I've been researching and writing about consumer electronics for over 13 years.
Find Out About Text-Only Plans
For some people, voice calling is not a primary method of communication on their cell phone. Text messaging is their preferred mode. For these individuals, it makes no sense to pay fees for voice services they seldom or never use. The options for text or data only plans are somewhat limited, especially if you don't have a hearing impairment to qualify you for services.
This page will cover most of what's out there to help you in your search.
Why Would You Want a Text-Only Plan?
There are a number of situations in which a text-only plan can make a lot of sense.
- For parents with teenagers who text a great deal, but rarely or never talk. Face it, there are a significant number of people under the age of 30 who text exclusively. Costs can be held down if you don't pay for a service they don't use. Prepaid plans, of course, give parents even greater assurances that the budget won't be exceeded.
- For the deaf individuals and those with a hearing loss. For some individuals, voice calling is pretty much useless, but text messaging offers them the communication they need. Text-only plans save them from having to pay for voice services they can't use.
- For those who primarily need to text message versus talk due to their business or personal preferences.
Some of the text-only services below do not offer voice calls at all, but the rest charge a premium per minute fee, so voice calling should rarely be used under these plans except in the situation where we noted affordable unlimited voice/text plans that might meet your needs. Businesses may also find text/data only plans useful.
Data Only Plans From Traditional Cellular Providers
Traditional providers such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile do offer some plans without voice services (either data only or text only plans). Some of them are available only to those who are deaf or have a hearing loss.
AT&T has their Text Accessibility Plan (TAP) for both smartphones and basic feature phones.
- They offer unlimited texting and web browsing for smartphones for $40/month. It provides only 30MB of data though. More data is available, at the highest level it provides 8GB data with the unlimited messaging for $90/month.
- For basic feature phones, users can get a $29.99/month plan with unlimited data and 5,000 messages. For both unlimited data and messaging, the monthly fee is $40/month. Voice calls are $.40/minutes on either.
To be eligible for the plan a person must apply and certify they have a speech or hearing disability. More information and the required forms can be found on their website.
AT&T does offer a business messaging plan.
Sprint, on the other hand, offers their Relay Data Plan for $29.99. Users get unlimited domestic text and picture messaging, instant messaging, e-mail, video customer service and internet. Voice calls are blocked except 911. The Relay Data Plan is available to the deaf and hearing impaired. Sprint offers several phone models for this service. Services can be set up through the Sprint Relay Store.
Of course, Sprint also has Enterprise Messaging services for businesses. You can learn more about rates on their website.
Verizon Wireless also has a text-only plan for deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Their Nationwide Messaging offers:
- A plan for basic phones. AT $34.99/month users get unlimited messaging and 150MB of data.
- Plans for smartphones with prices ranging from $54.99 to $94.99. They all offer unlimited messaging and up to 5GB of data.
Verizon also has a data only plan available to the wider public which allows video calling and email with tablets and other connected devices. They start at $20/month. These plans don't require voice services but don't meet the need for texting specifically.
Verizon also offers an Enterprise Messaging service for business with 100+employees.
T-Mobile's plans without voice calling are a closely held secret apparently. Their plans for those with hearing impairment all provide unlimited text, picture, and video messaging. At the low end, the cost is $20/month with 2GB of data and work their way up. Calling T-Mobile will be the best way to get all of the details.
US Celluar has three data-only plans which include unlimited text messaging. No economical text-only plans could be found with this provider.
- one offers 18GB for $100/month.
- the second offers unlimited messaging plus 30GB of data for $185/month
- the third offers 40GB of data for $260/month.
Other Text-Only Plan Options
A less well-known option is now offered by Ting. This service allows customers to build their own plans based upon their usage. They are billed only for the services they use. If a customer uses less data than anticipated they are credited for the month. If they use more, they will be billed for the extra data but there is no penalty or overage charges for doing so.
If a customer chooses, they can avoid using voice minutes completely resulting in a text-only plan or data only plan if desired. For instance, you pay $6 for one line, then $11 for 4800 texts, and $20 for 2GB of data. That's $37 for the month based on the usage stated. You can learn more about what Ting offers and even calculate your bill by learning more about their rate plans.
Some prepaid providers don't necessarily offer text-only plans but they may be economical nonetheless. Prepaid plans now offer affordable monthly rates, without the contract, that allow unlimited messaging as well as unlimited voice calls. If you choose not to use the voice calls, the price is still good. Not all of these plans offer unlimited data however if that's what you want.
- One of the most affordable it appears is from MetroPCS. For as little as $30/month you can get unlimited voice and text messaging. You can see the details here. This page will highlight exactly what services are provided for this fee.
- There are also smaller prepaid providers that are available in some areas of the US which might also be an option. For instance Page Plus Cellular. You could buy unlimited calling and unlimited texting for $29.95/month with 2GB of data. It might be worth checking into if their service is sufficient in your area.
- A newer prepaid provider is TPO Mobile. Prepaid plans start as low as $10/month. Their Kind Plan offers unlimited texting, 1000 minutes of talk, and 500GB of data for only $16/month.
Other prepaid providers offer similar plans with unlimited talk and text, with a reasonable overall cost to offset the fact you would be purchasing minutes you don't use.
- Straight Talk has a prepaid option that is $30/month for unlimited messaging and 1500 minutes, plus 100MB data. Perhaps a decent option for those who primarily message.
© 2009 Ruth Coffee
Let Us Know You Stopped By!
pamelaforth on December 08, 2012:
@ilikeapple: Use an app like textfree or pinger
getmoreinfo on November 01, 2012:
Thanks for the information on these Text Only Plans
ilikeapple on October 15, 2012:
anyone knows if there is an international text only plan? some of my friends still do not have smartphone, so I cannot use those texting apps.
rajusrekanta on September 21, 2012:
Thanks for this information.Interesting plans for those who love to text.
mlgstudy on March 20, 2012:
qwert seems to no longer be an option
greenerme on August 14, 2010:
I use my phone mostly for texting, but I still use it a little bit for making phone calls. It's mostly email and text nowadays though! Thanks for this information.
anonymous on July 26, 2010:
Interesting plans for those who love to text.
Johanna Eisler on February 24, 2010:
I love to talk on the phone, but I also love to text. Sometimes you need to get a quick message to someone, and a conversation is not an option.
But the best reason I have to text is to communicate with my deaf friends whose only option is to text. I believe that the deaf have the right to reasonably priced, if not free, communication via cell phone.
That's why this page is so great. It's well-researched and so very helpful. Thank you so much for creating it. I've given you 5 beautiful stars, and you are now one of my favorites. *SMILES*