Best Cell Phone Plans of 2023 for Family, Travel and More

Find the best cell phone plan to suit your needs by comparing costs, features and extras.
NerdWallet
By NerdWallet 
Edited by Courtney Neidel

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Finding the right cell phone plan doesn’t have to be hard. We analyzed dozens of plans to help you choose, whether you’re looking for a family plan, a solo plan or a plan with tons of data.

Most prices in the lists below are before taxes and fees.

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Affordable unlimited plans for the average user

Data usage on smartphones is expected to grow to a global average of 19 gigabytes per month in 2023, according to a study by communication technology company Ericsson

Ericsson.com. Mobile data traffic outlook. Accessed Jan 24, 2023.
. You may be able to buck that trend if you reconsider how much cell phone data you really need. We scoped out plans that meet growing data usage needs while keeping costs at $50 or less.

AT&T

  • Plan: Value Plus Plan.

  • Price (monthly): $50 with autopay discount.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk, text and data; 5G network access.

  • Things to know: There’s no hot spot on this postpaid plan. Video streaming is limited to standard definition (480p). Data may be temporarily slowed when the network is busy.

Boost

  • Plan: Boost Unlimited.

  • Price (monthly): $50.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk and texts; 5G network access; 35GB high-speed data per month, then speeds are slowed.

  • Things to know: This prepaid plan comes with 12GB per month of mobile hot-spot data, but video streaming is limited to standard definition.

Verizon

  • Plan: Unlimited prepaid.

  • Price (monthly): $50 with autopay discount. 

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk, text and data; 5G network access. (Data may be slowed during heavy traffic periods.)

  • Things to know: It’s a prepaid plan, so the perks are scarce, but you’ll get 5GB of regular-speed hot-spot data to use.

Cell phone plans for families

Family plans — multiple lines bundled under one primary account holder — can cut the cost per line considerably. We used a family of four as our model to find good family plans.

AT&T

  • Plan: Unlimited Starter.

  • Price (monthly): $35 per line for four lines with autopay discount.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk, text and data; 5G network access plus 3GB of mobile hot-spot data per line per month.

  • Things to know: Video streaming is standard definition on this plan.

T-Mobile

  • Plan: T-Mobile Essentials.

  • Price (monthly, four lines): $105 with autopay discount.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk, text and data; 5G network access; 50GB of premium data plus basic hot-spot access.

  • Things to know: The plan comes with a year of the Paramount+ streaming service. Mobile hot spot is capped at 3G speeds.

Verizon

  • Plan: 5G Start.

  • Price (monthly): $25 per line for four lines with autopay discount.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk, text and data; 5G network access; 5GB of premium mobile hot-spot data.

  • Things to know: This plan includes six months of Disney+, Discovery+, Apple Music and a choice of Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass at no charge. Cancel entertainment subscriptions after the introductory period to avoid charges.

Basic cell phone plans

Do you miss the good old days, when cell phone plans were simpler? If you want a basic plan with low or no data, these are good options.

U.S. Mobile

  • Plan: Build your own plan; limited minutes.

  • Price (monthly): Starts at $2 for 75 talk minutes, plus selected tier of texts and/or data.

  • At a glance: You select the usage level with the number of minutes, texts and data you need; 5G network access.

  • Things to know: Monthly tiers start at $2 for 75 talk minutes, $1.50 for 50 texts and $1.50 for 50MB of data. You can change your plan from month to month.

Ting

  • Plan: Flex plan.

  • Price (monthly): $10.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk and texts; 5G network access.

  • Things to know: Flex plan excludes data in the initial cost; you can easily add a gig for $5.

Consumer Cellular

  • Plan: Talk, text and 1GB of data plan.

  • Price (monthly): $20 with autopay discount.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk and text; 1GB of data; 5G network access.

  • Things to know: The plan at the next tier comes with 5GB of data for $5 more (with autopay).

Google Fi

  • Plan: Flexible for 1 plan.

  • Price (monthly): $20.

  • At a glance: Unlimited minutes and texts.

  • Things to know: Unlimited international texting is included; you can add data to your service for $10 per gig.

Prepaid cell phone plans with limited data

Prepaid plans are often cheaper than postpaid plans and let you skip the credit check.

AT&T

  • Plan: AT&T Prepaid, 16GB 12-month plan.

  • Price (monthly): $25, but you must prepay for 12 months to get this price, and the $300 prepayment is nonrefundable.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk and text; 16GB of high-speed data; 5G network access; 4K UHD streaming.

  • Things to know: Once 16GB of high-speed data is used within the month, speeds are slowed.

T-Mobile

  • Plan: T-Mobile Prepaid 10GB plan.

  • Price (monthly): $40.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk and text; 10GB of data at 4G LTE speeds per month.

  • Things to know: Unlimited music streaming is available through select apps, which doesn’t count toward your data usage.

Verizon

  • Plan: Verizon Prepaid 15GB plan.

  • Price (monthly): $35 with autopay discount.

  • At a glance: Unlimited talk and text; 15GB of data; 5G network access; mobile hot spot.

  • Things to know: You can add up to 10 devices on a prepaid family account.

Cell phone plans for international use

Want a plan that suits your wanderlust? We scouted out plans that let you use your phone overseas or call abroad from home at reasonable prices.

AT&T

  • Plan: AT&T International Day Pass.

  • Price (daily): $10 per day when traveling abroad.

  • At a glance: The pass lets you use your AT&T plan for talk, text and data while traveling abroad in more than 210 destinations.

  • Things to know: Once you have signed up, it activates automatically when you travel.

Boost

  • Plan: International Connect Plus.

  • Price (monthly): $10 per month on top of plan cost.

  • At a glance: Unlimited calling to landlines and mobile phones in Mexico and Canada as well as to landlines in 70-plus other countries; 200 minutes to mobile phones in 50-plus countries and reduced minute rates to 200-plus countries; unlimited texting to Mexico, Canada and 200-plus destinations.

  • Things to know: This feature can be added to Boost’s monthly plans.

T-Mobile

  • Plan: T-Mobile Magenta.

  • Price (monthly): $70 with autopay discount.

  • At a glance: In addition to domestic features, it has unlimited international texting from home, unlimited text and up to 5GB of high-speed data in 11 countries; flat-rate calling of 25 cents per minute in 215-plus countries.

  • Things to know: The plan also comes with a one-year AAA membership.

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METHODOLOGY

We evaluated cell phone plans offered by popular carriers, considering plan prices and overall features. We considered only national carriers, which ruled out regional providers like U.S. Cellular.