These are the best cell phone plans for 2021 on Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
I’ll cover plans ranging from $10 to $30, the best cheap unlimited plans, and even the best premium unlimited plans for those of you who want to go all out.
These plans will deliver the best value for your dollar and support many of the features you need, like VoLTE, Wi-Fi calling, personal hotspot, and more.
This article is broken down into three major sections:
- How cell phone plans work in the United States
- How to determine what you need in a cell phone plan
- What the best plans are
With that said, let’s jump into it.
How Cell Phone Plans work in the United States
These major carriers build cell towers across the U.S. and operate their own networks.
Because they operate their own networks, they are called MNOs, or Mobile Network Operators.
Building a cellular network is expensive though. To cover costs, these major carriers charge premium prices for their cell phone plans. Prices typically range from $70 to $90 per month.
These plans can be great for higher-income individuals and families, but the truth is not everyone can afford these $85 to $90 price points on these plans.
So what do the major network operators do?
They do two things:
- They create what are known as “flanker carriers”
- They lease access to their network to smaller carriers called “MVNOs”
Flanker carriers are carriers created by the same company to target different demographics of consumers.
These flanker carriers typically offer significantly more affordable plans.
The second strategy the major network operators use is they sell access to their networks to MVNOs.
MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator because these are small carriers that are operating virtually on the existing networks.
MVNOs offer more affordable plans because they have wholesale agreements with the MNOs, and because they use different strategies to reduce expenses and pass on any cost savings to consumers.
Examples of cost-saving strategies include operating online only, not offering unlimited plans, creating self-help tools, and more recently by offering plans in bulk 3-, 6-, or 12-month packages.
That’s how you end up with great value plans ranging from $25 to $30 per month with HUGE amounts of data included.
This brings us to our next point: how do you know which plan is right for you, and how much cellular data you actually need?
How To Determine What You Need In a Cell Phone Plan
There are four factors that can help you determine which cell phone plans are best for you:
- Data Usage
First is coverage. You want to make sure you can use your cell phone plan in places you frequently visit, such as your home, work, and other locations.
Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile’s network coverage vary a lot by location.
Thankfully my friend Chris has built an awesome tool on his site CoverageCritic.com where you can literally enter your ZIP code and it’ll tell you which network likely has better performance in your area.
You can also check independent sites like RootMetrics to see coverage and speed data collected from different users.
Or if the network you are using right now works for you, you stick with the same network and just switch to a more affordable cell phone plan.
2. Data Usage
The second factor is data usage. How much data you need plays a big role in determining which plans are right for you.
Many carriers advertise unlimited plans, but the truth is you likely don’t actually need unlimited data.
Studies are showing average consumers use about 5GB to 20GB of data per month:
- Cisco’s 2018-2023 annual internet report shows that 82% of users consume 20GB or less per month
- Reach Mobile’s survey of 400 people found that 85% of them used less than 10GB of data per month
- Statista had a report that projected the average data usage would be 8.9GB in 2021
So odds are that 82% of you reading this right now will be perfectly fine with a 15GB to 30GB plan, or right around the $25 to $30 price points.
If you’d like, you can also check your actual usage to get a better idea of how much data you need.
- iPhone users can find data usage under Settings > Cellular
- Android users can find data usage under Settings > Network & internet > Mobile network > App data usage
- Most carriers also include a breakdown of your data usage on your monthly bill
- Some carriers, like US Mobile, even have a usage dashboard so you can monitor exactly how much cellular data you are consuming
Third is features. For some people, certain features like Wi-Fi calling, eSIM support, 5G access, international calling, or international data roaming are important to have.
I lay out exactly what features each plan includes in this article, so be on the lookout to make sure a plan includes all the features you need.
And fourth is price. How much are you willing to spend on a cell phone plan? Would it be possible to curb your data usage and habits to save a little extra each month? Maybe you make sure your phone is on Wi-Fi at home and at work to reduce your data usage? Or is it worth it to you to spend a little bit more for a more premium plan?
Once you’ve determined what network you need for coverage (or networks if more than one is good in your area), how much data you need, what features are important to you, and how much you are looking to spend, you’re ready to move on to the best cell phone plans for 2021.
Best Cell Phone Plans for 2021
Best $10 Cell Phone Plans
Our top picks for the best $10 cell phone plans are:
Tello’s $10 plan includes unlimited talk and text with 1GB of high-speed data.
Tello uses the T-Mobile network for coverage and supports many features, but only for Android phones. MMS, visual voicemail, and Wi-Fi calling aren’t working on iPhones at the moment.
Tello includes free international calling to Canada, Mexico, China, and Romania, and you have the option to purchase pay-as-you-go credit to make calls to 237 other countries.
Red Pocket is another great option here. Their $9 annual plan includes 1000 minutes, unlimited texts, and 10GB of data, and is available on either the Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile network.
