Verizon Wireless Review – 2019 Cell Phone Plan Comparison

Verizon earns high scores for coverage and speed, but it's a bit more expensive than options.
Tyler Abbott
Verizon logo
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
Large—if not largest—coverage area
Highly rated network speed and performance
Usually pricier—with some exceptions

If you’re looking for a new cell phone plan, chances are you’re considering Verizon. We say good choice. With its great coverage and fast speeds, Big Red (as Verizon is often nicknamed) is one of our top picks for wireless carriers. Thomas Middleditch (the goofy guy from the Verizon commercials) is proud of you. Just look into pricing carefully before you buy.

Verizon unlimited plans

It’s not the cheapest unlimited plan in the world, but it’s probably the best.

If you check out the prices of it’s unlimited plans versus those of its main competitors (AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile), Verizon’s tends to be a bit pricier, though not always. But we think Verizon’s coverage, speed, and performance—three things the company rates highly for—make the price worthwhile.

Verizon unlimited plans

For the above example, we used an iPhone X, which explains the steep upfront price. No matter what phone you decide to get with Verizon, your data should cost the same month to month.

Now let’s put those Verizon prices in context and compare it with the other major wireless competitors. Be forewarned, price isn’t everything. Of course, we all want to pay less for our wireless plans, but remember, coverage matters too.

Imagine your car breaks down during a road trip in the middle of nowhere and you can’t get service to call AAA. Well, then you have no choice but to live in the forest. (Let’s stop before this gets any darker.) Seriously though, you want the kind of coverage Verizon provides.

Here is how Verizon’s prices compares to other unlimited plans:

Verizon unlimited plans comparison

Verizon unlimited plan features

So what do you get with a Verizon unlimited plan? Long story short, really good service. After all, if you have unlimited data, you’ll want the freedom to use it wherever you are. Just because you’re out camping, it doesn’t mean you can’t watch your goodnight episode of Full House in your tent.

Go UnlimitedBeyond Unlimited Above Unlimited
Data limitsNoneNoneNone
Video streaming quality480p720p720p
Mobile hotspotUnlimited data at 600 Kbps. speedsUnlimited data with 15 GB of unthrottled hotspot data each monthUnlimited data with 20 GB of unthrottled hotspot data each month
Texting and dataYesYesYes
Unlimited talk, text, and data in Canada and MexicoYesYesYes
TravelPasses IncludedNoNo5 per month
Verizon CloudNoNo500 GB
View plansView plansView plans

Comparing Verizon’s Go Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited plans

  • Data speeds may be throttled any time there’s lots of traffic with the Go Unlimited plan, but Beyond Unlimited users get 22 GB of unthrottled data each month. Need more? Above Unlimited has you covered with a jaw-dropping 75 GB of unthrottled data each month. Wowza.

 

  • Streaming quality is about 480p with Go Unlimited, while Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited beam down movies and shows in HD quality.

 

  • Mobile hotspot speeds on the Go Unlimited plan cap out at 600 Kbps, which means you can kiss your video streaming goodbye. Netflix recommends a minimum of 1.5 Mbps, or if you want SD, 3 Mbps. On the other hand, Beyond Unlimited mobile hotspot users get 15 GB of unthrottled speed each month—and Above Unlimited gets you 20 GB of unthrottled speed. Satellite internet users, rejoice!

If you go bonkers without speedy downloads and HD-quality streaming, we think the Above Unlimited plan is the real winner out of the two. But if you’re a real data hog that’s also concerned about price, you might prefer T-Mobile ONE. That plan won’t start throttling your data speed during times of congestion until you’ve used more than a jaw-dropping 50 GB during the month.

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Looking for international coverage?
If you love to visit family abroad, Verizon may have an international plan for you. Get the scoop on all the perks in our Best International Plans review.

Verizon family plans

It’s still expensive, but you get the same amazing coverage

Let’s say you and your family of three want to start your Verizon plan with three new Samsung devices. Here are your options:

Yes, Verizon is generally more expensive than other wireless providers, but you can get some good deals with family plans. As a general rule of thumb, the cost per line is almost always cheaper when you operate within a family plan.

