a man and his smartphone

5 Low-Cost Alternatives to Your Pricey Cellphone Plan

These smartphone services cost less than $40 a month.

a man and his smartphone

Your cellphone plan doesn't have to cost upward of $100 each month.

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The average monthly cellphone bill from smartphone giant Verizon Wireless was a staggering $148 per month in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to recent research. Other big smartphone players such as Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile also asked their customers to shell out plenty of cash for their cell and data plans, with an average bill of $144, $141, and $120, respectively. According to research firm Cowen and Company, which conducted the study, these numbers reflect all taxes and fees, and include averages for family and individual plans.

Still, you have to wonder how the cost of a monthly cellphone and data plan has escalated to this point. After all, monthly plans like these must be wreaking havoc on family budgets all over the country. And, even for those who can afford it, it has to hurt.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to.

Over the past few years, several low-cost carriers have stepped up to offer competition and low prices to customers looking to cut down their monthly bills. In some cases, they are able to offer comparable plans for just a fraction of the cost and often with the same high quality of service offered by the big players within the industry. 

Looking for a low-cost alternative to your pricey cellphone plan? These five options offer a lot of bang for your buck, while providing almost the same service as the big guys:

  • Republic Wireless: Republic Wireless offers monthly no-contract plans ranging from $5 to $40 per month. The most popular plan offers unlimited Wi-Fi, talk, text, and data on 3G for only $25 per month. The catch is that you have to buy a Republic Wireless Android phone that is already outfitted with the ability to make calls on both Wi-Fi and cellular. The good news is Republic currently offers a brand new Moto G for $149. The other difference you’ll notice is that Republic Wireless includes everything in the bill. Simply put, the plan you sign up for is the bill you get.
  • Ting: Ting boasts an average monthly cellphone cost of only $21 for its users. But how do they do it? Basically, Ting offers a wide range of pricing options and allows you to float between plans, while only requiring you to pay for what you use. So, if you only talk for 50 minutes and send 100 texts in one month, you are only required to pay for the plan that your usage falls into. Ting also lets you add family members to your plan for only $6 per device, though they must be Sprint devices.
  • Airvoice WirelessAirvoice offers talk, text and data in an a la carte format. For as low as $10 per month, anyone can get a plan with 250 minutes of talk and 500 text messages. Airvoice doesn’t require a contract, and unlimited plans with some data are also available for as low as $30 per month. You may also be able to bring your own phone, provided that it meets certain requirements.
  • Straight Talk Wireless: Straight Talk allows you to bring your own phone, keep your old number and score a new plan with unlimited data, talk and text for as low as $30 per month. It also offers plans without contracts or any long-term commitments.
  • Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk: Virgin Mobile offers a variety of plans for people on a budget, including a plan that has unlimited text and data with 300 minutes of talk for only $35 per month. None of the plans require a contract, they make it easy to keep your old number and will even ship you one of their low-cost phones for free. More good news: Phones compatible with the “Beyond Talk” program start in the $40 range.

With so many low-cost options, it’s hard to believe that anyone would shell out $120 or more for their monthly cellphone bill. However, it may only be a matter of time until prices have to come down across the board in order for companies to stay competitive. In the meantime, do some research to see if any of these low-cost alternatives are offered in your area. Once you see how much you can save, you’ll likely be glad you did.