2021 List Of MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) And Carriers

A 2021 comparison list of all the major wireless USA phone service providers and mobile virtual network operators (MVNO's) in the USA. Compare prices and features and pros and cons.

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What The Heck Is An MVNO?

A mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO for short, is any wireless provider that does not own the network that it uses to provide service to its customers. Instead, an MVNO relies on a mobile network operator, or MNO for short, to maintain and supply the network for its customers. There are just three major MNOs in the United States. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. But there are some smaller regionalized MNOs like US Cellular. The DISH Network is starting to build out its own network with the intent to become a major MNO. Most wireless providers in the USA are actually MVNOs.

MVNOs Pros And Cons

MVNOs certainly have their fair share of pros and cons. When you sort through the list of MVNOs and carrier MNOs further down below, you'll be able to see the differences between each provider. But there are some pros and cons common to virtually all MVNOs. In general, MVNOs have the following:

Pros

  • MVNOs can be very cheap. Especially for single line customers
  • They can provide plans for a wide range of budgets and needs
  • MVNOs can offer specialty services to cater to niche markets
  • They can offer plans not available from major carriers
  • They use the same networks as the major carriers

Cons

  • No stores to walk into for support
  • Customer support can be limited
  • Many do not sell phones or only offer a limited selection
  • MVNO customers are typically deprioritized* below customers that are signed up directly with a carrier
  • Multi-line discounts are often unavailable or not as robust as from a major carrier

*Deprioritized means that when a major carrier's network becomes congested with a lot of traffic, MVNO customers may notice their data speeds slowing down, sometimes dramatically. This is to give priority access with faster speeds to higher paying customers that subscribe directly to AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon.

MVNOs: What Are The Best Options?

There is no single best option available for everybody. Go back to the list of pros and cons above and take a second look at two of the major pros: "1) they can provide plans for a wide range of budgets and needs, and 2) MVNOs can offer specialty services to cater to niche markets." So which one is best for you will depend on your specific needs and if you need something that falls under a niche market or not. They aren't right for everybody. If you have several lines and need a truly unlimited data plan and are in a heavily congested area, a phone plan from a major wireless carrier may be better for you. Below is a list of carriers and MVNOs with some of the pros and cons of each highlighted.

