Product Use case Rating
T-Mobile Best Family Plan N/A
T-Mobile Best Unlimited Individual Plan N/A
Verizon Best Individual Plan N/A
AT&T Best Prepaid Individual Plan N/A
Republic Wireless Best Plan Under $30 N/A
MetroPCS Best Unlimited Prepaid Plan N/A
MetroPCS Best Prepaid Family Plan N/A
Project Fi Best International Plan N/A

Finding the right phone plan to fit your needs is tricky. Beyond just dollars and cents, you need to consider which phones are supported by which wireless carriers and what coverage and data speeds are like in the area where you’ll use your phone the most. Throw in carriers’ near-continual plan changes, and it’s a recipe for confusion.

To make the decision easier, we’ve gone through each carriers’ plans to figure out which one is the best for your particular needs. T-Mobile's unlimited data offering is the best family plan, offering better value than AT&T and Verizon (though bargain hunters may be tempted by Sprint's discounted family plan). T-Mobile also has the best unlimited data plan for individuals, which costs $70 monthly.

MORE: Who Is the Top All-Around Carrier in the U.S.?


If saving money without compromising too much on data is the most important thing to you, Republic Wireless offers a decent amount of data for less than $30 a month, especially after tweaking what it charges for LTE data. Otherwise, Verizon offers the most compelling individual cellphone plan, costing $55 a month for 5GB; you can also roll over unused data to the next month. Thanks to its superior network and lack of speed caps, MetroPCS provides both the best prepaid option for individuals and families as well as the most attractive unlimited data plan for prepaid customers, especially if you can live with lower-resolution video streaming.

Note: T-Mobile and Sprint have announced plans to merge. While major changes are unlikely until the merger goes through (and that requires regulatory approval), it could mean less aggressive pricing promotions in interim from the two potentially future partners.

These are the best cellular plans available right now.

Best Cellphone Plans: Our Top Picks

MORE: Best International Phone Plans: What Travelers Need to Know

In evaluating plans, we looked at the four major U.S. carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — and what they offer. We also evaluated five discount carriers: Boost Mobile, Cricket, MetroPCS, Straight Talk and Virgin, and to help you stretch your dollar even further, we looked at plans from several smaller discount carriers. In addition to price, we considered network coverage and performance, including results from our own 4G network testing in half-a-dozen cities. In some cases, total savings on one carrier’s plan outweighed the performance edge another carrier might enjoy; other times, network performance was a deciding factor in our choice.

Should You Switch?

If these are the best plans, does that mean you should drop your current carrier for one of the above plans that best covers your needs? (That assumes, of course, that the carrier we recommend provides ample coverage for your area.) Yes, but only if you can switch without consequences.

MORE: How the Carriers' 4G Speeds Compare

If you can't wait until your deal is up with your current carrier, the major carriers are all willing to pick up some of the cost to get you to switch. Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile all offer up to $650 for each phone you switch over to pay off your phone purchases and early termination fees; AT&T offers a $100 bill credit for switching over plus $200 for trading in an eligible smartphone. Note that this money will come in the form of prepaid gift cards and that every carrier requires you to trade in your existing phone.

As of this writing, Sprint is still offering a particularly attractive incentive to leave your current carrier behind: It will give you free unlimited data for the next year, though you're still on the hook for taxes and fees. After May 31, 2019, your bill reverts to Sprint's standard rate for unlimited data, which is currently $60 for a single line. The big caveat: You need to bring over an eligible phone to qualify for free data. (Since the deal is geared toward Verizon customers, there's a better chance your phone is eligible if it came from Verizon.) The offer is listed as a limited-time deal, but Sprint has kept it around since the summer of 2017.

MORE: Carrier Customer Service Showdown: Who's on Top?

Before you decide whether to switch your cellphone plan, make sure to check carriers’ websites for any special offers. In recent years, carriers have gotten aggressive in trying to lure new customers, and that figures to continue into 2018, with switching deals popping up from time to time.

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  • wizodd
    Republic offers wi-fi only service very cheap.

    Their plans may be much cheaper than this review implies--if you spend most of your time in places with wi-fi available.

    I first signed with them because I NEED wi-fi access at home as I live in a dead zone. But about the only time I need cell service is for trips.

    They also offer the ability to change plans easily if you need more or fewer features.

    Unfortunately, they don't yet support the iPhone.
  • rgd1101
    Republic wireless just changed their plan, the article didn't have the updated info.
  • socrfan1
    Boost Mobile offers at least 23 GB with no throttling for $45 a month with auto pay.
  • akashra
    Is this a review of the worst value for your money plans? Sure looks like it...

    Can get the same service as any of these providers for much cheaper on their smaller partner networks. Silly review.
  • kep55
    Just what the heck is Verizon's Smartphone Access fee? Pure profit?
  • jon.r.barnard
    T-Mobile's plan is even better than you suggest: There's no throttling until 50 GB, not 30 GB!
  • jon.r.barnard
    Also, Verizon's throttling begins at 22GB, not 50gb.
  • jon.r.barnard
    You are mixed up about throttling for the unlimited plans: T-Mobile's throttling doesn't start until 50 gb (not 30), and Verizon's starts at 22 gb, not 30. (All of which makes T-Mobile's unlimited plan the even better choice.)
  • ryan.small
    What other carriers did you test. I think mine (Ting) beats all the competitors. It's post-pay with no contract. With 4 devices, you could use a monthly aggregate of 2000 minutes, 5000 messages, and 5GB, all for $120.50 before fees/taxes.

    They provide credits for referrals.
    They have credited us for sim card purchases when we mistakenly ordered the wrong sim or had compatibility issues.
    They have always provide super fast service on live chats and support calls.
    You can use GSM or CDMA.

    I've not been able to find any reasons to switch to any other carrier. You might want to test their service and plans. Thank you!
  • robinjoe1
    I get 5 lines, unlimited talk and text, 5GB per phone for $100/month with Cricket. I switched 3 years ago and LOVE them.