Best Cell Phone Plans

Review & Comparison, Last Update July 13, 2019
Want a stable, reliable signal anywhere you go? With these cell phone plans, you'll be able to enjoy just that. The best cell phone plans will give you unlimited talk, text, data, and a variety of additional bonuses. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2019
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Network
Base Individual Plan
Base Individual Plan Data Allowance
Base Family Plan (4 lines)
Unlimited Individual Plan
Unlimited Family Plan (4 lines)
High-Speed Data Cap
Mobile Hotspot Data
Carryover Data
 
PROS

You can add a wearable device or a tablet to your plan for just 10 bucks. The cheapest unlimited plan allows you to browse 35 channels of live TV for free. All of their plans offer unlimited texts from the US to over 120 countries. The company's unlimited talk, text, and data capacities extend to Mexico and Canada. 

CONS

Not the most cost-efficient plans. 

OUR VERDICT

AT&T Cell Phone Plans isn't the cheapest option out there. You'll be able to find more cost-efficient deals. But they won't offer you the same network quality. You won't get an equally impressive device selection and the number of add-ons will unlikely stack up well against AT&T's. 

detailed parameters
Network

AT&T

Base Individual Plan

$55

Base Individual Plan Data Allowance

1 GB

Base Family Plan (4 lines)

$115

Unlimited Individual Plan

From $90

Unlimited Family Plan (4 lines)

From $210

High-Speed Data Cap

22 GB

Mobile Hotspot Data

15 GB

Carryover Data

Available

PROS

Verizon excels across the entire network board, be it speed, data, overall reliability, call clarity, and text performance. With Verizon’s TravelPass, you'll be able to access your plan overseas for just $10 a day. Their phone selection includes plenty of flagship smartphones as well as a decent number of mid-range and budget options.

CONS

The budget options for individual plans aren't that budget. 

OUR VERDICT

As far as the overall network quality is concerned, Verizon is the best option on the market right now. Fast, dependable, and expansive, the company's network allows the vast majority of Americans living in different corners of the country to enjoy a great connection and excellent cell phone plans. 

detailed parameters
Network

Verizon

Base Individual Plan

$60

Base Individual Plan Data Allowance

5 GB

Base Family Plan (4 lines)

$115

Unlimited Individual Plan

From $90

Unlimited Family Plan (4 lines)

From $220

High-Speed Data Cap

22 GB

Mobile Hotspot Data

15 GB

Carryover Data

Available

PROS

The Unlimited Basic plan gives you Hulu access. The Unlimited Plus plan adds to that a subscription to Tidal, a music, podcast, and video-streaming service with lossless quality tracks. The Unlimited Premium, on top of everything else, offers unlimited 4G LTE data in Canada and Mexico and a paid version of Lookout, a great mobile security app. 

CONS

The coverage area is limited compared to every other Big Four representative. 

OUR VERDICT

Among the Big Four, Sprint offers the best cell phone plans for people above the age of 55. Provided you're on their coverage map, Sprint is also an excellent option for younger people who like to spend a lot of time on their phone, streaming video and listening to music from all corners of the world.

detailed parameters
Network

Sprint

Base Individual Plan

$40-45

Base Individual Plan Data Allowance

2 GB

Base Family Plan (4 lines)

$125

Unlimited Individual Plan

From $60

Unlimited Family Plan (4 lines)

From $160

High-Speed Data Cap

23 GB

Mobile Hotspot Data

10 GB

Carryover Data

Unavailable

PROS

For just 35 bucks per month, the company's basic plan includes you unlimited text, talk, and data, with 3 gigabytes of free 4G LTE traffic. An extra gigabyte of 4G LTE data will cost you just 5 bucks. The basic plan also allows you to stream music via Pandora, Spotify, Napster, and a few other apps for free. 

CONS

The unlimited plan is less impressive compared to that of its parent's company. 

