Best Cell Phone Plans of 2019

Prepaid, unlimited, family plans—which one is best for you? We’ve got the answer.

Switching cell phone plans can instantly feel overwhelming. You have to think about things like data plans, unlimited talk, and international roaming . . . or you could just have us do all the research and tell you that Verizon is the best carrier overall and Sprint is the best budget carrier (at least until the merger with T-Mobile happens).

Don’t feel intimidated and stick with one carrier for life. That’s like eating the same ham-and-cheese sandwich lunch every day. There are better foods and better cell phone plans out there.

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What’s changed since our last Best Cell Phones piece?
Here are the latest updates for the best cell phone plans:

– New Verizon plans that cost $5 less a month.
– Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is available on Verizon and T-Mobile’s 5G network.
– Verizon’s 5G network, so far, is quicker than T-Mobile’s network.
– Sprint and T-Mobile merger is underway! We’ll update as soon as know how this will affect pricing.

New and improved Verizon pricing

Verizon recently dropped a surprise on us and announced new cell phone plans that make the awesome coverage more affordable. The old Above and Beyond unlimited Verizon plans are long gone, and the Start Unlimited, Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, and Get More Unlimited plans have arrived.

Here’s what you need to know—all the plans, on average, cost you $5 less a month than comparable plans did before. That might not sound like much, but over a couple of years, $5 a month can certainly add up. The best cell phone carrier just got cheaper and we’re thrilled about it.

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5G Access
If you have a 5G phone and live in a supported network, you can opt into Verizon’s 5G connection for an extra $10 a month. Add the 5G access to any Verizon plan you choose.

*As of 9/20/2019, not including upfront costs, taxes, or fees.

If you’re ready to switch cell phone companies but want to avoid the head-spinning blast of information, this guide is for you. It includes recommendations for cell phone plans based on price, data limits, coverage, and speed—and perks. Don’t forget the perks.

Oh, and you get unlimited talk with all of these data plans as well.

Compare top cell phone plans by provider
ProviderBest forOur plan pickLearn more
VerizonOverallVerizon Do More UnlimitedView Plans
T-MobilePrepaidSimply Prepaid 10 GBView Plans
VerizonUnlimitedVerizon Get More UnlimitedView Plans
SprintFamilySprint Unlimited PlusView Plans
SprintPrepaid familySprint Unlimited Kickstart PlanView Plans

Verizon Do More Unlimited: Best overall

With exceptional coverage and speed ratings plus a host of extras, Verizon’s Do More Unlimited cell phone plan earns the top spot.

Verizon Do More Unlimited plan features

Pros

  • Top-rated performance
  • HD streaming

Cons

  • Still pricier than comparable plans

What we like

It’s all about speed and coverage with Verizon.

Top-rated performance

Check out any well-known wireless performance ratings, and you’ll see Verizon at or near the top for coverage, speed, and overall performance.1, 2, 3

Case in point: My friend’s Verizon phone was the only one with a signal out in the Utah desert. Other carriers just don’t get bars in rural areas. This was especially helpful when we needed to call a Lyft to get back to our Airbnb. (I know, we should’ve planned ahead.)

You even get 15 GB of mobile hotspot data with 4G LTE speeds. Translation: you can use your laptop wherever you roam.

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What is data roaming?
While we’re on the subject of vacations, roaming occurs when you use a different network for your data. Verizon offers international roaming, but it will cost you around $10 a day. You can always avoid roaming if you can find free Wi-Fi.

HD streaming

In this modern age of technology, you deserve HD streaming. No more SD-quality streaming like you’re watching season one of Survivor. Thankfully, with the Beyond Unlimited Plan, you can stream all the HD content you want.

If you’re fine with lower-quality streaming (480p), you could go with Verizon’s cheaper Go Unlimited plan. (We wouldn’t recommend it, but we love us some bright, crisp 1080p.)

For those of you who love watching “Let’s Plays” on YouTube or need to catch up on the latest season of Stranger Things on Netflix, we think More Unlimited is worth the extra money each month for HD streaming at 720p.

Good amount of 4G LTE data

Another downside to many cheaper unlimited data plans like Verizon’s Go Unlimited (and AT&T’s Unlimited & More℠) is that Verizon is allowed to slow, or throttle, your speed at any time if you use too much data.

The Do More Unlimited plan lets you avoid those slower speeds with 22 GB of unthrottled data each month. (Above that cap, though, you’re on your own.) That means you can go (a little) wild with live Twitch streams or uploading photos to Instagram.

It also comes with 15 GB of unthrottled mobile hotspot data that zooms along at 4G LTE speeds. So if your internet goes down in the middle of a work project, you can just hop onto your Wi-Fi hotspot and pick up where you left off.

