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The best student cell phone plans and deals in 2023

Wireless plans are notoriously expensive, and that’s even without including the average cost for a new phone. It means that if you’re on a tight budget, like most students and budding professionals entering the workforce who don’t have a lot of extra money to play with, you’re probably going to have a tough time choosing a provider. Tack on all of those extra taxes, fees, and potential overage charges, and there’s a good chance you might empty your wallet before you even have a chance to get started. And let’s be honest — if you want one of the best phones for 2022, you’re going to be paying quite a bit for that too. The good news is, if you know where to look, you can find a relatively inexpensive and budget-friendly phone plan, some made specifically for students. Don’t forget, there are a ton of great offers available, so you can nab one of the best phone deals too, especially if you want to bring your own phone to the table.

To make sure you’re looking in the right places, and to help you save some of that much-needed money, we’ve assembled the best student cell phone plans available for the year, as well as some excellent deals and offers. Keep reading to see what those are!

The best student cell phone plans in 2023

  • Mint Mobile —
  • Republic Wireless —
  • Verizon Start Unlimited —
  • Cricket Wireless —
  • Ting Mobile —

What we’re looking for in student cell phone plans

No wireless plan is created equal, so you’re not going to get the same features and opportunities across providers for the most part. But the most important things to look for are the following:

Unlimited: The holy grail is a plan with unlimited talk, text, and data. Hotspots are another excellent feature to have if they are available. Not all plans will offer everything on the list, but if they do, they’re a solid winner.

Price: Traditional wireless plans come with a lot of added fees, potential charges, and so on. If you’re on a tight budget, you want something simple that’s all rolled into a single, stoic price. In other words, you want to look for a monthly pricing plan that’s the same every month, with everything you’d have to pay rolled up into a single charge.

Coverage: Many third-party wireless providers, outside of the big names, leverage an existing network. Visible, for example, uses Verizon’s nationwide network rather than its own proprietary setup. Always compare what the wireless provider is claiming to offer for coverage with the network they’re using.

Phones: With many of these wireless providers, you can either bring a phone that you already have or purchase a new one. When you buy a new phone and activate a new line, you can almost always take advantage of excellent deals and discounts that you won’t receive otherwise. Consider which option is best for you before signing anything.

Contracts: Traditional wireless providers offer steep discounts and offers by issuing long-term contracts to offset the costs. Normally, you sign something like a two-year contract, and both the cost of your service plan and any new devices you purchase are spread out throughout that period. If you cancel early, you’re liable for the exit fees, which sometimes include a penalty as well as the leftover cost of your devices. As a student, you want to look for contract-free options that don’t lock you into a particular plan or network.

The top student cell phone plans for 2023

Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile website on mobile device.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The idea behind Mint mobile is that you bring your own device, and they send you a SIM card to use in your phone when you sign up. You also pay for everything in advance, which allows them to offer some unique, and excellent, deals. For example, you can get unlimited talk, text, and 4GB of 4G or 5G LTE data for just $15 per month, but you’ll have to purchase the first three months upfront. A more accommodating all-unlimited plan is available for $30 per month, with unlimited talk, text, and data. Moreover, you can choose how long your plan is, altering how much you pay, from three to 12 months.

Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless app and logo.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With Republic, you get a hybrid network that uses both Wi-Fi and cell service for data, depending on coverage and where you are. Connecting to Wi-Fi saves you a lot of money and reduces your data usage. This is an excellent idea for students because even if you’re not spending a lot of time on campus, nearly every business or place you’d visit has Wi-Fi available. Plans differ, but all include unlimited talk and text for $15, and you can add on data packages, such as 1GB of 4G LTE data for $5 at a total of $20 per month, with each additional GB for $5 more per month. If you’re a current DISH customer, you also get a discount.

Verizon Start Unlimited

Verizon banner splashed across iPhone screen.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Unlike Verizon’s traditional plans, Start Unlimited does not require a contract and offers unlimited talk and text for $35 per month with some extras. You’ll also get 22GB of 4G LTE data, plus 15GB of 4G LTE hotspot usage with options to upgrade as needed. Bear in mind that Verizon does still charge a $30 activation fee per line, so make sure you factor that into your budget if it’s the service you choose.

Cricket Wireless

Cricket wireless logo on white background.

For $40 a month with Cricket, you get unlimited talk, text, and picture messaging within the U.S. With a compatible phone, you can also use HD voice and Wi-Fi calling. Communications with Mexico and Canadian residents is also included for new customers as part of the plan. For data, you get up to 10GB of 5G data per month. All of this comes with a single line and new plan activation, without contracts, overages, or monthly charges. There are plans with multiple lines available if you want to go in with family or friends.

Ting Mobile

Ting mobile used in crowd.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If international calling is a necessity for you, Ting is a great option because there are no additional costs or fees for contacting anyone in the over 60 supported countries. The cheapest plan starts at $10 per month, with unlimited talk and text included. You can add data for $5 per month for each GB, or go with one of the higher-tier plans. As for phones, you can bring your own and get a SIM, or shop for new phones through Ting’s storefront.

Editors' Recommendations

Briley Kenney

Briley has been writing about consumer electronics and technology for over a decade. When he's not writing about deals for Digital Trends, he's writing how-to content, and guides for Lifewire, Ideaing, and several other online publications. He's also a ghostwriter for more than one confidential SEO marketing agency. In his downtime, he's either spending time with his family, playing games, or enjoying a good ol' stogie.

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