The best unlimited data plans in the US keep on changing as carriers switch around their prices, offer new features and perks, or even cut down on what they have to offer without reducing the price (we’re looking at you, Sprint).
With all the different plans available from major carriers, small carriers operating on the bigger networks, and fine print details that would drive anyone mad, it can be daunting to figure out whether an unlimited data plan is actually good, or even really unlimited. Some carriers call their plans unlimited but will slow the data to near dial-up speeds after a certain amount is used.
Fortunately, you can count on us to help clarify what the best data plans are actually offering. If you’re on the market for a new mobile plan, we’ve got you covered.
From a huge range of small MVNO carriers to everything from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, we’ve sorted through all the unlimited data plans offered in the US in 2019. The best unlimited data plans will combine limitless data with all the talking and texting you could dream of each month. But, the ones that truly stand out won’t slow you down for nothing, don’t charge too much, and support features like mobile hotspot.
We want to save you the trouble of having to figure out what a carrier is actually offering. We know how straining all the fine print can be on the eyes.
So, after culling through all the unlimited data plans on offer, we’ve narrowed down the results by cutting out carriers that majorly throttle your data speeds at a certain point. This means only carriers that rely on throttling to address network congestion have made it through. Everything else fails to fit our definition of the word “unlimited”.
We’ve also focused simply on the base tier of unlimited data plans for individual customers: no family plans making it seem like a carrier has a good deal, when in fact you need three more people to sign up with you; just the lowest cost plan that offers unlimited data, talk, and text. This means deals on phones and the value of extra perks like free Netflix or HBO aren’t factored into the rankings.
Now that we’ve cleared up how we picked, let’s get straight to the rankings.
Best value unlimited plans:
Best deal: MetroPCS unlimited plan for $50 (runs on T-Mobile network)
MetroPCS offers the best value unlimited plan on the market right now. For mobile phone users that want to pay as little as possible while getting as much data as possible, MetroPCS is the right carrier.
MetroPCS runs on T-Mobile’s powerful network (though sometimes spotty in rural areas, in our experience). And it’s unlimited plan costs $50 with all taxes and fees included in that price. Users can stream DVD-quality video and use as much data as they want. They can also call and text to their hearts’ content. MetroPCS has even upgraded this plan by adding in 5GB of high-speed hotspot data.
There are some limitations to the plan. Users who exceed 35GB of data use in a month can see their speeds throttled during times of network congestion. Still, the plan remains highly competitive, with a soft data cap much higher than a lot of its similarly priced and even more expensive competitors.
Alternative pick: Visible unlimited data plan (runs on Verizon’s 4G LTE network)
Boost Mobile’s Unlimited Gigs plan used to hold this spot for its extra hotspot data at the same price as MetroPCS, but we’ve found the plan from a new carrier called Visible to be a better option for budget-minded shoppers.
Visible offers a value-focused plan with unlimited texting, calling, and data on Verizon’s LTE network. The plan has a great price at $40, and that’s inclusive of all taxes, fees, and other charges. Your bills will be straight forward.
Visible has no point at which it will begin to throttle data speeds, however the company does keep a cap on speeds at all times. Users will be kept at a max of 5Mbps, which isn’t crazy fast, but is enough for almost all mobile needs. Visible makes up for that limit by allowing unlimited video streaming and unlimited mobile hotspot on these plans.
While some carriers limit the speeds of certain activities, like online gaming or music streaming, Visible just caps everything at 5Mbps. At the price, the only competition we could find was Teltik, which is only available to businesses and self-employed customers.
Other contenders in this category:
Top of the Big 4:
3. Best offer: T-Mobile ONE plan for $70
At first glance, the T-Mobile ONE plan doesn’t look like it’s the best deal, but we factored everything in, and it added up. One big point in T-Mobile’s favor is that the $70 monthly fee is exact: all taxes and fees are already included. Sprint’s plan appears cheaper at first, but its plan has some more limits that keep us from recommending it over T-Mobile.
T-Mobile has the highest soft data cap of all four major carriers, tying with Sprint. It won’t begin deprioritizing T-Mobile ONE customer data speeds until after they’ve used 50GB. That means customers who truly plan to get their money’s worth of unlimited data will get more mileage from T-Mobile. One constraint is that video streaming is limited to DVD quality.
There are extra perks as well. Tethering is allowed at up to 3G speeds. Customers can use their phone while traveling in Canada and Mexico with unlimited talk and text and 5GB of 4G LTE data, along with some usability in more than 140 other countries. Plus, T-Mobile throws in a free Netflix subscription that didn’t even factor into our consideration (because it requires two lines, so individuals can’t get it).
Better still, for customers that don’t need a international features, the T-Mobile One Prepaid Domestic Only plan is much the same as the One Plan, but costs just $50 plus taxes and fees.
4. Alternative pick: Sprint Unlimited Basic plan for $60
Of the big four carriers, Sprint offers the lowest base price for its unlimited data plan. We do have some gripes with it, though. Sprint discontinued the Unlimited Freedom plan and introduced a new tiered plan system. The Unlimited Basic plan is the cheapest at $60, but has additional taxes and fees.
While the price is the same as the old Unlimited Freedom plan, Sprint has reduced the mobile hotspot data from 10GB down to 500MB. It also only allows 480p video streaming, whereas before it offered HD video. There has been an upgrade to its data allotment though, as now customers can use 50GB of high-speed data before data deprioritization during network congestion.
Sprint also throws in a free subscription to Hulu, and allows for some services abroad, including free texting and basic data in over 200 countries and full service with 5GB of LTE data in Mexico and Canada.
Base plan: Verizon GoUnlimited plan for $75
Verizon’s base unlimited data plan is a bit more expensive than the competition, and the $75 starting price for individual plans doesn’t factor in taxes and fees. But, with that price comes uncapped data, calls, and texts, and 4G network coverage that consistently ranks higher than all of the other major carriers.
Verizon’s GoUnlimited plan offers DVD-quality streaming, and it allows unlimited Wi-Fi hotspot usage at 600Kbps. Customers can also use their service for data, calls, and texts in Canada and Mexico.
Though this is a true unlimited data plan, customers may experience reduced data speeds when the network is congested. And, that’s regardless of how much data they’ve used in a month.
With a price higher than it’s competitors, we don’t like that the plan has so many limitations.
Base plan: AT&T Unlimited &More plan for $70
AT&T’s base Unlimited &More data plan starts at $70 for a single line when auto-pay and paperless billing are enabled. Taxes and fees are an additional price. But, the cost gets you onto AT&T’s network, which ranks highly in the US and works with many of the best unlocked phones.
That AT&T ‘&More’ in the plan name also has some meaning for customers. AT&T adds in over 35 live TV channels on the service via the WatchTV app, giving customers access to thousands of shows and movies they can stream without ever running out of data.
The plan doesn’t allow Wi-Fi Hotspot usage, limits streaming to DVD quality, and can see reduced data speeds during times of network congestion. But, customers do get unlimited texting to over 120 countries, and free roaming in Canada and Mexico.
AT&T does have a value option in the Prepaid Unlimited plan, which starts at $55 a month with AutoPay. It’s comparable to the Unlimited &More plan while coming in at a lower price.