The “big four” wireless carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) total more than 430 million subscribers, but you don’t have to pay hefty bills to use their cell towers.
Nowadays, there are much cheaper options to help you budget and save. Red Pocket Mobile and Mint Mobile (not to be confused with the budgeting app) are two of the more popular ones, but first, a bit of history to show how these new (cheaper) wireless carriers came about.
In 1983, Motorola released the first portable cell phone, the DynaTAC 8000X. It cost $3,995 and was pretty much a status symbol, like a Mercedes Benz, since only the rich could afford it.
In the 1990s, cell phones became more affordable, but the consumer was forced into a corner: pay thousands of dollars upfront for a phone or lock yourself into a long-term contract. You signed a two-year deal, and in exchange your carrier would subsidize the cost of your phone.
Then came the emergence of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO), and cell phone service exploded. MVNO’s brought the coverage of the major carriers at half the cost.
MVNOs are prepaid carriers like Boost Mobile and Cricket Wireless. They use the same cell towers as the “big four”, but offer prepaid plans that you can usually sign up for without a credit check.
The cheapest cell phone service options are all offered by MVNOs and their popularity is rising. According to iPass, a company that specializes in wireless technology, 10% of wireless subscribers belong to an MVNO.
If you want to save money on your cell phone bill, consider subscribing to one of the dozens of MVNOs running in the U.S. Here are some options for those of you on a tight budget:
Cheapest Cell Phone Plans for One Person
Individuals looking for the cheapest, bare-bones options will save the most money. Beast Mobile is that. But there are also some inexpensive options with a few more bells and whistles for those shopping for themselves.