If you need to know the best cell phone providers for students don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Life is already expensive, and you want to concentrate on getting through your studies. So let us take the hassle out of your day with our guide to the best data plans your money can buy.
We’re looking at all the cell providers to find the best for you, including coverage (which you can check more precisely here), data plans, and options with both contracts and pay-as-you-go SIMs. There are just so many providers to choose from and so many options, so we’re making it all as simple as we can.
That’s not all we cover here at Pocket Tactics, though, so when you’re done here, why not find a new device with our guides to the best budget gaming phones? Alternatively, grab a machine perfect for task management with our best stylus phone guide. We’re here for all of your tech needs.
Here are the best cell phone providers for students:
- Mint Mobile – flexible options for students on the move
- AT&T – fantastic nationwide coverage
- Xfinity mobile – best for trade-ins
- Verizon – best overall package
- Tello – cheapest data package
1. Mint Mobile
Great savings for new customers.
- Possibly the cheapest data plans around
- T-Mobile network is very reliable
- Packages are quite basic
Mint Mobile is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable cell providers in the US, thanks in no small part to the hilarious adverts from owner Ryan Reynolds. It also uses the reliable T-Mobile network, offering 4G LTE and 5G coverage depending on your location.
For students, Mint Mobile plans offer some of the cheapest packages available, especially if you start a new contract or move your number to the network. However, most of the savings rely on getting a yearly contract, so consider if you can afford to keep paying your bills monthly. Being a student is tough, and the price of pizza is only going up.
Mint Mobile offers unlimited data contracts for as low as $30, or $15 for the first three months of service, or the chance to save money with the 5GB/mo data plan that is $15 monthly all year. There’s a huge amount of phones available for contracts, including the latest iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4, and the Google Pixel 7 Pro.
The most reliable network and lots of data plans.
- Fantastic nationwide coverage
- Get all the data you need
- Great deals for switching carriers
- Can be very expensive
If you have some money to spend and just need someone to rely on, AT&T is constantly working to have the best 5G and 4G LTE coverage in the United States. No matter where your studies are based, the chances are that AT&T provides the least dead spots of any network.
AT&T also loves new customers, often offering huge savings when you start a new contract, and even when you bring in your old phones. You can earn plenty of cash by simply swapping your old phone and number for a new contract, so give it some thought if you have some old devices lying around.
The rub, however, is that AT&T isn’t aiming to be cheap. It’s aiming to be the best. Whether it achieves that is debatable, but they do offer a premium service at a premium price. If you can afford to spend the money while you study, then AT&T’s fantastic coverage, data plans, and phone options mean you’ll never miss a message from back home.
Check out our guide to the best AT&T phones here.
3. Xfinity Mobile
Fantastic data speed and great for sharing with the family.
- An easy way to share devices with the family
- Part of the Verizon network
- Free access to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots
- By-the-gig plan is expensive
- Hotspot is capped at 600kbps
The lesser-known Xfinity Mobile is an up-and-comer, with most consumers learning about the company thanks to its internet and home phone packages. This is what makes a good pick for students, though, as it’s very easy to add a cell phone contract on top. If your parents already use Xfinity Mobile, adding a cell contract to your package is easy.
Plus, using the Verizon network means Xfinity has absolutely fantastic coverage, and with the by-the-gig packages, you can split your data usage between several phones and/or family members. Do your parents have an existing data package? You can add another device and simply make use of their data allowance.
Another plus is the huge array of Xfinity Wi-Fi spots dotted around the US, and you can also set reminders for when data is running low. Xfinity might not be the cheapest package, but if anyone in your family is already connected, it’s a fantastic choice that can save you some money and plenty of time organizing your own separate contract.
Compare Xfinity Mobile plans here.
A reliable network that offers plenty of perks
- Packages can include streaming subscriptions
- International call and text options
- Roaming add-ons
- Not very flexible
- One of the most expensive companies
While plenty of smaller companies use the Verizon network, sometimes it’s better to go to the source. Verizon is known for having great coverage and has unlimited data deals starting from as little as $25 – though with very few perks.
If you’re moving somewhere out of the way and need to start your own streaming subscriptions, then this is another area where Verizon is top of the class. It has fantastic packages that pair unlimited data with extra perks, such as a Walmart+ membership, Apple One, or the Disney bundle (Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN).
Basically, if you’re starting a new life away from home and need a bit of independence, Verizon just might be the best pick to start looking after your own life. Unlimited data plans start to creep towards $50/mo, and almost all deals depend on a yearly contract, so make sure you can afford these deals before you commit.
A cheap and cheerful service for students on a budget
- One of the cheapest providers
- Runs on the T-Mobile network
- No physical stores, so service can be slow
If you want to get T-Mobile coverage but cheaper, this might be the best thing for you. Trello uses T-Mobile’s network to offer fantastic 5G coverage across the US, but much cheaper. It also features a lot of customization for data and calls, just in case you need to adjust your budget on the fly.
If you need to be out and about using your phone and data constantly, Tello has unlimited data packages starting from $29/mo. This includes 25GB of 4G LTE/5G data, 5GB of priority hotspot tethering, and then unlimited 2G data afterward. If you’re running around town between classes and constantly need to connect your laptop to your mobile device, Tello is offering a lot for a little.
Tello also allows you to customize family plans, giving everyone their own data and call or text allowance. So, if you want to stay on the same contract as your parents, this is a great way to get some freedom without worrying about doing it all yourself. Plus, if you aren’t as worried about data, Tello has some very cheap packages that are perfect for anyone who just loves to ring home.
How we chose the best cell phone providers for students
When putting this list together, we took several key pointers into consideration. You can read our how we test page for some general notes on our process for creating these lists, but for this list in particular, there were several factors that helped us to determine what to recommend:
- Pricing: Everyone’s budget is different, so we wanted to include providers with various price ranges, and, indeed, providers with flexible pricing policies.
- Internet allowances: How is the internet connection with a provider? We only wanted to include options that offered reliable access to the internet and give higher data allowances for those who need them.
- Shared plans: Do you want a service that will cover your whole family? Or perhaps all the students in your dorm? Well, we’ve included options that allow for shared plans, as these will be much more cost-effective for students on a smaller budget.
- Additional bonuses: Many of the best providers offer benefits such as access to streaming services through your cell phone plan. Students need ways to unwind, and these packages are often more cost-effective than simply getting both things separately, so we’ve included providers who offer these little bonuses.
That’s all for our best cell phone providers for students guide for today, but if you need even more choice then be sure to check out our guide covering the best cell phone providers to cover all your bases.