Best cell phone plans in 2024: The best options for your monthly phone service

Knowing whether you've got the best cell phone plan could be the difference between spending too much on cell phone coverage and saving money on your monthly budget. By comparing your current plan to other options out there, you can see if there's a better rate available on a comparable plan or if you're getting short-changed on perks.

We routinely look at cell phone plans to find out what different ones charge and what they offer in return. So if you look at our best cell phone plan picks, you'll see that we've done the comparisons for you.

We certainly consider price when weighing different plans. But we also look at the extras that wireless providers include in their plans — things like hotspot data, streaming service subscriptions and traveller benefits. Other factors to consider include network performance, particularly for plans offered by low-cost carriers who piggy-back on the cellular towers operated by other wireless services. 

Our picks for the top plans represent hours of research into what's currently available — not just from the biggest wireless providers but from less well-known entities, too. That way, we can compare what one carrier offers with deals from other providers to make sure we're highlighting the top choices.

Our guide to the best cell phone plans covers a wide range of options from an assortment of the best phone carriers. Below, we shine a spotlight on low-cost plans as well as picks for families and prepaid options, too. We can also help you find the best plans with unlimited data. And if you're looking just at price, we've tracked down the best cheap cell phone plans, too, in a separate guide.

The quick list

The best cell phone plan overall

1. Mint Mobile

The best cell phone plan overall

Specifications

Data amount: 5GB
Monthly cost: $15
Parent network: T-Mobile

Reasons to buy

+
 Very affordable
+
Generous data allotments

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires you to pay for a year in advance for best rate

Mint Mobile is a great option to turn to if you want to keep your monthly cell phone bill low. In addition to the 5GB plan we recommend, Visible also offers 15GB, 20GB and unlimited data tiers. The most you'll pay for any plan is $30 per month for unlimited data. 

After your three months of service are up, you need to commit to a full year of service to keep the low monthly rate. That means paying up front, which in the case of the 5GB plan is $180. If you can swing that initial cost, Mint provides a great way to lock in a low rate. 

Mint Mobile | 5GB | $15/month - Best overall cheap cell phone plan

Mint Mobile | 5GB | $15/month - Best overall cheap cell phone plan
Mint's 5GB plan is the best cheap plan for most people, as it provides enough data for social media, internet searches and Maps. You'll pay $15 a month for the first three months, before Mint requires you to pay $180 for a full year of service at the same low monthly rate. Coverage is provided on T-Mobile's network and includes 5G on compatible phones.

The best cheap unlimited data plan

2. Visible

The best cheap unlimited data plan

Specifications

Data amount: Unlimited
Monthly cost: $25
Parent network: Verizon

Reasons to buy

+
Low rate
+
Excellent network performance

Reasons to avoid

-
No discounts on additional lines

Visible offers just two plans, both of which have unlimited data. For $25 a month, you get coverage on Verizon's nationwide network — Verizon owns Visible — and the ability to make unlimited calls and texts to Canada and Mexico You can use your phone as a mobile hotspot. The biggest downside is that your network can be slowed at any time if Verizon's network gets congested.

The $45 monthly plan at Visible guarantees you 50GB of high-speed data (i.e., no data throttling), and you can connect to Verizon's faster 5G Ultra Wideband network where available. You can also enjoy calling and texting to more countries. 

If you sign up for Visible using code 'VISIBLE24' before February 14, you can get  lower rate on either plan for the next 24 months. The Visible plan costs just $20/month after a $5 discount, while the Visible Plus rate dropds $10 to $35/month.

Visible | Visible Unlimited | $25/month - Best cheap unlimited data

Visible | Visible Unlimited | $25/month - Best cheap unlimited data
Even though Visible's $45 Plus plan has the higher perks, Visible's $25 unlimited offering is our pick if you want the cheapest unlimited data with no strings attached. It helps that Visible uses Verizon's network for coverage, including 5G coverage.

