MoneySavingPro Carrier Ratings Methodology

How MoneySavingPro rates carriers

MoneySavingPro independently researches the products & services to bring you our recommendations. We may earn money when you click our links - disclosure policy.

How does MoneySavingPro evaluate carriers & plans?

To evaluate the best-value cell phone carriers and plans, our editorial team rates carriers in five main categories.

The scale gives our team a uniform, measurable way to analyze carriers and plans according to five key criteria:

  1. Value for money
  2. Coverage
  3. Customer experience
  4. Transparency
  5. Range of choice

How does MoneySavingPro assign stars?

Our team of experts gives each category a star rating from 1-5, with 5 stars being the best. They then calculate the overall star rating using the five categories.

  • 4.5 to 5 stars: Excellent
  • 4.0 to 4.4 stars: Great
  • 3.0 to 3.9 stars: Good
  • 2.0 to 2.9 stars: Okay
  • 1.0 to 1.9 stars: Poor

What is the MoneySavingPro transparency policy?

Although MoneySavingPro may get paid if users click on some of our links, our partnerships do not influence our opinions or ratings.

Our expert editorial team scores carriers and plans based on independent research and analysis. We clearly state our advertiser disclosure policy to our audience.

Our goal is to provide all the information in a transparent, useful way to help you make the best decision for yourself, depending on your personal needs.

What is the MoneySavingPro methodology?

Here is a more in-depth view of the MoneySavingPro methodology and each of the sub-categories our team uses in the evaluation process.

1. Value for money

  • Price
  • Features
  • Benefits
  • Promotions, discounts, incentives
  • Bring your own phone (BYOP)
  • Additional fees or savings

Why do we consider value for money?

The factors listed above help to compare and analyze plan and carrier competitiveness with the telecoms industry. We look at the big picture by taking into account more than just the price to determine value.

It's not just about the lowest price but about what you get for that price. This can include free trials, money-back guarantees, hotspot data inclusion, international calling options, eSIM compatibility, and other perks that add value to the service.

We ask questions like, Does a higher price bring significantly better service or features? Can you bring your own phone to save even more? If you buy multiple lines or months of service, do you get a discount?

2. Coverage

  • Network
  • Availability
  • Reliability
  • Quality
  • Data speeds
  • Access to 4G LTE & 5G

Why do we consider coverage?

Carriers use one or more of the major networks of T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T to provide service. The variables listed above are often determined by customer location and phone compatibility. We take this into account when making recommendations.

3. Customer experience

  • Reviews
  • Ratings
  • Customer support
  • Website & app
  • Ease & time of switching

Why do we consider customer focus?

We think it's important for consumers to look at whether carriers take a customer-first or customer-last approach. We determine this by researching current user experiences by evaluating carrier user reviews as well as third-party sites like Trustpilot, Google, and BBB.

We pay attention to customer service availability times, channels, and user satisfaction ratings. We also assess the simplicity and length of time it takes for customers to switch services. Lastly, we look at the website and app and ask questions like, Is it user-friendly? Is it clean, concise, and easy to understand? Can I navigate easily? Are there lots of ads or spam?

4. Transparency

  • Pricing
  • Fees
  • Terms
  • Conditions
  • Advertising
  • Phone contracts
  • Credit checks

Why do we take transparency into consideration?

When looking at transparency, we think it's critical for consumers to clearly understand all the information so they can make the most informed decision for themselves. Big companies are notorious for price hikes, hidden fees, and long phone contracts that lock customers in endless upgrade cycles.

We investigate and evaluate whether a carrier's pricing structure is honest and straightforward. We read all the fine print to check for any hidden fees, such as activation or termination fees. We also analyze confusing terms or conditions and misleading ads, like when the advertised price is really for 4 lines instead of for one. We feel that credit checks, while not the standard with prepaid plans, are important to know about before signing up for service.

5. Range of choice

  • Plans available
  • Unlimited plans
  • Customization
  • Data caps
  • Data usage

Why do we consider the range of choice?

We feel it's important to highlight which carriers give you a wide variety of plan options. Most people don't need or use their unlimited data allotment. When evaluating the top carriers and plans, we take into account unlimited plan data limits, whether they provide usage summaries to customers, and the ability to build custom-tailored plans to best meet usage needs.

Read more about our editorial process.