Low price is not a good way to assess a cell phone plan because function, equipment, reliability, and coverage matter as much as price. One can save on price and not have the service needed to communicate effectively. When one considers the value and determines that the plans work as intended, then price makes one choice better than another.

Cheapest Family Non-contract Plan

T-Mobile charges were slightly less than Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. The difference is about $20 per month. T-Mobile has good data service and cheaper roaming options than Sprint. Considering telephone and text service and light use of data, makes Sprint a competitor too. The complicating factors include choices of phones and discounts on phones. Verizon has a slightly stronger network and a much better coverage ratio. For many, the monthly difference would not be a good exchange for the confidence in Verizon’s superior coverage.

Cheapest Prepaid Plan

Cricket ( using AT&T) has the lowest cost prepaid family plan. A family of four would pay $100 per month or $25 per phone for data and voice service. Virgin would be second at $115.00 per month. MetroPCS would be $120.00 with its flagship $30 per month unlimited plan.

Pay as you Go

Tracfone and similar pay as you go phone services offer startups as low as $10. These are not per se low or cheap, but they permit small amounts at start and flexible spending throughout. Consumer controlled spending can be among the cheapest ways to maintain cell phone service.

Special Group

There are free phones for those with demonstrated need. Assurance Wireless offers one for those qualified for Medicaid or other programs for persons at or near the federal poverty line. This lifeline service is important. It recognizes that a cell phone is a key to personal well-being. It connects people with essential services.