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Best unlimited data plans in 2020

best unlimited data plan
(Image credit: Pathdoc/Shutterstock)

Who has the best unlimited data plan for just one person looking to maximize their data while minimizing their monthly wireless bill? To answer that question, you’ve got to look beyond the prices of each unlimited data plan but also at the perks that each wireless carrier offers to smartphone owners.

In addition to unlimited talk, text and data, benefits like LTE hotspot data, the ability to use your plan when you travel overseas and video streaming are also worth considering when picking the best unlimited cell phone plan for your needs. We would also consider a wireless carrier’s 5G coverage if you’re looking to buy a 5G phone.

We’ve studied the unlimited data plans offered by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon to assess which one best fits the needs of different types of users. The good news if you’re looking for an unlimited data plan — you’ve got a lot of options at different prices that will provide you with a virtually limitless pool of data each month.

Here’s a closer look at the best unlimited data plans for a wide range of different smartphone users. And if you don't need all that data, we've outlined the best tiered data plans among the limited options available.

What is the best unlimited data plan?

Based on our research, T-Mobile's $70-a-month Magenta unlimited plan is the best unlimited data plan. T-Mobile's Magenta plan is not the cheapest unlimited plan out there — that honor goes to T-Mobile's own Essentials plan as well as Sprint's Unlimited Basic, both of which start at $60 a month for individual customers. But T-Mobile's network is better than Sprint's, and the perks in its T-Mobile One plan are pretty appealing. Opt for T-Mobile, and you get 3GB of LTE hotspot data, the ability to use your data when you head overseas and weekly giveaways.

Be aware that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger has now closed, with T-Mobile planning to fold Sprint into the newly merged company over the summer. So far the only change to plans offered by either company has been for T-Mobile to announce T-Mobile Connect, a $15-monthly plan that’s among the best prepaid phone plans out there. Existing Sprint customers will get to keep their plan, but once T-Mobile absorbs Sprint, the latter's plans — which include two other unlimited options besides that Basic option — are likely to disappear from view. 

Verizon features four unlimited plans, offering a different set of benefits that could appeal to you, depending what you’re looking for from your monthly cell phone plan. Meanwhile, AT&T features a trio of unlimited tiers. Unfortunately, the cheapest plans from either of these two carriers contain too many restrictions. 

T-Mobile and Sprint only offer unlimited data to individuals at this point, but Verizon and AT&T continue to offer tiered data plans that cost a little less than their unlimited data plans. The best tiered option is Verizon's 5GB a plan, which costs $55 a month with an autopay discount.

The best unlimited data plans you can get today

best unlimited data plan: t-mobile

(Image credit: T-Mobile)

1. T-Mobile Unlimited Data Plan

The best unlimited data plan overall

Name of Plan: T-Mobile Magenta | Monthly Cost: $70 | Amount of Data: Unlimited | Special features: 3GB of LTE hotspot data; 480p video streaming; Unlimited 2G data overseas

Attractive perks
Affordable price
5G coverage included
HD video streaming costs extra

T-Mobile’s $70-a-month Magenta unlimited plan is the best unlimited data plan if you demand limitless data each month.While the plan would be more appealing if T-Mobile let you stream HD video, for most users, watching 480p video on a smartphone-sized screen won't be too much of a hardship. And if it is, you can pay $15 extra each month for Magenta Plus, which includes HD streaming. (The additional charge for Magenta Plus goes down to $10 if you have a family plan with T-Mobile.) 

If you'd prefer to pay less each month, T-Mobile's Essentials plan costs $60 a month. You won't get as many travel perks like free texting and an hour of Wi-Fi on Gogo-enabled flights or the ability to use your data plan (albeit at slower speeds) when traveling in 210 countries as you do with Magenta. More importantly, T-Mobile has the right to slow down data speeds for Essentials customers if its network gets congested. Stick with Magenta, unless you really want to save that extra $10 each month.

