Best Tablet Plans

Cell Phones, Utilities
Best Tablet Plans

What’s commonly called a “tablet plan” is better described as a “data-only plan.” These plans provide a wireless internet connection via cell network to any capable device, including tablets and wireless hot spots. There aren’t too many data-only offerings available, but we’ve rounded up the best below.

Price is the primary factor in comparing tablet plans. However, if you’re outside a major metropolitan area, you may want a carrier with more widespread high-speed network coverage, like Verizon or AT&T. Also, if you already have a tablet, make sure it’s compatible with the network you’re bringing it to.

Postpaid tablet plans

 Verizon*AT&T
1GB or less$14.99 (250MB)
2GB-3GB$30 (2GB)$30 (3GB)
4GB-5GB$40 (4GB)$50 (5GB)
6GB-7GB$50 (6GB)
8GB-9GB$60 (8GB)
10GB-11GB$70 (10GB)
Get started at Verizon's site
Get started at AT&T's site
*Verizon's price includes the $10 per month device access fee for tablets.

T-Mobile offers a postpaid data-only service only through its unlimited data plan, T-Mobile One. That means you’ll have to sign up for cell phone service through T-Mobile One at $75 per month, and then add a data-only plan for your tablet at $25 per month.

Sprint does something similar, offering unlimited data on your tablet for an extra $30 per month, if you already have a Sprint cell phone plan. If you want just unlimited tablet data without another Sprint plan, the price jumps to $80 per month.

Under both T-Mobile’s and Sprint’s schemes, streaming video quality is restricted to standard definition. Sprint also allows 10GB of mobile hot spot data through your tablet.

Get started at T-Mobile's site

 

Get started at Sprint's site

Prepaid tablet plans

Data expires after one month unless otherwise marked.

 Verizon PrepaidAT&T GoPhoneT-Mobile PrepaidStraight Talk
1GB or less$15 (500MB)†

$20 (1GB)
$15 (1GB)
2GB-3GB$35 (2GB)*$25 (2GB)$20 (2GB)$25 (2GB)
4GB-5GB$60 (5GB)*$50 (5GB)$40 (4GB)*

$50 (5GB)*
6GB-7GB$35 (6GB)$75 (7GB)*
8GB-9GB$75 (8GB)
10GB-11GB$100 (10GB)*$50 (10GB)
Get started at Verizon's site
Get started at AT&T's site
Get started at T-Mobile's site
Get started at Straight Talk's site
†Data available for only one week.
*Data available for two months.

Pay-as-you-go tablet plans

If you’re not a heavy data user but still want the convenience of using your device where Wi-Fi isn’t available, these pay-as-you-go plans make the most sense. Both Charge and Project Fi charge a flat rate for their data, while Ting charges based on tiers of usage. At low levels of 2 gigabytes or less, these plans can be more cost-effective than traditional offerings.

charge

Charge’s data-only plan costs $3 per month. You can then use data at $13 per gigabyte. The cost of the data you use each month is subtracted from a prepaid account. Make sure your tablet is Sprint-compatible, since Charge operates on Sprint’s network. Most new tablets should be compatible.

Get started at Charge's site

ting

Ting charges its customers for voice, text and data in separate tiers. That means if you want to use Ting as a data-only plan, you just treat it like one. The tiers are listed in detail here, but for a rough idea, 1GB is $16, 2GB is $20, and then every gigabyte after that is $10 each.

Get started at Ting's site

project fi

Google’s wireless service offers a free cellular data-only SIM card — so no talking or texting — and data downloads at $10 per gigabyte. However, this data-only option might not make sense unless you’re already on Project Fi. You can get a data-only SIM card only if you sign up for a regular Project Fi cell phone plan, which is $20 per month, plus data costs.

Get started at Project Fi's site

 

Stephen Layton is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: slayton@nerdwallet.com.

Updated June 26, 2017.