The typical U.S. smartphone costs too much - over $600 annually for a standard plan from a major provider, and that price is before overages and other fees, and not including the cost of the device itself. We have all seen the adds promoting network coverage and speed for “only $50 a month” or “only $65 a month.” Is that really affordable? And for those looking at the latest devices and highest-tier service plans, annual costs easily reach into the thousands. These costs too high when compared to the lower rates and higher speeds enjoyed in other countries. What can we do to push prices down?

The first thing you can do is assess your data needs. If you need to watch video on the go, then you are going to have a hard time finding an affordable unlimited plan. But, if all you need to do is check your email, then there are a lot of cheaper options (I am talking $100-200 a year range). Low-end options will still allow you to check your email, chat, and do some light browsing. And, for many, this is a enough. You won’t be able to watch YouTube or browse the net all day, but you can stay connected for far far less.

Unfortunately, low-tier plans offered by the major providers are not often straightforward, cheap, or workable. Typically, offering lower, but still high, monthly fees, or unrealistic trade-offs in terms of cost per gigabyte.

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) do offer a true alternative in sub-$300 total cost of ownership (annually), but navigating the wide range of options in this space can be a challenge.

Cheapest Data Plan’s mission is to detail some of those options, typically from MVNOs, to make comparing low-tier plans and phones easy, and to identify and alert you to deals that are too good to pass up.

To start with I have documented some of my own experiences, but I hope to add more comprehensive posts and resources in the near future.

Enjoy, spend wisely, and save some money!