When it comes to separating out the best unlimited data plans, perks are often a crucial factor. After all, every unlimited plan serves up talk, text and data, and which phone carrier provides the best coverage can depend heavily on where you live and work. Perks are how a wireless carrier can make its plans stand out, and right now, offering complimentary subscriptions to streaming services — or at the very least, free trials — seems to be one of the most popular benefits.
We count five different wireless carriers who bake some kind of streaming media subscription into at least one of their plans — in several cases, carriers offer different unlimited plans that include different subscriptions to some of the best streaming services. It's getting to be a lot to keep track of.
But knowing what comes with unlimited plans is an important part of picking the best cell phone plan for you. That's especially critical this time of year as many Black Friday phone deals offered through carriers require you to sign up for an unlimited data plan.
Take some of the Black Friday Verizon deals available as of this writing. You can get significant discounts on top flagship phones and even pick up some midrange models like the iPhone SE or Motorola Edge 5G UW for free — so long as you sign on to one of the carrier's unlimited data plans. Verizon happens to offer four of them, each with different kinds of streaming service subscriptions thrown in.
To help you keep track of the benefits included with monthly wireless service, we're breaking down the different unlimited plan options that currently include streaming service subscriptions. Even if you don't wind up buying a phone during Black Friday, knowing what's available from other wireless providers might help you decide if you're really doing business with the best phone carrier or whether you should look elsewhere for a plan packed with more perks.
|Carrier||Unlimited Plan||Monthly Cost||Free Streaming Services Offered||Streaming Fees Monthly Savings|
|AT&T||Unlimited Elite||$85||HBO Max; Stadia Pro||$25|
|Cricket||Unlimited + 15GB Hotspot||$60||HBO Max (ad-supported tier)||$10|
|Metro by T-Mobile||Unlimited||$60||Amazon Prime||$13|
|T-Mobile||Magenta||$70||Netflix Basic; Apple TV Plus; Paramount Plus||$19|
|T-Mobile||Magenta Max||$85||Netflix Basic or Standard; Apple TV Plus; Paramount Plus||$19 - $24|
|Verizon||Start Unlimited||$70||Disney Plus (6 months); Apple Music (6 months); Google Play Pass or Apple Arcade (6 months); Discovery Plus (6 months)||$28|
|Verizon||Play More||$80||Disney Plus; Hulu; ESPN Plus; Apple Music (6 months); Google Play Pass or Apple Arcade (1 year); Discovery Plus (1 year)||$34|
|Verizon||Do More||$80||Disney Plus (6 months); Apple Music (6 months); Google Play Pass or Apple Arcade (6 months); Discovery Plus (6 months)||$28|
|Verizon||Get More||$90||Disney Plus; Hulu; ESPN Plus; Apple Music; Google Play Pass or Apple Arcade (1 year); Discovery Plus (1 year)||$34|
AT&T: The carrier to turn to for HBO Max
It's no surprise that AT&T would feature HBO Max in its marquee unlimited data plan, the $85/month Unlimited Elite plan. Up until earlier this year, when AT&T spun off Warner Media, both AT&T's wireless service and the HBO Max streaming service were owned by the same outfit. To sweeten the pot, AT&T Unlimited Elite customers also can stream in 4K Ultra HD when available and supported by your device.
You don't just get a video streaming service with AT&T's Unlimited Elite plan. The carrier also includes a 6-month trial to Google's Stadia Pro streaming game service. Without AT&T, you'd only get a 1-month trial from Stadia Pro.
AT&T has two other unlimited data plans — Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Starter — that cost $75 and $65 each month, respectively. These two plans also include 6 months of Stadia Pro, but neither enjoys any access to HBO Max. If you want that streaming service for free, you need to pay up for Unlimited Elite.
Cricket: HBO Max included, with a catch
HBO Max isn't limited to just AT&T. AT&T-owned Cricket Wireless includes complimentary HBO Max in its most expensive plan — the $60/month Unlimited + 15GB Mobile Hotspot plan. (Only one guess as to the other key perk included with this plan.)
Just be aware that not all versions of HBO Max are created equal. The one that Cricket features is the ad-supported tier of HBO Max, which normally costs $9.99/month. In addition to ads, that version of HBO Max doesn't get access to any Warner Bros. movies released to the streaming service as they debut in cinemas — and that's one of HBO Max's best perks.