Heads Up icon
How do you feel about data caps?
The “new Verizon Plan” might fit the bill for your family with three tiers of data—2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB—that can be shared by up to 10 devices.

We also want to point out that our own Verizon family plan comes with a mobile hotspot, but you may want to check with your Verizon rep to be sure since this isn’t advertised on the site.

Beware any data overages, too, because these plans don’t throttle your speeds—instead, you’ll end up paying $15 per GB. We recommend monitoring your data usage often—something you can do for free by texting #DATA or by checking the MyVerizon app.

You can also activate a free safety mode for your account, which helps you avoid overage charges by reducing your speeds after you’ve used up your data for that month.

Verizon family plans comparison

The Verizon price tag hurts a little more when compared to other providers. The truth of matter is that you can get unlimited data family plans for cheaper with other providers than you would pay for 8 GB of data on a Verizon family plan.

It’s going to come down to how much coverage means to you. If you want the best coverage money can buy—Verizon is for you. If you live in the city and aren’t worried about low coverage, you can get cheaper family plans with other carriers.

Verizon prepaid plans

You’ve got four options for Verizon prepaid plans. It all depends on how much data you want. There’s not a massive difference between a 15GB plan and an unlimited plan, so it’s probably worth it to just opt for the unlimited. Word to the wise, you’ll need to pay upfront for a new phone with a prepaid plan.

FYI—Verizon prepaid plans don’t come with features like hotspot tethering. If you’ve ever needed to quickly access your computer on the go, you know how important a hotspot can be.

Oh, and one more thing—you could experience slower speeds due to data deprioritization (which is a fancy way of saying you’re at the back of the line when the network is congested).

If you’re set on getting a prepaid plan, you might want to check out Metro by T-Mobile.

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Looking for a super cheap wireless plan?
This is where the nerdy guy with the yellow t-shirt, leather jacket, and glasses comes out of nowhere and tells you about Sprint. Truth be told, Sprint is cheaper than other wireless carriers, but the tradeoff is poor coverage.

Verizon cell phones and devices

You’ve got 31 choices and the Samsung Galaxy is one.

Just like Baskin Robbins has 31 original flavors, Verizon has 31 choices when it comes to smartphones. (At least at the time we’re reviewing them.) And yes, the latest from Apple, Samsung, or Google is most likely one, along with more old-school flip-phones if you’re just looking for an emergency phone that keeps your preteen off Snapchat during school.

Which top phones does Verizon have?*

Apple

  • iPhone
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone 8/8 Plus
  • iPhone 7/7 Plus

Samsung

  • Galaxy S10/S10+/S10e
  • Galaxy S9/S9+
  • Galaxy S8/S8+

Google

  • Pixel 3
  • Pixel 3 XL
  • Pixel 2
  • Pixel 2XL

*not a complete list

How good is Verizon performance?

How does Verizon stack up against the competition when it comes to coverage and speed? Two words: very well.

verizon coverage map

Source: Verizon

Verizon reigns supreme when it comes to coverage

Pretty much anywhere you look, Verizon reigns supreme when it comes to coverage. This is something it’s proud of, and rightly so. Verizon loves to show off RootMetrics rankings in particular—and other studies have ranked it well too.1, 2

Verizon feels the need—the need for speed. It’s a safe bet for speedy downloads, with high ratings from three different studies.3, 4, 5, 6

This is why Verizon costs more than the wireless competition—good coverage costs money. So if you’re the type that ventures to parts unknown (like North Dakota or something), or even if your area is just more rural, you’ll probably want the reliability Verizon provides.

What about Verizon’s customer service?

Verizon could improve its customer service, but so could every other cellphone service provider.

Customer service is rated poorly for the cellphone service industry as a whole, and sadly, Verizon is no exception, but it seems to be getting its act together.

Keep in mind you can still get help with your Verizon account or phone through online chat (if you’re signed into your Verizon account) or throw some hashtags Verizon’s way on Twitter and Facebook.

