Best Unlimited Data Plans

Cell Phones, Utilities
Best Unlimited Data Plans

Unlimited data plans are back in a big way. That’s great news for people who stream music and videos on their smartphone or use it as a Wi-Fi hot spot — activities that eat up a lot of data.

Best unlimited data plan: postpaid

Sprint logo
  • Plan name: Sprint Unlimited Freedom
  • Monthly price: $55 for the first year; $65 after that. You can save $5 per month if you opt for autopay.
  • Why we like it: Sprint has the cheapest unlimited data plan available, unless you go prepaid, and it includes 10GB of mobile hot spot access and unlimited HD video streaming.

Things to know:

  • You can have up to 10 lines on your plan. The first additional line costs $45 per month. Each line after that is $35 per month.
  • Sprint charges a $30 activation fee for each new line.

how others compare:

Unlimited for $65; $60 with autopay discount
Unlimited for $85; $80 with autopay discount
Unlimited for $75; $70 with autopay discount

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Best unlimited data plan: prepaid

 

boostmobile-small2
  • Plan name: Boost Mobile Unlimited
  • Monthly price: $50; $45 with autopay discount
  • Why we like it: An unlimited plan with none of the commitments

Things to know:

  • Video streaming is limited to standard definition. You can upgrade to HD streaming for $20 per month.
  • Plan includes 8GB of high-speed mobile hot spot data.
  • You can have up to five lines on your account. Each additional line is $30 per month.
  • You’ll pay full price to purchase a new phone, but if you have a phone through Sprint, you might be able to activate it with Boost.

HOW Others COMPARE:

Unlimited for $60; $55 with autopay discount
Unlimited for $50
Unlimited for $80 (Verizon prepaid)

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Best unlimited data plan for families

 

ATT-logo-e1454363046363
  • Plan name: AT&T Unlimited Choice
  • Price (monthly, four lines): $165; $155 with $10 autopay discount
  • Why we like it: An affordable, entry-level unlimited plan on a top-notch network
boostmobile-small2
  • Plan name: Boost Unlimited
  • Price (monthly, four lines): $140; $135 with autopay discount
  • Why we like it: At least $20 cheaper than other unlimited plans, and it includes mobile hot spot data

Things to know:

  • AT&T: Video streams in standard definition. Data speeds are capped at 3Mbps. Average LTE speeds in the United States are around 10Mbps and can be much higher depending on your area and coverage quality. High-speed mobile hot spot data is not included.
  • Boost: Video streaming is limited to standard definition. You can upgrade to HD streaming for $20 per month. Plan includes 8GB of high-speed mobile hot spot data. You’ll have to pay full retail price to buy a new phone, or you can bring your own if it’s compatible. Boost is owned by Sprint and uses Sprint’s network.

How OTHERS compare:

Unlimited for $180; $160 with autopay discount
Unlimited for $190; $180 with autopay discount
Unlimited for $160

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Best unlimited data plans: summary

CarrierPlanBest forCost per monthGet started
Sprint Unlimited FreedomOverall$55 for the first year; $65 after that.

Save $5 per month with autopay.
Get started at Sprint's site
Boost Mobile UnlimitedPeople who want a prepaid option$50; $45 with autopay discount
Get started at Boost Mobile's site
AT&T Unlimited ChoiceFamilies$165; $155 with $10 autopay discount
Get started at AT&T's site
Boost Mobile UnlimitedFamilies$140; $135 with $5 autopay discount
Get started at Boost Mobile's site

Restrictions on unlimited data plans

Even though these are “unlimited” data plans, they aren’t exactly limitless. Most of them cap high-speed data usage at around 23GB per month. If you hit that threshold, your connection might be “deprioritized,” that is, slowed considerably. Even if you buy an unlimited plan, you should still connect to Wi-Fi when you can to conserve your data.

Methodology

We evaluated unlimited data plans offered by the following carriers: AT&T, Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Sprint and T-Mobile. To determine the best plans, we looked at the monthly plan price before taxes and fees, mobile hot spot allowance and high-speed data caps.

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Kelsey Sheehy is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ksheehy@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @KelseyLSheehy.

Updated June 2, 2017.