OUR VERDICT

Boost Mobile offers great plans for people on a strict budget. Though it isn't as reliable as the bigger companies, the prices more than make up for any shortcomings in the network department. They offer good value and people who often have to rely on cellular data will likely find the company's cell phone plans compelling enough. 

detailed parameters
Network

Sprint

Base Individual Plan

$35

Base Individual Plan Data Allowance

3 GB

Base Family Plan (4 lines)

$120

Unlimited Individual Plan

From $50

Unlimited Family Plan (4 lines)

From $180

High-Speed Data Cap

23 GB

Mobile Hotspot Data

20 GB

Carryover Data

Unavailable

PROS

With the unlimited plan, you receive 22 gigabytes of mobile hotspot allowance. The company's customer service is excellent. For 10 bucks per month, you can add a tablet or a wearable device to your plan. Another 10 bucks a month will cover international calls.

CONS

The activation fees are really steep. 

OUR VERDICT

U.S. Cellular cell phone plans are flawed. The coverage area isn't that great. But, as long as you stay within that coverage area, you should have no issues with their services. Some of the prices are pretty attractive and, for the most part, the company will prove a good fit for people who seldom travel outside of their home region. 

detailed parameters
Network

U.S. Cellular

Base Individual Plan

$55

Base Individual Plan Data Allowance

2 GB

Base Family Plan (4 lines)

$150

Unlimited Individual Plan

From $75

Unlimited Family Plan (4 lines)

From $210

High-Speed Data Cap

22 GB

Mobile Hotspot Data

22 GB

Carryover Data

Unavailable

AT&T Cell Phone Plans:

A Reliable Network

AT&T isn't the cheapest option on the market today, we will give you that much. You'll definitely be able to find a more affordable plan. This is a company that's about quality first and foremost. That philosophy extends to every branch of their business. Of course, as you probably know, AT&T is one of the Big Four group, so they own and operate their own cell towers. With that, more often than not, comes the elevated price. But it is also one of the biggest reasons for the company's excellent network quality. In 2017, RootMetrics rated their services 2nd in overall network performance, an inkling behind Verizon.

But we're talking about a national scale here. Where AT&T with its cell phone plans excels in particular is urban areas. The very same platform rated them the fastest carrier in a large chunk of the most populated cities in the country and either the fastest or tied for the first place in at least half of urban markets. All in all, the company has an excellent network with great coverage, speed, and overall reliability.

Review of AT&T Cell Phone Plans: Our Unlimited Gives You More Than Ever

Mobile Share Flex

So, what about its plans? Well, oddly enough, the company's plans are equally its strongest and weakest suit. On one hand, the folk at AT&T offer a decent variety of plans. In addition to the unlimited options, you can choose one of the Mobile Share Flex ones. With the latter, you'll be able to talk and text as much as you want but the 4G data, of course, will be limited. But you can share the data with multiple lines. Plus, you won't have to waste it every time the month (or whenever your payment cycle ends) comes to an end since the leftover data rolls over to the next cycle. They offer 4G data in 1, 5, 10, and 20-gigabyte buckets, so you'll be able to choose the one that fits your bill without overpaying for the unnecessary data.

That being said, the price is where that "weakest suit" part comes in. Per single line, you will have to pay 70 bucks a month. Want as many as 4 lines? You will have to splurge somewhere between 115 and 160 bucks depending on the plan. That's not bad but it isn't a particularly compelling offer either. For example, Verizon, another Big Four representative, offers a 4-line plan that costs the same but gives you more data. AT&T's cheapest individual plan provides 1 gigabyte of data for 55 bucks per month, while the aforementioned competitor offers 5 gigabytes for just 5 bucks more.

