Currently being a student I cannot imagine running out of data or reach some kind of threshold or especially living without the phone. Having a smartphone today is like having everything in palms of our hands. Make sure you check out my post on Republic Wireless as well.
In this post I am compiling a list of best carriers, mobile plans for students and you don’t have to be a student to get the best deals, as well I share my experience with the current carrier I have. I will also share the best deals going on right now if you decide to switch to a different plan.
First of all, you need to know that mobile data selection will make a big difference in your total cost. Did you know that on average college student uses 9GB of data per month. I use around 27GB per month which is definitely high, but to be honest I don’t even notice that. In the end I still pay lower price than majority of people and I use much more data in the end.
As technology, in particular internet has progressed through the roof over the past 17 years, actually “calling” people has declined or so-called “cellular usage”. The new challenge today is how to get the best deal on the best plan deals that packs it all – unlimited messages, calling, and data. If you don’t pay attention especially as a student to how much you are paying for your phone monthly, it will really kill your savings. If you are paying $100+ per month for your current plan as a single line, drop that carrier now!
Here are the factors that most of us are looking for as a student that I will be sharing:
- Unlimited Text, Talk, and Data (Or as close as possible to unlimited data)
- Smartphones (We want the latest and greatest)
- Coverage Options (As a student we might be traveling across country, study abroad, home and back to school)
- Monthly Cost (Price we pay per month)
If you are with your parents on the plan, you should also check out what I have to say about that. Recently I asked few of my friends how much they are paying on the family plans in a family of 3 or 4 and more and I was blown away how expensive it is. I just had to write this article for best mobile plans for students after hearing these numbers and the greedy carriers behind them. I want to note that there are only few truly unlimited plans available that are actually affordable. Nobody wants to pay extra for the charges that we rack up especially as a student.
Prepaid vs Postpaid
The reason I wanted to cover this first is because you need to understand the difference between prepaid and postpaid. Before about 5 years ago the popular way to go with mobile plans used to be postpaid plans where people pay for the latest and greatest phone in the range of $200 and sign a contract for the term of usually 24 months. So, you get a generous discount for the expensive phone and then make monthly payments towards the plan you have, and do the same cycle after 24 months. If you decide to leave it might be running you pretty expensive, so it wasn’t worth it.
Today, the industry has shifted to prepaid approach (in its own way). Well, not really prepaid but is rather switched more to the contracts having the latest phone but there won’t be a breaking fee to pay, rather just paying off your phone and you can switch. Going prepaid way is definitely the best way to go today and it is best if you pay full price for the phone, then pay the monthly prepaid plan cost.
Currently I am with T-Mobile with two lines running me $85 with unlimited texts, calls, and data, as well as other perks like coverage in almost every city in the world with zero fees on texts and data, free wifi on planes equipped with wifi, and youtube videos not counting against my data. These are just few perks and there is much more I haven’t listed, but you get the idea.
TOP PICKS (Price and What You Get)
Cricket Wireless – One of the best prepaid carriers out today because it uses AT&T’s coverage. Starting at just $30/month, $40 (2GB of data, 5GB of data) Get $25 if you use this link to sign up.
AT&T – With one of the best coverages in the country and great deals to lure you in!
Boost Mobile – Starting at just $35 for unlimited talk, text, and data (3GB of high speed). Boost mobile’s parent company is Sprint, so the coverage is based of the Sprint’s network. For the price it is a great option for students. Check Boost Mobile’s Coverage Map.
Sprint – One of the top because of the deals it is running frequently like currently it is only $25 for unlimited talk, text, and data. See the image below.
I had to list it first because I have been with them for about 8 years now and even though I switched around plans a little bit, but it was only for the better where I ended up with much better return. As a fan of T-Mobile and you must of seen some funny commercials they have been doing over the past years I cannot recommend it enough. I have seen huge improvements and highly suggest checking it out and giving them a try.
T-Mobile offers some great plans and “T-Mobile Magenta” is their latest pitch and it is a great deal for anyone that is looking to switch. Here are top benefits of the plan:
As you can see, with just $30/month with essentials plan you get unlimited talk, text, & smartphone data which makes it a perfect plan for student that don’t travel much abroad or not planning to travel. Out of 3 plans above, the best plan overall is the “Magenta” plan from my perspective because of its data and texting abroad, 4GB of data in Mexico and Canada, as well as the LTE data for hotspot because you never know when you will need internet for your computer.
