Best Cell Phone Plans

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

Overview

I started shopping for a new cell phone plan this year—and my head quickly filled up with information on things like data caps and line access fees. It became so overwhelming that I had to take a three-month-long breather just to process everything. Maybe that’s the reason why so many of us stick with one carrier for life.

Or maybe not.

The top five cell phone plans  you should consider switching to

If you’re ready to switch cell phone companies but want to avoid the head-spinning gush 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.

Best cell phone plans comparisons

ProviderPlan typeNamePricePlans
VerizonOverallVerizon Beyond Unlimited$85/mo. for 1 lineView plan
Simple MobilePrepaidSimple Mobile 6 GB plan$37/mo. for 1 lineView plan
T-MobileUnlimitedT-Mobile ONE Plus$80/mo. for 1 line (includes taxes and fees)View plan
T-MobileFamilyT-Mobile ONE$160/mo. for 4 lines (includes taxes and fees)View plan
Total WirelessPrepaid familyTotal Wireless 25 GB plan$95/mo. for 4 linesView plan
Boost MobileUnlimitedBoost Mobile unlimited data plan$50/mo. for 1 lineView plan
AT&T PREPAID℠PrepaidAT&T PREPAID℠ 8 GB plan$40/mo. for 1 lineView plan
TracFoneLow usageTracFone $50/90 service days plan$16.67/mo. for 1 line**View plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included unless otherwise noted.
** Estimated monthly price calculated by dividing the full $50 price by 3 months (90 service days = approximately 3 months)

Best overall—Verizon Beyond Unlimited

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

Verizon Beyond Unlimited Plan

Verizon Beyond Unlimited Plan
Price$85/mo. for 1 line*
FeaturesUnlimited talk and text

22 GB of 4G LTE data**

HD (720p) streaming

15 GB mobile hotspot

Talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
Learn more View Plan

* Price includes autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.
** Speed throttled after 22 GB

What we like

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.2, 3, 4

Case in point: Our Verizon phone was the only one with a signal out in the Utah desert. Other carriers just can’t hold their bars in rural areas.

HD streaming

You could go with Verizon’s cheaper Go Unlimited plan, but it offers only SD quality streaming (480p).

If you love watching “let’s plays” on YouTube or need to catch up on the latest season of Queer Eye on Netflix, we think Beyond Unlimited is worth the extra $10 each month for HD streaming at 720p.

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Get the whole review

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

Good amount of 4G LTE data

Another downside to many cheaper unlimited plans like Verizon’s Go Unlimited (and AT&T’s Unlimited & More℠) is you could experience slower data speeds at any time.

The Beyond Unlimited plan lets you avoid those slower speeds, or throttling, with 22 GB of unthrottled data each month. That means you can go (a little) crazy with live Twitch streams or uploading photos to your 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 hotspot and keep crushing it like nothing happened. Win-win.

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 Beyond Unlimited plan compares to other unlimited plans.

Number of linesVerizon Beyond Unlimited price*Sprint Unlimited Freedom*T-Mobile ONE Plus**
1$85/mo.$60/mo.$80/mo.
2$160/mo.$1000/mo.$140/mo.
3$180/mo.$130/mo.$170/mo.
4$200/mo.$160/mo.$200/mo.
5$250/mo.$190/mo.$230/mo.
View planView planView plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included unless otherwise noted.
** Includes taxes and fees plus autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable.

Want a higher data cap? Get an upgrade.

If data makes your world go ‘round, you might consider upgrading to Verizon’s new Above Unlimited plan. Instead of 22 GB of 4G LTE data, you’ll get a mind-boggling 75 GB of unthrottled data each month.

Of course, you’ll pay about $10 more each month for Above Unlimited compared to Beyond Unlimited. But if waiting for your favorite Hulu shows to buffer makes you want to throw yourself on the ground kicking and screaming, 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.

Alternative picks for best cell phone plans

Plan namePrice*Learn more
T-Mobile ONE Plus$80/mo. for 1 line**View plan
MetroPCS Unlimited Plan with hotspot$60/mo. for 1 lineView plan
AT&T Unlimited & More Premium$80/mo. for 1 lineView plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included unless otherwise noted. Taxes and fees NOT included.

Best prepaid plan—Simple Mobile 6 GB plan

With a low monthly cost and good chunk of data, Simple Mobile’s 6 GB plan caught our eye. 

Simple Mobile 6 GB plan

simple mobile logoSimple Mobile 6 GB plan
Price*$37/mo. for 1 line
Features
Unlimited talk and text

6 GB of 4G LTE (then 2G speeds)

Uses T-Mobile network
Learn moreView plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

What we like

Low price for 6 GB of data

Competitor MetroPCS gives you only 5 GB of data for $40 each month, so that extra gig feels like a freebie. And we love freebies.

