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Best unlimited data plans for 2020

Joe Supan

Sep 16, 2020 — 8 min read

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Unlimited data plans have long been on the rise in the wireless world. As users eat up more and more data every year, it makes sense for most people to go unlimited rather than worry about a data cap every month. 

But even with the popularity of these plans, there’s still a ton of variance. Prices can be anywhere from $30 to $90/mo. for a single line, and they often come with a slew of perks like free streaming subscriptions and cloud storage to entice you to sign up. 

The best unlimited data plans are different for everyone. Whether you’re just looking for the lowest possible monthly bill or you want the fastest 5G speeds around, we studied the plans from 31 wireless carriers to find the very best for every situation. You can also use the chart below to compare every unlimited data plan currently available.

Verizon: Best coverage and speed

You’ll pay more for it, but Verizon consistently earns the top scores for speed and reliability in third-party tests.

  • Recommended plan: Play More Unlimited
  • Price: $80/mo. (with $10 auto-pay discount)
  • Perks: Subscriptions to Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN+, six months of Apple Music
  • Data throttling: After 50GB per line each month

There’s a lot of noise when it comes to evaluating wireless performance — each carrier claims it has the best nationwide coverage — but when independent testers evaluate the field, Verizon usually comes out on top. 

It earned OpenSignal’s awards for 4G availability and coverage experience in their most recent report, and it’s swept every RootMetrics category since 2015. Ookla’s Speedtest actually gave Verizon the lowest Speed Score of the three main carriers, but still clocked its 4G availability at 99%. Verizon’s 5G speeds have also been more than 10 times faster than any other carrier, but it’s far less available. The bottom line? You can expect reliable and fast coverage through Verizon.  

The main downside is price. Verizon is expensive, and you won’t get much of a discount for adding multiple lines. That said, the Play More Unlimited plan gets you a subscription to the Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN+ bundle ($13/mo. on its own), plus six months of Apple Music for each line on the account ($10/mo.). And if you’re switching to Verizon from another carrier, you can get phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G and iPhone SE for free. 

Mint Mobile: Cheapest unlimited data plan

Mint’s unlimited data plan only costs $30/mo., but you’ll still get great coverage on T-Mobile’s network.

  • Recommended plan: Unlimited
  • Price: $30/mo. (requires 12-month upfront payment)
  • Perks: None
  • Data throttling: After 35GB each month

If you’re looking for the very cheapest unlimited data plan out there, Mint Mobile has the lowest prices by far. You’ll pay just $30/mo. for unlimited talk, text and data — $9 less than the next cheapest carrier. 

That said, you’ll have to commit to paying upfront with Mint. The first three months cost $90, after which you can renew for another year at the same $30/mo. price. If you only want to pay three or six months at a time, the price goes up to $40 and $35/mo. respectively.

Mint is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), meaning it piggybacks off one of the major carrier’s cell towers — in this case, T-Mobile’s. MVNOs take a backseat to their parent network, so during times of congestion, you might get slower speeds than T-Mobile customers. 

But most people have been quite happy with their service from Mint. In Consumer Reports’ study of cellphone providers, Mint’s service rated as “very good” for data and “good” for call reception, and received a higher overall score than T-Mobile. 

T-Mobile: Best family plans

The third line comes free with T-Mobile, and you’ll still get perks like free Netflix or Quibi.

  • Recommended plan: Magenta 
  • Price: $140/mo. for four lines (with auto-pay discount)
  • Perks: Netflix or Quibi
  • Data throttling: None

If you open three or more lines on your account, T-Mobile’s unlimited data plans are nearly as cheap as Mint Mobile’s. But unlike Mint, you won’t have to pre-pay for a year upfront, and you’ll get all the perks of being with a major wireless carrier, including free Netflix or Quibi for as long as your account is open. (Unfortunately, Netflix is limited to SD on the Magenta plan; if you want HD, you’ll have to upgrade to Magenta Plus.)

Another benefit of going with one of the bigger carriers? T-Mobile has some of the best phone deals around for customers who switch. Right now, you can get the iPhone 11 Pro or Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G for free when you open a new line and trade in an eligible device. 

AT&T: Best deals for new customers

AT&T’s top unlimited plan is expensive, but you’ll get access to the best phone deals around and HBO Max.

  • Recommended plan: Unlimited Elite
  • Price: $85/mo. (with $10 auto-pay discount)
  • Perks: HBO Max
  • Data throttling: 100GB

The $85/mo. price tag for AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan is a little shocking, but if you’re in need of a new phone and want to subscribe to HBO Max, it provides a ton of value. Phone deals are constantly changing, but AT&T almost always has the best deals of any wireless carrier. Right now, you can get the Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G for free and the iPhone XS 64GB for just $1/mo.

