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Best Cell Phone Plans of 2022
We review the best cell phone plans on the market, with a pick for best performance, value, coverage, family plan deal, and cheap pricing.
Here's the low-down for the best cell phone plans:
- Verizon offers the best network, and Visible gives you access to Verizon's network for a fraction of the price.
- Xfinity Mobile gives you surprisingly good discounts if you bundle your cell phone plan and TV together.
- US Mobile is one of the few smaller carriers that offers family plan discounts, allowing you to get down to $20/mo. for unlimited talk, text, and data.
- Mint Mobile offers one of the cheapest unlimited plans on the market today.
- When it comes to data speeds, T-Mobile reigns supreme.
See? That wasn't so hard. Now you have everything you need to find the best cell phone plan, right? Nope! There's definitely more details to know before committing to any cell phone plan, and we've narrowed down everything you need to know.
- : Best coverage
- : Best bundle
- : Best budget unlimited data plan
- : Best family plan
- : Best overall performance
- : Best plan under $20
If you're looking for a new cell phone plan, maybe you should get a new phone to go with it! So don't forget to look at our monthly roundup of the best cell phone deals.
For example, right now Mint Mobile is offering an exclusive buy-three-get-three deal that gets you three months of cell service for free.
What to look for in a cell phone plan
Entering into a cell phone plan is a lot like entering into a relationship. The more you know before committing, the better. Here's some quick tips of what to look for in a cell phone plan.
- Know how much data you need: It's essential to know how much data you need as many carriers will base their plans on this figure. Not everyone needs an unlimited data plan, so don't overpay for what you don't need. Read our handy guide to see how much high-speed data you actually need.
- Compare prices: With so many options available, we want to make sure you get the best price for your needs. Use the price-comparison tools, like the charts in this review, to make sure you’re getting the best deal available.
- Watch out for extra fees: Not all cell phone plans are straightforward. Many, especially the cheaper plans, have plenty of devils in the details (like data slowdowns and price increases). We've highlighted some of those details to help you out in your search.
- Make sure your area is covered: Not all mobile providers have stellar service in every part of the US. So to avoid having to sit by the window and wait for bars to appear, check out our coverage maps in this review or read our cell phone coverage guide to see which cell phone service gives you the best coverage.
All right, let’s talk plans, beginning with the most powerful.
Our plan pick
Plan price (1 line)
|Coverage||$45 Unlimited Plan||$45/mo.||View Plan|
|Bundling with internet||Unlimited Plan||$45/mo.||View Plan|
|Cheap unlimited data||Unlimited Data Plan||$30/mo.||View Plan|
|Family plan||Unlimited Basic||$80/mo.|
|Overall performance||Magenta MAX||$85/mo.||View Plan|
|Under $20||Unlimited Talk & Text with 18 GB Ludicrous Data||$20/mo.||View Plan|
Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.
Visible Wireless: Best coverage
What we like
Verizon Wireless owns the best network, but they certainly don't offer the most budget-friendly cell phone plans. Enter Visible Wireless: a wireless carrier that uses Verizon's network, but only charges a fraction of the price.
Verizon, but at a cheaper price
Visible uses Verizon's network to provide coverage for its customers. Think of it like going to Disneyland, but just entering the park through a different entrance (that just so happens to cost half the price you'd normally pay). You basically get access to Verizon's awesome network coverage without having to pay Verizon prices. For example, the basic Verizon unlimited plan will cost you $70/month, whereas the basic Visible unlimited plan will only cost you $30/month. Check out how Verizon and Visible plans compare:
The price doesn't even come close. If you want to get unlimted talk, text, and data on Verizon's network without paying Verizon prices, Visible is the way to go.
Fun fact: Verizon actually owns Visible. This is a good thing because you can expect Visible to get preferential treatment over other carriers that piggyback on Verizon's network.
Best overall coverage
Verizon's network offers objectively excellent coverage. In 2022, Verizon’s network gets you 4G coverage in 70% of the U.S.1 That’s better than any other carrier.