AT&T Cell Phone Plans: Our Unlimited Gives You More Than Ever in the use

Stream in HD

Now, as for the unlimited options, the company gives you a choice of two cell phone plans. Even though it is a more expensive option, most customers stick with the Unlimited Plus Enhanced plan. Mostly because this plan allows you to stream in HD. It also gives you 22 gigabytes of 4G LTE data per line as well as 15 gigs for mobile hotspot tethering. It will cost you 90 bucks per month for a single line, which is not a bad deal at all or $210 for 4 lines.

The other unlimited option, the Unlimited Choice Enhanced plan, costs less. But the available stream quality goes down a notch to 480p and you don't get any data for mobile hotspot tethering. On top of that, this plan deprioritizes your data, meaning that the people subscribed to this plan get slowed speeds when the company's network is busy compared to the users on different plans. But you still receive access to 35 channels of live TV, so it's not like the plan doesn't have its upsides too.

To rephrase the point we made earlier, AT&T Cell Phone Plans isn't the cheapest option out there. You'll be able to find more cost-efficient deals. But they won't offer you the same network quality. You won't get an equally impressive device selection (outside of actual cell phone companies, naturally) and the number of add-ons will unlikely stack up well against AT&T's.

Detailed review of AT&T Cell Phone Plans: Our Unlimited Gives You More Than Ever

 

Verizon Cell Phone Plans:

A Decade of Dominance

We aren't the biggest fans of the Big Four group for obvious reasons. That being said, we are not going to gloss over a good deal or a quality service just because we dislike the company behind it. Verizon may seem like a soulless media giant but if their plans are any indication, the company actually treats their customers well enough to earn them a high spot on our list.

Of course, every cell phone service provider lives and dies on its network quality. And every Big Four representative boasts a solid network quality since they use their own towers. But, even among that group, Verizon stands on top.

For the past decade, the company's been able to clinch the first spot in RootMetrics’ RootScore reports. The former is an independent agency that is in no way affiliated with Verizon. The people behind RootMetrics run over a thousand network performance tests every year to determine how well these wireless networks fare across the country.

The highest spot on their list implies and pretty much solidifies Verizon's network as the strongest option on the market today. It edges out its Big Four competition across the entire board, be it speed, data, overall reliability, call clarity, and even text performance.

Review of Verizon Cell Phone Plans: One Family. Different Unlimited Plans

Premium Traffic

Most people these days stick with an unlimited cell phone plan, so let's talk about those first. In a nutshell, the company sells two tiers of unlimited data plans. These plans cost 80 and 90 bucks per month, without taking into account fees and taxes. The Beyond Unlimited plan, the more expensive of the two options, is the plan that we like most. It gives you 22 gigabytes of premium unlimited 4G LTE data, meaning that your connection will be a priority over the company's customers with different plans.

That being said, as it is always the case with these cell phone plans, there's a catch with that unlimited part. After using 22 gigabytes of data per payment cycle, your priority status gets temporarily revoked, so your download speed will be likely slowing down in times of congestion. Then again, 22 gigabytes is more than most people are able to spend in a month anyway, so we wouldn't call it a major downside. On top of that, the very same plan includes 15 gigabytes of mobile hotspot traffic and HD streaming.

The Go Unlimited plan is a little cheaper. But you do not receive priority, the hotspot speeds slow down to 600 kbps, and the ability to stream videos will be limited to the DVD (480p) quality.

Verizon Cell Phone Plans: One Family. Different Unlimited Plans in the use

Solid Cell Phone Selection

Budget plans isn't an area where Verizon excels. Their most affordable plan for one person will charge you 60 bucks per month. For the price, you get unlimited text and call time as well as 5 gigabytes of data per line. You can share that data between wearables and other devices. The data also rolls over to the next billing cycle provided you haven't managed to use up all of it beforehand. It's not a bad plan for people who use their cell phone to check emails, news, and occasionally browse through the web. But it is a subpar deal for people who prefer to spend a little more than 5 gigabytes per month since you will have to pay extra $15 per gigabyte, which is really steep compared to the company's competition.