Sadly, the old “Sorry boss, can’t work today, my internet is down” won’t really work anymore. (It was nice while it lasted.)

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Get the whole review
Get to know Verizon better by checking out our full Verizon review.

What we don’t like

Pricier than comparable plans

Verizon’s amazing coverage and speed come at a price. If you’re looking for a cheap unlimited cell phone plan, you might have to do a trade-off. Here’s how the price of the Verizon Do More plan compares to other unlimited plans.

Verizon Do More Unlimited price comparison

Want a higher data cap? Get an upgrade.

If you’re maxing out every month and don’t feel like you can cut back, don’t worry. You can upgrade to Verizon’s new Get More Unlimited plan and get a mind-boggling 75 GB of unthrottled data each month instead of 22 GB of 4G LTE data. Somewhere, all the old flip phones are crying.

Of course, you’ll pay a little extra each month for Get More Unlimited compared to Do More Unlimited. But if waiting for your favorite Hulu shows to buffer makes you want to throw your device across the room, it just might be worth it.

Alternative picks

Not sure the Verizon Beyond Unlimited plan is the one for you? Check out some of our other top picks for cell phone plans.

Yes, they’re cheaper, but don’t forget that price isn’t everything with wireless plans. Unless you like not being able to tell what the score is while streaming an NBA game (we’ve been there).

Four more unlimited cell phone plans

T-Mobile Simply Prepaid plan: Best prepaid plan

With a low monthly cost and a good chunk of data, T-Mobile’s 10 GB plan caught our eye.

Simply Prepaid with 10 GB LTE

Pros

  • Low price
  • Reliable performance

Cons

  • Iffy customer service

What we like

If you’re going to go with a prepaid plan, you’ll want a good deal.

Low price for 10 GB of data

Compared to other prepaid plans, the T-Mobile 10 GB plan gets you more data for a cheaper price. That’s more gigs of data you can use to stream The Office for the 519th time. Or maybe you can upgrade to the vastly superior Parks and Recreation. Just a suggestion.

Reliable performance on T-Mobile’s network

You can expect good coverage and speed on T-Mobile’s network—at least until you hit your 10 GB data cap. All bets are off when you hit that dreaded data cap.

T-Mobile typically ranks high in third-party coverage and speed tests2, 3—though RootMetrics’s rating may be the exception.1

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Scope out more prepaid plans
Curious to learn more about what prepaid plans are out there? Check out our top picks for the best prepaid plans.

What we don’t like

Customer service could’ve been a whole lot better.

Iffy customer service

We chatted with a couple of T-Mobile service reps to find out more about our prepaid data options.

While both reps were friendly, they each gave us a different answer to the same question and didn’t share the company’s data policy. Both interactions left us feeling less than confident we could get help with other issues in the future—like questions with billing, fees, or what to do when a toddler accidentally spends $10,000 on Candy Crush.

Alternative picks

Need some other options for prepaid cell phone plans? Check these out.

Make sure to not only look at the price but also the data limits. (Let’s be real, you can burn through data faster than you think.)

Alternative picks for prepaid cell phone plans

Verizon Get More Unlimited: Best unlimited plan

The name is confusing, but the unlimited coverage is amazing.

Verizon Get More Unlimited Plan

Pros

  • High data cap
  • Perks

Cons

  • Pricey

High unthrottled data cap

Okay, we know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t you just say that Verizon Do More Unlimited is the best overall deal?

Yes, we did say that. And we stand by it. But if you’re willing to pay the price, the Verizon Wireless Get More Unlimited plan is essentially as good as it gets. At least until a 5G network finally becomes available nationwide.

You get 75 GB of unthrottled data. We’ll say that again: 75 GB of super fast data and excellent coverage every month. You’re paying a premium for it, but you’ll have a better unlimited plan than all your friends. That’ll teach ‘em.

Perks, perks, and more perks

Verizon offers some nice perks that sweeten the deal. First of all, you get 20 GB of mobile hotspot data. We wish we had 20 GB of mobile hotspot data so we could use that instead of this awful train Wi-Fi on our commute.

On top of the Mobile Hotspot data, you also get a subscription to Apple Music. What would all that data be good for if you couldn’t listen to every song ever?

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Is Verizon good though?
Yes. Yes, it is. See how Verizon ranks for performance and perks in our full Verizon review.

What we don’t like

It’s expensive

Sadly, all that wonderful data and coverage certainly comes at a price. Plan on paying upwards of $20 more a month than you would with other unlimited carriers.

The Verizon Get More Unlimited plan certainly isn’t for everybody, but if you use your phone for everything and you gotta have that data, it’s worth every penny.

