Compare the best cellphone plans
The best cellphone plans offer competitive prices and enticing sign-up deals — without locking you into expensive features you don’t need. We graded 30 of the top carriers on their plans, coverage and phone deals to help you find exactly what you need.
What are the best cellphone plans?
Switching cellphone carriers can be an overwhelming experience, but it’s often worth the headache — Consumer Reports found that almost half of its readers saved around $20 each month when they switched providers. That’s because most phone companies offer some enticing deals to get you to change sides.
But which ones are really worth switching to? We combed through the marketing gimmicks and legal fine print to find out what you’ll actually pay for your phone plan each month, and whether or not you’ll get your money’s worth.
The best cellphone plans of 2020
- T-Mobile — Best family plans
- Verizon — Best streaming perks
- AT&T — Best phone deals for new customers
- Mint Mobile — Cheapest plans
- Google Fi — Best for international travel
Unlimited data plans
The “big three” cellphone companies — AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon — deal almost exclusively in unlimited data plans. They each have a few different tiers to choose from, but they all provide unlimited talk and text, as well as a number of other perks to get you to sign up. Here’s how prices for unlimited data plans compare for every provider, along with the perks and coverage they offer.
|Carrier||Unlimited data price||Network||Data throttling||5G||Sign-up bonuses|
|Mint Mobile||$30/mo. (12-month renewal rate)||T-Mobile||After 35GB||✔||✘|
|Ultra Mobile||$39/mo.||T-Mobile||After 50GB||✘||✘|
|Xfinity Mobile||$45/mo.||Verizon||After 20GB||✔||✘|
|Spectrum Mobile||$45-$55/mo.||Verizon||After 20GB (on $45/mo. plan)||✔||✘|
|Boost Mobile||$50-$60/mo.||T-Mobile||After 35GB*||✔||Six months of TIDAL Hi-Fi|
|Metro by T-Mobile||$50-$60/mo.||T-Mobile||After 35GB||✔||Amazon Prime, cloud storage|
|Simple Mobile||$50-$60/mo.||T-Mobile||After 40GB (on $50/mo. plan)||✔||50GB cloud storage|
|Page Plus||$55/mo.||Verizon||After 60GB||✘||✘|
|Straight Talk||$55/mo.||AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon||After 60GB||✘||✘|
|U.S. Cellular||$55-$65/mo.||U.S. Cellular||✘||✔||1-2 free Redbox rentals per month|
|Red Pocket||$60/mo.||AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon||✘||✘||✘|
|Consumer Cellular||$60/mo.||AT&T, T-Mobile||After 35GB||✘||✘|
|AT&T||$65-$85/mo.||AT&T||✘||✔||HBO Max ($85/mo. plan only)|
|T-Mobile||$55-$80/mo.||T-Mobile||✘||✔||Netflix or Quibi (2+ lines required)|
|Credo Mobile||$70/mo.||Verizon||20GB*||✘||Donations to progressive causes|
|Google Fi||$70/mo.||T-Mobile||22GB||✔||100GB of cloud storage, free data and texts abroad|
|Verizon||$70-$90/mo.||Verizon||✘||$80/mo. plans and up||Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN+, Apple Music, cloud storage|
All plans include unlimited talk and text. Pricing for one line plus taxes. Auto-pay discounts included. Additional fees and terms may apply. As of 11/09/20.
*Data lowered to 2G speeds (0.128 Mbps) after cap is reached
Within those plans, there is a lot of variance. To get Hulu, Disney Plus and ESPN+ with Verizon, for example, you’ll need to go with its $80 or $90/mo. plans for one line. You’ll also generally pay more for things like HD video streaming, less data throttling and more mobile hotspot data.
Almost every wireless carrier offers discounts when you add more than one line, but how much you’ll save varies from provider to provider. Overall, T-Mobile’s family plans are by far the cheapest of the major carriers. For a family of four, you can pay as little as $26/mo. for each line. Here’s how each carrier’s family plans compare for their cheapest unlimited plans:
|Carrier||Average price per line*||One line||Two lines||Three lines||Four lines|
|Metro by T-Mobile||$40/mo.||$50/mo.||$80/mo.||$110/mo.||$140/mo.|
*For first four lines
Pricing per line plus taxes for cheapest unlimited data plan available. All plans include unlimited talk and text. Auto-pay discounts included. Additional fees and terms may apply. As of 11/09/20.
The savings vary a bit as you get into the more expensive unlimited plans, but the same pattern holds true. The average price per line for T-Mobile’s unlimited plans is $51/mo., compared to $59 for AT&T and $63 for Verizon.
If you’re looking to save money by switching your phone service, a prepaid plan is probably your best option. Most Americans actually use less than 10GB of data every month even though many of us pay for unlimited plans. Switching to a limited data plan could save you as much as $300 per year.
You’ll find the best deals on limited data plans through prepaid phone companies. These carriers operate on cellular networks from companies like Verizon and AT&T, so the coverage is still top-notch. Unfortunately, during times of congestion, you’ll be de-prioritized in favor of the parent company’s customers.
But unlike those companies, you’ll pay for everything upfront. You won’t get the same discounts on new phones, but you won’t have to worry about contracts or credit checks, either.
