The American cell phone market is highly competitive, with three major cellular carriers (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) and more than 120 mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) offering plans through the major carriers’ networks. From a consumer perspective, lots of competition means lots of choice. While cell phone plans may all appear similar – most of them offer more-or-less nationwide coverage, unlimited minutes, and unlimited data – there are subtle differences. In short, the best cell phone plan for you might not be the best cell phone plan for someone else, and vice-versa. Here’s a look at the top 10 cell phone plans to help you find the one that’s best for you.
Mint Mobile offers a choice of four cell phone plans on T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G and 4G LTE network. It is best known for its unique marketing approach, which includes a substantial 3-month introductory discount, free SIM card and 7-day trial for a friend of your choice, and promos featuring part-owner and Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds.
Mint Mobile has one of the best customer ratings of any mobile plan provider, with a 4.6-star rating from around 5,000 customer reviews on Trustpilot. Customers say they value Mint Mobile for its superior prices (compared to the big three carriers), reliable service, and user-friendly website and app.
Tello has built up a reputation as one of the leading providers of budget, bare-bones cell phone plans. Tello’s custom plans give you as many minutes as you want (zero to unlimited), as much data as you want (zero to 25 GB), and unlimited texts – and Tello charges you accordingly. Plans start from as little as $5/month with unlimited minutes and limited data.
True to its status as a budget cell phone operator, Tello lets you bring over your existing phone for free or purchase a new or refurbished device for as little as $69. The end result is that Tello is much cheaper than the big mobile operators and it doesn’t require any contracts or commitments.
Q. What’s the difference between a cell phone plan provider and cell phone network?
A. Building wireless infrastructure is expensive, which is why there are only three major nationwide networks (and a handful of regional ones). More of the 120+ cell phone plan providers in the countries don’t have their own networks. Instead, they rent space on one of the big three networks: AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile US.
Q. Do I have to buy a device from my new cell phone plan provider?
A. No. When you sign up for a new cell phone plan, you usually get a choice of buying (or more often, financing) a new device or bringing your own device. However, note that your phone must be compatible with whichever network your cell phone provider is on. You can usually check compatibility for free on the provider’s website.
Q. Which plans are best for activities that use lots of data, e.g., HD streaming, mobile gaming?
A. If you need high data usage, then you’ll need an unlimited plan – and preferably one with as much high-speed data usage as possible. Obviously, these plans tend to be more expensive than basic ones with limited high-speed data.
thequick10.com cell phone plan reviews are based on objective facts. Our reviews are based on research via the cell phone plan provider’s site, trusted 3rd party sites, customer reviews, and use of the product through free trials, or through paid use in some cases.
It is not always possible to use the product through its entire lifecycle. However, reviewers will try the signup process, make customer service queries to check response times and perform any other possible function within the review period. For the rest of the information, we rely on what the brand says about its own product offering, customer reviews, and complaints, ratings from independent agencies like the BBB, and trusted journalistic publications.
Some of the key features we compared when looking at the cell phone plans on our list were: Customer service
Price is the most obvious factor people look at when comparing cell phone plans, but there are actually a lot of other things to look for in your research:
Another important thing to think about when comparing providers is the types of cell phone plans they offer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on every area of our lives, including cell phone plans. If you’re one of the millions of people now working remotely on a full-time or part-time basis, then you could benefit from having a mobile hotspot connection as part of your plan. Some cell phone providers include unlimited mobile hotspot usage in their plans, while others limit hotspot usage to a fraction of the overall data usage (e.g., if you have 50 GB high-speed data, they might only let you use 15 GB as a hotspot connection). Either way, having a hotspot connection is crucial if you ever find yourself working in locations where the Wi-Fi isn’t great.
Like any other sector with hundreds of providers, there are good cell phone providers and not-so-good ones. Therefore, always check a provider’s reputation before handing over your billing details or signing a contract. Also, read plenty of reviews and read through the fine print to make sure you aren’t putting yourself at risk of hidden fees.
As a cell phone user, it’s worth noting that you may also be the target of scammers trying to steal your identity. Thankfully, some of the top cell phone providers offer extra protection to block scam calls and messages. Alternatively, there are plenty of third-party call-blocking apps you can use to prevent unwanted callers.
No two cell phone plans are the same and no two cell phone customers are the same. Therefore, it pays to think about what you need before comparing cell phone providers. Here are a few things to consider when doing your comparison shop:
Cell phone plans can be divided into roughly two groups: limited (usually prepaid) and unlimited (often, but not always, contract) plans.
Limited plans start from as little as $5-$10 a month for bare-bones plans with very limited data (500 MB to 5 GB). They’re perfect if you only need a little bit of data but can quickly rise to $50-$60/month if your data usage gets out of control.
Unlimited plans start from $25-30/month in some cases, although you’ll need to pay at least $35/month for features like mobile hotspot. Prices can reach up to $60/month for plans with lots of extra features. The great thing about unlimited plans is that the price is fixed. If you exceed your data limit, your data will simply slow down from 4G/5G to 2G but you will never pay extra.
The more competition there is, the more power consumers have. The cell phone plans market is highly competitive, which means the power is in your hands. Before switching cell phone providers, always shop around to see who has the best prices, best features, and best terms and conditions for your lifestyle.