This superior coverage won’t matter as much to those who live in major metropolitan areas, where every carrier has good coverage. But those who are outside of major areas will almost certainly want to check out Verizon (there are some places where Verizon is really the only game in town). Likewise, folks who travel around the country often will get the best experience with Verizon.
Take a look at this coverage map to see just how extensive Verizon's network is.
Unlimited Hotspot data
Both Visible cell phone plans come with unlimited talk, text, and data, but the higher-tier $45 Plan also comes with unlimited hotspot data. It's rare getting hotspot data with a smaller carrier like Visible, let alone unlimited hotspot data.
The catch is that your hotspot data caps at 5 Mbps with Visible. That's enough speed to connect your laptop to the internet and send Slack messages back and forth, but you'll probably have a rough time streaming a Zoom meeting.
What we don’t like
Every small wireless carrier has the same downside: deprioritization and data throttling.
It wouldn't make sense if Visible could charge half of what Verizon charges without any downsides at all, right? In this case, the downside is that your data speeds could slow down if Verizon's network becomes overly congested.
As a Visible user, you might find that you can't refresh your Instagram feed at a crowded stadium, or can't stream a podcast during rush hour traffic. When the network gets congested, Verizon will give priority to its own customers. Your mileage may vary on how often you experience this, but know that it's something that can pop up at the most annoying times.
On the plus side, Verizon owns Visible, so its possible that Visible customers will experience less data throttling compared to other smaller carriers on Verizon's network (like US Mobile).
Alternative pick: Spectrum Mobile
If you already use Spectrum as your internet provider, you can get an affordable cell phone plan with them as well. If you’re not a Spectrum internet user, feel free to scroll on out of here.
Spectrum Mobile’s unlimited plan gets you unlimited everything for $55/month, and uses Verizon’s awesome network to provide coverage. You only get a 30GB data cap every month with this unlimited plan, meaning if you use over 30GB in a month, your data speeds will slow down. As long as you keep below that data cap, Spectrum Mobile offers a nice value unlimited plan for Spectrum customers.
Xfinity Mobile's $45 Unlimited Plan: Best bundle
What we like about Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited data cell phone plan
If you’re an existing Comcast Xfinity home internet customer, then Xfinity Mobile is a cell phone service that you need to consider. If you aren't, you might as well skip to the next section because this is an exclusive deal.
We call this a bundle because you cannot get Xfinity Mobile as a standalone service. Even though Xfinity Mobile is sorta exclusive, we like its unlimited plan, and here’s why.
Plan prices are right in the sweet spot
Xfinity Mobile’s price for its unlimited plan is the definition of reasonable. You won't find your wallet catching on fire each month when it's time to pay.
Yes, there are other small carriers with lower prices for an unlimited plan, but Xfinity Mobile is cheaper than all of the Big Three—Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T.
Xfinity Mobile provides 5G for all its cell plans—both unlimited and by the gig—at no extra cost.
To get the most out of that, you need to have a 5G smartphone and to live in an area with 5G infrastructure. If you meet that description, then Xfinity Mobile says it can deliver download speeds of around 450 Mbps and upload speeds around 50 Mbps.2 Why would ever need to, but that means you can download a movie off Netflix in under a minute!
18 million Wi-Fi hotspots
Xfinity Mobile subscribers can access millions of Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. Technically this is a good thing, but coming from someone who used Xfinity, these hotspots can sometimes be more of an annoyance. Occasionally I would drive around and notice that I suddenly didn't have a strong enough signal to stream a podcast off Spotify. This happened because my phone would automatically connect to Xfinity hotspots that didn't provide good data speeds.
If you're ever in a bind and can't get access to the internet, an Xfinity hotspot could make all the difference, but don't be surprised if your speeds feel slow while connected to it.
The best customer service and mobile app according to ACSI
Xfinity Mobile continues to rank number one on the American Customer Service Index’s list for full-service MVNOs. ACSI also put Xfinity Mobile’s app at the top of their list for customer service apps.
