Here in the US, the four major wireless carriers have been changing their plans almost monthly. This is because of the ongoing price war here in the country. This is due to T-Mobile and now Sprint, dropping their prices and becoming very competitive with the other two carriers, AT&T and Verizon, whom have more than double the subscribers of the two smaller carriers. These carriers all have similarly priced plans, but which ones are the best bang for your buck? We'll decipher the marking lingo here and see which carrier has the best plan for both a single line and a family of four.
Actually, AT&T hasn't really changed their plans much in recent memory. But they did drop contracts not too long ago, and moved on over to AT&T Next for device payments and early upgrades. AT&T does have access fees per line of service. They are $25/month for plans that include up to 5GB of data, and anything larger, the price drops to $15/month. Remember that these are per line fees as well. If we take a look at the LG G5 here which is $22.97/month, on a single line plan of 5GB, we're looking at a final price of $97.97 per month. Given the $50 for the plan, $25 for the access fee and $27.97 to actually pay for the phone. Of course, that's before any taxes or any other fees.
For a family of four, we'll take a look at their 25GB plan which is $175 per month. Now if you get four LG G5's here, that will bring the total cost to $326.88. This breaks down as $175 for the data, $60 for access fees and $91.88 for the actual smartphones. Remember that with this data, it's a pool that is used for all four lines, and not 25GB per line.
Sprint probably has the cheapest plans, when you look at their commercials, and they kind of have to. Since they are the smallest carrier in the country. They actually offer up plans that start as low as $20/month that nets you 1GB of data (speeds are throttled once you hit your cap). Sprint has access fees here as well, and they are slightly cheaper, coming in at $20/month/line. For a single line with 3GB of data (which is $30/month) and a LG G5, we're looking at $74/month. That includes $30 for the data, $20 for the access fee and $24 for the actual phone.
Family plans are much the same, the only difference is the access fees and smartphone prices. So a family of four on a 12GB plan – Sprint's largest – would be looking at about $236. As we're looking at $60 for the data, $80 for access fees and $96 for the actual smartphones, which in this case are LG G5's. Of course that can change, depending on what smartphones you buy.
T-Mobile is currently the only one that offers data per line and not as a big pool for the entire account. Every line comes with 2GB of data for free. It's also worth noting that once you hit your data cap, your speeds will be throttled to 2G speeds. T-Mobile doesn't do access fees either, so their pricing is a bit more straight-forward. Their smallest data plan, is the 2GB, which starts at $50. Add on a LG G5 at $26.25 per month and you're looking at $76.25/month. If you want a bit more data, the next step is 6GB for $65/month. That would cost you $91.25 with your payment for your LG G5.
Now for families, things are much the same. T-Mobile constantly is offering up some pretty sweet deals for family plans – specifically four line plans – so it's always a good idea to check out their site for the latest. But you can get 6GB of data for each line for $160. Now if you pick up four LG G5's, that will bring the cost to $265. Easily the best deal in wireless for a family. Especially since you aren't sharing your data.
Verizon has some new plans, which current subscribers can move to if they wish to do so. They are now offering up 2GB for $35, 4GB for $50, 8GB for $70, 16GB for $90 and 24GB for $110 per month. Verizon does do access fees here, which are $20/month. Sticking with the LG G5, which is $26/month on Verizon Edge, and sticking with their lower plan here with 2GB, you'll be paying $81/month. Now if you need a bit more, you can get the 4GB plan, which will jump to $96/month. That's due to the $50 for the data, $20 for the access fee and $26 for the phone.
Family plans, as usual, get hit a bit harder. Looking at the 16GB plan, as that is similar to what we used with the other carriers, that would cost you $274 per month. Breaking that down, it's $90 for the data, $80 in access fees for all four lines, and then $104 for the fees for buying your phones through Verizon Edge. It actually turns out to be a pretty decent deal.
With these carriers, you don't have to buy your phone through them. Thanks to phones like the Moto X Pure Edition, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and a few others, they will work on all four carriers. However, switching to some of these carriers without buying a phone can be a bit of an issue – mostly with Verizon and Sprint. So do keep that in mind. Another thing to keep in mind when looking at these carriers is their coverage. Some of these carriers don't have the same coverage as their competitors. Additionally, their coverage maps on their website aren't always kept up-to-date. So using a crowdsourced coverage map like OpenSignal or Sensorly is a better idea. As they get their data from people like you, that use their app. And the data is more up-to-date than just about any carrier coverage map.