A reseller of T-Mobile’s network, Mint Mobile offers exceptional pricing to customers willing to pay for at least three months of service at a time—on that pricing term, you pay only $35 a month for 8 GB of LTE, mobile hotspot included up to that data cap.
If you pay for a year of service, the monthly cost drops to just $20.
If you need four lines with 5 GB each, Consumer Cellular’s $105 rate beats everything but a Sprint discount that expires in June 2020—and the $5 monthly difference in the meantime isn’t worth trading down to Sprint’s network.
The only catch is that you have to call Consumer Cellular to get a four-line plan, since the site allows only up to two lines.
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.Verizon offers the best coverage in the most places in the US, so you’re more likely to have a signal wherever you are—the most important thing for a smartphone to have.And although Verizon isn’t the least expensive carrier for unlimited-data plans, the company’s under-promoted single-line 5 GB plan (just after an autopay discount) includes more data than most people require and saves you money compared with an unlimited plan.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.If a plan offered a lower rate for automatic payments, we factored that discount in.We did not, however, count deals that required trading in a phone or porting over a number.T-Mobile’s network isn’t quite as widespread as Verizon’s (or, in some studies, AT&T’s), but it easily beats those two in its pricing for unlimited data, while its coverage outpaces that of its cheaper rival Sprint.T-Mobile also bests Verizon in terms of international-roaming plans, and a slightly wider variety of phones work on T-Mobile’s GSM network (that’s the standard most of the rest of the world uses) than on Verizon’s CDMA network, though the best phones are available for both.