As far as family cell phone plans go, the company offers 3 relatively standard shared data plans with 2, 4 or 8 gigabytes of data for $35, $50 or $70 per month respectively (including a $20 charge per each smartphone to access this plan).

One of the better things about Verizon is their wide selection of devices that you can choose to go with your plan. There are plenty of flagship smartphones as well as a decent number of mid-range and budget options.

In short, as far as the overall network quality is concerned, Verizon is the best option on the market right now. Fast, dependable, and expansive, the company's network allows the vast majority of Americans living in different corners of the country to enjoy a great connection and excellent cell phone plans.

Detailed review of Verizon Cell Phone Plans: One Family. Different Unlimited Plans

 

Sprint Cell Phone Plans:

Expansive 4G Network

Sprint is part of the Big Four group even though the company is by far the smallest representative of that group. Though the company has its own towers, their network is relatively weak compared to the rest of the Big Four. But, of course, we wouldn't have included this option to our list if it didn't have anything going for it to make up for its relative shortcomings in the network department.

Sure, their mobile network may be lacking but the company's 4G network does not trail behind Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T on the west coast and, more often than not, edges them out on the east coast, as well as in the mid-west area and the south one. And while Sprint definitely has a lot of room for improvement on the coverage front, their network is reliable and the speed they offer seldom lags behind the competition.

First and foremost, the company prides itself on being the "price leader" among the Big Four group. And, for the most part, they have every right to make that kind of claim. While they aren't always as cheap as small-time budget carriers, the company's price policies are far more modest than their competitors' counterparts.

Review of Sprint Cell Phone Plans: 3 Unlimited Lines FREE!

Best for Seniors

Now, about their cell phone plans. Right off the bat, one of the biggest strengths of the company's plans is that they do not have a tiered structure. That's especially the case with the unlimited plans but we will get to those in a moment. First, there's the base plan. The individual one gives you 2 gigabytes of high-speed 4G LTE data, including mobile hotspot. It also offers unlimited talk and text, including the ability to send an unlimited number of international texts.

That's a fairly standard offer that you'll get from any other Big Four representative, the only difference being that the people at Sprint sell you all of that for 40-45 bucks per month, while Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T charge between 55 and 60 bucks for the same services.

Another plan that separates Sprint and other members of the Big Four (except for T-Mobile) is their Unlimited 55+ plan. The plan offers any pair of individuals who have reached the age of 55 an unlimited plan for just 35 bucks per line (starting with 2 lines). The plan includes unlimited talk, text, and data, as well as unlimited mobile hotspot and the ability to stream videos in DVD-quality.

Sprint Cell Phone Plans: 3 Unlimited Lines FREE! in the use

A Plan for Everyone

Having said all of that, in the current year, the quality of a cell phone carrier is defined by its unlimited cell phone plans. Fortunately, this is another area where Spring stacks up spectacularly against its competition. The company offers 3 unlimited plans and there's something for everyone in these plans.

The Unlimited Basic plan, for just 60 bucks a month, gives you unlimited text, talk, and data nationwide. It also gives you 500 megabytes of 4G LTE mobile hotspot, video streaming in the 480p DVD-quality, 5 gigabytes of 4G LTE data in Canada and Mexico, as well as access to Hulu.

The Unlimited Plus plan will cost you 10 bucks per month more than the Basic plan. Your mobile hotspot allowance goes from 500 megabytes to 50 gigabytes, you get the ability to stream video in HD, your data allotment in Canada and Mexico doubles, and, on top of Hulu, you receive Tidal access.

Twenty bucks on top of the Plus offer and you get Unlimited Premium. With Premium, you get unlimited 4G LTE data in Canada and Mexico. In addition to Tidal and Hulu, the plan packs in a paid version of Lookout, a mobile security app that protects your smartphone and offers all sorts of awesome features.

To sum it all up, among the Big Four, Sprint offers the best plans for seniors. Provided you're on their coverage map, Sprint is also an excellent option for younger people who like to spend a lot of time on their phone, streaming video and listening to music from all corners of the world.