Be sure to read more in the Customer Service section of our full Xfinity Mobile review.
What we don’t like about Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited cell phone plan
We want you to know everything we do about this plan, so there are a few aspects we don’t like about Xfinity Mobile. They mostly pertain to data limitations for non-5G devices.
Expect throttled, capped, and deprioritized 4G LTE data speeds
For 4G LTE data, Xfinity says it can deliver download speeds around 5–12 Mbps and upload speeds around 2–5 Mbps. There is a soft data cap of 20 GB, after which you will be deprioritized, and Xfinity will cut your download speeds to 1.5 Mbps and upload speeds to 750 Kbps. That’s partly why we say go with 5G if you can.
Non-5G devices experience low-resolution video streaming
Video streaming is where you’re most likely to feel the pain of these data limitations. If you’re on Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited plan, the default video streaming quality may disappoint. It will depend largely on whether your device is 5G and if the network you have access to is 4G LTE or 5G.
The default streaming resolution for non-5G devices on Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited data plan is only 480p, which is just standard definition (SD). But if you're on the 5G network, you'll get the best possible video resolution.
That’s basically the difference between Batman Forever and The Dark Knight. Both are Batman movies, but one is clearly more advanced than the other.
Go with 5G. That’s our best advice when it comes to Xfinity Mobile. With a 5G device on a 5G network, you’ll enjoy 4K streaming. Roar!
If you’re still in a 4G LTE situation, don’t despair—you can still buy HD streaming for any line, which gets you 720p resolution for smartphones and 1080p for tablets.
Let’s say you already have Xfinity home internet, and you’re looking for a new cell phone plan. Xfinity Mobile appeals to you, but you aren’t looking for an unlimited data plan. If that’s you, then take a look at Xfinity Mobile’s By the Gig plans.
We already did the math (you're welcome), and it’s pretty straightforward:
If you use more than 3 GB of cellular data per month, then Xfinity Mobile’s unlimited plan is probably a better deal for you.
Here are Xfinity Mobile’s plans so you can compare them for yourself.
Mint Mobile: Best budget unlimited data plan
What we like
Mint offers cell phone plans that are cheap in the good way: it has a super low price tag while still offering all the basics, unlimited talk, text, and data.
Here’s what we love about the budget-friendly Mint Mobile unlimited data plan.
Mint’s $30 unlimited data plan no longer holds the championship belt for cheapest unlimited plan (carriers like Ting and Tello recently undercut Mint's pricing). That being said, Mint Mobile still offers a killer bargain when you consider its network and high data caps.
Mint Mobile has finally brought family plans into the equation. With a Mint Mobile family plan, you can lock in the price for the $30 Unlimited plan. Typically, Mint Mobile customers have to pay for a year of service to lock in the $30/month price tag, but a family plan allows you to pay in three-month increments instead.
Mint uses T-Mobile’s network
T-Mobile currently has the largest 5G network and the fastest data speeds. As a Mint Mobile customer, you get access to that 5G network for a fraction of what it should cost.
While Mint users won’t get premium treatment (your speeds will slow down before T-Mobile customers see any changes), you will get full use of T-Mobile’s 4G and 5G networks. That means Mint customers should see better data speeds than many other customers on discount plans.
High data cap
Mint Mobile gives its user a 35GB data cap, which equates to about 35 hours of streaming content on YouTube or Netflix (on standard definition). Most cheap unlimited plans give you data caps between 15GB and 20GB every month, and throttle your speeds once you past that point. It's nice to see an affordable MVNO that doesn't screw you over with a low data cap.
What we don’t like
Obviously, Mint has cut some corners somewhere to get its price down this low. Here’s what we don’t love so much about this unlimited data plan and why you might want to reconsider.
The biggest drawback to going with Mint (or any mobile virtual network operator) is that your data will be deprioritized. That’s just a technical way of saying that when the network is busy, your data speeds will be slowed down (so that the parent network, T-Mobile, can keep its own customers at full speed).
