Best Mobile Phone Plans 2024
With new services seemingly popping up daily, it can be dizzying trying to narrow down the best cell phone plan and provider for you. We’ve done the legwork by rounding up some of the most popular mobile plans on the market, looking at performance, coverage and cost as well as types of talkers, how many phones you’re connecting and more.
Last Updated February 2024
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Best Phone Plans by User Type
Whether you’re looking for the least expensive option, hoping to cash in on senior savings, or wanting a plan that will work wherever you are, there is a cell phone plan out there that can meet almost anyone’s needs.
With so many prepaid and alternative providers out there these days, you really can find a cell phone plan to fit almost any budget. Even if cost is a top concern, you need to carefully consider what you want from a plan in terms of data, talk and text, plus decide if the lowest monthly cost or maximum value is the deciding factor.
For example, if you typically use Wi-Fi but still want some data, you can’t do much better price-wise than the latest offer from Boost Mobile, which currently uses AT&T’s network to keep you connected. New customers can get unlimited talk and text, plus one gigabyte (1GB) of data per month for only $100 total for the whole year. To get this offer, you have to prepay for all 12 months upfront, but that price is hard to beat at about $8.33 a month.
If you want to bump up your monthly data allotment, you can get five GB of data plus unlimited talk and text for $15 from multiple carriers, including Mint Mobile and Boost Mobile. To get that price with Mint Mobile, you’ll need to prepay for three months of service, but you can lock in that price with Boost Mobile on a monthly basis.
And if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck on an unlimited data plan, you probably want to go with either Boost Mobile or Boost Infinite. Both carriers offer a similar unlimited plan for $25 a month, but to receive that price with Boost Mobile, you need to be a new customer and set up automatic payments. On the other hand, Boost Infinite is a newer offering that lets you lock in that low monthly cost for a lifetime, which is rare in today’s ever-changing cell service space. Regardless of budget, you’ll want to check which prepaid plans offer the best coverage in your area before you commit.
The 55+ crowd is one of the fastest growing groups when it comes to cell phone usage. Whether they’re looking to stay in touch with loved ones, stream their favorite TV shows from anywhere, or have access to emergency backup anytime, seniors have access to a wide variety of cell phone plans that meet their needs.
Although all three of the main carriers offer some sort of senior discount or savings, only T-Mobile has plans created just for people 55+ that range from $27.50 to $50 a month per line with unlimited talk, text and data included.
Looking beyond the big three carriers can help you save time and money while still keeping you connected. The Mint 55+ plan from Mint Mobile offers one of the best values out there for people over the age of 55. Customers who qualify can enjoy unlimited nationwide talk and text for only $15 a month, plus 5GB of 5G/4G LTE data per month, free international calls to Mexico and Canada, plus free mobile hotspot. Mint even includes exclusive access to MINTech advisors who will help get you started, transfer your existing number, and even handle canceling and transferring your service to Mint—all completely free.
While most cell phone providers offer an option to make international calls from within the U.S., not everyone will support your service once you travel beyond American borders. So if you’re looking for reliable cell service when you’re outside of the country, you need to first consider how and where you’re going to use your phone.
Many providers offer international roaming plans that can be added onto existing plans, so it is important to check with your provider before you leave. Additionally, you should look at data limits and costs associated with using data abroad. Some plans offer unlimited data while traveling, but others have more restrictive limits or higher fees for international use.
Most plans that are meant for international travelers will include international data and texting so you can stay connected from anywhere, but calling often comes at a per-minute cost. If you frequently travel abroad, you’ll want to consider the Google Fi plan from Google. Their Unlimited Plus plan for $65 a month includes unlimited high-speed data and text at no extra cost when you’re traveling in more than 200 countries, with voice calls from other countries costing 20 cents a minute (Wi-Fi calls are free).
But if you’re studying internationally or simply on a budget abroad, few plans can compare to Mint Mobile’s 5GB plan with UpRoam. With monthly plans starting as low as $15, any Mint Mobile customer can easily add on Mint’s UpRoam service, which covers data, calling and texts. With UpRoam, you simply add credits in increments of $5, $10 or $20, which you can use to extend your service when you’re traveling outside of the U.S.
Best Phone Plan by Number of Users
Wondering whether flying solo or jumping into a family plan is the best way to save? We took a look at the top cell phone plans for every situation.
Best Phone Plans for One
While some carriers only offer their best pricing for plans with multiple lines, there are still deals to be found if you’re signing up for a single line.
When you want unlimited data along with talk and text, solo shoppers should definitely check out the newest offering from Boost Infinite. No matter how many lines you have, all users can get unlimited calls, texts and data for only $25 a month. That price is locked in for life, and there are no annual contracts. Plus Boost Infinite runs on the AT&T and T-Mobile networks, so users can access super fast 5G for less than half the price of similar plans from those carriers.
