Not so long ago, one of the best unlimited data plans from a major carrier was getting a large monthly bill each month. And sure, the top plans that come packed with perks still cost a pretty penny if you turn to AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
Unlimited data plans and phone deals
These days, many phone deals offered by major carriers require you to sign up for unlimited data plans to get a discount on a new car. The key word is “like”. Sometimes the cheapest unlimited data plans from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon are included in these deals, and sometimes they are omitted. Be careful with any offer to make sure you’re getting unlimited data.
But back in 2018, T-Mobile rolled out Essentials, a stripped-down version of its unlimited data plan available at a lower price. Eventually, T-Mobile’s biggest competitor — perhaps feeling the pressure from the best cell phone plans that also include unlimited low-end data — took notice.
Last year, AT&T and Verizon added unlimited data plans of their own. You won’t find much in the way of perks, but you won’t remember when your cell phone bill arrives at the end of each month.
Knowing what data plans are undefined is especially vital at this time of year when phone makers roll out their flagship devices. Samsung just introduced the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4, its latest foldables, and the iPhone 14 should be arriving soon from Apple. If you’re in the market for a new phone, you may want to look for a new wireless plan as well — especially since they won’t charge you much for unlimited talk, text, and data.
With that in mind, we wanted to compare the lowest price unlimited data available to the three major phone carriers. You’ll find less expensive options with mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, and AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon all offer more feature-packed plans at higher monthly rates. But check out this cheap unlimited data phone plan comparison for a good source for figuring out the going rate for unlimited data these days — especially if you’re browsing for the best cell phone deals that require you to sign up for an unlimited data plan.
Cheap unlimited data plans compared: AT&T vs. T-Mobile Verizon vs
|One line price||Per line cost, 4-line plan||Hotspot data||Other characteristics|
|AT&T Pays More||$50||N/A||None||5G coverage, unlimited talk, text and data in Canada and Mexico|
|T-Mobile Essentials||$60||$26.25 (includes discounted 3rd line)||Unlimited at 3G speeds||5G coverage, Includes a year of Paramount Plus|
|Verizon Welcome Unlimited||$65||$30||None||5G coverage, unlimited talk, text and data in Canada and Mexico|
Cheap unlimited data plans: AT&T Pay Plus Plan
What is clear is one line; $50/month
What is established is four lines; N/A
AT&T’s Value Plus plan is ideal for people who need a single line of unlimited data and don’t require a lot of perks. For just $50 a month, Pendo Plus gives you unlimited talk, text and data, although AT&T reserves the right to slow down your data speed if its network is congested. That’s what separates Value Plus from AT&T’s more expensive unlimited plans, which include “premium data,” or the highest data speeds you can use without worrying about throttling.
AT&T includes 5G coverage across its national network with its Value Plus plan, and you’ll be able to use talk, text and data while traveling in Mexico or Canada. You can also enjoy unlimited texts from the US to 200-plus countries. But that’s about it when it comes to perks.
The biggest limitation with AT&T’s Value Plus plan is that families can’t use it — AT&T restricts Value Plus pricing to one line. If you want to add more lines, you’ll have to opt for one of AT&T’s more expensive unlimited plans like the AT&T Start Unlimited plan ($140 for four lines or $35/line) or the AT&T Extra Unlimited ($160 for four lines or $40/line). Of course, extra perks will come with the plans.
AT&T’s next cheapest plan: AT&T Unlimited Stater costs $65 a month for a single data line. That extra $15/month gets you 3GB of mobile hotspot data per line, and you can add more lines. Otherwise, the perks are not much different from the Value Plus plan.
Cheap unlimited data plans: The essentials of a T-Mobile plan
What is clear is one line; $60/month
What it consists of is four lines; $105/month ($26.25 per line)
T-Mobile’s Magenta plan gets all the hype, but it’s a cheaper option than the $70/month unlimited plan that’s the carrier’s flagship offering. Essentially, T-Mobile offers unlimited data for less, although the perks aren’t as generous as those with Magenta or even the more expensive Magenta Plus option.
However, Essentials offers more perks than you might expect. In addition to 5G coverage from T-Mobile’s top-rated 5G network, you can enjoy unlimited hotspot data, albeit restricted to 3G speeds. You can enjoy LGB of unlimited data before T-Mobile can slow down your speeds, which gives you an essential leg up over cheap unlimited plans from AT&T and Verizon.
