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Best Tablet Data Plans for 2017

Our tablet data plan reviews uncover the best tablet data services on the market.

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Best Tablet Plans

The best tablet data plans provide you with a convenient wireless Internet connection via cell network anytime, anywhere you go. Tablets are lightweight computers sent from heaven. Mine fits in my purse and is bigger than my smartphone, so I don't have to squint while I read. The best tablet data plans will provide you with a convenient wireless Internet connection via cell network anytime, anywhere you go.

In my research, I looked at tablet data plans that offer the best amount of data and flexibility for their cost. Because data usage habits are based on personal preference, I've reviewed a number of the best tablet data plans that cover a variety of budgets and interests.

Best Tablet Data Plans - What to Consider

About 5 percent of Internet users throughout the world own a tablet along with 45 percent of Americans. It's hard to find the best tablet data plans out there, though, if you don't know what to consider. Luckily, I've figured that out for you. Here are some basics to consider before you decide on the best tablet data plan for you:

1. When and where will I be using my device and for what?

It's important to think about when and where you'll be using your tablet the most. For instance, what if I wanted to use my tablet for freelance researching and writing while on a road trip?

My first step would be to determine how much researching and writing I'd be doing to figure out what kind of plan to purchase. I would likely end up needing a solid data plan because I wouldn't be connected to WiFi most of the time.

Determining where you'll be using your tablet will help you decide which tablet plan you should purchase. It will also help save you money.

2. How much data do I need?

Once you figure out where you'll be using your tablet the most each month, you'll have to determine how much data to purchase. These two considerations go hand in hand.

If you know you will only be using the tablet where there's WiFi, you might steer clear of a tablet data plan. If you will need to use it occasionally without WiFi, you might purchase a tablet data plan with a low data cap like 1GB per month.

Many carriers list what you can do with each data amount on their site. Refer to these lists to avoid overage costs when you use more than you've paid for.

For example, Verizon's website explains to consumers what they can do with 4GB of data. It says you can either send 52,000 emails, search 12,000 web-pages, stream video for 12-hours or use 800-hours of navigation per month with 4GB.

If I am an avid emailer, I may consider how many emails per month I usually send. I would compare this amount to the amount of other streaming and web-searching I usually do. This is a good way to figure out what kind of plan you really need.

3. Can I use my phone as a mobile hotspot?

Some carriers may enable you to use your cell phone as a mobile hotspot.This option will allow you to share data from your cell phone with your tablet on the go.

Keep in mind that not all of the best tablet data plans offer a mobile hotspot option. For example, you'll have separate data plans for each device when you purchase a data plan for your tablet with T-Mobile.

4. Does every tablet work with a data plan?

If you're looking for a specific type of tablet, you should make sure it offers the data plan you need. Many tablets only function via WiFi and do not work with tablet data plans. As a result, you may not have as many options when you go to buy a tablet. You should consider this before you buy a tablet so you don't end up stuck with no connection.

About 5 percent of Internet users throughout the world own a tablet along with 45 percent of Americans.

Benefits of Choosing the Best Tablet Data Plans

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Tablets have become a huge deal in the data marketplace since Apple introduced the first iPad in 2010. In 2015, companies shipped over 46.4 million tablets word wide. Have you ever wondered why tablets are so popular? Here are some reasons you should think about buying a tablet is you're not already.

1. Connect to the Internet no matter where you are

When you purchase the best tablet data plan, you don't have to worry about whether you'll be able to use the Internet. If you have a job that requires you to work while you travel, a tablet with a data plan is the perfect option.

2. View documents, movies, books on a larger screen than your phone

People with the best tablet data plans spend 50 percent more time on average watching online videos than people with mobile broadband plans. In my experience, tablets are pleasant to stream with and read on compared to my smartphone.

When you buy a tablet data plan for your tablet, you are instantly and consistently connected to your documents, emails, favorite books, movies and more. Tablets have larger screens than smartphones so you don't have to squint.

3. Tablets are easier to travel with than laptops

Tablets are obviously much easier to travel with than laptops because they're lighter. They're smaller, but they can be used the same way. Some tablets are even convertible. This mean means your device can be considered a tablet and a computer with a moveable keyboard.

4. They have cool features that many laptops don't

On a laptop, the Internet doesn't work without WiFi or a hotspot. This is one key feature a tablet data plan has over a laptop. If you need to do research while you travel, purchasing a data plan for your tablet could save your life.