Affinity Cellular
Founded: 2010
Pros
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • AAA members enjoy extra savings
  • For AAA members all phones come with lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Limited selection of phones
  • Plans are expensive compared to other providers
Starts: $20 /month
Airvoice Wireless
Founded: 1999
Pros
  • Includes international text messaging
  • Pay as you go plans are available
Cons
  • Does not sell phones
  • Most plans do not include unlimited 2G slow data, and are hard capped
  • Website misleading, data shown for most plans is divided in half, only half is at high-speed other half at slow
Starts: $18 /month
Allvoi Wireless
Founded: 2005
Pros
  • Larger than normal autopay discounts available
  • All plans include international calling
  • Custom build plans available with pay by the minute
Cons
  • Phone selection limited to mostly mid-range to high-end devices
  • Prices generally 20% higher without autopay enabled
Starts: $15 /month
AT&T
Founded: 2000
Subscribers: 95.2 million
Pros
  • Lots of phone options available for all kinds of budgets
  • Good family plan options
  • Robust customer support options available
  • Multi-month discount plans available
Cons
  • No real budget monthly phone plans available for low usage customers
  • Best value for single line customers requires purchase of annual plan
Starts: $25 /month
Beast Mobile
Founded: 2017
Pros
  • Free T&T 1GB data plan available paid for by Marshawn Lynch
Cons
  • Extremely limited number of phones offered, and very old models
  • On the more expensive side for an MVNO
Starts: $20 /month
Black Wireless
Founded: 2011
Pros
  • Pay as you go plans available
  • Multi-month pay for service in advance discounts available
  • Caters to low-usage budget oriented consumers
  • All plans include international calling and texting
Cons
  • Does not sell phones
  • No plans for high-data users
Starts: $20 /month
Boom Mobile
Founded: 2015
Pros
  • Supports multiple networks
  • Annual plans available for extra savings
  • Wide range of plans available
Cons
  • Extremely limited number of phones available to purchase
  • Average pricing
Starts: $12.98 /month
Boost Mobile
Founded: 2002
Subscribers: 8,890,000
Pros
  • Offers free phones
  • Wide variety of devices sold
  • Wide variety of ways to get customer support
  • Phone plans for wide variety of budgets
Cons
  • High-data plans are expensive compared to others
  • Cheapest plans are limited to new customers only
  • Free phone offers only available in stores and to new customers
Starts: $10 /month
Boss Wireless
Founded: 2019
Pros
  • All in pricing with taxes and fees included
  • Good for those with international calling and texting needs
Cons
  • Unremarkable pricing
  • Supports bring your own phone only
Starts: $10 /month
Consumer Cellular
Founded: 1995
Subscribers: 4,000,000
Pros
  • Phones available for a variety of budgets
  • Regularly ranks tops in JD Power reports for customer support and satisfaction
  • Shareable data plans
  • AARP members save additional 5%
Cons
  • A bit more expensive than other MVNOs
Starts: $15 /month
Credo Mobile
Founded: 1985
Pros
  • Supports progressive causes
  • Sell phones
Cons
  • Prices are higher than most
  • Little to no selection of budget phone options
  • Supports progressive causes
Starts: $30 /month
Cricket Wireless
Founded: 1999
Subscribers: 11,000,000
Pros
  • Wide variety of phones available
  • Free phones offered
  • Good discounts available for those with multiple lines
  • What you see is what you pay. All taxes & fees included
Cons
  • Free phones only for new customers that port-in
  • No plans geared towards low-usage customers
  • No true budget phone plans available for single line customers
Starts: $30 /month
EarthLink Mobile
Founded: 2021
Pros
  • Includes international calling
  • Plans to fit wide range of budgets
  • Sells phones
Cons
  • Expensive compared to others
Starts: $17.95 /month
EasyGO Wireless
Founded: 2015
Pros
  • All plans include international calling and texting
  • Customer support is a phone call away
Cons
  • More expensive than other MVNOs that have similar features
  • No phones available
Starts: $20 /month
EcoMobile
Founded: 2012
Pros
  • Plans for a variety of budgets
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • Does not sell phones
  • Social media accounts not active, reducing customer support options
Starts: $30 /month
Freedompop
Founded: 2012
Pros
  • Free unlimited WiFi calling available with all plans even those with limited cellular minutes
  • Free plan option, includes unlimited WiFi calling and WiFi RCS messaging
Cons
  • Only iPhones available for purchase
  • Free plan only includes 10 text messages and 25MB of data.
Starts: $15 /month
FreeUP Mobile
Founded: 2018
Pros
  • Exceptional pricing with multi-month discount plans
  • Free international calling
  • Free SIM cards with free shipping
Cons
  • Limit selection of phones and they are not discounted
  • Best pricing requires you to pay in advance for 6 or 12 months
Starts: $15 /month
Gen Mobile
Founded: 2018
Pros
  • Includes no questions asked 7-day money back guarantee
  • Includes 15 days of free unlimited domestic and international texting after plan expires due to late or non-payment
  • Focused on budget oriented consumers, multi-month discounts available
  • All plans include international texting, most include international calling
Cons
  • Only offers pre-owned phones
  • Best pricing requires purchase of 3-month plan
Starts: $5.00 /month
Good2GO Mobile
Founded: 2015
Pros
  • Plans for variety of budgets and needs
  • Good choice for limited use subscribers that like AT&T's network
  • Call center available for those that would like help over the phone
Cons
  • Phones not sold at a discount
  • No truly unlimited data plans
Starts: $10 /month
Google Fi
Founded: 2015
Pros
  • Uses multiple networks, automatic switching to whichever network works best in an area including WiFi
  • International roaming data billed at same rate as domestic data, no extra charges
  • Free text messaging while traveling internationally
  • High end phones typically sold with large discounts and no long term contracts
Cons
  • More expensive than other providers
  • Customer support is questionable
  • Limited selection of phones available to purchase
Starts: $30 /month
