If you’re deciding between plans from T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T, this article is for you. I’ll be comparing all of the cell phone plans currently available and letting you know which ones are the best.
I’ll provide my recommendations for both single-line users and for families so you can make sure you’re getting the best plan for your needs.
Let's get into it.
Entry-Level Unlimited Plan Comparison
Each carrier offers three different types of plans to choose from: entry-level plans, mid-tier plans, and top-tier plans.
Let’s start with the entry-level plans. These are the most affordable, and probably the plans most people are going to be considering.
We have T-Mobile Essentials, Verizon Start Unlimited, and AT&T Unlimited Starter.
And right up front, I’ll tell you these plans aren’t worth it for single-line users.
Why? Because you can get better plans for less money.
On T-Mobile you could opt for T-Mobile Prepaid’s $50 plan and save $120 per year.
On Verizon you could get Visible’s $40 unlimited plan and save yourself a cool $360 per year.
And on AT&T you get AT&T’s Prepaid Unlimited plan for just $50 per month and save $180 per year.
There are only two reasons to consider the entry-level postpaid plans on the major carriers.
Reason #1: You want to finance your device
Currently device financing is really only available through postpaid plans.
Your option if you go with a prepaid plan is typically to finance with Affirm. This can work for some people, but still the device trade-in deals and financing options from the major carriers tend to be some of the best.
You also can’t finance your phone if you go directly with T-Mobile Prepaid, Visible, or AT&T Prepaid. So if you want the device financing option, going with the entry-level postpaid plans from T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T may be the way to go.
Reason #2: you have a family plan
A four-line family plan drops the cost per line to between $30 and $35 per month, which is much more reasonable.
If you pair these family discounts with a device financing deal, then I could see how these plans may be appealing to some people.
So if you do decide to sign up, which plan is the best?
Taking a look at the breakdown here, and you can see there are four main differences:
- T-Mobile includes unlimited hotspot data at 600Kbps, while Verizon and AT&T don’t include any hotspot data.
- AT&T includes unlimited data roaming in Canada and Mexico at full LTE speeds on when on partner networks. Verizon includes just 0.5GB of LTE data per day before unlimited data at 128Kbps, and T-Mobile’s speeds are always capped at 128Kbps.
- The perks. Verizon gives you a 6-month free trial of Apple Music, Disney+, and Discovery+. T-Mobile offers T-Mobile Tuesdays. And AT&T gives you nothing.
- Tablet lines are $15 on T-Mobile Essentials vs $20 on Verizon and AT&T.
The rest of the plan features are basically the same. All plans include unlimited data that’s deprioritized, 480p video streaming, and the same cost for wearable devices.
If I had to choose, I would pick T-Mobile’s plan as the best option here, but only because it’s the cheapest. As I mentioned, I wouldn’t really recommend any of these plans because you can get the exact service for less.
Even with the family discounts, you can still find cheaper plans. For example, Metro by T-Mobile offers an unlimited plan for $30/line with 4 lines, Visible drops the price down to just $25/line with 4 lines, and Cricket Wireless offers a family plan for $33/line for 4 lines.
Unless you really want to finance your device, I think you are better off going with one of the alternative options and saving money on your monthly cell phone bill.
Now let’s move on to the mid-tier plans.
The mid-tier plans bump up in price, but they also offer more features and a better experience than the entry level plans. The three mid-tier plans are T-Mobile Magenta, Verizon Play More Unlimited, and AT&T Unlimited Extra.
T-Mobile’s plan remains the lowest-cost option here. It’s just $70 per month compared to $75 from AT&T and $80 from Verizon. These prices include all auto-pay discounts.
The full breakdown here reveals there are 7 key differences:
- T-Mobile includes 100GB of priority data here, compared to 50GB on Verizon and AT&T.
- Verizon and AT&T include 15GB of high-speed hotspot data, compared to just 5GB on T-Mobile.
- Verizon enables up to 720p video streaming compared to 480p streaming on the other plans.
- AT&T continues to offer the best option for roaming in Mexico and Canada with unlimited high-speed data.
- T-Mobile adds in unlimited international data roaming with speeds up to 128Kbps. The speeds are slow, but it’s much better than the expensive international add-ons from Verizon and AT&T that we’ll cover in the next section.
- T-Mobile includes all taxes and fees with their plan. This saves T-Mobile customers about $70 per year compared with the other plans, which is basically an extra free month of cell service.
- And finally are the perks. Verizon includes Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, along with 6 months of Apple Music and 12 months of discovery+. T-Mobile offers 1 Standard definition screen of Netflix, but only with two or more lines. Still, considering the $10 price difference between the plans, and the extra taxes and fees Verizon will charge you, you could basically get T-Mobile Magenta and the $13 Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ bundle separately and end up paying about the same if not less. And AT&T doesn’t include any notable perks with their plan.
I think T-Mobile’s plan is the best here. It’s the most affordable, and 100GB of priority data is HUGE for average consumers.
Most people use more data directly on their smartphone vs as hotspot data, so I think the extra priority data is more important than extra hotspot data. 5GB of hotspot data should still be plenty for average consumers.