And if cost is your top priority, you probably won’t beat the current deal from Boost Mobile, which uses T-Mobile’s reliable and fast 5G network. Pay $100 upfront for the entire year (12 months) and get unlimited talk and text plus 1GB of high-speed data per month—that breaks down to just $8.33 a month.
Best Phone Plans for Two
When it comes to seeing the biggest savings, you typically have to add three or more lines to a cell phone plan to really make a difference. That’s why some low-cost carriers that already offer significant savings on single lines may make the most sense for couples or any two people looking for the ease and convenience of managing cell service on one plan.
Mint Mobile is one such plan. While they don’t technically offer a discount on additional lines, their Mint Family plan makes it easy for two or more lines to mix and match their wide selection of prepaid data plans starting at just $15 a month per line.
Another budget-friendly option worth exploring is PureTalk. With plans starting as low as $20 a month, PureTalk offers a multi-line discount of up to 20 percent of your bill for two or more lines, so your savings are the same whether you add two or five lines.
Most of the major carriers provide increasing discounts per phone line, with Verizon offering the best deal with their mix and match 5G Unlimited plans that include unlimited talk, text and data starting at $70 a month ($35 per line) for two lines
Best Cell Phone Family Plans
Shopping for a phone plan that suits the needs of multiple members of your household can feel like an impossible task. But thanks to the mix and match family plans that many carriers now provide, you don’t need to worry about sacrificing data during your morning commute to meet your tween’s TikTok and streaming needs.
The more prominent providers are known to save their best discounts for phone plans with the most lines, but that doesn’t mean their family plans are affordable. Luckily, even prepaid and smaller carriers are now jumping on the family plan bandwagon, so you have more options than ever to meet your family’s needs.
T-Mobile stands out among the major carriers for overall value when it comes to family plans by offering a third line free with their Go5G plans when you purchase three or more lines. It’s still on the pricer end compared to some of the other prepaid plans on our list, but they do offer some extra incentives to sweeten the deal if that matters to you.
For a prepaid family plan that runs on T-Mobile’s 5G network for a fraction of the price, you may want to consider Ultra Mobile. You can save up to $100 a month when you add 1 or more unlimited monthly plans to a primary account. While Ultra Mobile doesn’t offer mix-and-max style plans, all plans get 40GB of high-speed data per line and unlimited talk and text, which should be enough to satisfy most households.
Best No-Contract Phone Plans
Most major carriers are known for annual contracts that lock customers in for a certain amount of years, and while they claim to offer no contracts for some plans, there’s usually a catch to still make it painful to part ways.
That’s why prepaid or pay-as-you-go plans have become so popular these days, offering the flexibility to buy exactly what’s in your budget (often without the added hassle of credit checks since you’re paying up front), avoid overage fees and have an easy out if it’s not for you.
It’s typically easier to get approved for prepaid plans since there are often no credit checks required, and if you don’t make a payment, your credit score isn’t typically impacted—you just won’t be able to access your plan until you pay.
Many of these prepaid carriers, known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), run on the same networks as the major players. They essentially pay to use another carrier’s infrastructure (like Verzon, T-Mobile, and AT&T) to offer their customers the same speed and coverage benefits at much lower costs since they don’t have to maintain the networks.
If no-contract, prepaid phone plans sound like they might be the best option for you, it’s important to start your search firmly understanding your plan needs (primarily around data) and budget.
Best Prepaid Phone Plans
Plenty of customers prefer the convenience, flexibility and significantly lower price of prepaid phone plans. By paying ahead of time on a prepaid plan, you can only use the voice, text and data services that you specifically paid for, which means you won’t be hit with surprise overage charges.
Prepaid plans never come with annual contracts, but they do typically make customers pay up front for either multiple months at a time or on an automatic basis. To get the best prices, many plans will also offer a deeper discount for paying for three, six or 12 months at a time.
Mint Mobile is one of the most popular prepaid plans on the market. With Mint, customers are able to try out their service by paying for three months up front for a special introductory price (as low as $15 a month). They run on T-Mobile’s network and provide generous coverage and speed for a fraction of the cost, plus free mobile hotspot and free international calling to Mexico and Canada. The idea is that after your first three months, you’ll have a better idea of your data needs and if Mint is the right fit. You can then choose to renew for another three, six or 12 months at a time (renewing and prepaying for 12 months will lock in that same monthly low price you started with). They also alert you if you’re using too much or not enough data, and make it easy to upgrade or downgrade plans as needed.
While Mint definitely provides a lot of value for a low price, many prepaid carriers like Boost Mobile, Ultra Mobile and PureTalk offer discounts for paying for a certain amount of months up front (versus month-to-month), plus a variety of different plan benefits, so you can easily try out multiple carriers to find the right for for your needs and budget.
