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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 over 20 of the top carriers on their plans, coverage and phone deals to help you find exactly what you need. 

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What are the best cellphone plans?

Switching cellphone companies can be an overwhelming experience, but it’s often worth the headache. Wireless carriers offer some outstanding deals to get you to change sides. In fact, Consumer Reports found that almost half of its readers saved around $20 each month when they switched providers.

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

Unlimited data plans

The “big four” wireless carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — deal almost exclusively in unlimited data plans. They each have a few different plans 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 they compare for a single line: 

Within those plans, there is a lot of variance. To get Hulu, TIDAL and Amazon Prime with Sprint, for example, you’ll need to go with it’s most expensive plan — $80/mo. for one line. You’ll also generally pay more for things like HD video streaming, less data throttling and more hotspot data. 

Family plans

Almost every phone company offers discounts when you add more than one line, but how much you’ll save varies from provider to provider. Overall, Sprint’s family plans are by far the cheapest. For a family of four, you can pay as little as $25/mo. for each line. Here’s how each carrier’s family plans compare for their cheapest unlimited plans:

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 Sprint’s unlimited plans is $48/mo., compared to $63 for Verizon, $59 for AT&T and $51 for T-Mobile.

Prepaid plans

If you’re looking to save money by switching your phone service, a prepaid plan is 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. 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:

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:

  • Mint Mobile (3GB): $15/mo.
  • Red Pocket (3GB): $19/mo.
  • Ultra Mobile (1GB): $19/mo. 
  • Mint Mobile (8GB): $20/mo.
  • Republic Wireless (1GB): $20/mo.
  • Tracfone (1GB): $20/mo.

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

Can you keep your phone number when switching carriers?

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.

How much data do I need?

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.

What is an unlocked cellphone?

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.

What is the best cellphone plan for seniors?

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.

Joe Supan

Written by:

Joe Supan

Sr. Staff Writer

Joe oversees all things wireless and streaming for Allconnect, from music services to live TV sites. His streaming service reviews are among the most popular articles on the entire site. … Read more