Deprioritization is a wily issue to have. You never know quite how much it will affect your service. You might have super fast data speeds all day, then see them trickle to almost nothing in the evening. Or, you might have slow-ish but manageable speeds (think 5–15 Mbps) all the time. It really depends on where you live and how you use your phone.
Not the best coverage
Mint’s T-Mobile-run network still has some pretty sizable gaps in 4G and 5G coverage, specifically in rural areas. Check out this coverage map to see where you might experience some issues.
Mint coverage map
Mint used to be in a category of its own for cheap unlimited data, but some new plans from other carriers give a Mint a run for its money. Carriers like Boost Mobile and Republic Wireless can now match Mint's price, or even charge a little less. Check out the other cheap unlimited plans out there:
US Mobile: Best family plan deal
What we like
Family plans, like this one from US Mobile, basically always save you money on your cell phone bill. In fact, US Mobile's family plan happens to be the cheapest family unlimited plan available right now. Here's the details.
Unlimited data for four family members at $80 a month
US Mobile's basic unlimited plan normally costs $35 a month, which is already a good deal for unlimited talk, text, and data. But, for every line you add (up to four), your price-per-line will go down. That means two lines cost $60/month, three lines cost $75/month, and four lines only costs $80/month. That cost for four lines equals out to $20 per person a month for an unlimited data plan.
As it stands right now, no other carrier can beat US Mobile's family plan for unlimited data. Here's the proof:
US Mobile uses Verizon’s network
We already talked about how Verizon has the best 4G coverage in the nation. Well, US Mobile uses Verizon’s network. That means you’ll have good service in most of the United States, including many rural areas in the West.
What we don’t like
We really only have one complaint about US Mobile: the data speeds aren’t very fast.
US Mobile advertises that its data speeds can get up to 3 Gbps when connected to a 5G network. With these speeds, you can stream in 4K without ever buffering, or hop on a Zoom call without ever worrying about your connection cutting out. While this sounds amazing, there's one detail to remember: during times of network congestion, your speeds can slow down significantly, making it hard to do much of anything.
But, to be honest, data deprioritization is a problem with every small carrier (and even the cheaper plans from big carriers). So, you’re going to have to deal with it unless you’re willing to shell out a lot more than $20 per line.
Like we said before, the best way to save money on your phone bill is to get a family plan. That’s true for many carriers, so check out our list of all the best family plans around.
T-Mobile's Magenta MAX: Best overall performance
What we like
T-Mobile has, quite simply, jumped ahead of the pack to become the one of the best cell phone providers in the US.
While some of its previous issues persist—specifically poor 4G coverage in rural areas—it has managed to outperform the competition where it matters most: 4G LTE data speeds, data allotments, and 5G coverage. And it has done all of this while still being cheaper, on average, than Verizon and AT&T.
Here’s everything we love about T-Mobile’s premier Magenta MAX plan.
Best 4G data speeds
If you want lightning fast speeds for streaming, gaming, scrolling, posting, and everything else, T-Mobile is clearly the best carrier. We collected speed tests results from over 100,000 mobile customers and found that T-Mobile has the fastest 4G speeds. Here's a look at the average download and upload speeds from the major networks:
But 4G is going the way of dial-up internet and VHS tapes (remember those?). 5G is the new technology in town, and T-Mobile is also dominating in the 5G arena.
When it comes to 5G speeds, OpenSignal’s latest report says, “T-Mobile wins the 5G Download Speed award for the fifth time in a row, increasing once again its lead on Verizon and AT&T … this time T-Mobile places at least 93.9 Mbps ahead of its competitors …”3
Here’s a dirty little secret about the mobile industry: unlimited doesn’t really mean unlimited most of the time. Most unlimited plans actually have a data cap, and once you hit that cap your data speeds can (and will) be drastically reduced.
This is one of the biggest reasons that T-Mobile’s Magenta MAX plan stands out. The Magenta MAX plan gives you 100 GB a month of high-speed data before deprioritization. If you want the best speed, here it is.