Here’s how the plans from some of the most popular prepaid wireless carriers compare:
|Carrier||Price per GB*||4GB or less||5-9GB||10-25GB||Unlimited|
|UNREAL Mobile||$3.19||$15 (3GB)||$20 (8GB)||$25 (12GB)||–|
|Mint Mobile**||$3.19||$15 (3GB)||$20 (8GB)||$25 (12GB)||$30|
|Metro by T-Mobile||$4.00||–||–||$40 (10GB)||$50-$60|
|Red Pocket||$4.03||$19 (3GB)||$30 (8GB)||$40 (20GB)||$60|
|Net10||$4.24||$20 (2GB)||$35 (5GB)||$40 (10GB)|
|Straight Talk Wireless||$4.40||–||$35 (5GB)||$45 (25GB)||$55|
|U.S. Cellular||$5.00||–||$40 (8GB)||–||$55-$65|
|T-Mobile||$5.50||$15 (2GB)||$25 (5GB)||$40 (10GB)||$50-$85|
|Simple Mobile||$5.67||$25 (3GB)||$30 (5GB)||$40 (15GB)||$50-$60|
|Boost Mobile||$5.80||$10 (1GB)|
|$25 (5GB)||$35 (10GB)|
|H2O Wireless||$5.89||$20 (2GB)||$30 (6GB)||$40 (15GB)||$50-$60|
|Page Plus Cellular||$7.50||$30 (3GB)||$40 (8GB)||–||$55|
|Verizon||$8.75||–||$55 (5GB)||$65 (10GB)||$65-$90|
|FreedomPop||$8.92||$17 (1GB) $25 (4GB)||–||$35 (10GB)||$55|
|Ultra Mobile||$9.00||$19 (1GB) $23 (2GB)||$29 (5GB)||$39 (15GB)||$39|
|Credo Mobile||$9.15||$50 (3GB)||$55 (9GB)||$70 (15GB)||$70|
|Cricket Wireless||$9.50||$30 (2GB)||–||$40 (10GB)||$55-$60|
|Republic Wireless||$9.75||$20 (1GB) $25 (2GB) $30 (3GB) $35 (4GB)||$40 (5GB) $45 (6GB) $50 (7GB) $55 (8GB) $60 (9GB)||$65 (10GB) $75 (12GB) $90 (15GB)||–|
|AT&T||$10.00||$30 (2GB)||$40 (8GB)||–||$50-$85|
|Total Wireless||$11.33||$25 (1GB)||$35 (5GB)||$50 (25GB)||–|
|Tracfone||$14.17||$20 (1GB) $25 (2GB) $30 (3GB)||–||–||–|
|Consumer Cellular||$16.83||$25 (0.5GB) $30 (3GB)||–||$40 (10GB) $50 (15GB)||$60|
|Google Fi||$18.80||$30 (1GB) $40 (2GB) $50 (3GB) $60 (4GB)||$70 (5GB) $80 (6GB)||–||$70|
*Unlimited plans not factored in.
**Introductory rates, also available with 12-month renewal
All plans include unlimited talk and text. Pricing per month plus taxes. Additional fees and terms may apply. As of 11/09/20.
Prepaid unlimited plans are generally a little cheaper than you’ll find through Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, but you won’t get the extra perks like deals on new phones or free streaming subscriptions. Additionally, prepaid phone plans usually aren’t discounted as heavily when you add multiple lines.
Cheap cellphone plans
If you’re looking to pay the bare minimum there are a few phone plans that will get you talk, text and data for less than $30/mo. In most cases, you can save even more if you add on multiple lines to one account. Here are the cheapest cellphone plans currently available:
Keep in mind, you’ll have to buy your own phone on all of these plans, and most of them don’t offer much in the way of discounts or sign-up deals.
Cellphone plans FAQs
The answer is almost always yes. Unless you’re moving out of the area at the same time as you’re switching carriers, you should have no problem keeping your current number. The FCC states that phone companies must complete the switch within one business day, so it’s usually a pretty fast process.
The average American uses a little over 5GB of data on their smartphone every month. Apps like Google Maps only use about 2MB per hour, while streaming Netflix in HD will use about 3GB in an hour. If you don’t use the internet much while you’re away from Wi-Fi, you might not need an unlimited data connection. To track how much you’re currently using (and where), consider using a free data monitoring app.
An unlocked cellphone is a phone that can be used on any cellular network that supports that phone. When you buy a phone through your carrier, it’s typically locked into their specific network. If you want to switch carriers but keep your phone, you’ll have to unlock it. That process varies from carrier to carrier, but the phone will always have to be paid off in full.
If you only need a cellphone for emergency situations, the best option is GreatCall, which sells the popular JitterBug phones with enlarged keys to make dialling easier. Best of all, their plans start at just $15/mo., so you won’t have to pay for a lot of features you don’t use. If you’re looking for an unlimited data plan, T-Mobile offers discounted plans for seniors starting at just $27.50/mo.
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Written by:Joe Supan
Senior Writer, Wireless & Streaming Content
Joe oversees all things wireless and streaming for Allconnect. His work has been referenced by McAfee, Fox network and more. He has utilized thousands of data points to build a library of metrics to help users n… Read more
Edited by:Shannon Ullman
Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content
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