Red Pocket also offers great feature support for both iPhone and Android users.
Visual voicemail is available as a $1 per month add-on for Verizon and AT&T customers, but it’s not available for T-Mobile customers. 5G access is also only available for T-Mobile customers at the moment.
Red Pocket also includes free international calling to 80 countries. However, to enable international calling you have to you do have to disable VoLTE.
You can also get an international data roaming add-on that starts at just $9 per month for 1GB of data that works across 50 countries.
Lastly in the $10 category is Unreal Mobile’s $10 2GB plan. And this very well may be the best option here.
Unreal Mobile is actually now owned by Red Pocket, so it supports almost the exact same features we saw before. This includes Red Pocket’s free international calling to 80 countries, international data roaming starting at $9 per month, and even 5G access for Android phones.
Unreal Mobile’s plan is simple, affordable, and it includes the most data at 2GB than the other options here.
Best $15 Cell Phone Plans Plans
Now let’s move on to the best $15 cell phone plans. Here we have fantastic options from US Mobile, T-Mobile Prepaid, Mint Mobile, and Red Pocket.
- US Mobile's $15 5GB plan
- T-Mobile's Connect $15 2.5GB plan
- Mint Mobile's $15 4GB plan
- Red Pocket's $15 3GB plan
US Mobile’s plan is simply one of the best options here. $15 gets you 5GB of data on either the Verizon or T-Mobile network. You choose which network you want when you sign up.
US Mobile also includes xcellent feature support. Features include VoLTE, 5G, domestic roaming on the Verizon network, and international roaming. Hotspot is also available as a $5 add-on.
It should be noted that you get 10GB of international data roaming included for free, but it’s available only as an eSIM data-only add-on. You need to have an eSIM compatible phone to take advantage of this feature.
Finally, US Mobile offers a beautiful account dashboard for managing your plans and monitoring your data usage.
T-Mobile’s $15 Connect plan is another decent option here. $15 only gets you 2GB of cellular data, but this plan is packed with features.
The notable features are eSIM support, the included 100MB of domestic roaming data, and the fact that you can go to a T-Mobile store or contact T-Force for help and support.
T-Mobile will also be increasing this plan to 2.5GB of data later this year. (UPDATE: they increased the plan the day after I filmed my video! So the new plan with 2.5GB is now available).
Mint Mobile is another carrier that supports a lot of features––including VoLTE, Wi-Fi calling, hotspot, 5G, and eSIM––but this time it also delivers excellent value.
$15 gets you 4GB of data per month. That’s double the amount T-Mobile was offering.
Mint is able to offer such a good value because their plans are sold in bulk 3-, 6-, and 12-month packages. They also offer a great app and customer support.
Mint wants to make it as easy as possible for you to try their network, so we are actually partnering together for a giveaway. Each month Mint Mobile will be giving away one full YEAR of free service on one of their plans. It’s currently March, so that means there are 10 total chances to win.
A new giveaway will be made available each month, so make sure to come back to this article to enter again. You can enter the giveaway here.
Oh, and if you don’t win the giveaway? You can also try the service for free with Mint Mobile’s 7-day free trial.
Finally in the $15 category, we have Red Pocket. This time I’m recommending their $15 3GB plan. This plan continues to support many of the popular features from before, including Red Pocket’s international features.
I think this plan is best used on the AT&T network because you can find better deals on the T-Mobile and Verizon networks from Mint Mobile and US Mobile.
Best $20 Cell Phone Plans
Next, we have the best $20 plans. We have great options here from US Mobile, Red Pocket, FreeUP Mobile, and Mint Mobile.
- US Mobile $20 12GB plan
- Red Pocket $20 8GB plan
- FreeUP Mobile $20 8GB plan
- Mint Mobile $20 10GB plan
US Mobile’s $20 12GB plan is probably one of my favorite options here. It not only includes the most data, but it’s also a monthly plan as opposed to an annual plan.
US Mobile’s plan is available on the Verizon or T-Mobile networks, and it includes the same features we’ve talked about before.
Hotspot is still $5 to enable, and you’re still getting 10GB of international data roaming included for free via the international eSIM add-ons.
Next up we have another annual plan from Red Pocket. Their $20 annual plan includes 8GB of high-speed data before unlimited 2G.
This plan is available on the Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile networks, and it includes decent feature support along with Red Pocket’s excellent international calling perks and international data roaming add-ons.
If you’d prefer to pay monthly, Red Pocket offers a $19 plan, but the data amount drops from 8GB down to 3GB.
FreeUP Mobile’s plan is another option to consider on the AT&T network. They similarly offer an annual plan that breaks down to $20/month and includes 8GB of high-speed data.
