The Best Cost-Effective Services of 2021

Delivering personal finance solutions and advice since 2006, The Simple Dollar is back with our annual awards for 2021. Here are our top picks for the most affordable and cost-effective service options for the new year. 

Best Cell Phone Plan: Republic Wireless 

Republic Wireless

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Republic Wireless is backed by Sprint and T-Mobile, giving it 99% coverage across the country. A good option for budget-focused users, you can forget paying an arm and a leg for your cell phone plan or being shackled to buying minutes. Republic’s plans start at $15 per month for unlimited talk and text. For $20 a month, you can get text, talk and 16B of 4G LTE data.

Best Family Streaming Service: Pluto TV

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Pluto TV is one of the most popular alternatives to cable TV on the market, with around 28 million viewers. And with good reason. Pluto TV offers a collection of hit movies, sports, TV and news channels for free; all you need is an internet connection. Pluto does not offer original content, and you will have to sit through some commercials, but having access to its library is well worth the trade off. 

Best TV Streaming Service: Philo

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Offering both live and on-demand TV, Philo takes out pick for the best TV streaming service.  You get 63 channels (add ons available) for only $20/month, with no contract and unlimited DVR capacity. You can record as many shows as you want and watch them within 30 days at your own pace. Philo allows you to stream on up to three devices simultaneously and create up to ten profiles.

Best Meal Subscription Service: Dinnerly

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Dinnerly meal subscriptions start at just $4.69/person, with 14 recipe options each week and a flat shipping rate. Specializing in easy-to-cook meals, Dinnerly offers families of four the option to order up to six meals per week — which is more than most competitors at a fraction of the cost. Instead of sending an excess of packaging, Dinnerly sends digital recipe cards, unlike competitors. So it’s not only the most cost-effective but most eco friendly. 

Best Clothes Subscription Service: Wantable

Wantable

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Wantable takes a user’s budget and style into account when sending its personalized clothing boxes. You start by taking a quiz, update your preferences and then curate your shipment which takes 10-17 days to get to your door. Each box contains seven pieces and you only pay for what you keep, besides the $20 package subscription.

In this article

    Best Food Delivery Service: ChowNow

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    ChowNow’s user-friendly-app allows you to search by the food you’re craving, not just by the restaurant — though you can do that too. Unlike its competitors, ChowNow bases prices on the participating restaurant and location; you’ll find out the exact price when you order. This may not sound appealing, but ChowNow offers local restaurants the most favorable terms out of any food delivery service. The average pricing is $3 per order and $3 per mile. 

    Best Music Streaming Service: Deezer

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    Like all of the music streaming services, Deezer has a free, premium ($9.99/month), Deezer Family (14.99/month) and student option ($4.99/month). The free level offers access to over 56 million tracks, but like Pandora, you can only shuffle play with ads. The paid plans allow you to make playlists and avoid ads. Deezer is a well-rounded streaming service that offers music, live radio stations and podcasts.

    Best Home Security Service: Kangaroo

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    While it might not have all the bells and whistles tech-masters are looking for, Kangaroo offers a solid home security system for a great price. You don’t need a centralized hub to install its tech in your home. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone. Kangaroo lets you pick the features you want, whether it be the whole package or just a security camera. The 5-piece starter kit starts at just $8.25/month or $99/year, though you can purchase equipment individually.

    Best Financial Advisor: Commonwealth 

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    Commonwealth Financial once again ranks the highest on J.D. Power’s satisfaction survey for the seventh year in a row. In fact, it was 76 points above the second-ranked company. Commonwealth offers everything you need to grow your business and is registered in all 50 states. 

    Best Party Watch Service: Rave

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    Thanks to the pandemic, hanging out with friends looks a little different. Rave allows friends to watch content from Netflix, Youtube, Vimeo, and more, together while chatting. It also bridges the ever-growing gap between iPhone and Android compatibility. As a bonus, you also have access to the RaveDJ feature, which uses AI to create a mixture from the songs you select. Best of all —  it’s free. 

    Methodology

    To determine the winners of the second annual The Simple Dollar Awards, our editorial team researched every major brand and option in every category and ranked them based on the following traits:

    1. Affordability – We looked for the most cost-effective solutions on the market. That doesn’t always translate into the absolute cheapest, but takes into consideration how much bang you’re getting for your buck.
    2. Trustworthiness – We compared customer satisfaction scores wherever we could find them, including Trustpilot.
    3. Innovation – We prioritized products and services with one-of-a-kind features that separated them from the field.

    For more details on The Simple Dollar Awards, contact Ivey O’Neal at ivey@thesimpledollar.com.

    Taylor Leamey

    Personal Finance Reporter

    Taylor Leamey is a personal finance reporter at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, mortgages, renters, and financial policy. Her reporting has also been featured at CreditCards.com, Interest.com, Reviews.com, MyMove.com, and elsewhere.