Largest 5G network
T-Mobile doesn’t just have the fastest 5G data speeds. It also has the largest 5G network. According to OpenSignal, T-Mobile users in 16 states were connected to 5G networks 35% of the time.
That might not sound like much, but it’s far more than AT&T customers, who were only connected to a 5G network 25% of the time (in just six states) and Verizon users, who were connected just 17% of the time (in just one state).1
This network makes T-Mobile the most “future-proof” carrier around, since 5G technology will become the new standard for mobile networks in the years to come.
What we don’t like
Obviously, we’re pretty impressed with T-Mobile right now. But that doesn’t mean we are blind to its faults. Here are the things we don’t love about the Magenta MAX plan.
T-Mobile is actually the cheapest of the Big Three. Its prices are generally cheaper than comparable plans from AT&T and Verizon. But that doesn’t matter much when you’re talking about an $85 plan like Magenta MAX.
In short, T-Mobile knows this is the most powerful plan in the industry right now, so they’re not afraid to stick to a high price. And it’s still totally worth it for those who want performance above all else.
We talked about how T-Mobile’s 5G network is the biggest. But that network doesn’t spread into most rural areas of North America, where T-Mobile’s 4G coverage is also spotty. Just look at the holes in this coverage map—it looks like swiss cheese (yum, cheese).
T-Mobile coverage map
You can see the broad swaths of Nebraska, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Nevada where T-Mobile doesn’t have great coverage. So if you live in one of those areas, you might want to go with another carrier (Verizon has the best 4G coverage in rural areas).
If you’re not a big fan of T-Mobile for whatever reason, but you still want a premier, top-shelf, grade-A plan with tons of data and high performance, then check out these plans from AT&T and Verizon.
US Mobile: Best plan under $20
What we like
We’ve already talked about how Mint Mobile is our favorite cheap unlimited data plan. But US Mobile offers an even cheaper set of plans for those who don’t necessarily need unlimited data.
A lot of bang for your buck
US Mobile offers some pretty mind-boggling deals, like unlimited talk and text, plus 12 GB of data, for just $20 a month. Imagine if paying your phone bill costs less than a Sunday brunch?
It is true that this $20 price tag includes a temporary discount that goes away after six months. But if you’re worried about that, US Mobile has plenty of other data plans that cost less than $20 a month.
If you’re still not convinced, check out how US Mobile compares to other super-cheap data plans.
US Mobile uses both Verizon and T-Mobile’s networks
US Mobile is an MVNO, which means it doesn’t have its own mobile network. Instead it uses both Verizon and T-Mobile to bring service to its customers. Which network you end up on depends on what kind of phone you have (GSM or CDMA).
In terms of data performance and coverage, Verizon and T-Mobile are the two best networks in the game. So, whichever network you end up on you should be pretty happy.
What we don’t like
With prices this low, it's natural to look for a gotcha. Here’s what we don’t love so much about the US Mobile unlimited data plan.
Like every small MVNO wireless carrier, US Mobile customers will be subject to data deprioritization. That means you could see your data speeds plummet during times of peak use (usually in the evenings). If you need fast data all the time for work, gaming, or your social media addiction, then you might want to consider another carrier.
You don’t get a $20 cell phone plan without cutting the fat somewhere. In this case, US Mobile has cut pretty much every perk. There’s no free hotspot data, no free subscriptions, and no special phone deals.
If you want to keep your costs as low as possible for your prepaid family plan, you can get a multi-line plan from Twigby and customize how much data you want per line.
Check out this family plan that we built on Twigby that includes four data plans for a total sum of $45/month.
Recap: Which plan is right for you?
We’ve gone over the five best cell phone plans on the market right now. It’s up to you to decide which one fits your lifestyle and budget. Here’s a quick recap to help you make up your mind.
- Best overall coverage: Visible Wireless uses Verizon's awesome network, but charges a fraction of the price for unlimited talk, text, and data plans.
