We quizzed experts, crunched numbers, and pored over the fine print and pricing to help you figure out how much data you need, which network offers the best coverage where you need it, and whether a postpaid or prepaid plan is best for you. Verizon Wireless’s single-line 5 GB plan is the best cell phone plan for most people …
but we also have a variety of picks for different needs.
Mint Mobile is cheaper, but it has yet to show up on those surveys at all, and offers no physical-store support.
Cricket's 8 Mbps speed limit is annoying, and it doesn't allow mobile-hotspot use, but in this data-sipping context, those are acceptable trade-offs.
Explained analyst Brad Akyuz: “The overall average figure has been skewed up by a relatively small group of heavy users.” Our cost estimates assumed that anybody using 5 GB or more a month would want to use their phone’s mobile-hotspot feature to share their LTE bandwidth at its full speed, not cut back to 3G or worse as some “unlimited” plans require.
We also assumed 1,000 voice minutes and 500 text or multimedia messages used per month, based on usage data from the wireless-industry group CTIA.If you don't need much data, Cricket Wireless can save you a lot of money.Its rate of for 2 GB of data matches that of Metro by T-Mobile, but Cricket beats Metro (as well as AT&T, its own corporate mothership) in customer satisfaction surveys.But wherever you live, taxes and fees should hit you equally across all of your options—except for T-Mobile’s Magenta offering, which sweeps them into the advertised cost.Verizon is the nation’s largest carrier by subscribers for good reason: It offers the best coverage in the most places in the US according to third-party tests and surveys (including those of Opensignal and Root Metrics), so you’re more likely to have a signal no matter where you are.And its pricing is competitive with that of AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for the amount of data that most people actually use.It isn’t the best choice for people who frequently travel outside of the US or who want unlimited data, but it is the first carrier everyone else should look at.We limited this guide to the most widely used national options—starting with the big four nationwide carriers and their prepaid services and subsidiaries, and then adding services that have ranked high in surveys from sites and organizations such as PCMag, the American Customer Satisfaction Index, and J. Power, or in reader-interest metrics from the comparison-shopping site Whistle Out. Cellular and the resold services of the cable firms Comcast and Spectrum, both of which require subscriptions to their residential broadband.We also chose to exclude contenders available only in parts of the US. We also cut prepaid services that required separate purchases of data, texts, or voice minutes to meet our monthly usage quotas.Some prepaid services offered service in only 30-day increments; to avoid a punitive level of math, we treated that as a month in our calculations.Finally, we didn’t factor in taxes and regulatory fees because they vary by jurisdiction (on my own T-Mobile plan, for example, these fees added up to just over 7 percent of my June 2019 bill).