Best Cell Phone Plans of 2020

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

    $30 Unlimited

    4 out of 5 overall
    Cheapest unlimited plan
    T-Mobile's network
  • Best Unlimited plan

    Essentials

    4 out of 5 overall
    Fastest data speeds
    $60 Unlimited plan
  • Best Coverage

    Do More Unlimited

    4.5 out of 5 overall
    Most 4G coverage
    Reliable data speeds
  • Best Family Plan

    $25 Unlimited

    4 out of 5 overall
    $25 each line (4 lines)
    Unlimited data for all lines
  • Best Prepaid Family

    $50 Unlimited

    3.5 out of 5 overall
    Affordable family plans
    Unlimited data
Recent Updates: 3 months ago
The Sprint and T-Mobile merger is complete (RIP, Sprint)! We’re digging into how Sprint’s ride into the sunset affects its current customers, but for folks who wanted to switch to Sprint, you can read our T-Mobile review to learn what we think of T-Mobile, post-merger.
3 months ago
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Cell phone providers constantly jockey for position to offer the most reliable coverage, highest-value prepaid plan, or most budget-friendly cell phone plans. Here’s how it stands in October 2020 for best cell phone providers:

  1. Mint Mobile blindsided the whole wireless community when it announced its $30 unlimited plan. For now, Mint Mobile’s $30 unlimited plan is the best value in the business.
  2. T-Mobile offers the most affordable unlimited plan amongst the big three carriers (AT&T and Verizon being the other two), and offers the fastest download and upload speeds to boot.
  3. Verizon offers the most reliable coverage out of all the wireless providers.
  4. Visible Wireless kills the prepaid wireless game with an unlimited plan that costs $40 a month. You also get an awesome discount for additional lines you add as a family plan.
  5. Metro by T-Mobile currently offers the best value for family prepaid plans.

There’s lots of nuance between cell phone carriers and cell phone plans, and we’re going to dive into the details. Let’s make sure you’re getting the best cell phone plan for your wireless needs.

Deals

Any good cell phone deals going on right now?

Wireless providers always offer new cell phone deals to entice you to switch to a new carrier. For example, Verizon is offering deals where you can get a new iPhone 11 for $15 a month, or a new Google Pixel 4a for $10 a month. Check out the best cell phone deals happening right now.

*As of 10/7/2020, 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
Mint MobileValue$30 Unlimited PlanView Plans
T-MobileUnlimited dataT-Mobile EssentialsView Plans
VerizonOverall coverageVerizon Do More UnlimitedView Plans
VisibleFamily$25 Unlimited Per LineView Plans
Metro by T-MobilePrepaid family$50 Unlimited PlanView Plans

Mint Mobile: Best value plan

$30 a month for an unlimited plan is nuts

Pros

  • Cheapest unlimited data
  • Uses T-Mobile's awesome network

Cons

  • Deprioritization

What we like

When Ryan Reynolds and Rick Moranis shared the news that Mint Mobile would offer a $30 unlimited plan, it was clear there’s a new wireless sheriff in town.

Cheapest price for unlimited data

Mint Mobile currently offers the best wireless deal at $30 a month for unlimited data, and it’s honestly not even close. For context, the next cheapest unlimited cell phone plan costs $37 a month—an extra $7 a month, or as I like to think about it, an extra Netflix subscription a month. Check out how Mint Mobile’s unlimited plan stacks up against the competition.

Mint Mobile charging $30 a month is like if In-N-Out started charging 99 cents for its double-doubles. Seriously, Mint Mobile undercuts its wireless competition in a huge way, which makes it an easy recommendation for best value.

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How do I keep my wireless plan at $30 a month?
Technically, Mint Mobile’s $30 unlimited plan is an “introductory” price, meaning it will only count for the first three months of your plan. However, if you renew for a 12 months afterwards, your monthly price will stay at $30 a month. We highly recommend you renew for 12 months to keep your cost super low.

Uses T-Mobile’s network

Mint Mobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), which is a fancy way of saying that Mint uses the network from a major provider to offer wireless service. In this case, Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network to provide coverage and data, which is certainly good news.

T-Mobile covers 62% of the United States with 4G coverage, which isn’t the best coverage overall, but its not terribly far behind. Where T-Mobile’s network shines is with its data speeds. On average, T-Mobile’s network produces a 32.7 Mbps download speed, and a 12.9 Mbps upload speed, making it the fastest horse in the race when it comes to data speeds.