That price tag is much more palatable if you’re adding more than one line, too. The per line cost goes down to $75 for two lines, $60 for three and $50 for four. That’s still $60 more for a family of four than T-Mobile’s Magenta plan, but AT&T’s phone deals could easily close that gap. 

You can also expect fast data speeds with the Unlimited Elite plan. Both OpenSignal and Ookla’s Speedtest found AT&T to have the fastest mobile speeds, although its coverage isn’t quite as strong as Verizon. You should be fine if you live in a well-populated area, but make sure you check AT&T’s coverage map before signing up. 

Google Fi: Best for international calls and texts 

The unlimited data plan from Google Fi isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it if you make international calls or travel abroad frequently.

  • Recommended plan: Unlimited
  • Price: $70/mo. 
  • Perks: 100GB of cloud storage
  • Data throttling: 100GB

Google Fi’s unlimited data plan is almost as expensive as the ones from Verizon and AT&T, but  without all the flashy streaming subscriptions. We ordinarily wouldn’t recommend such a pricey MVNO, but Google Fi has one perk that makes it stand out: free international calls and texts.

You’ll be able to call more than 50 countries from the U.S. entirely for free, including India, the U.K. and Mexico. And when you’re traveling abroad, you’ll get unlimited data and texts in nearly 400 countries. (Phone calls will run you 20¢/min.)

Google Fi users report exceptional coverage through the Verizon network. In Consumer Reports’ survey, readers rated Google Fi’s data as “very good” and call reception as “good.” It was also one of the few carriers to receive a “very good” score for telemarketing frequency, so you can expect fewer robo-calls. 

How to choose an unlimited data plan

On the surface, choosing an unlimited data plan looks pretty easy — since it’s all unlimited, just pick the lowest price, right? That’s not a bad way to go if you’re primarily looking to save money, but there are a few other factors to consider as well. 

Prepaid vs. postpaid

Prepaid carriers require you to pay for your phone bill at the beginning of the month, while postpaid carriers send you a bill at the end of the month based on your usage. Most prepaid carriers are MVNOs that use one of the “big three” wireless networks: AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon. 

Prepaid unlimited data plans are usually a lot cheaper than postpaid plans — $55/mo. on average for one line compared to $68/mo. — but you won’t get as good of coverage. Prepaid subscribers essentially take a backseat to postpaid customers. When a network is getting used a lot, T-Mobile makes sure its own customers are taken care of before Mint’s, for example. 

Check your coverage

Just because Verizon scores higher on nationwide tests doesn’t mean it’s the best network in your particular area. Before you switch to a new unlimited data plan, it’s a good idea to check their coverage first by putting in your ZIP code on their websites. Here are the coverage maps for the five unlimited data plans we recommend:

Factor in the extras

Unlimited data plans from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon all come with added benefits like streaming subscriptions and cloud storage. If these are important to you — or if you’re already subscribing to some of them — it’s a good idea to factor their value into the equation.

Single line vs. family plans

If you want to add more than one line on your cellphone account, you should go with AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon. While MVNOs are generally cheaper, they usually don’t offer any discounts for multiple lines. On the other hand, postpaid carriers get a lot more reasonable if you connect three or four lines at once, and you’ll get access to their superior perks, phone deals and coverage at the same time. 

T-Mobile’s Magenta plan, our favorite unlimited data plan for families, only costs $30 per line when you add six lines — cheaper than any unlimited data plan other than Mint Mobile. 

Do you really need an unlimited data plan?

On average, Americans use a little more than 6GB of mobile data per month. If your usage is around this number, you can probably save money by subscribing to a limited data plan. Prepaid carriers like Mint Mobile and Unreal Mobile offer 8GB plans for as low as $20/mo. — a fraction of the price you’ll for most unlimited plans.

Granted, the peace of mind you’ll get from not worrying about your data cap every month is worth something, too. Some carriers, like Verizon, charge $15/GB overage fees that can quickly get out of hand if you’re not paying attention. Others, like AT&T and T-Mobile, will just slow your speeds to a crawl once you hit your cap. 

If you’d rather not worry about these penalties, it makes sense to go with an unlimited data plan even if you’re not quite getting your full money’s worth. The extra perks like HBO Max and Netflix are always confined to unlimited plans, too. But if you’re just looking to pay the lowest phone bill possible, you’ll get it with a limited data plan. 

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