The best for most people
This is the most reliable network in most parts of the US. The 5 GB shared-data plan is a great value, with more than enough data for most people.
Verizon offers the best coverage in the most places in the US, so you’re more likely to have a signal wherever you are—the most important thing for a smartphone to have. And although Verizon isn’t the least expensive carrier for unlimited-data plans, the company’s underpromoted shared-data 5 GB plan (just $55 for a single line after an autopay discount) includes more data than most people need and saves you money compared with an unlimited plan. But if you truly need unlimited data, frequently travel internationally, or want widely available 5G speeds, you should consider T-Mobile’s Magenta.
More data for streaming and downloading
If more data is more important to you than more coverage, the Magenta plan offers a great price for unlimited data on a strong network. Plus, T-Mobile has the best 5G service and international plans.
If you need a lot of data more than you need the widest coverage, T-Mobile’s Magenta unlimited plan is well priced—$70, including taxes and fees—and it’s on a network that still provides pretty good coverage. T-Mobile’s network isn’t quite as widespread as Verizon’s (or, according to some studies, AT&T’s), but it easily beats those two in its pricing for unlimited data, and its speeds are competitive or in some cases better than those of its two rivals. T-Mobile also bests Verizon in international-roaming plans, and though the best phones are available for both carriers, a slightly wider variety of models work on the GSM foundation of T-Mobile’s network than on the CDMA layer of Verizon’s network, as CDMA wireless technology has seen little adoption outside the US. Finally, T-Mobile’s 5G isn’t as fast as Verizon’s 5G, but T-Mobile now offers exponentially more 5G coverage than Verizon since purchasing and merging Sprint’s network.
Affordable multiple-line plans
This reseller of AT&T and T-Mobile offers great service and the cheapest two-line and four-line service bundles for most people.
Between traditional subscription plans on the big three carriers, prepaid services, and companies reselling those three networks, you can find hundreds of options for family plans, but the two-line rates of Consumer Cellular come out on top at just $55 for two lines with 5 GB each. Not only is that a better price than other companies charge, but this reseller of AT&T and T-Mobile (it assigns you the network it thinks suits your location better, but you can override that if you want) also consistently earns some of the best customer-review scores in the business. You must call Consumer Cellular to get a four-line plan, though, because the website allows only up to three lines.
A cheap prepaid option
Mint Mobile gives you access to T-Mobile’s network for much less money, but you have to pay for three, six, or 12 months in advance.
You save $30 (17%)
A reseller of T-Mobile’s network, Mint Mobile offers exceptional pricing to customers willing to pay in advance for three-, six-, or 12-month terms—the longer the term, the cheaper per month. Though Mint doesn’t offer unlimited data, you can choose from packages of 3 GB, 8 GB, or 12 GB per month and change that from term to term. For three months of service at a time, you pay only $35 a month for 8 GB of LTE, with mobile hotspot included up to that data cap; if you pay for a year of service, the monthly cost drops to just $20. For the most budget-conscious option, Mint also offers 3 GB of data (more than many people use) for just $15 a month on an annual term. But if you had been accustomed to in-person help at stores before the pandemic, you now have to live with support that has only ever been available via phone and online, as well as the risk of slower connections than T-Mobile’s own customers get when the network is busy.