Providers who are off the beaten path

The number of cell service options can be overwhelming. It’s not just about talk, either. Some plans come with extras like unlimited data – great if you use it, but possibly a waste of your money if you don’t. Then you have plans that nickel and dime you for every text or international call you make.

Picking the best cell service for your needs can be a hassle. Here’s a plan comparison to make it less of a headache.

Consumer Cellular

  • Pros: These plans are designed to be simple – and there’s no contract. If you don’t use your phone much, you can get a really inexpensive plan – as low as $20 per month for one line with 250 minutes of talk and 250 MB of data. AARP members are eligible for discounts.
  • Cons: If you need a lot of data, you’ll end up paying more.
  • International: You’ll pay a per-minute charge for international calls. There’s also a charge for international texts that you send, as well as international roaming charges.

Xfinity Mobile

  • Pros: Xfinity Mobile can be a good deal if you want to bundle services. It’s $45 per line with unlimited data (although speeds are reduced after you use 20 GB of data per month) or $12 per GB is you go for the pay-as-you-go plan.
  • Cons: You have to use Xfinity Internet service to be eligible for Xfinity Mobile. Also, you may be charged more than $45 if you don’t maintain the necessary subscriptions with them. Another drawback is that you’ll have a limited choice of phones. Originally, you had to get a phone through Xfinity. However, the company recently announced that customers can sign up with their own unlocked iPhone, if it’s one of the approved models, and that other phones may qualify for a trade-in value.
  • International: Calls to other countries will be subject to an additional per-minute charge, although texting to many countries is free. If you go outside the U.S., you will be subject to roaming charges.


  • Pros: Tracfone is a prepaid service with no contracts. For $15, you get a service plan that lasts for 30 days and includes 200 minutes of talk, 500 texts and 500 MB of Data.
  • Cons: If you use your phone a lot, this may not be the best option for you.
  • International: International calls can be made at no additional cost.


  • Pros: GreatCall provides plans with no contracts. Plan options range from $14.99 for 200 minutes to $49.99 for unlimited talk and text. They also provide phones designed for seniors.
  • Cons: You’ll have to pay more if you want data for your smartphone.
  • International: When you call an international number, or when you call from outside the United States, international rates apply.

Other Options

Many large cell phone service providers, like AT&T and Verizon, offer a wide array of cell phone plans. If you’re looking for a simple, budget-friendly option with no contract, the prepaid plans are often your best bet.