There are four major carriers in the US, all of which are now offering up unlimited but none of them are at the same price. Which leads many people to wonder which plan is going to be the best for them, and give them the best value for their money. Well let's break it down, starting with AT&T.
Over at AT&T, the nation's second-largest carrier, there are two options for unlimited. We have Unlimited Choice for $60/month and then Unlimited Plus for $90/month. Unlimited Choice caps your speeds at 8Mbps, video is also capped at 480p streaming and there's no mobile hotspot available. Meanwhile on Unlimited Plus, there's no throttling, until you hit the soft cap of 22GB. You also get 10GB of mobile hotspot. There is a $25/month credit for AT&T's own video services on both plans, but only Unlimited Plus gets HBO for free.
Now, remember that these prices do not include the price of your phone, nor the taxes and fees. Phones could cost up to $30/month per line. So keep that in mind when shopping for a new smartphone. On Unlimited Choice, two lines will cost you $115, three for $135 and four for $155. Unlimited Plus goes to $145 for two lines, three for $165 and four for $185. This also makes AT&T the most expensive of the four carriers.
Now, Sprint is actually the cheapest and does offer some data cap plans for those that don't use much data. There's a 2GB plan that's available for $40/month, that's a good chunk under the $60/month price for its unlimited plan. With unlimited, Sprint does give customers unlimited data, and it'll be throttled to 128Kbps after around 22GB of data used in a month. There's also 10GB of data for Mobile Hotspot, which is also throttled after that limit is hit. Video also now streams in full resolution.
For two lines on Sprint's unlimited plan, you're looking at $100, three for $130, and four for $160. These prices do not include the cost of your smartphone (which with Sprint being CDMA still, you'll most likely need to buy a phone from Sprint, there are very few unlocked options available for Sprint), nor the taxes and fees included in your plan. Smartphones can cost up to $30/month depending on what you pick up. So keep that in mind when looking for a device.
Like Sprint, T-Mobile is always changing its plans. But currently it offers up unlimited for $70/month. The T-Mobile ONE Plan is the only plan the company offers now, but it does have some add-ons for additional coverage. With T-Mobile ONE, you do get throttled video at 480p or DVD quality, but that can be changed to full resolution for $10/month on T-Mobile ONE Plus. Otherwise, you'll get unlimited data, up to around 30GB per month, which is its soft cap for network prioritization. And finally, you do also get 10GB of Mobile Hotspot on your plan.
Unlike the other carriers, T-Mobile does include taxes and fees in the cost of your plan. So if you come over with your own phone, you can walk out the door for $70/month. However, if you do buy a phone from T-Mobile, that could be up to another $30/month per line. So keep that in mind. Now T-Mobile does offer a $5 autopay credit, which if you don't use autopay, it'll be $75/month. There's also T-Mobile Kickback, which allows you to get $10 back per month, per line for those lines that use less than 2GB of data in a bill cycle. Now when talking about multiple lines, you can get two lines for $120, three for $140 and four for $160.
The Verizon Unlimited plan is Verizon's version of unlimited, and it's just below AT&T in terms of pricing. With Verizon Unlimited, customers experience no throttling at all, unless they hit that soft cap of 22GB per month. Video is played at its original resolution and you also get 10GB of Mobile Hotspot each month. And as an added bonus, customers are able to use their calls, texts and data in Mexico and Canada like they would at home, for free.
Verizon Unlimited is $80/month with autopay for a single line. Two lines will be 140, three for $160 and four for $180. These costs do not include taxes and fees, nor your smartphone payment. Which can be up to $30/month per line depending on what you pick up. For example, the Google Pixel XL is $27.08 per month.
These plans are all very similar, and when it comes to the true cost of what you'll be paying each month, the difference is pretty small. So the reason to go with one carrier over another has less to do with the cost, but what you'll be getting from that carrier. And coverage is a huge part of that equation. It's important to check out the coverage of a carrier where you live, work and play before signing up with one. It's also important to check out an unbiased coverage map, like Sensorly or OpenSignal, since carrier's maps are usually inaccurate due to them not being updated regularly.