Detailed review of Sprint Cell Phone Plans: 3 Unlimited Lines FREE!

 

Boost Mobile Cell Phone Plans:

Give Your Mobile Experience a Budget Boost

Boost Mobile is a small company compared to its Big Four peers. Generally speaking, smaller companies do not have the same coverage, their network isn't always as reliable and fast. However, the prices often compensate for any shortcomings on the network front and Boost Mobile very much falls under this category. Smaller companies like the one in question do not have their own towers. Instead, they use Big Four's towers to provide their services.

One of the biggest issues with Boost Mobile is that it runs on Sprint's network and the latter is, unfortunately, the weakest Big Four representative as far as the overall network reliability and coverage are concerned. If you live in an area where Sprint has good coverage, there's a very good chance you'll find Boost Mobile cell phone plans compelling enough to give them a try. They offer good value and people who like to browse the Internet on their smartphone and often have to rely on cellular data but don't like paying bigger companies out the wazoo will love their budget plans.

Review of Boost Mobile Cell Phone Plans: Unlimited Talk, Text, Data & More

Stream Music for Free

The company's biggest selling point and, more often than not, the biggest part of their appeal is the basic plan. For just 35 bucks per month, it gives you unlimited text, talk, and data. Naturally, the "unlimited data" part refers to the 2G connection. That being said, the plan does include 3 gigabytes of free 4G LTE traffic, which is pretty good compared to Sprint's 2 gigabytes and AT&T's 1 gig (not to mention the fact that the former two cost 40-45 and 60 bucks per month respectively).

Plus, an extra gigabyte of 4G LTE data will cost you just 5 bucks, not bad compared to T-Mobile's 10 and Verizon's 15 bucks per gig.

On top of that, the basic plan also allows you to stream music via Pandora, Spotify, Napster, and every other major music-streaming app except for iTunes for free (as in it won't cost you any data, naturally, you'll still have to pay for the apps yourself).

Finally, the plan allows you to access mobile hotspot, though we wouldn't recommend going crazy with it since it draws use from your high-speed (those 3 gigabytes of 4G traffic) data allotment. All of that for such an inexpensive plan is nothing short of a steal in our book.

Boost Mobile Cell Phone Plans: Unlimited Talk, Text, Data & More in the use

Protect and Secure Your Data

Though the basic plan is easily Boost Mobile's most discerning cell phone plan, it's not like the other ones aren't impressive either. For 50 bucks per month, you'll be able to enjoy unlimited data (with the usual 23-gigabyte high-speed data cap) and every other benefit of the basic plan. You also get 12 gigabytes of mobile hotspot data on top of that.

Ten bucks more will give you the same deal except the mobile hotspot allowance goes all the way up to 30 gigabytes per month and you get the ability to stream videos in HD.

Twenty bucks on top of the previous plan (that's $80 on a monthly basis) deliver everything we have listed earlier, 50 gigs of 4G LTE mobile hotspot data, priority care service, and a subscription to Tidal Premium.

Finally, one of the reasons we've included Boost Mobile in this review is all of the add-ons that they offer you. Aside from the extra data buckets and an HD streaming upgrade we have covered earlier, for extra 7 bucks per month, the company throws in McAfee Security, an app that will protect your device and your data. You can also add international calling options to your plan and cancel them whenever you feel like it.

Taking all of that into account, Boost Mobile offers great plans for students and other people on a strict budget. Though it isn't as reliable as the bigger companies, the prices more than make up for any shortcomings in the network department.

Detailed review of Boost Mobile Cell Phone Plans: Unlimited Talk, Text, Data & More

 

U.S. Cellular Cell Phone Plans:

Midwest and Pacific Northwest Areas

U.S. Cellular is one of the more polarizing cell phone service providers in the country. On one hand, they're extremely convenient and straightforward, they give you everything you need with no contract, and the prices are mostly appealing and affordable. On the other hand, their activation fees are really steep and their coverage is limited. But let's start with the latter. U.S. Cellular is by no means a small-time provider. Though technically speaking, not part of the Big Four, the company uses its own towns and the infrastructure to distribute wireless services across the country.