Regardless of which unlimited data plan you opt for at T-Mobile, you'll have access to T-Mobile's 5G network, provided you've got a 5G-capable phone.

best unlimited data plan: verizon

(Image credit: Verizon)

2. Verizon Unlimited Data Plan

Superior coverage for a premium price

Name of Plan: Verizon Do More | Monthly Cost: $80 | Amount of Data: Unlimited | Special features: 15GB of LTE hotspot data; 480p video streaming; free year of Disney Plus

Strong network coverage
5G included with most plans
Generous LTE hotspot data
More expensive than T-Mobile and Sprint

With four unlimited options — two of which cost the same — Verizon isn't going to win prizes for clarity. But at least, it's charging a little less for unlimited data than it was before.

The best unlimited data plan for most users at Verizon is the $80-a-month Do More plan. It lets you enjoy up to 50GB of LTE data before Verizon exercises its right to slow your data speeds if its network is congested. Perks include 15GB of high-speed hotspot data and 500GB of free cloud storage. You also get six months of Apple Music.

If you're more into streaming, the identically priced Play More may be the better choice. Apple Music is included in that plan, and you get to stream video at HD resolution instead of settling for 480p as you have to with Do More. Your speeds may slow after consuming 25GB of data, though, under the Play More plan.

Both Do More and Play More come with 5G service included (provided you’re using a 5G-capable phone like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus or Galaxy S20 Ultra), as does the $90-a-month Get More Plan. That’s the most expensive unlimited cell phone plan you can get anywhere, but at least Verizon throws in substantial perks. Get More customers enjoy 75GB of data, free Apple music and HD video streaming, plus 30GB of LTE hotspot data

Start Unlimited is Verizon's cheapest unlimited cell phone plan at $70 a month. Don’t expect a lot of perks — just a 6-month Apple Music trial and a free year of Disney Plus. (All of Verizon’s unlimited plans include the Disney+ perk.) Start Unlimited customers who want 5G coverage will need to pay an extra $10 a month.

best unlimited data plan: Sprint

(Image credit: Sprint)

3. Sprint Unlimited Data Plan

Best cheap unlimited data plan

Name of Plan: Sprint Unlimited Basic | Monthly Cost: $60 | Amount of Data: Unlimited | Special features: Free Hulu subscription; 500MB of LTE hotspot data

Least expensive option for unlimited data
Includes Hulu subscription
No 5G coverage unless you pay for the more expensive Sprint Unlimited Premium plan
Other Sprint plans offer more perks

Sprint also splits its unlimited offerings into multiple tiers — a $60 Unlimited Basic plan, a $70 Unlimited Plus option and an $80 Unlimited Premium plan. There’s a lot to like about Unlimited Plus, but if you’re looking to spend the least amount of money on unlimited data and you don’t want to get your service from a prepaid carrier, the Unlimited Basic plan is the best unlimited data plan option at Sprint.

The biggest appeal of Unlimited Basic is its low cost, but you do get a few perks. Sprint includes a free Hulu subscription with this tier, and you get 500MB of LTE hotspot data, as well as 5GB of LTE data when you travel to Canada and Mexico. Those benefits aren’t as good as Sprint’s Unlimited Plus, which includes Tidal along with Hulu, 15GB of LTE Hotspot data and 10GB of data when you travel in Canada and Mexico. But it’s not a bad benefit package for a relatively low-cost unlimited plan.

If you want to use Sprint’s 5G network, you’ll need to subscribe to the Unlimited Premium package. You’ll also get 50GB of LTE hotspot data, unlimited data usage in Canada and Mexico, and an Amazon Prime membership to go with your free Hulu and Tidal subscriptions.

best unlimited data plan: AT&T

(Image credit: AT&T)

4. AT&T Unlimited Data Plan

The unlimited plan for HBO fans

Name of Plan: AT&T Unlimited Elite | Monthly Cost: $85 | Amount of Data: Unlimited | Special features: Free HBO; 30GB of LTE hotspot data; Unlimited LTE data when traveling in Canada and Mexico

Includes HBO
Includes 5G access
Expensive, compared to other unlimited plans

AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan is the carrier’s most expensive option at $85 a month. But it’s the best unlimited data plan at AT&T if you want HBO Max, as that streaming service is included as a perk for Unlimited Elite customers. You’ll also get access to AT&T’s 5G network with a 5G-compatible phone along with the ability to stream HD video. AT&T also won’t slow your speeds until you’ve consumed 100GB of data.