The best prepaid cell phone plan

3. Verizon

Best prepaid cell phone plan

Specifications

Data amount: 15GB
Monthly cost: $35
Parent network: Verizon

Reasons to buy

+
 Lots of data
+
Great coverage and speeds
+
Nationwide 5G coverage

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the cheapest prepaid option
-
Doesn't use Verizon's faster Ultra Wideband 5G

You'll find three prepaid options at Verizon — one that gives you 15GB of data each month, and the other two promising unlimited data. The more expensive of Verizon's prepaid unlimited plans has the most perks, with access to Verizon's fastest 5G coverage. (Verizon's other prepaid plans can connect to the slower nationwide 5G.) You also get more hotspot data and 180 minutes of talk time with a country of your choosing.

Whichever prepaid plan you get at Verizon, be sure to enroll in autopay as it lowers your rate significantly. We recommend the 15GB plan, which normally costs $45/month, but drops to $35 with autopay enrollment.

Verizon | 15GB prepaid | $35/month - Best prepaid plan

Verizon | 15GB prepaid | $35/month - Best prepaid plan
Verizon's prepaid plan offers the right mix of price and data. That 15GB per month is more than enough for most users, and autopay discounts bring your monthly rate down to $35. (If you don't enroll in autopay, loyalty discounts eventually drop the rate to $35 if you stick with Verizon for nine months.) Perks are minimal with this plan, but you do get 5G coverage and the ability to use your phone as a mobile hotspot.

The best unlimited data plan overall

4. T-Mobile

Best unlimited data plan overall

Specifications

Data amount: Unlimited data
Monthly cost: $75
Parent network: T-Mobile

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive perks
+
Affordable price

Reasons to avoid

-
Hard to differentiate six unlimited plans

T-Mobile offers half-a-dozen unlimited data plans, ranging from $60/month (Essentials) all the way to $100 (Go5G Next) for one line of data. The higher the price, the more perks the plan features, so you'll want to determine just what you need out of a cell phone plan (other than unlimited data) to find one that fits your needs.

Most customers will find themselves choosing between the Magenta/Magenta Max and Go5G/Go5G Plus/Go5G Next plans. Magenta and Go5G let you use 100GB of data before your speeds are slowed, with Go5G customers getting more hotspot data. Magenta Max and Go5G Plus add streaming and travel perks, plus more hotspot data. Go5G Next is the most expensive plan, but its streaming service package includes free Apple TV Plus, Netflix, MLB.TV and Hulu subscriptions. All T-Mobile plans, save for Essentials, include taxes and fees in their price.

T-Mobile | Go5G unlimited data | $75/month - Best unlimited data plan

T-Mobile | Go5G unlimited data | $75/month - Best unlimited data plan
We think T-Mobile's Go5G plan is the best option at T-Mobile. You get 15GB of hotspot data to 5GB the less expensive Magenta plan offers; Go5G also sets aside more data to use when you're traveling in Mexico and Canada. With either Go5G or Magenta, you get six months of free Apple TV Plus. For another $15/month, Go5G Plus gives you a full subscription to Apple TV Plus and a Netflix subscription, while boosting travel perks.

The best bulk data plan

5. AT&T

Best bulk data plan

Specifications

Data amount: 16GB
Monthly cost: $25
Parent network: AT&T

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of data
+
Low monthly cost

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires big upfront payment

AT&T's main prepaid plans provide 5GB of data for $30/month or unlimited data at $50. (That unlimited price reflects a $15 discount for enrolling in autopay.) We'd steer you toward AT&T's bulk plan, though, as it promises unlimited data for as low as $25/month if you pay for a full year upfront. Only 16GB of that is high-speed data — hit that amount in a given month, and your speeds slow down to 1.5Mbps for the rest of the billing cycle — but that's still a pretty sizable chunk of data for a low monthly rate.

As noted, you'll have to pay the full year up front.  But if you can swing the $300 upfront cost, this AT&T prepaid plan is a great way to lock in a low rate ahead of time.

