Phone Plans

Best Single-Line Phone Plan for a College Student in 2023

Kyle Reyes
April 3, 2023

Finding the right cell phone plan as a college student is a big deal. You need that device every single day in just about every part of your college life. Online class portals have mobile apps and group chats are a part of just about every club and group of friends. 

Are you a college student getting on their first solo plan, or parents of a college kid looking to get your child a great plan for their college years? Regardless of the case, we will talk about the various cell phone plans for college students and what each one brings to the table. Before you can figure out which is the best cell phone plan you have to figure out what they need out of it. 

At the very top of the list are premium major wireless plans that often cost over $100 for one line. These plans give unlimited premium data, huge hotspot allocations, and complimentary subscriptions to subscription sites. This is all well and good, but does a college student need that significant of a phone plan? Unlikely. We’ve included one of those plans in this list for comparison, but the majority of our focus lies in MVNOS. Mobile Virtual Network Operators are amazing alternative options to get a great plan and save big on your phone bill every month. 

Finding the right phone plan is not easy. There are loads of plans, tons of carriers, and a lot to decipher before finding the best one. College students are always looking for ways to save money, and phone plans are no exception.

This article will cover the best single-line phone plans for college students and how to find the balance between the cost of the plan and the details of 

or college students that ensure they have enough data to get through the month. We do not recommend trying to squeeze into a plan that provides less data than you use comfortably, because hitting the data cap either results in no data, an overage fee, or access to 2G or 3G speeds. The student’s cell phone plan and cell phone contribute to the phone bill, and we hope that this article will give you all the info you need to pick out the best phone plan for college students. Read on for information about:

  • Finding the right plan
  • Saving money with MVNOs and student deals
  • Some of the best phone plans for college students

How to Find the Best Phone Plan for One College Student?

The best phone plan for you comes down to what you need. It would be great if we could direct you to the absolute best phone plan for college students, but alas. It all depends on how much you use your phone on the network. Mobile data and add-ons drive up the price, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need. We recommend spending some time thinking about your ideal phone plan. Are you someone who uses their mobile hotspot or has many streaming services and would love the free account? That could make a more expensive plan worthwhile. If you want to save big, how much data do you need? These questions are important guides for your 

Before discussing the best phone plans for one college student, we want to highlight some of the factors that can save you money on your monthly phone bill. We’ll talk about contracts, student deals, data allocations, and major wireless networks versus MVNOs. 

Student Deals

We wish there was more to say in this category. Across the board, student deals are nothing special. The major wireless networks and a few MVNOs have student deals that are a nice bonus, but none of them are so good that they rise above the competition. There are regular affordable plans that are better deals than the student deals out there. You should go to a company you like that doesn’t have a student deal rather than compromise to get the student savings at another company. 

No-Contract Cell Phone Plans

In short, no-contract phone plans give you additional flexibility for a little extra monthly cost. There are a few good examples of what no-contract cell phone plans are like Mint Mobile and Unreal Mobile. Companies like these have flat monthly savings for customers who sign on for a longer contract. This is nice, but sometimes the flexibility is nicer. No-contract phone plans are best when you are figuring out what plan is best for you. Say you get a super affordable plan only to realize that you really need more than 5 GB of high-speed mobile data each month. The flexibility to switch to a higher-data plan right at the end of the month is very good. 

When looking for the best phone plan for one college student it is up to you to decide whether you are ready to go on a longer contract or if you want the flexibility of a no-contract plan, which lets you switch carriers or plans at a moment’s notice. 

How much Data do You Need?

This is the biggest factor on how much your phone plan costs every month. Plans get very cheap when you don’t have unlimited data. For example, there’s a plan for $10 a month with unlimited talk and text and 1 GB of high-speed data. Ten dollars a month is an exceptional deal. There are a ton of plans priced between zero and $20 a month, and the one thing they all have in common is that they only come with a tiny share of data.

College campuses are great places to operate with limited data. There is so much WiFi available for college students around campus that make these plans great ways to save. It might take some time to get used to keeping your phone off while walking around or downloading music and other media before you leave, but if you can get into a habit of using less than, say, 10 GB of data each month you will land an incredibly affordable cell phone plan. 

These are, in our opinion, the best phone plans for one college student. You don’t need to worry about multi-line savings if your bill is only $15 a month. 

Mobile Virtual Network Operators

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) are phone companies that lease bandwidth from major wireless networks. They offer affordable plans to customers all over the United States, connecting them to the same service that major wireless networks use. The increased affordability comes at the price of data speeds. Put simply, if you are ever in an area where there is a lot of data being used your data speeds get slowed down. Fortunately, with how strong networks are this only really happens at events like sporting events and concerts. These companies can save you a lot of money but can cause a big hassle if you don’t plan out your data correctly and run out of your limited data plan.

Okay, that was a lot of information! Let’s jump into the best phone plans for one college student. 

It is rare to run into a college student without their phone. Let’s check out some of the best phone plans for one college student!

Best Phone Plans for One College Student

Freedom Pop’s Free Plan

Quick Facts: 

  • $0 a month
  • 10 minutes of talk, 10 texts (unlimited WiFi calling and texting)
  • 25 MB high-speed data
  • No contract 
  • Runs on AT&T network

The free plan at Freedom Pop is uniquely cost-effective — it’s free. As a college student, jumping onto Freedom Pop’s free plan is great if you can limit your phone usage to WiFi zones and your phone has reliable WiFi calling and texting. This plan lets you keep the lights on, so to speak, but with everything this limited you should not count on any mobile usage for anything but emergencies. This is the best phone plan for one college student on a tight budget. 