FreeUP Mobile is missing support for visual voicemail, but it actually includes even better international calling than Red Pocket. You can make calls to over 150 countries included for free with this plan.
Lastly in this category, we have the plan that I use personally for my primary phone number. It’s Mint Mobile’s $20 plan with 10GB of high-speed data.
What I love about Mint is they support all of my favorite features, including Wi-Fi calling, hotspot, 5G access, and even eSIM, and I feel their plans offer a tremendous value.
Like the other plans we saw here, Mint Mobile is able to offer such a great value thanks to their annual discount.
Oh, and a friendly reminder you can win a year of free Mint Mobile service at the giveaway linked in the video description.
Best $25 Cell Phone Plans
Now let’s move on to the best $25 plans. And honestly, these may be some of the best value plans out there. They are perfect for many average users and include plenty of high-speed data.
Our recommended $25 cell phone plans:
- US Mobile’s $25 18GB plan
- Mint Mobile’s $25 15GB plan
- Unreal Mobile’s $25 12GB plan
- AT&T Prepaid’s $25 plan
First up is US Mobile’s $25 18GB plan. This includes a huge amount of data at an affordable price, and it continues to support the features for which US Mobile is most known.
Notable features include their impressive 10GB of free international data and their beautiful online account dashboard with detailed usage analytics.
US Mobile’s plan is the only monthly option here, giving you more flexibility to switch plans any time you please.
Next, we have Mint Mobile’s $25 15GB plan. Similar to before, I love Mint for their excellent feature support, great application, and good customer service.
Mint Mobile’s giveaway is linked in the video description if you’d like a chance to win a year of free service.
Unreal Mobile is another competitive plan in this category, and they offer some of the most data you can get on the AT&T network. $25 for 12GB is an excellent value.
Unfortunately, no hotspot support here, but as Unreal Mobile is owned by Red Pocket you do get international calling included for free and the option for an affordable international data roaming add-on.
Lastly in this category, we have a plan from AT&T themselves, and it’s their $25 annual prepaid plan.
This plan is $300 upfront, but it breaks down to just $25 per month and includes a respectable 8GB of high-speed data.
Many viewers actually voted that this was one of the best plans on the AT&T network at this price point.
It may not be as good of a value as Unreal Mobile, which offers 12GB compared to AT&T’s 8GB, but what people loved was AT&T’s feature support.
Notable features include Wi-Fi calling, eSIM, domestic roaming, roaming in Canada and Mexico, and rollover data, so unused data will roll over each month.
Best $30 Cell Phone Plans
Next, we have the best $30 plans. Like the $25 plans, these continue to be some of the best value plans in the industry, offering easily enough data for over 82% of average consumers at incredibly affordable prices.
Our top $30 plan picks:
- US Mobile $30 30GB plan
- Mint Mobile $30 35GB plan
- Red Pocket $30 20GB plan
- AT&T Prepaid $33 8GB plan
US Mobile continues to be one of my favorite options. Their $30 plan includes 30GB of data and is available on either the Verizon or T-Mobile network.
Notable features include 5G access on both Verizon and T-Mobile, and the included 10GB of international roaming data via the international eSIM plans.
What’s powerful about this plan is that US Mobile’s usage analytics dashboard can inform you exactly how much data you’re using.
If it turns out you need less data, you can easily switch to one of US Mobile’s more affordable plans to save yourself even more money each month.
Next in this category, we have Mint Mobile’s $30 35GB plan.
This offers excellent feature support like all of Mint Mobile’s other plans, but there are two key differences:
- Video streaming is limited to 480p instead of 4K
- You only get 5GB of high-speed hotspot data instead of being able to use all of your included data as hotspot data
I still love this plan though, and this is actually the exact plan Mint Mobile is giving away for free right now at their giveaway.
Finally, we have two plans on the AT&T network rounding off this category.
The first is Red Pocket’s annual plan, offering 20GB of data for $30 per month. This is an excellent value and supports many features.
Red Pocket continues to be a great option for anyone looking for a plan that includes international calling and the option for a great international data roaming add-on.
Red Pocket also offers a $30 10GB plan if you’d prefer to pay monthly instead of $360 upfront.
And the second great option on the AT&T network is AT&T’s $33 prepaid plan.
This is actually a 3-month plan, so $99 upfront, and it doesn’t include nearly as much data as Red Pocket.
But again, what people liked about this plan was the feature support.
You get Wi-Fi calling, eSIM support, domestic roaming, roaming in Canada and Mexico, and rollover data.
Best Cheap Unlimited Plans
Now let’s move on to what may be one of the most popular categories: the best cheap unlimited data plans.
Here we have phenomenal options from Visible, US Mobile, T-Mobile Prepaid, and AT&T Prepaid:
- Visible’s $40 unlimited plan
- US Mobile’s $45 unlimited plan
- T-Mobile’s Prepaid $50 unlimited plan
- AT&T Prepaid’s $60 Unlimited Plus plan
First is Visible’s legendary $40 unlimited plan.
