Sprint vs. Verizon Phone Plans Review

Choosing Verizon or Sprint depends on whether you want reliable service or a low-cost bill every month.
Best overall
Excellent coverage
More pricey
Best for the price
Affordable plans
Weaker coverage

Verizon and Sprint are two big-name providers in the US wireless world—you’ve probably heard of them both before. But people choose either Verizon or Sprint for totally different reasons.

If you never again want to pick up your phone and see that dreaded “No Service” icon, then Verizon is a pretty good bet—it has the best coverage in the country. But you might not feel so great when you see your monthly bill. You’ll like Sprint’s monthly bill much more.

Verizon and Sprint price comparison

Sprint has the lowest prices among the four major cell carriers. Verizon takes first place for most expensive provider.

It’s easy to see that Sprint has lower pricing than Verizon—and pricing is definitely the biggest perk for choosing Sprint. Sprint has only one unlimited plan, and it’s way cheaper than either of Verizon’s unlimited options. But Verizon’s cost might actually seem like a good deal if what you really want is super-reliable coverage and speeds.

How do Verizon and Sprint unlimited plans compare?

Sprint’s service used to be notoriously terrible, but it’s gotten much better in the last few years. Nowadays, if you live in a city or a big suburb, Sprint will probably work fine for you.

It’s still not the most reliable option—we had some disappointing Sprint service moments in downtown Chicago recently. But for the price, it’s not too shabby.

We admit Verizon is expensive, but it’s also way more likely than Sprint to give you good service wherever you go.

Data allotments with unlimited plans

Both Verizon and Sprint offer unlimited plan options, and both their unlimited plan options have data allotments.

Light Bulb icon
They’re more like . . . guidelines
If you go over your allotment, your carrier can throttle your speed, which means watching This Is Us on your phone in your dentist’s waiting room will be an even less pleasant experience than getting that cavity filled.

Sprint and Verizon have pretty similar data allotments, but you get more data with Sprint. Verizon gives you around 22 GB per month before throttling, while Sprint gives you upward of 50 GB before it starts to throttle your speeds.

Additional fees

Verizon and Sprint both charge the same activation fees for every device you add to your unlimited or family plan. Peek at the table above and whatever the upfront cost is below the price tag is what you’ll pay in activation fees. Expect something in the neighborhood of $30.

These are just one-time fees, and Sprint waives the fee if you purchase your plan and phone online. You can’t dodge the Verizon activation fee—unless you choose a prepaid plan and phone.

Info Box icon
Want to know more about prepaid plans?
See our Best Prepaid Plans review for the low-down on the top options.

Discounts

If you want to save some money and never worry about forgetting to pay your bill again, then good news: Verizon and Sprint both offer autopay discounts—and for the same amount.

  • Verizon autopay discount: $5 per line
  • Sprint autopay discount: $5 per line

However, there is one caveat to Verizon’s autopay discount:

You can’t use a credit card.

Sprint has no such restrictions, and Verizon’s debit-card-only rule is a pretty big bummer if you’re like us and love to collect credit card cashback points or frequent flyer miles from your regular bills.

Verizon and Sprint plans

Verizon and Sprint both offer unlimited and regular data plans (as well as prepaid plans). Sprint keeps things pretty simple with only one unlimited plan option and one data plan option. Verizon gets a little more complicated with two unlimited plan options and a variety of data plans, collectively called “The New Verizon Plan.”

Sprint and Verizon unlimited plans

Whatever unlimited plan you choose between Sprint and Verizon, you can expect some things to be consistent:

  • Verizon will have better coverage
  • Sprint will generally be cheaper
  • Verizon will stream content better
  • Sprint won’t throttle your data for a long time

Verizon’s unlimited plans don’t guarantee you any amount of unthrottled data. That means any time the network gets busy, Verizon can drastically lower your data speeds. It doesn’t matter if you’ve used only 1 GB of data so far this month, Verizon can still slash your speeds right in the middle of your favorite Vine compilation on YouTube.

Data plans

Sprint’s data plan options are pretty limited. And by limited we mean it offers only one. We kind of like the one-plan simplicity, but Verizon definitely gives you more options with its “New Verizon Plan.”

Verizon and Sprint data plans

Both Sprint and Verizon data plans can save you some money if you (and your family members) don’t use a lot of data per month. Verizon will get you better coverage and speeds than Sprint,1,2 but you can save even more money going with Sprint’s 2 GB plan.

Just keep in mind, if you or your family do a lot of things that use a lot of data (looking at you, teenagers), then an unlimited plan is definitely the better way to go.

