The best MVNO carriers work fast to offer a great value with solid coverage in a very competitive market by leveraging the network of one of the major carriers. This structure can lead to a huge range of plans and keep you out of a contract and payment plans so you’re not stuck with a pricey carrier for years. With some carriers offering eSIM activation, you could even get signed up with just an app. Mint Mobile is the best overall MVNO offering great data options and amazing, convenient family plans.
These are the best MVNO carriers for Android
Mint Mobile is a unique MVNO because the minimum amount of service you can buy is three months. Mint also manages to keep things fresh by consistently updating its offerings to meet the shifting needs of users. Mint Mobile has many of the same network strengths and weaknesses as other T-Mobile-based MVNOs, but coverage should be solid for most people. Fortunately, T-Mobile’s network comes close to being one of the fastest you can get, and with 5G, one of the most advanced.
You can purchase up to a year, which is the most savings, at $25 per month for 15GB of data, and if you only need 4GB, it’s down to $15 per month. If you’re one of the few people that requires more data each month, you can now get an unlimited plan through Mint, which comes with 35GB of high-speed data and 5GB of hotspot data. The unlimited plan has an introductory rate of $30 per month for three months, with renewal costing $40 per month. But if you sign up for a year, you can lock in this introductory rate.
Mint Mobile also has discounts for families up to five lines. With a family plan, you pay the 12-month rate for three months at a time making it easier to get started and to make the renewal period a bit easier on the wallet.
You can bring your own T-Mobile device to Mint Mobile as long as it supports 4G LTE and VoLTE. If you’re not sure, you can check with Mint’s compatibility checker, but most unlocked GSM-network phones should work with Mint. Once you have your SIM card, you can activate it on the Mint Mobile app on your phone. If you want to buy a new phone, you can. Mint Mobile sells a wide range of phones, from high-end to budget devices. These are some of the best phones to use with Mint.
Metro by T-Mobile is owned by T-Mobile and uses the T-Mobile LTE and 5G network. Years ago, this would have been a reason to pass on the carrier, but T-Mobile’s network has become one of the strongest networks in populated areas in recent times. The network has continued to gain ground in rural areas thanks to its 600Mhz spectrum for LTE and 5G. Even with all of the improvements, you should check the coverage map to ensure you’re covered. 5G support is available with all plans if you have a phone that supports it.
As far as plans go, Metro by T-Mobile starts as low as $30 per month for 5GB of high-speed data, although most smartphone users will be better off with a 10GB plan coming in at $40 per month for one line. Metro also lists its prices with a $30 Affordable Connectivity Program discount for customers eligible for government assistance. This plan doesn’t consume your data allowance with music streaming, saving data for big streamers.
You can also save money per line by adding more lines to your account. For example, if you sign up for the top unlimited plan with four lines, the price comes down to just $120 per month. Along with unlimited data, you’ll get extra features such as 15GB of hotspot data, an Amazon Prime membership, and 100GB of Google One.
Since Metro uses the T-Mobile network, just about any unlocked phone should work without issue. It’s also nice that Metro by T-Mobile has physical stores across the country if you need help setting up your phone or plan.
Most MVNO carriers are a lower-cost alternative without offering much over-the-base carrier. Google Fi uses the best connection available from Sprint, T-Mobile, or U.S. Cellular in the U.S. While fewer phones support this entire network, if you have a compatible device, like the Google Pixel 6 or Galaxy S22 series, you should have great service with 5G.
Most unlocked phones still work with Google Fi, but they will be stuck on T-Mobile only, including 5G support. The best phones for Google Fi will work with the entire network and will be labeled as Designed for Fi on Google Fi’s website. If you’re not sure, you can check your phone before you sign up using Fi’s compatibility tool.
Google Fi has three plans, including Flexible, Simply Unlimited, and Unlimited Plus. Even if you’re not on an unlimited plan, you’ll only pay for the data you use, and you’ll never pay for more than 6GB of data, thanks to Bill Protection. After 15GB on the Flexible plan, your data speeds will slow, but you can always add more high-speed data at that time for $10 per GB. On the unlimited plans, your speeds will slow after 22GB of use.
The most significant feature that sets Fi apart is its international service on its Flexible and Unlimited Plus plans. If you’re traveling in any of the 200+ supported countries, your data will cost the same as it does at home. You will also get unlimited texts but will need to pay $0.20 per minute for calls. Keep in mind that the Simply Unlimited plan doesn’t include most of these international perks, and it also doesn’t include hotspot tethering like the other plans.
Visible keeps things simple with a single unlimited plan and a large all-digital LTE and 5G network. Leveraging the power of Verizon’s network, Visible provides great coverage while letting its users forget about how much data they’re using. While Visible customers don’t get the entire Verizon network, they do get the vast majority of it since they don’t have access to 3G or analog service. Visible has one of the best cell phone plans thanks to its unlimited talk, text, and data. This also includes unlimited hotspot data at 5Mbps.