If $85 is too much for your budget, consider either the Unlimited Extra ($75 a month) or Unlimited Starter ($65 a month). Extra also includes 5G access plus 15GB of LTE hotspot data. Your speeds won’t be throttled unless you used more than 50GB of data. With the Starter plan, AT&T reserves the right to throttle your speeds at any time.

best unlimited data plan: verizon 5gb plan

(Image credit: Verizon)

5. Verizon Tiered Data Plan

The best tiered data plan

Name of Plan: Verizon 5 | Monthly Cost: $55 | Amount of Data: 5GB | Special features: Carryover data; Safety mode

Safety mode prevents data overages
Affordable plan if you don’t need unlimited data
Unused data carries over
No 5G coverage

Wireless carriers favor unlimited data plans these days, with T-Mobile and Sprint even eliminating plans with data allotments. But tiered plans still exist for smartphone users who don’t want to pay for limitless data, and Verizon has the best tiered data offering.

This 5GB plan costs $40 plus a $20 monthly access fee. However, you lower your monthly cost to $55 by enrolling in autopay. That 5G of data is more than enough to get by if you don’t do a lot of video streaming. And if you’re worried about being socked with charges for going over that 5GB limit, Verizon’s Safety mode slows your speeds for the rest of the billing cycle after you’ve used up your data. Any unused data gets carried over to your next month of service.

Verizon expanded its tiered data plans to add a 10GB option that costs $65 a month after an autopay discount. That's only $5 less than Verizon's cheapest unlimited plan, though, so at that point, you may be better off turning to an unlimited option with Big Red.

best unlimited data plan: at&t 9gb plan

(Image credit: AT&T)

6. AT&T Tiered Data Plan

Get a lot of data with this option

Name of Plan: AT&T Mobile Share Plus 9GB | Monthly Cost: $60 | Amount of Data: 9GB | Special features: Carryover data; Talk, text and data included for Mexico

Lots of data
Carryover data
No 5G coverage
Verizon's tiered data plan costs less

AT&T is the other carrier still offering tiered data plans, and its best deal is the Mobile Share Plus 9GB package. Like it says on the label, you get 9GB of LTE data each month, which is certainly more than enough for most people. The data you don’t use gets rolled over into your next month of service.

The 9GB plan may seem more attractive than Verizon’s 5GB offering — it’s nearly twice the data for just $5 more each month. Then again, AT&T’s Unlimited Starter plan is just $5 more than the 9GB tier, so this isn’t substantial savings from unlimited data. AT&T also has a 3GB Mobile Share plan for $50 a month, but that’s a lot to pay for such a slight amount of data, especially compared to Verizon’s offering.

How to pick the best unlimited data plan for you

Besides making sure to choose a carrier that offers good service in your area — check out our guide to the fastest wireless networks in addition to asking friends and family about coverage — consider both price and perks. With the best unlimited data plans ranging in price from $60 to $90 per month, pick the plan that fits in your budget. Also consider what benefits each wireless carrier includes with their different tiers of unlimited data.

Wondering if you need unlimited data? Unless you’re streaming video and music fairly regularly, you probably can get away with a tiered data plan, like the ones offered by AT&T and Verizon.

One caveat about unlimited data: It’s not totally without limits. AT&T reserves the right to start throttling data at 50GB for Unlimited Extra and 100GB for Unlimited Elite; Unlimited Starter customers can be throttled at any time. Likewise, Verizon sets different thresholds for slowing down data depending on the plan you have. (The Get More plan has the biggest cap at 75GB.) Both T-Mobile and Sprint let you use 50GB of data before throttling can begin.