Fastest Wireless Download Speeds

When you use Mint Mobile, you use T-Mobile’s network. Of course, there has to be a catch, otherwise why would anybody use T-Mobile over Mint Mobile? The catch, my friends, is deprioritization.

What we don’t like

Mint Mobile is subject to being deprioritized on T-Mobile’s network. In other words, your service on Mint Mobile can dramatically drop out of nowhere during peak usage periods. You might notice your wireless signal dropping in crowded areas, or during your commute back home.

Let’s say you’re at a college football game and Mint Mobile user. Usually you get consistent service, but for whatever reason, you can barely get a text out while in the arena. Meanwhile, your friend who’s a T-Mobile user has no problem posting on their Instagram story. If you’re both on the T-Mobile’s network, shouldn’t you have the same exact coverage? Unfortunately not. Mint Mobile users can experience poorer service in crowded areas because T-Mobile is favoring its own customers.

Alternative pick

If the slightly lower coverage is a deal-breaker for you, or if you live in a more rural area, the next best option is Visible wireless. It costs $40 a month, so its a bit more pricey than Mint Mobile, but Visible uses Verizon’s network, which offers the best coverage in the country. You still will run into deprioritization with Visible, but your coverage will definitely be more reliable than Mint Mobile.

T-Mobile Essentials: Best unlimited plan

The cheapest unlimited plan from one of the best networks

Pros

  • Fastest data speeds
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Slightly lower coverage

Fastest data speeds

We sampled tens of thousands of wireless users and the data doesn’t lie—T-Mobile offers the fastest wireless data speeds in the country. T-Mobile averages download speeds of 32.7 Mbps, and upload speeds of 12.9 Mbps. Check out how those numbers compare to the other two major networks, AT&T and Verizon.

Fastest Wireless Download Speeds
Fastest Wirelss Upload Speeds

T-Mobile leads in both data speed categories, which is a huge deal for those of us who use the internet from time to time. So, you know, all of us. T-Mobile users can expect a smoother experience streaming, opening websites, and scrolling through social media, compared to other wireless providers.

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What's the difference between download and upload speeds?
Download speeds affect how quickly your phone can download information from the internet. The higher the download speed, the less amount of time you’ll need to wait for social media apps to load or for YouTube to buffer. Upload speeds affect how long it will take you to upload things to the internet. The higher the upload speeds, the less time it will take to upload Instagram stories, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos.

Affordable unlimited plan

T-Mobile’s Essentials plan is currently the cheapest unlimited plan you can buy from a major provider. The Essentials plan undercuts AT&T and Verizon basic unlimited plans by $5 and $10 a month respectfully. Here’s how the prices compare.

In summary, you get the fastest data speeds on the cheapest unlimited plan from the three major networks. Pretty good deal.

What we don’t like

Where T-Mobile drops the ball slightly is with its coverage. T-Mobile covers 62% of the country with 4G coverage, trailing behind AT&T (68% 4G coverage) and Verizon (70% coverage).1 So for folks in more rural areas of the country, you might have super spotty coverage on T-Mobile’s network. Check out T-Mobile’s coverage map below and make sure your neck of the woods looks covered.

Alternative picks

Here are the other unlimited plans you can choose from. They won’t be quite as cheap as the Essentials plan from T-Mobile, but the other plans make up for it with increased coverage and other perks.

Other unlimited cell phone plans

Verizon Do More Unlimited: Best coverage

The best coverage in the country

Verizon Do More Unlimited plan features

Pros

  • Best coverage
  • High data caps

Cons

  • Still pricier than comparable plans

What we like

Verizon has the most reliable coverage in the country. It’s your best bet for getting calls and texts through wherever you roam.

Top-rated performance

Check out any well-known wireless performance ratings, and you’ll see Verizon at or near the top for coverage (offering 70% 4G coverage across the country), speed, and overall performance.1

Case in point: my friend’s Verizon phone was the only one with a signal out in the Utah desert. My AT&T signal showing zero bars might as well have been replaced by skull and cross bones symbol. As a rule of thumb, if you’re traveling, you’d be wise to bring along a Verizon user, just in case.

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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.

Check out the Verizon coverage map below to get an idea of what the best coverage in the country looks like.

Verizon coverage map

High data cap

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.)

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

What we don’t like

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 sports because the picture is so blurry (we’ve been there).

Four more unlimited cell phone plans

Visible $25/line: Best family plan

Families who save together stay together.

