Best Cell Phone Plans of 2020

Prepaid, unlimited, family plans—which one is best for you? We’ve got the answer.
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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. Let’s just answer those questions right now:

  1. Verizon offers the most reliable coverage out of all the wireless providers.
  2. Visible Wireless kills the prepaid wireless game with an unlimited plan that costs $40 a month.
  3. Sprint is the best budget provider for individual and family plans (at least until the merger with T-Mobile happens).

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.

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What’s changed since our last best cell phone plans 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.

*As of 4/1/2020, 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
VerizonOverall coverageVerizon Do More UnlimitedView Plans
VisiblePrepaid$40 Unlimited PlanView Plans
VerizonUnlimitedVerizon Get More UnlimitedView Plans
SprintFamilySprint Unlimited PlusView Plans
SprintPrepaid familySprint Unlimited Kickstart PlanView Plans

Verizon Do More Unlimited: Best overall coverage and speeds

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

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, 2

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.)

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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.

Verizon coverage map

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 can’t stop streaming YouTube (guilty) or are currently binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix (also guilty), the 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

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

Visible Wireless: Best prepaid plan

Unlimited Data+Great Network+Affordable Price=Success

Pros

  • Unlimited data
  • Best network

Cons

  • Deprioritization

What we like

You almost always get a cheaper deal with a prepaid plan, and Visible Wireless is the best of the bunch. You get unlimited data, unlimited talk, and unlimited text, all on a reliable network, for $40 a month.

Affordable price for unlimited data

Visible wireless only offers one plan and it comes with unlimited data, unlimited talk, unlimited hot spot data (capped at 5 Mbps) and unlimited text. That’s a lot of unlimited stuff. The fact it all costs $40 a month makes the deal that much sweeter.

Just for fun, let’s see how Visible compares to other prepaid unlimited plans.

Currently, the only other big provider cheaper than Visible is Sprint. Considering Visible’s network is much more reliable than Sprint’s network, it’s probably worth the extra $5 a month.

Best network

Visible uses Verizon’s network to provide coverage. It’s a good thing too because Verizon just so happens to be the best network in the country. As it stands right now, Verizon covers 70% of the country with 4G coverage, leading all other wireless providers.1

Good coverage really comes in handy when you’re trying to get enough bars to call a Lyft. Just throwing this out there—some beaches in Los Angeles have terrible service on AT&T’s network.

Visible/Verizon network coverage

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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

Okay, so how does Visible wireless get to use Verizon’s super-reliable network? Visible operates as an MVNO, which is a fancy acronym for a wireless provider that uses another provider’s network. The catch with an MVNO is that it can be deprioritized on the network it shares.

Let’s say you’re at a college football game and Visible wireless 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 Verizon user has no problem posting on their Instagram story. If you’re both on the Verizon network, shouldn’t you have the same exact coverage? Unfortunately not. Visible wireless users can experience poorer service in crowded areas because Verizon is favoring its own customers.

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.

Lots o’ 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

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

You can save the most money on a family plan with Sprint.

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

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

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.

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

Let’s not sugarcoat anything—Sprint doesn’t have the best coverage in the world compared to other major carriers. Currently, Sprint offers 4G coverage to about 30% of the country, which is less than half of what Verizon covers.1 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.

Sprint coverage map

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: Visible wireless offers unlimited everything on the best network for $40 a month. All of it combines for some serious value. You just need to watch out for your data slowing down from time to time due to deprioritization.
  • 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.

Industry news

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.

Most popular cell phone plans

When it comes to popularity, folks still gravitate towards the cheapest option and honestly we don’t blame them. Sprint currently owns the most popular wireless plan with T-Mobile and Verizon coming in second and third place.

Check back later to see how popularity changes. It’ll be interesting to see if Verizon’s new plans creates a jump in the popularity ranking.

Additional contributors

Catherine McNally