That’s one more gig of data you can use to stream The Office for the 519th time. (Our addiction is not to be “truffled” with, we can recite some of the best lines by heart.)

Good performance on T-Mobile’s network

Simple Mobile runs on T-Mobile’s network, so you can expect good coverage and speed (at least until you hit your 6 GB data cap). T-Mobile typically ranks high in third-party coverage and speed tests5, 6—though RootMetrics’s rating may be the exception.7

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More prepaid plans

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

What we don’t like

Iffy customer service

We chatted with a couple of Simple Mobile service reps to find out how much data we could use on its “truly unlimited” plan.

While both reps were friendly, they each gave us a different answer to the same question and were unable to 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 billing, or something even more serious.

Alternative picks

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

Alternative picks for prepaid cell phone plans

Plan namePrice*Learn more
TracFone 2 GB plan$50/mo./3 mos. for 1 lineView plan
MetroPCS Unlimited Plan$50/mo. for 1 lineView plan
AT&T PREPAID 8 GB plan$40/mo. for 1 lineView plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

Best unlimited plan—T-Mobile ONE Plus

Combine a competitive price with great performance and fun perks, and you’ve got T-Mobile ONE Plus, our pick for best unlimited plan.

T-Mobile ONE Plus plan

T-Mobile ONE Plus plan
Price*$80/mo. for 1 line (includes taxes and fees)
FeaturesUnlimited talk and text

50 GB of 4G LTE data

HD streaming

10 GB hotspot and in-flight texting and data**
Learn moreView plan

* Price includes taxes and fees, plus autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable.
** On Gogo®-enabled flights.

What we like

High unthrottled data cap

Can we just talk about the jaw-dropping 50 GB of unthrottled data T-Mobile gives you? OK, it’s not as crazy as the 75 GB on Verizon’s Above Unlimited plan, but for the price, this is a deal that should have dollar signs going “ka-ching!” in almost anyone’s eyes.

We should also mention you’ll get 50 GB of unthrottled data on T-Mobile ONE, which costs $10 less each month. (But you’ll miss out on some pretty awesome perks without ONE Plus.)

Perks, perks, and more perks

Speaking of perks, T-Mobile ONE Plus has a little something extra for most everyone.

  • Travelers: Once you get in-flight texting and unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi on Gogo®-enabled flights, you’ll never go back.
  • TV and video lovers: How does HD (up to 1080p) streaming sound?
  • Hotspot users: Give your satellite internet a boost or get work done even with cringe-worthy hotel internet thanks to 10 GB of 4G LTE hotspot data.
  • Anyone who hates telemarketers: See who’s calling—even if it’s an unknown number. And no need to roll your eyes at robots leaving voicemails. Just translate them to text instead.

Taxes and fees included

All of T-Mobile’s unlimited plans advertise prices that include taxes and fees, which makes the price difference between T-Mobile and pricier carriers like Verizon even greater. And it pretty much guarantees a monthly bill with no surprises. Well played, T-Mobile.

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Check out T-Mobile

See how T-Mobile ranks for performance and perks in our full T-Mobile review.

What we don’t like

Spotty rural coverage

If you don’t live in a city, you’ll want to pay attention here. T-Mobile has good coverage, sure, but it can be hit-or-miss in rural areas.

If you love to go camping or live out in the boonies (nothing to apologize for there—enjoy those wide open spaces), you may want to go with a carrier that has better coverage—like AT&T or Verizon.

Alternative picks

Want to have a look at all your choices? Here are some other unlimited plans that deserve mad props.

Three more unlimited cell phone plans

Plan namePrice*Learn more
Verizon Above Unlimited$95/mo. for 1 lineView plan
Sprint Unlimited Freedom$60/mo. for 1 lineView plan
Boost Mobile unlimited plan with hotspot$60/mo. for 1 lineView plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

Best family plan—T-Mobile ONE

T-Mobile ONE comes with a hefty 50 GB of unthrottled data to share each month—and at a competitive price.

T-Mobile ONE plan
Price*$160/mo. for 4 lines (includes taxes and fees)
FeaturesUnlimited talk and text

50 GB of 4G LTE data

SD streaming

3G mobile hotspot data, In-flight texting and 1 hour of data**
Learn moreView plan

* Price includes taxes and fees, plus autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable.
** On Gogo®-enabled flights.

What we like

50 GB of high-speed data

We’re not just hyping up the 50 GB of unthrottled data you get from T-Mobile: it’s a really big deal. That’s more than double what you get from Sprint.

If your family doesn’t use much data, this large amount of high-speed data may not seem like such a huge boon. But if your teens love playing Fortnite or streaming YouTube on their phones, you’ll probably need it.

Competitive price

Four lines with T-Mobile ONE rings up $5 cheaper than Verizon’s Go Unlimited plan—that’s an even bigger deal when you factor in that T-Mobile’s price includes taxes and fees.

Mic drop.

