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Finding the best phone carrier is a great way to save money on your cell phone bill. In addition to providing reliable wireless service wherever you are, true phone carriers set themselves apart from the rest of the pack by offering affordable plans with great benefits.
Which Phone Company Has The Best Service
So which carrier offers this mix of solid coverage and attractive plans? It’s not just a matter of finding the best cell phone plans – although that certainly helps. You should also check the network coverage in your area, including the 5G networks available around you.
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Other aspects to consider when looking for the best phone carrier include customer service — your wireless provider should be able to answer everything from billing questions to device troubleshooting — and benefits such as additional streaming services and available data that come with your monthly plan. If the plan includes a subscription to your favorite streaming service, for example, this can save you from having to shell out that subscription fee yourself.
We are constantly researching new operators, large and small, to see which ones offer the most value to our customers. That way, your options include not only the major carriers, but also some of the best MVNOs competing for your business with low-cost plans.
Whether you’re considering switching to a new provider or just want to double-check what your current carrier offers versus the competition, our top phone carrier rankings can help you decide on the best wireless service for your budget and your needs.
Why can you trust Tom’s Guide? Our writers and editors spend long hours analyzing and reviewing products, services and programs to help you find what’s best for you. Read more about how we test, analyze and evaluate.
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1. Mint Mobile – Best Carrier on a Budget Mint Mobile is a good carrier to choose if you have an affordable phone plan. Premium plans added more data without increasing prices; The carrier also offers discounted rates for family plans. To get the best price, you’ll need to sign up for a year of service, but Mint also runs promotions like this one where all plans cost you $15 a month for the first three months — even the unlimited plan data.
2. Visible – The best price carrier for unlimited data. Visible offers a selection of plans, none of which will break your budget. Either way, you get unlimited data whether you choose the $30 Visible or the $45 Visible Plus option. You can save extra money by referring friends and family to a service that uses Verizon’s premium network.
3. Verizon – More flexible plans Verizon is known for its expensive plans, but the carrier has added some flexibility to its unlimited data offerings. You start with a choice of either the unlimited welcome plan, which offers just the basics, or the ever-growing benefits of Unlimited Plus. Then you add an extra $10 per month for features like streaming services, additional hotspot data, or travel benefits. Verizon also has attractive prepaid plans and its 5G coverage has improved significantly.
Verizon tops our list of the best phone carriers thanks to some flexible unlimited plans and an extensive 5G network. Focusing on the latter, Verizon is now offering faster Ultra Wideband 5G coverage to 200 million people. When we tested LTE speeds, Verizon came out on top, though Rootmetrics’ most recent report covering the second half of last year puts AT&T ahead of Verizon in terms of speed.
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Verizon’s plans have been expensive in the past, but buyers should find the carrier’s simplified unlimited plans more appealing. $65/month unlimited welcome plan offers nationwide 5G coverage and more. For $80 a month, you get faster 5G broadband coverage and 30GB of free data with the Unlimited Plus plan. You can upgrade plans with add-ons – get a Disney streaming package or three-day TravelPass benefits for international travel, all for $10 per package. These extras can add up quickly, but you can also drop them every month.
Verizon’s prepaid offers are a little confusing and also very affordable. An automatic discount reduces the cost of the carrier’s 15GB prepaid plan to $35 per month. Prepaid plans with unlimited data start at $50.
Verizon is also making the 5G experience easier by accepting any phone, even broken phones, to lower the cost of upgrading to a 5G phone. The carrier switched to 36-month contracts and increased the length of time you have to stay with Verizon if you buy your phone with installment plans or get some of Verizon’s best phone deals.
When we tested carrier customer service, Verizon came out on top and offers a wide selection of phones, including Ultra Wideband versions of some phones designed specifically for the Verizon network. If you don’t mind paying a little more on your monthly bill, Verizon offers the performance and service to rank as the best phone carrier overall.
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Verizon may be our best wireless provider, but T-Mobile is far behind thanks to some great plans and extensive 5G coverage. With plans that are slightly cheaper than Verizon, you may find Uncarrier an attractive alternative to your wireless service.
Let’s talk a little about those plans. T-Mobile has the best unlimited data plan in the business, with the $70 Magenta plan, which covers taxes and fees on top of the cost of the plan and also lets you use your data while abroad (albeit with a slower pace). Healthy discounts when you add lines also make Magenta the best mobile phone plan.
The Magenta Max plan offers better travel and streaming benefits than Magenta for $15 a month — you get an Apple TV Plus subscription with Magenta Max. And the new Go5G and Go5G Plus plans add extra data coverage, increase the data you can use while traveling in Mexico and Canada, and make it easier to upgrade your phone more often. (These plans are slightly more expensive than what Magenta offers.)
If you don’t need unlimited data, T-Mobile’s Connect 3.5GB and 6.5GB plans are among the cheapest you’ll find; there’s also a $10/month 1GB plan for people who just need the basics. These plans also include 5G coverage, a nice perk for such a budget offering.
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In our LTE network test, we found T-Mobile’s LTE download speeds to be very fast, though Verizon and AT&T beat Uncarrier the last time we tested them. Ookla’s latest test gives T-Mobile the fastest speeds for both 5G and overall. Rootmetrics continues to rate T-Mobile as the carrier with the fastest and most affordable 5G coverage. This year, T-Mobile plans to partner with SpaceX to use satellites to expand coverage in areas where cellular networks are unavailable.
As for 5G, T-Mobile’s 5G service now reaches more than 326 million people nationwide. Of this, 275 million people can access the fastest Ultra Capacity 5G service; T-Mobile says it’s targeting 300 million people this year.
The benefits that T-Mobile customers receive set this service apart from the competition. T-Mobile’s weekly Giveaway Tuesday includes gifts and benefits, while the T-Mobile Expert Team program also provides customers with excellent customer service. Family plan customers can cover the cost of a Netflix account as part of their plan, and Magenta and Go5G customers also get a six-month trial of Apple TV Plus.
+ Unlimited data from $30+ Visible Plus plan includes international calls, faster 5G service+ Services use Verizon network
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You won’t be spoiled for choice with Visible, as the discount carrier offers Verizon just two plans, both of which offer unlimited data. The good news is that even the most expensive Visible Plus option is available for $45 per month, and Visible’s basic plan lets you enjoy unlimited data for just $30. Taxes and fees are included in this price. As of this writing, Visible is offering discounted pricing on both of its plans, though it’s a limited-time offer that ends on May 31st.
Visible used to limit data rates, but this limit has long since been removed. This means you can enjoy the full power of Verizon’s network, and your speed will only slow down if the network becomes congested. Customers paying for Visible Plus get 50GB of premium data before seeing any drops. Visible Plus adds other benefits like international calling to more than 30 countries, data roaming when traveling in Mexico and Canada, and access to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network. (The $30 plan uses Verizon’s slower 5G coverage across the board.)
Visible’s Party Pay option, which offered additional discounts when you add lines to the plan, is gone, and that’s unfortunate. But you can save at least $20 per month of service if you refer new customers to Visible. You can bank up to 12 discounts per year.
Visible started out as an iPhone-only carrier, though later
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