Normally, to get streaming services included with a wireless plan, you have to pay for more expensive options, but Essential customers get a year of Paramount Plus for free.
Unlike AT&T’s Value Plus plan, Essentials supports multiple lines. As of this writing, the four-line plan costs $105/month or $26.25 for each line. But note that it reflects a current promotion where T-Mobile is charging a third-party data line. Normally, four Essential lines will set you back $140 each month.
One big drawback to T-Mobile Essentials is that they don’t include taxes and fees. Other unlimited T-Mobile plans roll taxes and fees into a monthly rate so you always pay the same amount.
T-Mobile’s next cheapest plan: From Essentials, you can upgrade the Magenta $70/month plan to the $70/month level, which will cost a family of four a total of $140, due to the added third line. Magenta doubles the premium data cap to 100GB, and increases your hotspot speed to high speed with a 5GB cap. Multi-line plans include a free Netflix subscription, and there are travel benefits like in-flight Wi-Fi too.
Cheap unlimited data plans: Welcome to Verizon Unlimited
What is clear is one line; $65/month
What it consists of is four lines; $120/month ($30 per line)
Verizon Unlimited is a relative newcomer with a mix of very cheap plans, giving you a low entry fee for unlimited data through Verizon service. You can also get 5G coverage through Welcome Unlimited, although this is through Verizon’s nationwide 5G network, and not much faster C-Band and mmWave-based 5G is available in select cities.
As is common among these cheap unlimited plans, the perks are few and far between with Welcome Unlimited. You can expect talk, text and data when you travel to Mexico and Canada, but that’s about it. Verizon will slow down your speeds if its network gets congested.
The biggest appeal is unlimited for families, where the escalating discount per-line price drops to $30 each month for four data lines. While you can mix and match Verizon’s other unlimited data plans, you don’t have that luxury with Unlimited Gratis.
Verizon’s next cheapest plan: If you want more perks with your unlimited data, the next step up at Verizon is the 5G Starter plan, which costs $70 per month for a single line. Families pay $35/line for four data lines. Extra perks include 5GB of hotspot data, plus unlimited 6-month streaming trials to Disney Plus, Discovery Plus, Apple Music and whatever game service (Apple Arcade or Google Play Pass) strikes your fancy. 5G Play More, with its extensive benefits, raises your costs to $80/month.
Other cheap unlimited data plans
There are cheap unlimited plans available, so if you want to look out for the major wireless carriers, you should instead turn to discount services. Mobile Money, for example, charges $30 a month for an unlimited plan, though after a three-month trial, you have to pay for a full year of service to pay that low price.
Visible, which recently mixed its plans, now costs $30 a month for its unlimited access plan, without the year-long commitment that Mint requires. For $45 a month, Visible includes perks like international calling and texting plus access to Verizon’s super-fast 5G network. (Visible is owned by Verizon and uses the networks it carries for coverage.) Tello offers the cheapest unlimited data plan at $1, $29 for unlimited talk, text and data.
As we have noted in the past, these discount services use large towers of carriers for their service – Verizon in the present case, and T-Mobile for Mint and Tello. On the bright side, that includes 5G coverage across those networks. On the down side, your data speeds may slow down if the parent network is experiencing a lot of traffic.
Chep Data Unlimited Plans: What Should You Pick?
As with any cell phone plan, choosing the best cheap unlimited data offer from a major wireless carrier comes down to more factors than just price. However, if that’s your primary concern, AT&T keeps the price down with its Plus plan, as long as you don’t need more than one data line. Families would be better off considering a Preferred Unlimited plan from Verizon, especially if you live in an area where Verizon coverage is strong.
Perks also play a role in choosing a good unlimited plan, even if those perks are not numerous for this cheap plan. Still, T-Mobile Essentials includes hotspot data (albeit at slower speeds) and a year of Paramount Plus. It is also the only unlimited plan that promises that your data speeds will not be slowed down, at least for the first 50GB of data usage. Because T-Mobile has the highest 5G network, it’s also the best for 5G coverage, even with its cheapest unlimited data plan.