You can only stream in HD quality on Cricket's Unlimited plan, though enrolling in auto pay saves you $5 each month.
Metro By T-Mobile: Video via Amazon Prime
For the tiered 10GB plan offered by Metro by T-Mobile, the discount phone carrier offers Music Unlimited, which lets you stream music from more than 40 different services without it counting against your data cap. You're on the hook for any subscription fees associated with those services, though.
The better streaming perk comes when you sign up for Metro By T-Mobile's most expensive unlimited plan. The $60/month option throws in an Amazon Prime membership on top of the 100GB of Google One storage you'd get with Metro's $50/month unlimited data offering. Amazon Prime boasts a number of benefits, but among them are access to both Prime Music and Prime Video. The latter service not only features original movies and shows but an ever-changing library of older content.
All Metro plans include access to the 5G network of parent company T-Mobile, which offers the widest 5G coverage of any of the major carriers. That's perhaps the greatest benefit an unlimited data plan with Metro delivers.
T-Mobile: Three different streaming services
T-Mobile was one of the first wireless carriers to see the benefits in including access to streaming services as a perk for its unlimited data plans. A few years back, it started picking up the cost of Netflix subscriptions for customers with two lines of unlimited data. These days, the $70/month Magenta unlimited plan qualifies for T-Mobile to pick up the cost of one Netflix Basic subscription for accounts with two or more lines. Pay up for Magenta Max — which costs $85/month — and a single line of data can get the cost of a Netflix Basic account covered; two lines or more of Magenta Max entitles you to a Netflix Standard subscription.
Magenta Max subscribers can stream video in up to 4K UHD resolution. You're stuck on standard definition with the regular Magenta plan.
Regardless of which Magenta plan you have, T-Mobile customers get a year's subscription to Apple TV Plus. And all T-Mobile customers regardless of their plan can now get Paramount Plus for a year through the wireless carrier.
Verizon: So many streaming services on so many plans
Verizon offers the most streaming services for customers with its unlimited data plans. But Verizon also offers the most convoluted collection of plans and streaming perks. Which services you get and for how long depends on which of Verizon's four different unlimited options you've signed up for.
Let's start out with the streaming services that Verizon includes. The big one is the Disney Plus bundle, which actually includes three different service. In addition to Disney Plus, Verizon includes ESPN Plus and the ad-supported tier of Hulu (the one without live TV). Discovery Plus is now part of the mix, too, while all Verizon unlimited plans include some form of the Apple Music streaming service. In addition, you'll get a choice of game streaming services — either Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass — presumably depending on your choice of phone with the carrier.
Customers who like a lot of streaming options should go or Verizon's Play More plan ($80/month for one line, with discounts available as you add more lines). Play More includes the Disney Plus bundle, plus a year of both Discovery Plus and either Apple Arcade or Google play Pass. You get 6 months of Apple Music.
Verizon's Do More plan costs the same $80 as Play More, but puts the emphasis on cloud storage perks. Here, you just get 6 months of Disney Plus, Discovery Plus, Apple Music and the gaming service subscription.
Verizon's ultimate plan, Get More, features the entire Disney bundle plus an Apple Music subscription for as long as you keep your Verizon account. You get year trials to Discovery Plus and a gaming service, along with the cloud storage from Get More. Those are big perks, and Get More has a big price tag to match — $90/month for one line.
Verizon's cheapest unlimited data plan offers a minimal assortment of streaming perks — just 6 months of Disney Plus, Apple Music, Discovery Plus and the gaming service of your choice. Start Unlimited costs $70/month for one line.
Streaming services and unlimited data plans — Which offer is best?
Who has the best streaming service perks depends on what you're looking for from your unlimited data plan. Verizon clearly offers the widest variety of services, while T-Mobile packs in three different services — Apple Plus, Paramount Plus and Netflix — for a lower monthly rate. AT&T offers just one service, but Game of Thrones and Friends fans won't much care, since HBO Max's catalog is so vast.
As you might imagine, discount services like Cricket and Metro have skimpier offerings. But consider that perks of any sort are few and far between on even the best prepaid phone plans, the services they do offer will be welcome to subscribers willing to pay up for unlimited data at those two carriers.