Best Cell Phone Provider
The best cell phone carriers are hard to separate. You might find interesting and useful perks like high-definition video streaming, unlimited data, free international calling, special discounts, and more across the different cell phone companies. In addition, each cell phone service provider covers different areas--so it's important to find a cell phone company that offers service to your area.
Which provider offers the best plan for you? This article will summarize each wireless carrier to give you a better idea of the best wireless provider for your individual needs. Leaving a cell phone carrier that's costing you too much money and not fulfilling your needs is the first step to finding the best cell phone company for you.
The Best Cell Phone Companies
Verizon Wireless is arguably the best cell phone company with the most reliable service out there covering 99 percent of the U.S. Although Verizon cell phone plans tend to be more expensive than most other cell phone plans, many customers believe it's worth the price for reliable nationwide and international coverage. Verizon Wireless has a variety of plan options including:
Another great thing about Verizon is that they support the best smartphones and cell phones on the market right now. You can get pretty much any phone you desire. You can also add a tablet data plan to your Verizon Wireless cell phone plan for a small price.
If you're stuck in a contract with another company, you can switch to Verizon and they'll buy out your old contract. If you have a balance on your old device, you can trade in the device and receive cash back for your phone and plan balance.
Related: Is Cell Phone Insurance Worth It?
AT&T is another one of the best cell phone providers offering national and international coverage right now. AT&T cell phone plans are generally cheaper than Verizon, but they provide less coverage. Our guide to Verizon vs AT&T takes an in-depth look at what each carrier offers and compares them.
AT&T offers affordable plans such as:
They also offer an AT&T Bring Your Own Phone Plan so you can buy a used cell phone to save some money. Just make you know how to unlock your cell phone from its previous carrier if it's not unlocked already.
You never have to worry about overage fees with AT&T. The only real issue with AT&T is that you may not have coverage in rural areas. Additionally, they are known to charge extra fees per month, unless you get a pre-paid plan of course.
If you want to switch to AT&T from another provider, AT&T is similar to Verizon. They say they will credit you buy a new phone from them, trade in your old one and send them your last bill including the early termination fee.
Related: How to Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
Sprint is up there on the list of best wireless companies. Like the other top wireless companies, they offer similar types of cell phone plans such as:
They claim to have better coverage than T-Mobile and just 1 percent less coverage than Verizon. You should take such claims with a grain of salt, however, since they come from the company. Read through our Sprint vs. Verizon comparison for more information. You can see how Sprint vs. T-Mobile stacks up over here.
Sprint supports most top smartphones and has solid individual plans, but its contracts tend to come with extra fees and its coverage can definitely be spotty in more rural areas. On the other hand, Sprint offers the most affordable unlimited individual plan of the top four best cell phone carriers. If you want to switch to Sprint but are still in a contract, they will give you a credit for termination fees and contract balances.
Related: Compare Cell Phone Plans
T-Mobile is one of the top wireless carriers with national and international coverage. All the plans they offer are affordable and come with extra perks the competitors may not offer yet.
T-mobile has a cool feature called Kickback also. If you sign up for it and end up using less than 2GB of data that month, you will get a bill credit. If you're looking to switch to T-mobile but are still in a contract, they will pay every penny of your remaining plan balance and early termination fees to help you switch.
The only problem with T-Mobile, similar to AT&T, is that it doesn't cover as much ground as Verizon Wireless. They are usually more affordable, however. Our T-Mobile vs. Verizon comparison will help you differentiate between the two. To see how AT&T vs T-Mobile stacks up, head over here.
Related: How to Unlock a Phone
Is Unlimited Data Necessary?
Is an unlimited data plan necessary? If you don't use your phone as often, you may not need to pay for unlimited data. A prepaid plan or limited data plan will work fine and may end up being more affordable. There are even ways to reduce your data usage so you don't have to worry about overage charges if you surpass your data limit. To make a decision, think about what you use your smartphone for and how often you use it.
What uses data on your cell phone?
Before you consider opting for an unlimited data plan, you should consider the difference between how much data you use and how much data do you need.
Anytime you are not connected to Wifi and you have apps open, your phone is using data to keep them open. Additionally, any time you are using an app or the Internet without Wifi, you are using data. Some things use up less data than others.
For instance, emails, small photos, and basic web pages use up kilobytes, which don't take up much data. On the other hand, streaming and downloading music and videos will use up Megabytes, which add up to Gigabytes and ultimately use much more data than emails, small photos, and basic web pages.
For families, people with multiple lines on a single account, or those who just love to use data, we take a look at the best unlimited data plans.
Prepaid Cell Phone Companies
Every best wireless provider mentioned in this article has prepaid cell phone plan options, but they are not your only options. You may be able to find something cheaper. Here is a list of some of the best prepaid cell phone plan providers.
Cheap Cell Phone Services
There are even more options than just prepaid plans if you're looking for a cheap cell phone plan and aren't too worried about reliability.
Free Cell Phone Service
If you can't afford a cell phone, the government actually gives out free cell phones to help those in need get jobs and stay in touch with friends and family. There are dozens of national and state-wide free cell phone carriers, so you'll have to look up the providers in your particular area. Here are some of the more common programs across the U.S.
- Safelink Wireless
- Assurance Wireless
- Budget Mobile
- Life Wireless
Chances are, if you qualify for an existing free governmental service like Medicaid or Food stamps, you can qualify for a free phone. Read through how to get a free cell phone service to see if you are eligible. For non-government free cell phone service, check out FreedomPop plans.
Best Cell Phone Carriers Recap
Have you decided on the best cell phone carrier? Leave me a reply in the comments regarding your experiences with any service mentioned in this article. I hope you feel you have enough information to go out and make a purchase. If not, feel free to ask additional questions.