The Best Unlimited Data Plan and Family Plan for 2021 (T-Mobile vs. AT&T vs. Verizon)
WIRED: Every tier includes 5G data speeds. You won’t be throttled at all on the Unlimited Elite plan, and on the Unlimited Extra plan you won’t be throttled until you hit 50 gigabytes of data. If you’re on the Unlimited Elite, you get a big 40-gigabyte bucket of mobile hot spot to tether to other devices, free access to HBO Max, and 4K video streaming.
TIRED: For the base Starter plan, data throttling could kick in any time there’s network congestion, no matter how little data you’ve already used. The Starter tier also doesn’t include any Wi-Fi hot spot, unlike T-Mobile’s cheaper basic Essentials plan which does include a bit of slow 3G data. It doesn’t have HD video streaming or international data either.
Will your phone work? AT&T has a Device Compatibility PDF you can use to check your current phone(s). Unlocked GSM phones work on AT&T and T-Mobile.
Verizon Is the Most Expensive
The Start Unlimited plan (with autopay, taxes/fees not included): 1 Line for $70 | 2 Lines $120 | 3 Lines $135 | 4 Lines $140 | 5 Lines $150
Verizon still has the best coverage, but T-Mobile and others are giving it a run for its money. The carrier finally got rid of its confusingly named double unlimited plans, GoUnlimited and BeyondUnlimited, only to replace them with four unlimited plans and a kids plan. You can choose between Start Unlimited, Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, Get More Unlimited, and Just Kids. We’ve outlined pricing for the starter tier below.
WIRED: Like the competition, every plan includes 5G data access. If you live in a rural area, Verizon has the strongest coverage, according to OpenSignal. Every plan (except Just Kids) includes six free months of Apple Music and six months of Disney+. All tiers include talk, text, and data to Mexico and Canada and international texting. The top-tier Play More Unlimited and Get More Unlimited plans now include access to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+.
TIRED: Verizon is more expensive than the other carriers. If you’re on the basic Start Unlimited plan, there’s no Wi-Fi mobile hot spot, and Verizon may throttle your internet speed during any “congestion.” You have to step up another $10 per month for 4K streaming, as Starter only allows 480p SD streaming. Verizon has two plans priced at $80 per month (for a single line) and the only two differences between them is that a year of Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu are included in the Play More package. Both the Play More and Do More plans come with a 50-gigabyte cap on data before throttling.