Tello Economy

Quick Facts: 

  • $10 a month
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 1 GB high-speed data
  • No contract 
  • Runs on T-Mobile’s network

Stepping it up a tad is the Tello Economy phone plan. Tello’s service lets you mix and match your phone plan, building a plan with the amount of data, talk, and text you want. We recommend their 1 GB plan with unlimited talk and text, but they have a lot of options on their website. The ten dollars of this plan goes a long way, giving you unlimited talk and text with a small amount of data. This plan also revolves around sticking in WiFi whenever you are using data. Still, the talk and text add excellent flexibility. Limited talk and text is phasing out of plans. Unlimited talk and text goes a long way, and it is pretty cheap. 

This is one of the best phone plans for college students who want to save money. It is a no-contract plan, allowing you to switch plans and carriers if needed. New users can bring their phones along if it is unlocked and compatible with Tello’s service. Almost every phone is, but it is worth double-checking. 

Twigby’s 4 GB Plan

Quick Facts: 

  • $20 a month
  • Unlimited talk and text 
  • 4 GB high-speed data. 
  • No contract 
  • Runs on Verizon’s network

For $20 a month, Twigby’s phone plan offers unlimited calling and texting with 4 GB of high-speed data. This plan or one of Twigby’s other limited-data plans (all well-priced) is an excellent way to save for college students who don't need a lot of data. All of these plans with less than 15 GBs are designed for users who are okay without using their phone a lot on mobile data. 

Phone activities eat through data like it’s nobody’s business. If you are scrolling through social media or streaming just audio the data consumption adds up fast. Make sure you are ready to stay off mobile networks if you have one of these low-data plans. 

This no-contract plan gives you the flexibility to go from carrier to carrier, but the switching process is always a hassle. Switching between plans within the same carrier is easy. With no-contract plans, you can add or subtract data based on your usage to stay in the sweet spot where you have enough data to get you through the month without overpaying.

A good mobile phone plan lets you use your phone as much as you want. Let’s get into some more expensive cell phone plans!

Mint Mobile’s 10 GB Plan

Quick Facts: 

  • $20, $25, $35 a month
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 10 GB high-speed data
  • Three, six, or twelve-month contract 
  • Runs on T-Mobile network

Next on our list is the 10 GB plan from  Mint Mobile. We are highlighting their 10 GB as the best phone plan for one college student, but all the plans on their site are great. The big pro/con of Mint Mobile is that their savings come through extending your contract. As you can see, paying for Mint Mobile’s 10 GB plan three months at a time gives you a $35 monthly phone bill. 

That’s nothing special compared to the competition. If you can justify extending it to six months that saves you $10 a month, bringing the cost down to $25 for 10 GB high-speed data. We like that price. Doubling the contract length saves you even more money, bringing it down to $20, the same cost as Twigby’s 4 GB plan. 

Visible Wireless Unlimited Plan

Quick Facts: 

  • $30 or $45 a month
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Unlimited data
  • No contract 
  • Runs on AT&T network

Visible Wireless offering an unlimited plan for $30 for one line is an unbelievable deal. Smartphones chew through data, and heavy users will find that they need an unlimited plan to keep up with their phone usage throughout the month. This plan is excellent. Visible Wireless does not offer multi-line savings which is perfect for one college student looking for phone plans. 

There are various factors to consider before picking out your best phone plan, but keep Visible Wireless on your shortlist. This plan comes with a great deal of good and a little bad, providing great coverage, network speeds, and unlimited data for $30 a month. Their more expensive option even gives 50 GB of premium data, circumventing the one big downside of using an MVNO. 

T-Mobile Essentials

Quick Facts: 

  • $60 a month
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 50 GB premium data (Unlimited high-speed data)
  • No contract 
  • Runs on T-Mobile’s network

This plan from T-Mobile and the following plan from Verizon are the two major wireless network plans we have on this list. They are at a reasonable price point for people who want premium wireless data at its most affordable price. T-Mobile Essentials offers 50 GBs of premium wireless data, which will never slow, before transitioning to unlimited regular high-speed data. This plan is best for one college student who needs a lot of data. Deciding to pay $60 a month for your cell phone service as a college student is hard to swallow, but if you are getting enough value from the plan and its offerings, then this could be the plan for you. 

Another benefit of switching to a major network is that they often have a good new customer deal waiting. Don’t fall for something that will result in you getting locked into paying more than you want to, but enjoying some savings is always nice. That being said, many of the options on this list regularly run promotions that result in significant savings for a few months after joining their service. Use whatever you can find to optimize your low-cost cell phone plan. 

We end this article with a pair of major wireless plans. Choose these sparingly, but if you use a lot of data these are some of the best phone plans for one college student!

Verizon’s Welcome Unlimited Plan

Quick Facts: 

  • $55 a month
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Unlimited high-speed data
  • No contract 
  • Runs on Verizon’s network

Verizon’s Welcome Unlimited Plan is an excellent choice for students looking to get that major carrier service while still saving some money. It is a premium plan at $55 a month, but access to Verizon’s library of phones and high-speed network might be worth the cost. 

If you have decided on an unlimited plan, Verizon’s welcome unlimited is suitable for students because it doesn’t have anything added on that will drive up the plan’s cost. That being said, it is still quite expensive compared to the MVNO options on this list. Student deals, overall, leave something to be desired when it comes to phone plans. 

These are the best phone plans for one college student

Finding the best phone plan for one college student is a tall order. There are a lot of factors dependent on the student’s phone usage, but we hope that we’ve covered a wide enough variety of plans that you’ve found the one for you.

Kyle Reyes
Kyles Reyes is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in the wireless industry, phone plan comparisons & advice.