GoSmart Mobile
Founded: 2012
Pros
  • International roaming in Mexico, Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries
Cons
  • No Phones offered
  • Only provides data at 3G data speeds, LTE speeds only when on Facebook
  • Expensive for what's offered
Starts: $25 /month
H2O Wireless
Founded: 2005
Subscribers: 1,000,000
Pros
  • Includes international calling and texting
  • Pricing is decent
  • Phone financing options available
Cons
  • Phone selection mainly limited to iPhones
  • Download data speeds limited to 8Mbps
Starts: $18 /month
Hello Mobile
Founded: 2019
Pros
  • Great pricing
  • Taxes included in pricing, what you see is what you pay
  • Free SIM cards and shipping
Cons
  • Reputation for poor customer support
  • Extremely limited selection of phones. Has all old and entry level models
  • Hotspot usage costs $15/month extra
Starts: $5 /month
i3 Mobile
Founded:
Pros
    Cons
      Starts: $65 /month
      Kroger Wireless
      Founded: 2019
      Pros
      • Variety of phones offered at a variety of price points
      • Pretty good pricing
      • Sold in Kroger and related grocery stores
      Cons
      • Only 3 phone plans available
      • Plans cost 20% more if autopay billing is not enabled
      Starts: $20 /month
      Lively
      Founded: 2005
      Subscribers: 900,000
      Pros
      • Good for seniors
      • Offers and supports medical alert devices
      Cons
      • Phone selection limited
      • Plans designed for a limited audience
      • Can be expensive
      Starts: $14.99 /month
      Lycamobile
      Founded: 2006
      Pros
      • Decent selection of plans
      • Good for those with international calling and texting needs
      • Global brand sold throughout the world
      Cons
      • Extremely limited number of phones available
      Starts: $19 /month
      Metro-By-T-Mobile
      Founded: 1994
      Subscribers: 19,000,000
      Pros
      • Lots of free phones for switchers
      • Good family plan options
      • Includes weekly perks/freebies like free cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts
      • Free Amazon Prime Subscription and Google One on select plans
      Cons
      • Expensive for single line customers that don't need unlimited data
      • Phones only available in stores
      • Could be charged $20 to switch phones
      • Does not cater to low-usage customers
      Starts: $30 /month
      Mint Mobile
      Founded: 2016
      Pros
      • Exceptional pricing
      • Introductory pricing and trial offers available
      • Variety of phones available
      Cons
      • To get best pricing must prepay for 1-year in advance
      • Phones not sold with real discounts
      Starts: $15 /month
      NET10 Wireless
      Founded: 1996
      Pros
      • Supports multiple networks
      • Offers exclusive multi-month discount plans and deals through eBay
      • Cheap phones
      Cons
      • Primarily budget devices are carried
      • Plan prices are just average
      Starts: $20.00 /month
      netTALK Connect
      Founded: 2015
      Pros
      • Great pricing but only one plan option available
      • T-Mobile business line reseller, plan comes with all the same perks as T-Mobile postpaid plans do
      Cons
      • Only available to businesses
      • Business model may be questionable
      Starts: $40 /month
      Optimum Mobile
      Founded: 2019
      Subscribers: 169,000
      Pros
      • Seamlessly connects from LTE/5G to WiFi hotspots to help you save data
      • Provides usage alerts to help know when you reach data limits
      • International travel add-ons available
      Cons
      • Only available in select markets serviced by Optimum and Suddenlink
      • Price costs $10 more each month without Optimum/Suddenlink subscription
      • No budget under $100 phones available
      Starts: $14 /month
      Page Plus Cellular
      Founded: 1993
      Pros
      • Phones available with financing for every budget
      • Pay as you go plans available
      • Top-up cards and add-ons available
      Cons
      • Limited number of monthly plan options
      • Not known for having great customer support
      Starts: $12 /month
      Patriot Mobile
      Founded: 2012
      Pros
      • Supports conservative causes
      Cons
      • Extremely limited selection of phones available
      • Supports conservative causes
      • No discounts available on phones
      • Plans tend to be more expensive than others
      Starts: $25 /month
      Pure Talk
      Founded: 2004
      Pros
      • Plans to meet a variety of needs
      • Additional plans and deals available to AMAC members
      Cons
      • Phone selection mostly consists of iPhones
      Starts: $20 /month
      Reach Mobile
      Founded: 2018
      Pros
      • Supports charitable cause, your subscription is used to help provide data to others around the world
      • Use less data in a month than comes with your plan and you may be billed for cheaper plan
      Cons
      • Decent selection of phones but no discounts available
      • Plans cost a bit more than average
      Starts: $30 /month
      Red Pocket Mobile
      Founded: 2006
      Pros
      • Wide variety of plans available at variety of price points
      • Multi-month discount savings are available when you pay for more service in advance
      • Customer referral program
      Cons
      • Only new phones sold are iPhones, Android phones are certified pre-owned
      • Sometimes subscribers have issues onboarding
      Starts: $2.50 /month
      Republic Wireless
      Founded: 2011
      Subscribers: 200,000
      Pros
      • Data available as pay per use
      • 14-day money back guarantee
      • Additional savings available with annual plan options
      Cons
      • More expensive than others
      • Limited selection of phones available, all Androids
      • Not good for high-data users
      Starts: $15 /month
      Selectel Wireless
      Founded: 2008
      Pros
      • USA based customer support
      Cons
      • Extremely limited number of phones available
      • Pricing is just average
      Starts: $20 /month
      Simple Mobile
      Founded: 2009
      Pros
      • Sells variety of phones and offers discounts
      • Includes free full service roaming in 16 Latin American countries
      • Caters to those with international calling needs
      Cons