This is a smoking deal because what your friends and you decide to go on a trip to another country for a spring break or summer, $40 will have you covered with internet abroad, can’t get better than that, and I cant imagine being without my phone ever again in different countries after having this perk.
T-Mobile offers unlimited text, talk, and data and will let you roll over your data (anything you haven’t used up will transfer to next month). The current allotment for data is 52GB a month which is a lot! Twice as much as other carriers allow for what they “unlimited”. Their pricing is very simple and fairly priced and you should give them a try. Check T-Mobile’s coverage map.
There are also other plans available
T-Mobile Prepaid Homepage
AT&T is one of the top two providers but over the last few years their prices have gone up and is no longer cheap and not the best option for students but the coverage is where it strives. AT&T unfortunately no longer provides unlimited data plans, every carrier claim they are unlimited until you read the terms and you see after how much data you use and they will slow you down (22 GB currently). There is no more 2 year contracts and you will have to buy phone on installment price or outright,
Here are known plans
Plans start at $70/month for a single line (depends on which on you choose above^)
2 lines $126 or $63/line
3 lines $147 or $49/line
4 lines $160 or $40/line
AT&T also offers Prepaid Plans with no annual contract. Here’s the break down:
Big plus is that AT&T has a great coverage but the pricing will hit you in your pocket. Also, the international coverage add-on will run you a lot of money.
Currently Verizon is #1 in U.S wireless industry, and they deserve it. Their coverage is absolutely great, but the pricing is where they will get you and you really need to think if it’s worth it. Depending on how many lines you have it is best to have as many as possible with Verizon. But you definitely get what you pay for with Verizon. With its premium cost, you will most likely never have coverage issue.
Verizon’s GoUnlimited plans start at
- $75 for 1 line
- $130 for 2 lines ($65 per line)
- $150 for 3 lines ($50 per line)
- $160 for 4 lines ($40 per line)
The GoUnlimited plans include:
- Unlimited Data (currently set at 22GB)
- DVD-Quality Streaming
- Unlimited Talk & Text
- Unlimited Mobile Hotspot (speeds at 600kbps)
- You also qualify for a military discount if you are in the military
Verizon also offers BeyondUnlimited and above unlimited plans for $10-20 extra per line which is similar to GoUnlimited but adds these options:
- Unlimited Premium 4G LTE data
- HD-Quality Streaming
- Mexico & Canada Included
- Unlimited Mobile Hotspot (reduced after 15GB)
- Apple Music
They also have other options for people that don’t need unlimited ranging from $35/month for 2GB of data, $50/mo for 4GB, $70/mo for 8GB.
The truth is that Sprint used to be #3 but unfortunately they have dropped to #4 but I still believe this is the second best choice after T-Mobile just because of their pricing and coverage. Their coverage is pretty great and pricing is hard to beat but you might be running into a lot of trouble with data speeds in many areas. Sprint every about few months offers some great deals to get customers and you should check it out. Recently they offered service of $1 dollar a month for one year for new activations if you buy certain phone from them. The Sprint’s plans also include Hulu’s subscription.
Here’s Sprint’s marketing pitch comparing other carriers to them. You really need to talk to somebody if you are considering Sprint who lives in the same area because you might regret it, I’ve heard and read some horror stories about them and I wanted my actual opinion on this matter. See this chart for yourself and remember every carrier has chart similar to this but making other carriers look not worth it.
That’s it for top wireless carriers, now I would like to share some prepaid services that are for the most part owned by one of those top 4 (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint).
Switch to Sprint and lease iPhone XR for $15/mo. Back to School savings of over 50% off the regular lease price! (Offer ends 9/5)
Straight Talk Wireless (Owned by AT&T)
This carrier is owned by AT&T and from my perspective have the best prepaid plans and coverages because it is owned by AT&T.
MetroPCS (Owned by T-Mobile)
This carrier was recently purchased by T-Mobile and has went through a lot of changes over the past year. MetroPCS uses the T-Mobile’s coverage and offers some great plans.
I hope the list I compiled has been helpful on your decision. on’t try to go with the best, rather do a little research on other options in your area or even ask me on here and I could research it for you. My choice of T-Mobile is because of it’s coverage and international coverage in every country I’ve been at so far. Can’t beat that from my perspective for the price I pay.
This is not a sponsored post and is based on true experiences and research from other people. I am not trying to make one to look better over another.
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Richard Barnett is a student majoring in finance, entrepreneur, marketer, content writer, budget traveler, and financial blog “Student Money Adviser” owner. You can read more about me here.
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