out our list of the best 5G phones for the top devices we recommend right now, but make sure to check out the 5G connectivity standards for each carrier before you pull the trigger. Most small carriers offer some sort of 5G plan, but it's important to pay attention to the fine print. It's common for carriers to restrict 5G plans to sub-6GHz, cap speeds, or even limit the amount of data included in "unlimited" plans. Lookin for super head dats mobile this reason, we think Visible and Metro by T-Mobile are your best bets.
Visible offers the best 5G plan on Verizon's network. If you're looking to save even more savings, Visible's Party Pay is an excellent option. Also, you don't have to worry about collecting Venmo payments for everyone's portion of the bill, Visible bills each member separately. Metro by T-Mobile is slightly more expensive.
Are you passionate about your political or social beliefs? Want to put your money behind causes you believe in? There are a handful of wireless carriers that let you do just that, and charge you a hefty penalty for the luxury. Credo Mobile donates a small percentage of your bill to progressive charities. Patriot Mobile is similarly expensive and donates a percentage of your payment to the NRA, the Tea Party Patriots, and the Heritage Foundation, among other right-wing causes listed on its site.
Reach Mobile is a good option. A relative newcomer to the MVNO crowd, Reach is a socially conscious carrier that donates 10 percent of your monthly bill to nonprofits in Africa, India, and the US that provide free mobile phone service to women in need and support digital literacy and skills training. Reach's Best Fit service is an added perk that automatically swaps out your current plan with a more-affordable option should you use less data than anticipated.
Until recently, most of the carriers in this section listed how much they donated from your bill to justify their pricey plans. We recommended going with a less-expensive carrier on this list and set aside the savings to donate to the charity of your choice, since your donation would go much further.
Credo and Patriot have now removed details of the exact amount they donate to charity, instead opting to show a cumulative total. Since neither carrier is being up front about how much of your money it chooses to donate, it's even harder to recommend them now. If your mission is to boycott carriers that support causes you're against, you're out of luck. All of these MVNOs lease from one of the major carriers, so your money indirectly supports their lobbying and community involvement efforts.
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