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Read the review

Make sure this family plan checks all the boxes on your list. Check out our full-length T-Mobile review.

What we don’t like

SD streaming only

If you’re eagerly awaiting the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix, keep in mind you’ll get to stream it only in SD on your mobile device with T-Mobile ONE.

Sure, you can upgrade to ONE Plus and bask in all the HD glory—but it’ll cost you $10 more per month per line.

No 4G LTE hotspot data

If anyone in your family relies on a mobile hotspot to cope with hotel or satellite internet that’s somehow as slow as dial-up, bear in mind they’ve got only 3G speeds to work with. (So that mobile game will take about 30 minutes to download. Urgh.)

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

Plan namePrice*Learn more
Verizon Go Unlimited$160/mo. for 4 linesView plan
Sprint Unlimited Freedom$160/mo. for 4 linesView plan
Verizon 8 GB family plan$150/mo. for 4 lines**View plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.
** Includes $20/mo. line access fee for four leased smartphones on the plan.

Best prepaid family plan—Total Wireless 25 GB plan

With 25 GB of shared data, Total Wireless is a budget-friendly pick if you need four lines or fewer.

Total Wireless 25 GB plan

total wireless logoTotal Wireless 25 GB plan
Price*$95/mo. for 4 lines
Features25 GB of shared data

Up to 4G LTE speeds

Uses Verizon's network
Learn moreView plan

* Price includes autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

What we like

25 GB of shared data

One of our major complaints with some prepaid plans is that you don’t know if it’s 5 GB of shared data or 5 GB of data per line. That’s a big difference.

With Total Wireless, you don’t have to guess—or worse, bug a customer service rep for an answer. The carrier says up front that this plan gives you 25 GB of shared data between four lines—that’s 5 GB per line if you divide it evenly.

Good performance

Total Wireless runs on the Verizon network, which means it comes stacked with Verizon’s top-rated coverage and speeds (which we covered in our full Verizon review).

We should add that sometimes companies like Total Wireless don’t get the same speeds as the carrier that owns the network they run on. So, it’s likely your download speeds will be slower on Total Wireless than if you were on a Verizon plan—especially if you’re online during a high-traffic time.8

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Considering prepaid?

Check out all your options, including Total Wireless, in our full-length prepaid plans review.

What we don’t like

No unlimited data plan

Are you all about trying the latest mobile games? Do you enjoy watching live Twitch streams on your lunch break? What about streaming the latest Cardi B song on Spotify?

Then you might want to skip Total Wireless’s data-capped plans for a prepaid plan that offers unlimited data. (May we suggest Boost Mobile or Cricket Wireless instead?)

Alternative picks

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

Alternative picks for prepaid family plans

Plan namePrice*Learn more
AT&T PREPAID℠ 8 GB plan$120/mo. for 4 linesView plan
Cricket Wireless unlimited data plan$100/mo. for 4 linesView plan
MetroPCS 5 GB plan$130/mo. for 4 linesView plan

* Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

Recap

Best for mostBest prepaidBest unlimited
simple mobile logo
View plansView PlansView Plans
  • Best overall: The Verizon Beyond Unlimited plan has us hyped in a good way. 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 Simple Mobile 6 GB plan as best prepaid because of its low price for 6 GB of data and good performance on T-Mobile’s network. But watch out for not-so-great customer service.
  • Best unlimited plan: The T-Mobile ONE Plus plan is like trading in your debit card for a black card—you get perks galore plus 50 GB of unthrottled data each month. Oh, and taxes and fees are included in that price you see online. The downside? You might see your signal drop in rural areas.
  • Best family plan: We recommend T-Mobile ONE for families since its 50 GB of high-speed data and competitive price will make data-hungry kids and adults happy. Just be aware it comes with SD streaming only and lacks 4G LTE hotspot data.
  • Best prepaid family plan: We picked the Total Wireless 25 GB plan thanks to its large 25 GB of shared high-speed data and good performance on the Verizon network. But if you’re craving unlimited data, look elsewhere.

Other notable carriers we didn’t mention

Those are our picks for top cell phone plans, but there are many plans we didn’t get to that still deserve a mention.

Other notable cell phone companies possible not mentioned previously

ProviderPrice range*Get started
AT&T$30–$80/mo.View plan
Sprint$40–$60/mo.View plan
T-Mobile$45–$80/mo. (includes taxes and fees)View plan
Verizon$30–$95/mo.View plan
Virgin Mobile$35–$60/mo.View plan
MetroPCS$30–$60/mo. (includes taxes and fees)View plan
Cricket Wireless$25–$55/mo.View plan
Boost Mobile$35–$60/mo.View plan
Net10 Wireless$31.50–$60/mo.View plan
Project Fi$20–$80/mo.View plan
Straight Talk$30–$50/mo.View plan

* For single-line plan unless otherwise noted. Prices include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included unless otherwise noted.