There’s nothing quite like Google Fi when it comes to service and coverage. Not everyone needs all of the features Fi offers, and if you aren’t traveling internationally, the data can be quite pricey. If you’ve been looking to Google Fi for your phone service but don’t think it’s quite the right fit, Mint Mobile is a sensible choice with great 5G coverage on the T-Mobile network and savings for those willing to sign up for an extended period.
Best overall: Mint Mobile
Most wireless service providers require you to pay your bill month-to-month, but Mint Mobile takes a different approach by charging you upfront for 3, 6, or 12 months of service at a time. It’s a unique concept and one that requires a bigger check from the get-go but could result in some significant savings over time.
Mint Mobile’s data plans come with unlimited talk and text, and depending on the one you pick, you’ve got your choice of 4GB, 10GB, or 15GB of 4G LTE data. If you decide you need additional LTE speeds during a month, you can get an extra 1GB for $10 or 3GB for $20. Mobile hotspot data is also included. Check your existing phone bill to get an idea of how much data you use.
If you need a bit more, Mint Mobile’s Unlimited plan comes with 35GB of high-speed data as well as 5GB of hotspot data. Video streams are limited to SD quality like most unlimited plans. The unlimited plan is also discounted more for the longer term you get. If you regularly use more than 15GB of data in a month, this plan might be the perfect fit.
Mint Mobile is powered by T-Mobile’s LTE and 5G network, and as such, you can bring over virtually any unlocked GSM phone. Mint Mobile is a great way to test out the largest 5G network in the country.
Best unlimited: Visible
While Visible‘s Android selection has always been a bit lacking, it’s impossible to ignore the value of completely unlimited phone service. Even so, Visible has been consistently adding Android support and now works with some of the most popular Androids including the Galaxy S21 series and Pixel series.
For $40/month, Visible gives you unlimited talk, text, and LTE data on Verizon’s vast LTE network. Verizon has also unlocked 5G for Visible customers with a supported phone. In other words, you can use your phone however you want and as much as you want without having to worry about going over any limits. We also love that hotspot access is included for free, which is a perk you won’t find everywhere.
That’s a good enough deal on its own, but Visible goes the extra mile by being about as customer-friendly as cell providers come. After ordering a SIM through its website, you just wait for it to be delivered, pop it in your phone, and then download and open the Visible app. From here, you’ll handle all of your billing, get in touch with customer service, and more. When you want to pay your bill, Visible accepts credit/debit cards, PayPal, and even Venmo.
Visible customers can also take their bills down to just $25 per month with Party Pay. If you join a party with at least four members, your bill is reduced from the typical $40 per month to $25 per month. You can join a party from Visible’s community page on its website so there’s no reason not to join.
Best family plan: Metro by T-Mobile
Metro by T-Mobile is owned by T-Mobile and has consequently become one of the best options for prepaid plans on T-Mobile’s network. Metro offers great compatibility for phones compatible with T-Mobile and even has some great family savings with discounts on up to five lines. In fact, if you add three lines to the top unlimited plan, you can get the fourth free.
At its cheapest, you can sign up for a plan with unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of 4G LTE data for just $30 each month. This is a great pick for those that qualify for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program. At its most expensive, Metro by T-Mobile costs $60/month for unlimited talk, text, LTE data, 15GB of hotspot use, 100GB of Google One storage, and even a free Amazon Prime membership.
Taxes and fees are included with Metro’s pricing. And since it runs on T-Mobile’s network, you can bring just about any GSM unlocked phone to it and have everything work just fine.
Best for AT&T: Cricket Wireless
AT&T’s prepaid brand, Cricket Wireless, doesn’t tick every box for Google Fi wannabes, but it comes close to a few. For example, it offers excellent nationwide coverage thanks to being powered by AT&T’s network. And as a result, it should be compatible with almost every unlocked phone sold in the U.S. today. If you used Cricket before, you may remember speed caps on certain plans. Luckily, Cricket removed these speed caps in late 2021 and has even upgraded its top unlimited plan to premium unlimited data.
Cricket also has simple and flexible plans that offer unlimited U.S. talk, text, and data, plus the ability to roam in Canada and Mexico on two of the higher-tier (but at $55 and $60, still affordable) plans. Those plans also include free texting to 37 other countries, including the likes of Australia, China, India, Japan, and more. The top plan also comes with access to AT&T’s nationwide 5G network.
One significant advantage of Cricket is that taxes and fees are included with its plans. In other words, if you sign up for the $60/month plan, you’ll pay exactly $60 and not a penny more.
Best perks: US Mobile
US Mobile has a ton of plans with something that will work for just about anyone. With coverage on the T-Mobile and Verizon networks, US Mobile will work with just about any phone and will have coverage for just about anyone in the country.
US Mobile starts small with a custom plan builder that lets you choose as low as 75 minutes, 50 texts, or 50MB of data. From there you can go up to unlimited in every category. This is a great place to start if you only need one line.
Perhaps the most interesting plans are US Mobile’s unlimited options which, as you might expect, come with unlimited talk, text, and data. Previously, you had to pay extra for uncapped data speeds but US Mobile now includes its Ludicrous speed tier with every plan. You do still have the option to add 20GB of mobile hotspot data for $10 per month.
US Mobile really wants you to sign up for an unlimited family plan. Besides the standard discounts, US Mobile also offers a free perk with three lines and two perks with three lines. You can choose from several subscription services to add to your account including video streaming like Netflix or Disney+, music stream like Spotify and Apple Music, or even gaming including Xbox Live or Playstation Plus. If you’re already paying for one of these, it can be a great bonus.
Best customization: Tello
Tello is a carrier you might not have heard of before, but that’s something you should change. It’s quickly becoming one of the most interesting players in the mobile space, and as an alternative to Google Fi, there’s a lot to like. Tello also has a promotion for 50% off your service for the first month.
The best thing about Tello is its Build Your Own Plan tool. Tello includes free unlimited texting for everyone and then allows you to choose how much data and minutes you want every month. The options aren’t as fine-tuned as Ting, but the value offered here is undeniably great.
If you don’t use your phone much, you could get 2GB of data and 300 minutes for just $12/month. Whether you need just a few minutes or would rather stick to unlimited, you can easily build the right plan starting at just $5 per month. If you want to go all-out with “unlimited” data (LTE speeds capped at 25GB) and minutes, you’ll spend just $39/month. All plans include free calling to Canada, Mexico, China, and Romania, not to mention Tello’s international rates for other countries are quite competitive.
The reality is that nothing in the U.S. is quite like Google Fi. Google’s carrier experiment might be a little more expensive on a per-gigabyte basis, and more restrictive from a phone choice perspective. Google Fi’s unlimited plans are also stuck in the past from a data perspective with only 22GB of high-speed data.
Many of the best Android phones will work with Fi’s combined network and 5G however some less popular models will fall back to the T-Mobile network. In many ways, and for many people, it’s the ideal network provider.
Of course, not everyone has access to a phone that taps into Fi’s full potential, so hopefully, these offerings will come in handy when you’re searching for your next alternative carrier. And with no contracts, you’re free to try out more than one. Thanks to unlimited service, a low price, and an extensive LTE network, Visible is the best alternative as long as you don’t need to use your phone outside of the U.S.