In second place I would pick Verizon’s Play More plan. I do like the extra 15GB of hotspot data here, as well as 720p video streaming.
I’m also a big fan of the Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ bundle. It may be the most expensive plan in this category, but I think it delivers an overall good value and experience.
When it comes to family plans, T-Mobile’s plan continues to be the best option. The price is the same as AT&T, $40 per line for four lines, but again T-Mobile includes all taxes and fees. This makes T-Mobile the cheapest, and you end up saving an estimated $240 to $480 compared with the other plans.
Verizon's family plan is the most expensive at $45 per line for four lines.
And honestly, with the $20 price difference per month between AT&T and Verizon, you could actually get AT&T Unlimited Extra and the Disney+ bundle and still save money. So I would probably go with AT&T if you’re a family over Verizon.
Now we have the top-tier plans. These are the best plans each carrier has to offer. They offer the most features, and they are the most expensive.
T-Mobile offers Magenta MAX for $85 per month, Verizon offers Get More Unlimited for $90 per month, and AT&T offers Unlimited Elite for $85 per month. Again, these prices continue to include all auto-pay discounts already applied.
The full breakdown of these plans reveals there are 7 key differences:
- T-Mobile offers the most priority here. You get truly unlimited priority data, compared with only 50GB on Verizon and a more respectable 100GB on AT&T.
- T-Mobile gives you the most hotspot data. You get 40GB compared with 30GB on the other carriers.
- T-Mobile and AT&T up the ante and provide full, 4K video streaming. Verizon stays stuck at 720p.
- AT&T continues to offer the best solution for roaming in Canada and Mexico with unlimited high-speed data.
- T-Mobile continues to offer the best international roaming solution with unlimited data now at 256Kbps. You also now get unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi and texting on GoGo enabled flights.
- T-Mobile continues to include taxes and fees.
- Verizon includes Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Apple Music, as well as a 12-month trial of the new discovery+ streaming service. AT&T includes HBO Max, which pairs nicely with their 4K streaming, and T-Mobile now offers Netflix Basic, which is 1 screen at standard def quality for single-line users.
- The tablet and wearable pricing. Verizon offers a 50% discount on tablet and wearable plans with their Get More unlimited plan, making the cost just $10 per tablet line and $5 per wearable.
T-Mobile’s new Magenta MAX plan clean sweeps the other plans with it’s new features and benefits. I think it’s easily the best option here, and it’s the most affordable with taxes and fees included. T-Mobile is delivering some serious value.
In second place I would pick AT&T. Their plan is honestly still a great value with 100GB of priority, 4K video, and HBO MAX. Plus, you can easily get discounts on AT&T Unlimited Elite by becoming an AARP member, or if you qualify for other discount programs.
When we look at the family pricing here, T-Mobile continues to keep the pressure on. Four lines comes out to just $50/line which is the same as AT&T.
And because T-Mobile includes taxes and fees, so families actually end up saving around $240 to $480 per year compared to the other options.
That’s easily enough to cover the cost of HBO MAX or the Disney+ bundle, making the perks almost irrelevant for the other plans.
BUT, again, AT&T does offer their signature discount which discounts their Elite plan by $10 per line. If you’re somehow able to get that discount, then I think AT&T’s plan is easily a close second, and even a first choice if you’re in an area with better AT&T coverage than T-Mobile coverage.
And funny enough, with Verizon’s Get More plan, you actually get LESS. Less priority data, less hotspot data, and lower quality video streaming.
In fact, the only person getting “more” here is Verizon, because you’re literally paying more for their plan than the other two options.
What Unlimited Plan is Best?
So what’s the takeaway from all of these different postpaid unlimited plans?
The bottom line is this: I think T-Mobile is offering the best value in wireless when it comes to postpaid plans.
Their plans include some of the most features, the best perks, and they are the most affordable when compared to the options from Verizon or AT&T.
If you haven’t tried T-Mobile recently, I think it’s worth giving them another chance. I think most people will be perfectly happy with their T-Mobile Magenta plan, though you could bump up to Magenta MAX if you wanted more hotspot data (5GB on Magenta vs 40GB on MAX).
In overall second place, I would give the award to AT&T. Their plans still include great features with unlimited high-speed data in Canada and Mexico, up to 4K video streaming, and up to 100GB of priority data with Unlimited Elite.
AT&T’s plans are also cheaper than Verizon’s. AT&T Unlimited Elite is their best offering, and if you’re a heavy data user you’re going to love it.
In last place I would put Verizon. Their plans are not only the most expensive, but they also lack features like extra priority data and 4K video streaming.
Verizon is known for having some of the best coverage across the U.S. though, so if you had to sign up for them then I think their Play More plan is probably the best value.
I just think it’s hard to recommend Verizon when carriers like US Mobile and Visible offer true unlimited data on the Verizon network for $40 to $45 per month for single-line users, and as low as $25 per line for three or more lines.
Why pay more when you can get a good experience for less?
Either way, that has been the full comparison between T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. Share this post with a friend if you found it helpful.