Best Pay-As-You-Go Phone Plans
While often used interchangeably, the truth is that prepaid and pay-as-you-go are not exactly the same. There are true pay-as-you-go minutes, data or day rates that can be purchased from many major carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile on an as-needed basis to be used on a prepaid or unlocked phone.
Some plans may also be considered “pay as you go” since you’re prepaying for a service for an allotted time, but the difference here is that in order to get these plans, you need to set up a monthly auto-payment or commit to prepaying on a recurring basis upfront (versus buying a specific allotment of minutes/data). Both options require upfront payments with no contracts or credit checks, which is why they are often considered the same.
While most carriers offer their best pricing on plans where you pay for up to 12 months at once, we like the clear cost and commitment from Boost Infinite, which is more like a pay-as-you-go option since their price for unlimited talk, text and data is $25 a month regardless of if you pay for one month at a time or 12—and that price is locked in for the lifetime of your contract (you need to set up auto-pay for Boost Infinite, but you always have to option to cancel at anytime).
Best Phone Plan by Data Allowance and Speed
Major carriers may have dominated the market in terms of data caps and speed, but since the smaller companies also have access to their networks, customers can now experience similar performance for a much lower price.
And in a category where low cost may have once meant bare bones plans, prepaid carriers have really stepped up their offerings to meet customers’ needs for more data and faster, reliable service without the major markups.
Unlimited plans are gaining in popularity and variety. And while you do technically get unlimited data, many carriers impose a limit of “premium” or “high speed” data before they start to throttle (aka slow down) speeds. This means that while you won’t run out of data, you will likely notice a significant reduction in speed if you’ve used up all of your premium data before your month is over.
Customers who choose MVNO carriers that utilize the networks of the major players may also notice a slower speed during high traffic times due to the parent carrier’s customers being prioritized. While this is a real possibility and something that is outlined in these carriers’ terms, carriers are trying to combat this risk by competitively raising their premium data caps so most users won’t even notice a difference.
Best Unlimited Data Plan
While the best unlimited data plans from the big carriers run about $60 to $90 a month, you don’t have to pay up to have access to all the data your heart desires.
Most of the smaller carriers now offer fairly affordable unlimited data plans, so when trying to decide if going with one of these more cost-effective plans makes sense, you really want to pay close attention to which carrier has the best coverage and the best speeds—for the best price.
If we’re talking purely the best price for unlimited data, it’s hard to beat Boost Infinite. Though fairly new to the scene, this sister carrier to Boost Mobile offers a strong contender in the unlimited data arena with one plan, at one price, forever. For only $25 a month, you’ll get unlimited talk, text and data, plus 5GB of dedicated mobile hotspot data monthly. But the best part? That price is locked in for life. Boost Infinite runs on the AT&T network, which is one of the largest in the county, and has plans to expand on T-Mobile’s network as well. Like other smaller carriers using a major network, Boost Infinite customers may experience slower speeds after using more than 30GB of their monthly unlimited data.
Now if you just want top speeds and service with all the added perks of purchasing through a major carrier without worrying about paying a premium, you should check out Verizon’s 5G plans. With access to their super fast 5G Ultra Wideband network, Verizon’s 5G Get More plan is their best of the best with access to all the high-speed data and hotspot you’d want plus tons of perks like subscriptions to Hulu, ESPN+ and Disney+, Apple Music, Verizon cloud storage and more—all for around a cool $90 a month for one line.
Best Mobile Hotspot Plans
If you want the ability to stream music, watch videos, and browse the web worry-free from anywhere, on any device, having a mobile hotspot data allowance for your phone is a must. It essentially turns your phone’s network data into a Wi-Fi signal that nearby devices can connect to. It’s especially helpful for areas where the Wi-Fi signal is unreliable or untrusted, or when you’re on the go and simply don’t have access to Wi-Fi.
Many carriers now offer dedicated mobile hotspot data as part of your monthly plan, and if you’re planning on using this feature often for work or play, you definitely want to pay attention to the terms to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
Mint Mobile is quickly becoming one of the more popular prepaid carriers that offers an unlimited data plan with dedicated mobile hotspot data starting at $30 a month for your first three months. Mint also offers premium data up to 40GB before customers will start experiencing slower speeds, plus mobile hotspot access to 10GB.
Similar to Mint Mobile, Ultra Mobile runs on T-Mobile’s network and offers an attractive unlimited data plan featuring 40GB of high speed data plus up to 10 GB of mobile hotspot for $40 a month when you prepay for 12 months.
Verizon’s 5G Get More plan offers the best of everything, including a whopping 50GB of premium mobile hotspot data, so it’s a serious contender if cost isn’t a concern.
Best Phone Plan by Network Coverage and Quality
Beyond speed, data and price, the best cell phone plans are the ones you can count on to keep you covered.
