Virgin Mobile currently offers a deal at just $35 a month for unlimited data, though talk is limited to 300 minutes. So this is a plan for texters and data users, not heavy talkers.
Even more expensive top tier carriers like
Verizon are jumping in. Sprint was launching one as this story was being written (full details not yet available).
Until now, these plans have been fairly expensive, but Verizon just unveiled a new $60 a month plan for light data users.
"It gives you unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 500MB of data, for the person who uses Facebook a little bit, browses the web a little bit," Verizon's Jeannette Elson said.
It's $70 a month to bump up to a more popular 2GB of data: That's not super cheap but is a decent deal from a major carrier.
AT&T also offers unlimited talk and text with 1GB of data for $65. T-Mobile offers a variety of different plans, offering unlimited data and text for as low as $30, as long as you can manage the mere 100 minutes of talk.
Customers Warming to Prepaid
With prepaid you either buy a card at the store each month, or get billed in advance, so you don't have to walk into Walmart or the Cricket store every month if you prefer not to.
Brenda Vinson, who watches every penny at the grocery store and elsewhere, says switching to prepaid has substantially cut her family's phone bill.
"This way I pay at the time of the month when I can afford to pay for a phone," she said. "I can keep control of my teenage daughter's phone also."
Best of all, she says, is the fact that she has no contract, and can cancel or change plans any time.
So if you know where to look, you can still get a smartphone plan for $50 a month, or even less, and it doesn't have to look like a 15-year-old flip phone.
And that way you don't waste your money. (See a full table of plans below)