You can save some money with Visible’s Party Pay which allows you to join a group to bring your bill down to just $25 per month. You only need to worry about your own bill, so you don’t have to worry about the other people in the party you join. You can even join a party right from Visible’s community page to bring your bill down right away.
Keep in mind that Visible offers no roaming of any kind, so if you intend to travel to an area out of the coverage map or out of the country, you’ll have no service.
Android phone support is lacking compared to many other MVNOs, but the growing list of compatible phones now includes heavy hitters like the Galaxy S22 series and Pixel 6 series. Pretty much every iPhone after the iPhone 6 is supported. You can also buy a phone from Visible to be sure it works.
Ting Mobile has some of the cheapest cell phone plans anywhere starting at just $10 per month for unlimited talk and texting with data coming in at just $5 per gigabyte. The entry-level Ting Flex plan looks a lot like Google Fi’s flexible plan but the starting point and data are half the price of Google’s service. Ting also has a range of plans that will work for just about anyone with unlimited data plans offering 22GB or 35GB if you need it.
For most users, starting with a smaller plan like Set 5 with 5GB of high-speed data and adding more as needed will work out cheaper than larger plans in the long run. Even so, with Set 12 and the unlimited plans, you can easily get enough data if you find you’re using more than expected. All plans come with hotspot data as well so you can share your phone’s data connection with another device like a tablet or laptop.
If you travel abroad, you can keep using your Ting SIM as well with set rates for a large number of countries. While it’s not exactly cheap to use Ting in another country, it’s nice to have the option if you can’t find a Wi-FI hotspot. Overall, Ting is a competitive package for those looking to get a moderate amount of data as cheaply as possible with 5G.
US Mobile lets you start with plans as small as 75 minutes and move up all the way to unlimited talk, text, and data. US Mobile can be an excellent fit for an emergency phone or a backup phone. It also means that you can build that plan if you don’t need a ton of minutes or texts but want up to 15GB of data.
One of the most compelling options is the unlimited plan at $45 per month, with Ludicrous speeds, 5G, and no data caps. For $10 extra, you can add 20GB of hotspot data. On this plan, you’ll even get free high-speed 4G LTE international data. You can also get three lines or more unlimited for the whole family, with each line dropping to $25 per line. US Mobile will even give you a free subscription to a streaming service if you have multiple lines.
US Mobile will use Verizon’s or T-Mobile’s LTE networks, depending on your phone’s compatibility. US Mobile will help you pick the best network depending on your location or device when you sign up. Both networks should provide good service to the majority of Americans. If you have an unlocked phone, there’s a good chance you can use it with US Mobile. One thing to keep in mind is that data can be slowed if you use more than 35GB on the T-Mobile network compared to the much larger 75GB on Verizon’s network.
There are three major carriers in the U.S., and each one offers a very similar level of coverage by the numbers. If you live in the country, though, there may be areas where AT&T’s network reaches that Verizon and T-Mobile’s networks don’t. If that’s the case for you, your family can still take advantage of prepaid savings with Cricket Wireless. This AT&T-owned carrier has four main phone plans starting with a 5GB plan, then 10GB, and two unlimited options. The two unlimited plans and the 10GB plan also get multi-line discounts. These plans also enjoy a $5 autopay discount.
The smaller $55 unlimited plan, Cricket Core, keeps it simple with unlimited talk, text, and data. This plan doesn’t have any hotspot data or premium data, but for many people, this isn’t a big deal. If you want a bit more, the $60 Cricket More plan upgrades the unlimited data to Premium data so your speeds can stay higher on a crowded tower. It also comes with 15GB of hotspot data and ad-supported HBO Max. All Cricket plans come with access to AT&T’s nationwide 5G network.
AT&T’s network is compatible with more unlocked phones, so if you already own your device, there’s a good chance you can bring it with you. Cricket sells a solid range of mid-range devices, including Android phones and iPhones, so if you want something high-end, you’ll need to buy or finance it unlocked and bring it with you.
Trying a new carrier is easier than ever
Getting away from the big three carriers can be a great way to save money on phone service by stripping away services you don’t need. You can find MVNOs that use a network you already know has great coverage in your area, such as Verizon or T-Mobile. It can also be a good way to try out a new network on one of the best Android phones unlocked without spending too much money or time moving numbers over.
A carrier like Google Fi manages to pack in extra features for someone that wants great coverage and data abroad. At the same time, Visible stays focused on delivering data without limits. You also get to try out different networks since there’s no contract associated with these plans.
Overall, Mint Mobile is one of the best choices for anyone that can afford to pay for at least three months upfront. Mint’s data plans come in three sizes so just about anyone should be able to find a plan that fits their needs. On top of that, Mint’s family plan makes your renewal costs more manageable by giving you 12-month rates with three-month renewals.