Wireless activities that use a lot of data:

  • Streaming video
  • Playing games
  • Using data-heavy apps (like YouTube, Instagram, and Netflix)
  • Streaming music and podcasts

What if I want a bigger Verizon data plan?

Verizon has some more options if you don’t quite want to live the unlimited lifestyle. We don’t blame you, unlimited plans are expensive, and some of us aren’t on Instagram or Twitter every second of the day.

Okay, we sort of are, but maybe you aren’t. Good for you.

Other Verizon data plans

Verizon and Sprint speed and coverage

There’s no question that Verizon has better speeds and wider coverage than Sprint—and everyone else.

If you want reliable coverage and fast speeds across the country, then Verizon is an easy choice, regardless of the cost.

Every coverage study we’ve seen gives Verizon first place for countrywide service and first or second for overall speed,3,4 which means whether you’re in your living room or your uncle’s cabin in the woods, you’ll probably have decent service.

Sprint coverage, on the other hand, can be spotty. Its service works best in super populated areas (like cities), and we wouldn’t recommend venturing out into the country expecting your phone to still work. Sprint’s speeds are also consistently rated lower than Verizon’s (and the other top three wireless providers as well).

Verizon service isn’t 100% perfect, but If you live in a rural area or you leave the city often for road trips and hiking trails, then Verizon is an easy choice over Sprint. The cost is worth it if it means your phone will (almost) always have good service.

Devices and phones

Both Verizon and Sprint have all the most popular phones. And if you want a Google Pixel 3, you’re no longer stuck with Verizon.

Whether you want the latest iPhone or the newest Samsung Galaxy, both Sprint and Verizon will probably have the phone you’re looking for—even if you have your eyes on the Google Pixel 3.

Verizon also sells the Google Pixel 2 phones in store, but if you want an older Google Pixel with Sprint service, you’ll have to bring your own. You can buy any unlocked Pixel directly from Google and take it into a Sprint store, however—it’s just a bit more work than Verizon’s one-stop shop.

What top phones do Verizon and Sprint sell?*
MakeVerizonSprint
iPhoneiPhone XS Max
iPhone X
iPhone 8/8 Plus
iPhone 7/7 Plus
iPhone X
iPhone 8/8 Plus
iPhone 7/7 Plus
SamsungGalaxy S10
Galaxy S9/S9+
Galaxy S8/S8+
Galaxy Note 8
Galaxy S10
Galaxy S9/S9+
Galaxy S8/S8+
Galaxy Note 8
GooglePixel 3a/3a XL
Pixel 3/3 XL
Pixel 2/2 XL
Pixel 3a/3a XL
Pixel 3/3 XL

*Not a complete list

Special features

Verizon offers internet bundling options, while Sprint throws in a few extra perks along with its service.

Sprint sweetens its service plans with a couple of perks:

  • Sprint offers free access to Hulu Limited Commercials on your phone
  • Sprint includes international data and texting in over 100 countries
    Sprint’s Unlimited Plus plan includes a subscription to Hulu and Tidal (music app)
  • Sprint’s Unlimited Premium plan includes a subscription to Hulu, Tidal, Lookout (mobile security service) and an Amazon Prime membership. Whoa!

Verizon offers . . . not as much. But it does have some good internet bundling deals with its Verizon Fios service.

If you already pay for Hulu Limited, then Sprint’s offer can take that $7.99 monthly bill off your plate. And since we love to travel, we love that Sprint gives us free international data and texting. We even tested it out in Japan and it worked pretty well!

Verizon bundling deal

If you have a Verizon Fios Double Play or Triple Play plan and you sign up for a Verizon unlimited wireless plan (or even if you already have one), Verizon will give you $10 off your phone plan and $10 off your Fios bill.

Recap: Verizon is our best overall choice

Verizon logo

There’s no question when it comes to speed and coverage (especially coverage): Verizon is the best wireless choice you can make.

With Verizon, you can go almost anywhere in the country and still be reasonably sure your phone will work (and work well). Sprint really can’t beat that.

But what Sprint can beat is Verizon’s price and perks. Sprint plans are cheaper than Verizon’s, and if you live in an area with good Sprint coverage, you might not even notice a difference in service.

Sprint also throws in a free Hulu Limited Commercials subscription and free text and data when you travel internationally. Verizon doesn’t have to work as hard to win your business, so it offers fewer perks. But you can get some bundling deals with Verizon’s Fios service.

Do you use Sprint or Verizon Wireless? Did you switch from one of them to the other? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

  • Maria Hansen

    Updated to: “That said, the pricey Verizon bill might seem worth it if you live outside a city or metro area. Sprint’s service doesn’t often work well in rural areas.”