      • Does not have great reputation for customer support
      • Pricing only modest
      Starts: $23.75 /month
      Spectrum Mobile
      Founded: 2018
      Subscribers: 2,400,000
      Pros
      • Mix and match plans
      • Shareable data for up to 10 lines
      Cons
      • Must also subscribe to Spectrum Internet or plans cost $20/month higher
      Starts: $14 /month
      SpeedTalk Mobile
      Founded: 2014
      Pros
      • Variety of plans available for different needs with focus on low-usage customers
      • Pay as you go options available
      Cons
      • No real plan options for high-data users
      • No phones available
      Starts: $5.00 /month
      Straight Talk Wireless
      Founded: 2009
      Subscribers: 9,823,000
      Pros
      • Large selection of phones available
      • Sold at Walmart, with Walmart exclusive deals
      • Variety of plans available for different types of devices
      Cons
      • No true budget phone plans
      • Not known to have greatest customer support
      Starts: $30 /month
      T-Mobile
      Founded: 2002
      Pros
      • Free phones are offered
      • Offers phone plans, tablet plans, watch plans, home internet and more
      Cons
      • Can be expensive for single line customers
      • Free phone offers and deals typically require 24-month payment plans
      Starts: $15 /month
      Tello Mobile
      Founded: 2015
      Subscribers: 100,000
      Pros
      • Excellent pricing, provides great value
      • Wide variety of plans available including custom build
      • Good customer support
      Cons
      • Limited selection of phones, most are used or refurbished
      • Does not have a truly unlimited data plan
      Starts: $6 /month
      TextNow
      Founded: 2009
      Pros
      • Free cellular talk and text plan option
      Cons
      • Extremely limited selection of phones available
      • Website does not explain plan options well
      • Limited selection of plans
      Starts: $0 /month
      Ting Mobile
      Founded: 2012
      Pros
      • Plans available to cater to different budgets
      • Shareable data plans available
      • Known for good customer support
      Cons
      • Limited number of phones available
      • No truly unlimited data plans
      Starts: $10 /month
      Total Wireless
      Founded: 2015
      Pros
      • Wide selection of phones available
      • Sold in stores like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart, and also online
      • Shareable data plans available
      Cons
      • Not known for great customer support
      • Not the cheapest of plans
      Starts: $23.7 /month
      Tracfone
      Founded: 1996
      Pros
      • Good selection of phones
      • Wide variety of plans available with data carryover
      • Offers pay as you go
      Cons
      • Does not sell plans with high-data allotments
      • Data is hard-capped but top-ups available
      • Not known for great customer support
      Starts: $14.25 /month
      Twigby
      Founded: 2015
      Pros
      • Great introductory pricing
      • Custom build and monthly plans available
      • Plans for a variety of budgets available
      • Uses two networks, one is for roaming
      Cons
      • Limited selection of phones that are mostly older models
      • Does not cater to high-end data users. 10GB max data allotment
      Starts: $19 /month
      Ultra Mobile
      Founded: 2012
      Pros
      • Good for international calling and texting
      • Plans available to meet a variety of data needs
      • Ability to save more by prepaying for several months in advance
      • Lots of phone options
      Cons
      • Best rates require prepaying for 12 months in advance
      • Phones typically sold without any discounts
      Starts: $15 /month
      UNREAL Mobile
      Founded: 2018
      Pros
      • Good for international calling needs
      • Good value if willing to prepay for service months in advance
      Cons
      • Only sells iPhones
      • Must prepay for 12-months in advance to get great rates
      Starts: $10 /month
      US Cellular
      Founded: 1983
      Subscribers: 4,968,000
      Pros
      • Plenty of phone options with free phones available
      • Home internet options
      • Select plans include free Redbox movie rentals
      Cons
      • Expensive for single lines
      • Limited number of plan options
      Starts: $30 /month
      US Mobile
      Founded: 2014
      Pros
      • Offers a phone plan for every budget
      • Select plans include perks like a free Netflix subscription
      • Offers truly unlimited data plans
      Cons
      • Extremely limited selection of phones available
      Starts: $5.5 /month
      Verizon Wireless
      Founded:
      Pros
        Cons
          Starts: $30 /month
          Visible
          Founded: 2018
          Pros
          • Owned by Verizon
          • Wide variety of phones available
          • Cheapest unlimited data plan
          Cons
          • Only one phone plan is sold
          • In some locations, data and ping times are particularly slow
          • 5G network data speeds capped at 200Mbps
          Starts: $40 /month
          Walmart Family Mobile
          Founded: 2010
          Pros
          • Good value for moderate to high-data users
          • Customer support and plans available in stores at Walmart and online
          Cons
          • Limited number of plan options
          • Not known to have great customer support
          • Cheaper options available elsewhere for really low usage customers
          Starts: $24.88 /month
          Wing
          Founded: 2017
          Pros
          • Phones sold with financing options
          • Supports smartwaches
          Cons
          • Limited selection of phones available
          • Questionable business practices
          • Pricing not great for low data usage customers
          Starts: $20 /month
          Xfinity Mobile
          Founded: 2017
          Subscribers: 3,103,000
          Pros
          • Shareable data plans available
          • Access to nationwide network of hotspots
          • Variety of phones available
          Cons
          • Must have either Xfinity Internet, Cable, or Voice or plans cost $25 more per month
          • Only limited selection of BYOD phones supported
          Starts: $15 /month