Venturing beyond the major wireless carriers can save you big bucks on a phone plan.
Wi-Fi first. For a rock-bottom deal, consider a carrier that automatically connects your phone to available Wi-Fi networks. With Republic Wireless, you can get Wi-Fi-only phone service for $5 monthly. Or, to use the Sprint network for backup, you’ll pay $10 a month for unlimited talk and texts. You can add a data plan, too, ranging from a total of $17.50 a month for 500 megabytes of data to $85 monthly for 5GB (most people use 1GB to 2GB a month). For any data you don’t use, you’ll get a credit toward next month’s bill. Choose either an Android Moto E or Moto G phone, which can switch between Wi-Fi and the cellular network.
Bountiful data. For $60 a month, Boost Mobile provides unlimited talk, texts and high-speed data on the Sprint network. Or, with a smaller data plan ($35 for 2GB or $45 for 5GB), get an extra 500MB of high-speed data for every three on-time payments, up to 3GB after 18 payments. You get a $5 monthly discount if you make automatic payments. Bring a Sprint-compatible device, or buy a phone from Boost.
Solid coverage. You get a combination of strong nationwide coverage and great prices with Cricket Wireless, which runs on the AT&T network. With the Basic plan, for example, you get unlimited talk and texts, plus 2.5GB of high-speed data, for $40 a month ($35 if you make automatic payments). Choose among many of the latest smartphones or bring your own compatible device (all unlocked phones from AT&T and T-Mobile are eligible).