We’d like to see Verizon continue to innovate and improve when it comes to customer service. And a more transparent way of allowing customers to price and compare plans wouldn’t hurt, either.

Recap—Is Verizon good?

If you’re looking for the TL;DR on how Verizon’s cell phone service compares, look no further.

  • Plans: Verizon’s lower-tier Go Unlimited plan doesn’t feel like a good pick thanks to throttled speeds. If you need an unlimited plan, it’d be better to foot a slightly higher bill and go with the Beyond Unlimited plan instead. As far as plans with data caps go, we think prepaid is the way to go since line-access fees on the Verizon family plan quickly add up to more than you’d pay for unlimited.
  • Performance: Verizon’s coverage and speed earned top ratings. We agree.
  • Customer service: It’s fairly easy to reach Verizon online, but the wireless service provider industry as a whole leaves something to be desired when it comes to customer service.
  • Overall: If you’re all about fast speeds and the best coverage, Verizon is a great pick. And if you’re looking for more than a few lines and unlimited data for every family member, the price might just be lower than the competition.

FAQs

Q: Does Verizon have overage charges or hidden fees?

Overage charges have mostly gone the way of the dinosaurs, and that deserves a cheer.

After your first 22 GB on the Beyond Unlimited plan and during times of high traffic on the Go Unlimited plan, Verizon could slow your speed down to 600 Kbps or less.

If you’re on a prepaid plan (both with a data cap and the unlimited plan), you might feel like your internet browsing is in slow motion if you exceed your data limit and Verizon throttles you back to 128 Kbps.

For those on the “new Verizon Plan,” where you can choose from small (S), medium (M), and large (L) data packages, you’re still stuck paying overage charges of $15 per GB.

Q: Does Verizon charge an activation fee?

Yes, you will need to pay a one-time activation fee if you’re a new Verizon customer, and this rings in at $30 per device.

Even though it’s only a one-time charge, we like that it’s less than AT&T’s $45 activation fee. We also noticed that Verizon waives the activation fee when you purchase a prepaid phone and plan online. Huzzah!

Q: Should I get a warranty or insurance for my Verizon phone?

Tired of burying your phone in rice after dropping it in the sink or squinting to see the text on your cracked screen? Then an extended warranty or equipment insurance might be worth it in the long run.

If you’re looking for a standard level of protection for only one device, we think the Total Equipment Coverage hits the spot. The price is much less per month than the Total Mobile Protection plan, and the deductible is the same.

Q: Does Verizon let you bring your own phone?

Verizon allows you to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and offers a free SIM card if you check your phone’s compatibility on its site (otherwise, it costs $24.99).

Q: Can I keep my phone number?

No need to tell all your friends and family to update their contacts—Verizon offers free phone number transfers. It usually takes up to a day to transfer a number from your wireless device, and Verizon says your old phone will continue to work as the transfer proceeds.

You can check if your current number can be transferred on Verizon’s site.

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Pro tip
Don’t cancel your current service before you transfer your number to Verizon. While you may be ready to cut ties with your old wireless provider, keeping your service until the transfer is complete helps make your transition smoother.

Q: What are Verizon’s return policy and early termination fee?

In general, Verizon accepts returns and exchanges of devices within 14 days, but it still charges you a $35 restocking fee. Heads up: you can exchange your device only once, so make sure your second choice is a match made in heaven.

As with any big company, Verizon’s return and early termination policies are pretty lengthy. We recommend reading through them if you’re considering canceling your service or returning your device.

Q: Does Verizon have a military discount?

Verizon’s military discount can knock $15 off your Go Unlimited or Beyond Unlimited monthly bill, or 15% off other eligible plans. You’ll also get 25% off select accessories.

To qualify for the military discount, you’ll need to be either active duty or a veteran and provide proof of service.

  • Active duty members need a military-issued email, paystub, or SCRA Status Report.
  • Veterans need their DD 214, veterans ID card, military retiree account statement, or a VetRewards card from Veterans Advantage.

Sources

Additional contributors

Catherine McNally