Alternative picks

Want to have a look at all your choices? Here are some other unlimited plans worth checking out.

Other unlimited cell phone plans

Sprint Unlimited Plus: Best family plan

Families who save together stay together

Sprint Unlimited Plus Plan

Pros

  • Affordable family pricing
  • HD streaming

Cons

  • Reduced speeds

What we like

A plan for the entire family.

Affordable pricing for the whole family

Family plans are all about saving money, and that’s exactly what you get with Sprint. When you combine the price point, unlimited data, and good-enough coverage (if you live in a city), you get the most value with Sprint family plans.

You can sweeten the deal by opting for autopay (which, why wouldn’t you?), and you can add a third, fourth, and fifth line for free for one year. Call up Grandma, Uncle Dave, and Aunt Tina and get them on the family plan too. Just make sure they take you out to dinner or something.

HD streaming

There are two different Sprint family plans, and we’re recommending the one that gets you significantly better streaming quality.

Sure, you can save around $20 a month and go for the Sprint Basic Unlimited Plan, but you’ll be squinting to see which character killed who on Game of Thrones. (Trust us, everybody looks the same on a massive medieval battlefield. Especially in the last season.)

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Do your homework
Make sure this family plan checks all the boxes on your list with our full-length Sprint review.

What we don’t like

Reduced speeds at 50 GB of data

Once you hit 50 GB of data in a month, you’ll probably start experiencing slower speeds.

Yes, you probably think you’ll never hit 50 GB, but each of those Instagram stories adds up over time. Especially when you have a family member with a YouTube addiction. (Or maybe the whole family is a little addicted to YouTube.)

Alternative picks

Want to see what’s behind door number two (and three and four)? We’ve got a few other family plans you might like.

Alternative top family plans

Sprint Unlimited Kickstart Plan: Best prepaid family plan

With unlimited data, Sprint is a budget-friendly pick with good coverage.

Sprint Unlimited Kickstart Plan

Pros

  • Unlimited data
  • Affordable plans

Cons

  • Weaker coverage

What we like

Unlimited data

Have you ever gotten that ominous text from your carrier saying you’ve nearly reached your data limit? Well, you know what happens next. It becomes the family blame game to find out who used all the data. Not a problem with unlimited data.

There’s probably no statistic to back this up, but it feels like unlimited data plans reduce family stress and build togetherness.

Save $10 a month

The monthly price point for Sprint family prepaid plans stacks up well with the competition. You’ll likely save around $10 a month going with a Sprint prepaid family plan versus one with another carrier.

Just be prepared to pay outright for new phones on a prepaid plan (thus the steep up-front costs). Thankfully, you can always keep your old phone and transfer it to the Sprint Unlimited Kickstart plan.

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Want more prepaid options?
Check out all your options, including Sprint, out of all the best prepaid plans out there.

What we don’t like

Weaker coverage

Let’s not sugarcoat anything—Sprint doesn’t have the best coverage in the world compared to other major carriers.4 If you happen to live in an urban environment, you won’t notice much of a difference, but if you’re chilling in any rural region of the country, well . . . your service won’t be as reliable.

Alternative picks

If Sprint doesn’t check all your boxes, here are some alternative prepaid family plans we recommend.

Recap

  • Best overall mobile plan: The Verizon Do More Unlimited plan has us hyped. With top-rated coverage and speed plus HD streaming and 22 GB of unthrottled 4G LTE data each month, it was an easy pick for best cell phone plan overall.
  • Best prepaid plan: We chose the Simply Prepaid 10 GB plan as the best prepaid plan because of its low price for 10 GB of data and good performance on T-Mobile’s network. But watch out for not-so-great customer service.
  • Best unlimited plan: The Verizon Get More unlimited plan offers 75 GB of unthrottled data and comes with 5G data access and HD streaming. It’s expensive, but it’s awesome.
  • Best family plan: We recommend Sprint Unlimited Plus for families since its 50 GB of high-speed data and competitive price will make data-hungry kids and adults happy. Just expect slower speeds when you pass that 50 GB threshold.
  • Best prepaid family plan: We picked the Sprint Unlimited Kickstart Plan thanks to its competitive pricing for unlimited data. The coverage isn’t perfect, but it’s certainly good enough for urban areas.

The best cell phone plans are always changing with new data plans and features. Check back here to get the latest updates on the best cell phone plans.

Sources

1. RootMetrics, “USA Mobile Network Experience Report January 2019
2. OpenSignal, “The 4G Battle Continues between T-Mobile and Verizon
3. Speedtest, “United States
4. RootMetrics, “Sprint Coverage Map

Additional contributors

Catherine McNally