Compare the best cell phone plans
We spent (over) 300 hours reviewing every cell phone plan we could find. No ads. No promotions. Just easy comparisons that make finding the best cell phone plan simple.

How many lines do you need?

2GB - 4GB

Cell phone carrier reviews
CarrierNerdWallet ratingAt a glance
Plans start at $50 for 2GB of data.
  • Plans start at $50 for 2GB of data.
  • Strengths: Affordable price, international coverage, lots of features.
  • Weaknesses: Network strength, limited plan options.
Plans start at $40 for 1GB.
  • Plans start at $40 for 1GB.
  • Strengths: Competitive pricing, no data overage charges.
  • Weaknesses: Network strength, plan features.
Plans start at $50 for 1GB of data.
  • Plans start at $50 for 1GB of data.
  • Strengths: Strong network, rollover data.
  • Weaknesses: Lack of plan features.
Plans start at $55 for 2GB of data.
  • Plans start at $55 for 2GB of data.
  • Strengths: Good coverage, solid customer service.
  • Weaknesses: More expensive than competitors, charges for data overage.
How to pick a cell phone plan
Step 1: Figure out how much data you need.

The average person uses between 2GB and 3GB per month — but your needs depend on your habits. Do you stream a lot of video and music when you’re not on Wi-Fi? You might want to look into an unlimited plan. Just use your phone occasionally? Save money by opting for a smaller plan or one with only minutes and texts.

These days, most carriers offer unlimited texting and calling. These plans are the best bet for most people, but some can save money by choosing a plan with a low amount of monthly minutes.

Step 2: Find carriers with good service in your area.

You can get a rough idea from coverage maps, but there’s no substitute for asking around. Keep an open mind. Networks are improving all the time, and some carriers — called MVNOs, or mobile virtual network operators — piggyback on the networks of larger carriers. Knowing which companies operate on which networks is crucial to determining whether you’ll get good service.

Step 3: Know your deal breakers.

Maybe unlimited video streaming is a must for you. Or maybe you’re a frequent traveler who wants a generous international mobile package. Some carriers offer family plans; others don’t. Find out which carriers offer the features you need.

Step 4: Decide what kind of customer service experience you want.

Some newer carriers are online only and don’t have storefronts where you can go for help — or even customer service lines. Instead, they route all queries through online chat. This might be fine if you’re a confident troubleshooter, but you’ll probably prefer a traditional carrier if you need extra support.

Pro tip: If you want the best deals, consider prepaid MVNO options.

As you review carriers, remember the distinction between postpaid and prepaid. The Big Four — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile — are the main postpaid carriers. They charge you for the services you used at the end of the month.

Prepaid carriers — usually MVNOs — charge for the month upfront. They’re generally cheaper than postpaid carriers month-to-month, but the big postpaid carriers offer installment financing for expensive smartphones. Prepaid carriers usually require that you pay for your phone all at once. But the Big Four carriers offer prepaid plans, too, so if one of them is the only option in your area, you can still go the prepaid route.

Postpaid is for you if you …
  • Have good credit.
  • Prefer a “brand name” company.
  • Want financing for your smartphone.
Prepaid is for you if you …
  • Have poor credit or don’t want a credit check.
  • Want lower monthly costs.
  • Already own a compatible phone or can afford to pay for a new one upfront.

2-3GB$60 (3GB)$50 (3GB)$50 (2GB)$55 (2GB)
4-6GB$80 (6GB)$65 (6GB)$65 (6GB)$70 (4GB)
Get started on AT&T's site
Get started on Sprint's site
Get started on T-Mobile's site
Get started on Verizon's site
The basics
How much data do you need?
The average smartphone owner uses 2GB to 3GB of data each month. To know whether your usage falls above or below that threshold, look no further than your own phone.
See full article
Best prepaid cell phone plans
Lower costs. More flexibility. No credit check. No contract. There are a lot of reasons to consider a prepaid phone plan.
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Best family cell phone plans
Finding the best family cell phone plan for your needs is key to keeping costs down.
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Surprising things about cell phone insurance
Cell phone insurance policies cover lost, stolen or damaged phones. But here are tips to consider.
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