AT&T | Unlimited 12-month prepaid | $25/month - Great value on AT&T

AT&T | Unlimited 12-month prepaid | $25/month - Great value on AT&T
The main carriers rarely offer the best value prepaid plans and these tend to be more common from MVNOs. However, AT&T can be slightly more affordable and flexible than the likes of Sprint or Verizon. While you can pay for one month at a time, the best price is going to come from investing in a 12-month prepaid plan with AT&T by paying $300 upfront. That gives you unlimited data, though speeds will slow down should you use more than 16GB in a month. If you prefer monthly payments, you can get 5GB of data from AT&T for $30 per month.

The best cell phone plan for travel

6. Google Fi

Best cell phone plan for travel

Specifications

Data amount: Unlimited
Monthly cost: $65
Parent network: T-Mobile, US Cellular

Reasons to buy

+
Good for international travel
+
Optimized for Pixel phones

Reasons to avoid

-
There are cheaper options elsewhere

Google has its own wireless carrier, and while Pixel phones are optimized for the network — so are select models from Samsung and Motorola — anyone can use Google Fi.

You have a choice of three plans. The Flexible plans charges $20 for unlimited talk and text plus $10 for every gigabyte of data you use. There are two unlimited plans — one for $50 per month and the other for $65. The $65 Unlimited Plus plan includes travel benefits that let you use your data for no cost when overseas. Other Unlimited Plus perks include a year of YouTube Premium along with 100GB of Google One cloud storage

Google Fi | Unlimited Plus plan | $65/month - Best unlimited plan for travel

Google Fi | Unlimited Plus plan | $65/month - Best unlimited plan for travel
Google Fi's Unlimited Plus plan costs $65/month, with discounts available on additional lines. More importantly, you can use your Google Fi Unlimited Plus plan when you travel to more than 200 other countries with no disruption in service or extra charges; that makes Google Fi Unlimited Plus one of the best international phone plans. Unlimited Plus customers now get a year of YouTube Premium, too.

The best family plan overall

7. T-Mobile

Best cell phone plan for families

Specifications

Data amount: Unlimited
Monthly cost: $180(4 lines)
Parent network: T-Mobile

Reasons to buy

+
Free Netflix
+
5G available
+
Data speeds aren't slowed unless you use 100GB

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't mix-and-match T-Mobile unlimited data options

Those six unlimited plans available for individuals T-Mobile can also double as family plans. As a bonus, T-Mobile discounts additional lines as you add them, lowering your overall cost per line with each person.

Even better, a frequent promotion at T-Mobile has the carrier waiving the cost of a third line of data, so families of four can get that fourth line for free.

T-Mobile Go5G | 4-line family plan | $180/month - Best value family plan

T-Mobile Go5G | 4-line family plan | $180/month - Best value family plan
Thanks to T-Mobile waiving the cost of a third line on the Go5G plan, it's currently a better deal for a family of four than the Magenta plan. Go5G also offers more perks, with an extra 10GB of hotspot data and the ability to use more of your data for free when you travel in Canada and Mexico. The perks are even grander with Go5G Plus, but this is the more affordable option — and when T-Mobile waives the cost of a third line, a four-line plan drops to $155/month.

The most flexible plan for families

8. Verizon

Most flexible family plan

Specifications

Data amount: Unlimited
Monthly cost: $180 (4 lines)
Parent network: Verizon

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent coverage with faster 5G service
+
Three-year price guarantee
+
Can mix-and-match plans

Reasons to avoid

-
Perks are $10 add-ons

Like T-Mobile, Verizon adds escalating discounts as you add more lines. Unlike T-Mobile, you can mix and match Verizon's various unlimited plans, so mom and dad can enjoy the more feature-rich Unlimited Plus option, while assigning cheaper Unlimited Welcome plans to the kids.

The $180 price assumes four lines of Unlimited Plus, as it's Verizon's better option if you want faster 5G. As with individual unlimited plans at Verizon, you can add on perks for $10/month, and cancel them at any time.