While the infrastructure to support 5G access is only in place in certain, mostly metropolitan, areas, the majority of Americans can still get access to fast, reliable service through the major carriers. While T-Mobile leads the pack for overall 5G coverage, Verizon takes a slight lead for 4G, with AT&T being known to cover many hard-to-reach rural areas. Many of the MVNO carriers piggyback on other major networks to provide cell phone service, so you’ll want to check who they rely on as well.
When considering the best phone plan, whether from the major carriers or the smaller prepaid options, you’ll definitely want to confirm their coverage areas directly on their websites, as well as test out the network yourself before signing up for a plan. You can do this by using an app or website that measures signal strength in your area or by asking friends and family about their experiences with different providers. Many of the prepaid options also make it easy to test out service by allowing you to sign up on a monthly basis to see if that carrier provides the coverage and quality you want.
The Bottom Line
With so many different carriers, plans and features to choose from, finding the best mobile plan really depends on narrowing down your personal wants and needs. Prepaid carriers like Mint Mobile, Boost Mobile and Ultra Mobile are bringing fast, reliable service to a whole new audience by providing feature-packed plans at a fraction of the price of major carriers. And unlimited talk, text and data plans have never been more affordable than with options like Boost Infinite. By carefully considering additional features like mobile hotspots and international roaming, as well as multi-line discounts on flexible plans you can try on a monthly basis, finding the best cell phone plan for you has never been easier or more affordable.
What is the best phone service?
Truth is, the best phone service can be different for everyone. It really comes down to what you’re looking for in terms of data, coverage, performance, flexibility, service and sometimes most importantly, budget. Some users may qualify for special senior or family plan discounts while others need specific international calling capabilities that are offered by different providers, plans and pricing.
The good news is that the options for cell phone plans are truly endless, so you can certainly shop around to find something that meets your unique needs. And while most customers have traditionally stuck with the popular plans from major carriers like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, newer prepaid options like Mint Mobile, Boost Mobile and Ultra Mobile make accessing a phone plan with the flexibility and features you need easier than ever.
Which cell phone carrier is the best?
When you’re shopping for a new cell phone carrier, most customers still flock to the main three on the market: Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T. But thanks to the recent influx of smaller sized carriers that offer more budget-friendly, flexible plans to meet your needs, “best” is being redefined.
To help make your decision easier, here are some things to consider when choosing the best phone carrier for you:
- Coverage and Network: When selecting a provider, always double-check its coverage and network reliability in your area before purchasing a plan. Make sure that the coverage map shows solid bars in areas where you anticipate using the service most frequently (such as home or work). Also, investigate whether or not voice roaming is included with particular plans—this will be important if you travel often.
- Features/Flexibility: Features offered by each carrier differ, so research what extra features come with each plan before making a commitment (e.g., international calling, mobile hotspot data). Prepaid carriers tend to be more flexible with monthly payment options and no annual contracts, so they’re definitely worth considering if you don’t want to be locked in to a specific service.
- Data Plan Pricing/Limitations: Data plans tend to vary from carrier-to-carrier, so review monthly usage limits as well pricing details prior to selecting one. Consulting customer reviews can also aid in making an informed decision regarding data access rates and restrictions associated with particular providers’ packages..
- Price Plans & Value Bundles: Before committing, ask yourself if paying more upfront equals better savings in the long run. Companies often offer their biggest discount to customers who are willing to commit to more upfront. Other ways these companies add value across plans include international roaming credits, subscription services, etc. Be sure to compare various company’s promotional offers from time-to-time to keep up with these changing deals.
- Customer Service Quality: You should not ignore customer feedback about any product or service including those related directly to cell phones—read carefully through ratings posted online, and consider which option provides superior technical support quality and availability based on other people’s experiences.
What is the best phone plan?
Ultimately, the best phone plan is the one that aligns with both your needs and budget. Here are some key factors to consider when evaluating which plan makes sense for you:
- Voice Minutes: How many minutes do you typically use each month? If it’s a lot, look for an unlimited voice plan. Many prepaid plans offer unlimited talk and text along with different data allotments, so you can usually find a plan that will meet your call needs at a cost you can handle.
- Data Usage: Do you mostly rely on Wi-Fi or do you need data coverage out of the home or office? For heavy data users, look into plans with large gigabyte packages and fast download speeds. For those just needing occasional access to web pages or emails away from Wi-Fi networks, packages with low data caps may be more cost effective.
- Text Messages: Many major and prepaid plans include unlimited texts as a standard feature, but don’t overlook the option of paying per message instead of by volume if you’re not a text-heavy user.
- Bundled Utilities/Add Ons: Many carriers offer additional services such as international calling options or other miscellaneous add-ons that enhance customer experience but may come at an additional cost. Depending on usage levels these can help maximize value while still meeting overall budget parameters.