- Best bundle: If you’re already paying Comcast Xfinity internet, then you should look at Xfinity Mobile. It gets you on Verizon’s 5G network for less than $50 a month.
- Best budget unlimited data plan: Mint Mobile offers a perfectly good unlimited data plan for a ridiculous price. Your data speeds may not be the fastest, but your wallet will thank you.
- Best family plan deal: US Mobile will hook you and your loved ones up with an unlimited plan for as little as $20 per line. Yes, it’s a very good deal.
- Best overall performance: The T-Mobile Magenta MAX plan is simply the most powerful plan on the market, offering truly unlimited data, the fastest speeds, and plenty of cool perks.
- Best under $20: If you’re just looking for the cheapest, most bare-bones plans, then we suggest checking out US Mobile. A crisp twenty will get you up to 12 GB of data.
That’s all we’ve got to say about the best cell phone plans. We hope we’ve been helpful (you can always yell at us in the comments if we haven’t been).
We spent over a week researching, compiling data, and writing this article. Our analysis and suggestions are based on a deep knowledge of the industry (having written in-depth reviews of dozens of cell phone carriers), but that’s not all.
For this article we looked at data from over 100,000 mobile customers to determine mobile data speeds. We used the latest reports from OpenSignal and other groups to understand the status of carriers’ 5G networks. And we used comparison tools from sites like WhistleOut.com to help understand pricing and features.
Most of all, we trust the users. So we’ve also looked at customer reviews from each carrier to better understand what they do right, and where they could improve.
We crammed a lot into this review, but we thought of a few more things we want to talk about. Hopefully we’ll cover any lingering questions you may have in this section, but if we’ve missed something then let us know in the comments below!
Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T tend to have much better deals on new phones than their MVNO counterparts. But, out of those three, there isn’t a clear winner. They tend to change their deals frequently to highlight new phones and promotions.
So, the best way to figure out which carrier has the best deals right now is to read our cell phone deals page that we update every month.
It really depends on what you want. Some folks will want Verizon’s awesome rural coverage, while others will go for T-Mobile’s lightning fast data speeds. Others still will prefer US Mobile for its incredible family plan pricing.
In short, there isn’t a single carrier that’s clearly the best. But if you read about the five plans we’ve featured in this article, then you’ll probably find something that’s a great fit for you.
There are three major networks in the United States: Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. Verizon has the best nationwide coverage, especially in rural areas. T-Mobile has the biggest (and fastest) 5G network. And, while AT&T doesn’t take home the gold medal, it has pretty darn good coverage in most metropolitan and suburban areas.
The easiest way to figure out which network is best for you is to look at coverage maps. You can see maps for all three major carriers and read all about their performance in our up-to-data network coverage analysis.
If you want the best unlimited data plan, regardless of cost, we recommend T-Mobile’s Magenta MAX plan. It comes with truly unlimited data (no data cap), the fastest data speeds in the industry, and tons of amazing perks.
But there are plenty of other great unlimited data plans that cost less. Visible Wireless has an incredible deal on unlimited data family plans, while Mint Mobile probably has the best deal on an individual unlimited plan.
Just be sure to look at the fine print of every unlimited data plan that you consider. You will often find that there are data caps (unlimited isn’t really unlimited) and data deprioritization on the cheaper plans.
It’s hard to choose favorites when there are several great options, depending on what you want from your cell phone plan. That said, T-Mobile has been making some really impressive strides when it comes to 5G coverage, data speeds, and perks.
T-Mobile has the biggest and fastest 5G network right now, and the other two networks (AT&T and Verizon) aren’t very close to catching up.3 This means that T-Mobile will likely be on top for the near future when it comes to overall performance.
Mint Mobile, Visible Wireless, and US Mobile are all great options for affordable cell phone plans. Each of these discount carriers has something to offer the right customer.
But the market is flooded with cheap cell phone plans right now, so it’s worth shopping around for the very best deal. Just be aware that cheaper isn’t always better. There are usually drawbacks hidden in the fine print, like data deprioritization, price hikes, and coverage gaps.