Visible Unlimited

Pros

  • Affordable family pricing
  • Awesome network

Cons

  • Deprioritization

What we like

You can get down to $25 a line for unlimited data on an awesome network. You really can’t beat that.

Affordable pricing for the whole family

Honestly, if you’re not on a family cell phone plan, you’re kinda doing it wrong. You can dramatically decrease your bill by bundling plans together—you don’t even need a family to do this! You can make a family plan with your roommates, your friends, your coworkers, whoever. If you can get at least four folks to go in with you, your unlimited plan with Visible Wireless will go down to $25 a month instead of the usual $40 a month.

Awesome network

Visible Wireless is owned by Verizon, which just so happens to offer the best network in the country. Verizon’s network especially shines when it comes to rural coverage, so you can rely on your cell phone likely working while camping and hiking.

What we don’t like

Since Visible Wireless is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) it can be subject to slow downs during peak-usage periods. In other words, your signal could drop when tons of people are using the Verizon network at the same time. It’s possible, for example, for your signal to drop commuting home during rush hour or walking around a crowded amusement park.

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

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What happens if I only get three lines on my Visible family plan?
You still get a discount with your three lines, but it isn’t quite as much as capping at four. With a family plan of three, your monthly price goes down to $30 a month.

Metro by T-Mobile $50 Unlimited Plan: Best prepaid family plan

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

$50 Unlimited Plan

Pros

  • Unlimited data
  • Affordable plans

Cons

  • Deprioritization

What we like

You can get your entire family sharing an unlimited data plan and save some money every month while doing it.

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. This is especially true if you have teenagers.

$30 a month for each additional line

The base price for Metro by T-Mobile’s unlimited plan isn’t anything super special at $50 a month, but the value comes in when you add extra lines. Every line you add to your family plan costs $30 a month instead of $50 a month. Those additional lines get all the same perks as if they were paying full price for the $50 plan.

Info Box icon
Want more prepaid options?
Check out all your options, including Metro by T-Mobile, out of all the best prepaid plans out there.

What we don’t like

Metro by T-Mobile is technically a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) and will suffer from deprioritization from time to time. In other words, you may notice your data speeds throttling in congested areas or during peak-usage periods (like when driving home from work). But on the bright side, since Metro is owned by T-Mobile, you probably won’t be as deprioritized as you would be on an MVNO that isn’t owned by the network.

Alternative picks

If Metro by T-Mobile doesn’t check all your boxes, here are some alternative prepaid family plans we recommend.

Performance makes a big difference with your wireless experience, and it can all be boiled down to your average download speeds and upload speeds. In a nutshell, the faster your download speeds, the faster you can Google things, stream YouTube videos, and scroll through your TikTok feed. Upload speeds, on the other hand, determine how quickly you can post your own Instagram stories and Twitter updates.

We sampled over 100,000 wireless users, and these are how the average speeds look for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

  • AT&T
    • Average download speed: 28.9 Mbps
    • Average upload speed: 9.4 Mbps
  • T-Mobile
    • Average download speed: 32.73 Mbps
    • Average upload speed: 12.9 Mbps
  • Verizon
    • Average download speed: 32.2 Mbps
    • Average upload speed: 10.0 Mbps
Wireless Upload Speeds
Average Wireless Download Speeds

Currently, T-Mobile holds the championship belt for both the fastest download and upload speeds in 2020. If your phone constantly hangs when opening refreshing Twitter or YouTube videos take forever to buffer, you might want to consider a switch to T-Mobile.

T-Mobile cell phone plans

Recap

      • Best value: Mint Mobile’s $30 unlimited plan is the best deal in the wireless world right now. It’s way cheaper than any other unlimited plan.
      • Best unlimited plan: T-Mobile’s Essentials plan is the most affordable unlimited plan amongst the major wireless networks. It also offers the fastest wireless data speeds around.
      • Best coverage: The Verizon Do More Unlimited plan offers the best coverage in the country and 22 GB of unthrottled 4G LTE data each month to go along with it.
      • Best family plan: We recommend Visible wireless for family plans because of its multi-line discount. You can get down to $25 a line for unlimited data on an awesome network.
      • Best prepaid family plan: Metro by T-Mobile unlimited plan costs $50 a month, but it costs $30 a month for every additional line you add. The bigger the family, the more value you get.

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.

Additional contributors

Catherine McNally

  • Doug Penwell

    Sent the required text to Straight Talk to have them add hotspot data based on Covid19 work from home requirements. Their reply was that data would be added when the monthly plan was renewed. What good does that do a subscriber in the meantime?