This has exploded in popularity thanks to its excellent value, its excellent features, and the fact that Visible is using the Verizon network for coverage.
You get support for pretty much everything here, including VoLTE, Wi-Fi calling, international calling, hotspot, and more.
Notable features include eSIM support for iPhone users and 5G access on both Verizon’s Nationwide and Ultra Wideband 5G networks.
You also get unlimited hotspot data with speeds capped at 5Mbps.
The best part is if you join a Visible Party, your bill drops to just $25 per month with all taxes and fees included. If you’re interested you can join my party linked in the video description. We currently have 1,325 members and counting.
The one downside to Visible is they don’t work with all devices, so you’ll want to make sure your device is supported before you sign up.
Next up is US Mobile’s $45 unlimited plan. This uses either Verizon or T-Mobile for coverage, though the plan is limited to 50GB on the T-Mobile network as opposed to a true unlimited plan on the Verizon network.
What makes US Mobile a compelling option over Visible, even though it is more expensive and hotspot data is a $10 add-on as opposed to being included, is that US Mobile typically offers slightly faster speeds, better coverage, and works with more devices.
You also get 10GB of international data roaming included for free.
Families will also love US Mobile for their multi-line discount and perks. With three or more lines, US Mobile drops the price down to just $25 per line, and you actually get to choose up to two perks to cover the cost of your favorite subscription services. Options include Spotify family, Apple Music family, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, HBO Max, and popular gaming services.
On the T-Mobile network, we have T-Mobile’s $50 prepaid plan. This is truly unlimited data, and what I love about this plan is that the data is actually prioritized, so you’ll have the exact same experience as if you were signed up for one of T-Mobile’s more expensive Magenta or Magenta MAX plans.
T-Mobile also goes all-out with feature support here, including things like 5G, eSIM, 100MB of domestic roaming data, and options for international calling and international data roaming add-ons.
Finally, the other huge perk about this plan is that you can go to a physical T-Mobile store for customer service and support. You also can chat with T-Mobile’s T-Force representatives on social media for help or questions about your plan, and I think T-Force representatives provide some of the best support in the industry.
Shoutout to the T-Force reps reading this, I really appreciate all the work you do.
Finishing off this category we have the AT&T Prepaid Unlimited Plus plan.
This is listed for $75 on AT&T’s website, but there is a $15 auto-pay discount that brings the cost down to just $60 per month. This is still one of the more expensive plans I’m recommending here, but I do think it’s worth it.
AT&T does offer a $50 unlimited prepaid plan, but I’m recommending the $60 one because it includes 22GB of priority data, 5G access, 10GB of hotspot data, and HD video streaming.
I think the added perks are worth the slight extra cost, and this is easily the best value unlimited plan currently available on the AT&T network.
Best Premium Unlimited Plans
And now on to the grand finale: the best premium unlimited plans for 2021.
I’m actually breaking this into two categories
- The best value premium plans (aka the ones I think most people should sign up for)
- The top-of-the-line absolute best plans currently available on each of the networks
Best Value Premium Unlimited Plans
For the best value plans, I’m recommending:
These come in at $80, $75, and $70 respectively, and I think for most people they offer the best balance between premium features and price.
Absolute Best Premium Unlimited Plans
If you can afford to and you do want to step it up a notch, you can also consider the best premium plans currently available.
And those are of course:
Of these, I’m surprised to say T-Mobile is actually offering the most features with their plan.
Magenta MAX includes the most priority data, the most hotspot data, and T-Mobile’s network has gotten surprisingly good recently.
I also know AT&T’s unlimited Elite plan is a fan favorite, given that it has more priority data than Verizon, supports up to 4K streaming, and includes HBO MAX, which I’m told is a good streaming service but haven’t tried personally.
So there you go. Those are the absolute best cell phone plans for 2021.
I spent a TON of time compiling these plans, researching the plan features, and of course selecting the best plans to recommend to you.
If you found this article helpful in some way, please consider sharing it with a friend.
How I Came Up with the Best Plans for 2021
If you’re wondering how I came up with all of these plans, I actually have a spreadsheet that compares over 300 plans from over 50 different carriers here in the United States.
You can access a light version of the spreadsheet for free here. It compares 50 of my top recommended plans.
If you’d like access to the full comparison chart, then you may consider supporting me on Patreon as all Patreon supporters get full lifetime access to the comparison chart that compares all 312 plans.
You can even sign up for one month and then cancel––I give you full permission to do so––but I’m hoping you’ll stick around for some of the other perks and benefits. :)
That’s it for this article. Follow me on Twitter to see what I’m up to next.