They make up the 5th largest cellular network in the country. Nevertheless, the company is very much a regional provider more than it is a nationwide one. People who live in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest will definitely be able to enjoy its benefits but anyone outside that region will probably be out of luck. That being said, if you stick with the company and wander outside its coverage area, U.S. Cellular does have different roaming agreements with other networks, so you won’t be totally out of luck.

Review of U.S. Cellular Cell Phone Plans: UNLIMITED with Payback

Select Your Phone and Your Plan

As far as the network quality is concerned, we're again stuck with the same coverage issue. Those who live in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest will be able to enjoy excellent speeds, a reliable signal, solid call clarity, and great text performance. But step outside of the North Central region and it is hardly all sunshine and rainbows on the network front.

Where the company does not disappoint, however, is the prepaid cell phone plans. Their phone selection is excellent. You'll be able to choose from a variety of affordable Android phones to the latest iPhone models. You don't have to deal with credit card checks and activation fees.

Now, with their prices, the company can be a bit of a hit and miss. Sometimes they make sense. Other times you get the Big Four carrier prices without the reliability and the services. For example, 40 bucks per month will get you unlimited talk, text, and 2G data. The plan also includes 3 gigabytes of 4G LTE traffic. That's not a bad deal but smaller companies across the country often have better options than that, like Boost Mobile, for example.

U.S. Cellular Cell Phone Plans: UNLIMITED with Payback in the use

International Calling

The company's unlimited plans aren't that great. There's no selection. In other words, there's only one plan that will cost you between 70 and 75 bucks per month depending on the region. Sure, it is still a more affordable deal than anything in the Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T's catalog but a little steep compared to Sprint, Boost Mobile, and other small companies.

For the most part, the Internet connection will be pretty good and you'll be able to enjoy the advantages of 4G LTE, provided you stay within their coverage area. The high-speed data cap, as per usual limits you to 22 gigabytes. After that, you'll likely experience slower speeds and some lag in times of congestion.

On the plus side, the company's add-on options aren't bad at all. For 10 bucks per month, you can add a tablet or a wearable device to your plan. Another 10 bucks a month will cover international calls.

All in all, U.S. Cellular cell phone plans are flawed. The coverage area isn't that great. But, as long as you stay within that coverage area, you should have no issues with their services. Some of the prices are pretty attractive and, for the most part, the company will prove a good fit for people who seldom travel outside of their home region.

Detailed review of U.S. Cellular Cell Phone Plans: UNLIMITED with Payback

 

Infographics

Comparison of Cell Phone Plans

What Is a Cell Phone Plan?

Frankly, not the most difficult question since most people are more or less aware of what it is. But not everybody knows every detail that a plan like that can entail and the differences between various plans. A cell phone plan doesn't just determine the quality of your signal but also the amount of time you'll be able to spend talking, the number of texts you'll be able to send, as well as the amount of traffic you'll be able to spend on a monthly basis.

Naturally, the biggest difference stems from the cell phone provider, the company behind the plan(s). These companies determine the coverage area, call clarity, text performance, data availability, download and upload speeds, as well as a variety of other aspects pertaining to the cellular signal one way or the other. Different companies and different plans include a different amount of high-speed data, a different number of available texts, as well as other factors like international calling, mobile hotspot data, etc. Take all of that, as well as the number of people you're thinking of sharing the plan with, and you should be able to figure out the right option for you.

As good as 4G can be, it doesn't beat the fiber or cable connection, so consider our reviews of Internet providers if you're looking to set up a home network. After that, our review of antivirus software may come in handy.

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Publish Date: 2019-02-14 09:47:20