It’s official: All three major cellular carriers are finally offering unlimited data to its users here in the US. It appears that the two smaller carriers (Sprint and T-Mobile) put pressure on the two stubborn top carriers (AT&T and Verizon) to offer unlimited data plans. Just a month ago, T-Mobile and Sprint were the only two carrier which were offering unlimited data plans. This month, AT&T and Verizon came out of the shadow and started offering unlimited data to their customers as well. But there’s a problem with every single carrier offering unlimited data: each plans have huge limitations. Some of those limitations are better and other are worse, depending on the carrier.
If you’re on the market for an unlimited data plan we will see which carrier’s plan is most suitable for you and which has the most bang for your buck overall. When choosing your carrier, information such as coverage, price, and phone deals are critical for the selection along with other unique features other carrier might offer.
Single line cost for unlimited data plans
If you’re just one person, then prices are more straightforward. These are the prices you’ll get on each carrier offering unlimited data:
- AT&T: $100/month
- Sprint: $50/month
- T-Mobile: $70/month
- Verizon: $80/month
As you can see the cheapest carrier where you’ll find unlimited data is Sprint. So if price is your main concern when choosing a carrier for an unlimited data plan, Sprint should be your number one choice. But this could turn out to be a very bad choice if Sprint doesn’t have a good coverage around your area; so make sure Sprint has a good coverage in the area you mainly stay.
Family plan cost for unlimited data plans
Now, those who have family associated in their account will have to consider the cost for additional lines on each carriers to keep the bill low. So if you’re carrying your family members with you to your unlimited data plan, here’s the price you’ll need to pay with each carrier:
- AT&T: After the $90/month for the primary line, you’ll have to shell out $55 a second line. Additional lines after a second line will cost you $20/each.
- Sprint: $50/month for 1st line, $40/month for 2nd line. After that, you’ll get line 3-5 for free. So you’ll basically receive five lines for $90/month.
- T-Mobile: On T-Mobile, you currently can get two lines for $100 ($50/each). For the third line, you’ll have to shell out $47 and $40 for the fourth line. This would come up to a total of $160 for a family of four.
- Verizon: After the $80/month 1st line, a 2nd line will run for $70/month, $54/month for a third line and $45 for the fourth line. So a family of four will have to pay $180/month for unlimited data on Verizon.
The winner, once again, is Sprint if your only consideration is price per additional line. Sprint is $70 cheaper than the second cheapest carrier for a family of four.
Unlimited data: best coverage and speeds
At this point Sprint has won the price war between its competitors without a doubt. So if unlimited data at the lowest price is what you’re really looking for, then undoubtedly, Sprint is the perfect carrier for you. But for those who aren’t looking for the cheapest carrier offering unlimited data, there’s a reason why Sprint is the cheapest carrier: their coverage. When it comes to coverage and LTE speeds, Sprint has been proven to be the worst carrier by multiple studies here in the US.
If coverage is in your mind for your unlimited data plan, then the most logical choice would be Verizon. A recent study by OpenSignal concluded that Verizon, on average, has the best coverage and download speed across the nation, followed by T-Mobile. This study put Sprint on last position for coverage and speed across the nation. So if nationwide coverage is essential for you, Verizon will be the right choice.
Many people feel deceived with all of these unlimited data plans because they all have something in common: they throttle your speeds at certain point, aka “data deprioritization.” On each carrier once you hit a certain amount of data, your speeds will be reduced when connect to a congested cell tower. Each carrier has a different data deprioritization point.
- AT&T: After 22GB of data usage, AT&T may slow data speeds.
- Sprint: Data deprioritization during congestion after 23GB/mo.
- T-Mobile: Top 3% of data users (>28GB/mo.) may notice reduced speeds due to prioritization
- Verizon: You’ll be throttled after 22GB on congested cell towers
T-Mobile users get a better deal when it comes to data deprioritization. While all other carriers start throttling at 22GB and 23GB, T-Mobile don’t begin deprioritizing until you use 28GB of your unlimited data.
Another great feature all carriers are including in their unlimited data plans is Personal Hotspot. Personal Hotspot, or Tethering, allows you to use your smartphone as a router to share your internet connection with other WiFi devices.
- AT&T: 10GB. After 10GB, hotspot speed limited to max of 128Kbps
- Sprint: 10 GB Mobile Hotspot
- T-Mobile: 10GB. After 10GB, hotspot reduces to 3G speeds.
- Verizon: 10GB. Speeds reduced to 3G after using your 10GB allowance.
Although the four carriers are offering the same amount of Personal Hotspot, T-Mobile is actually giving a better deal. After using your 10GB, T-Mobile instead of reducing you to 128Kbps like AT&T, T-Mobile reduces you to 3G speeds which is way faster. Verizon does the same thing as T-Mobile wins because T-Mobile’s 3G is faster than Verizon’s 3G when available.
So in conclusion… if you aren’t planning on leaving your area and Sprint has a good coverage in your area, then Sprint would be the best choice for you due to pricing. Now if you want to have the best coverage then the obvious answer is Verizon, with the expectation of paying a higher price. If you want to be in middle, reliable but not best while at the same time cheaper but not cheapest, then T-Mobile is the perfect carrier that fits that description.