You can also download applications on tablets that work differently on computers. For example, you can download a drawing application on your tablet and draw with a tablet pen or your finger. Many laptops do not have touchscreens, so you would have to use the mouse for this.

Ultimately, tablets are easier to carry and easier to use than laptops. They are more casual and portable with touchscreens and applications instead of mouses and software.

The Best Tablet Data Plans

Verizon Tablet Data Plans

  • Pros
  • Offers prepaid and postpaid data plans
  • Bring your own device if it's compatible
  • Multiple devices can share one data plan
  • Rated one of the most reliable networks
  • Cons
  • Prices are slightly higher than competitors
  • Access and line fees

Verizon is one of the best tablet plan providers. They offer prepaid and postpaid data tablet plans at a slightly higher price than their competitors. Their network is so reliable, though, that it might be worth the price.

You don't have to buy a tablet with Verizon to activate a tablet data plan. If you bring your own device and it's compatible, you can buy data for it. If you already have a phone plan with Verizon, adding a tablet will only cost you $10.

Verizon's postpaid plans will bill you each month after you've used your data. They may require a credit check for this reason. Data starts at 2GB for $20 a month. Multiple devices can share a plan but they do charge access and lines fees. Verizon charges $10 for a tablet, $20 for a mobile hotspot and $5 for a connected device.

Verizon's prepaid plans last from a week to two months and do not require a credit check like postpaid plans. They also don't require you sign any sort of contract, which is nice. You may want to consider a prepaid plan if you're not interested in a contract.

AT&T Tablet Data Plans

  • Pros
  • Offers prepaid and postpaid data plans
  • Affordable
  • Multiple devices can share one data plan
  • Bring your own device if it's compatible
  • Cons
  • Overage charges
  • 4G LTE not available everywhere

AT&T is an affordable tablet data plan provider. They offer plans from their prepaid 4G LTE Go Phone service starting at $25 for 2GB and postpaid plans starting at $14.99 for 250MB. AT&T charges overage fees of $14 per 250MB over for the smallest plan and $10 per gigabyte over for larger plans.

AT&T's prepaid tablet data plans do not require a credit check or a contract. Their prepaid plan offers 4G LTE service. Keep in mind, though, that it's not available everywhere. You can check the AT&T website for service details.

If you already use AT&T, you can add a tablet data plan to your package $10 extra a month. It will cost you $20 extra for a mobile hot spot. AT&T's best tablet plans are a little cheaper than Verizon's.

You can also have multiple devices on one data plan and bring your own tablet with AT&T, similar to Verizon. Life is always more convenient with one monthly bill for various services.

Sprint Tablet Data Plans

  • Pros
  • Cheap overage charges
  • Can connect multiple devices on one plan
  • Offers unlimited data plan for tablets
  • Limited free activation
  • Bring your own device if it's compatible
  • Cons
  • No data-only prepaid services

Sprint is an excellent tablet data plan provider. They offer plans starting at just $15 a month for 1GB of data. They are cheap and reliable, with overage charges of just $1.05 per MB and about $15.36 per GB.

If you have a Sprint cell phone and want to add a data plan, it'll cost $10 extra per month. Then you will be able to connect your tablet using the same data as your cell phone. This is otherwise known as a mobile WiFi hotspot. Combining your tablet data plan with a cell phone data plan can be a great way to save money. You can also bring your own device with Sprint as long as it's eligible.

Unfortunately, Sprint doesn't offer any prepaid data-only plans and you will likely have to do a credit check. They do offer free activation on various tablets on their site, which is nice. They also offer a great unlimited tablet data plan. You can get unlimited mobile-optimized streaming, videos, gaming, and music with unlimited 4G LTE for everything else starting at $20 per month.

T-Mobile Tablet Data Plans

  • Pros
  • Bring your own tablet if it's compatible
  • Unlimited data plans
  • Prices less than competitors
  • Prepaid and postpaid tablet data plans
  • Connect multiple devices
  • Cons
  • Data speeds can be disrupted in congested areas

T-Mobile offers some of the best data plans for tablets because they are cheap. They offer prepaid tablet data plans with no credit check or contract and postpaid plans with credit checks and monthly billing. T-Mobile's data plans for tablets are less expensive than all competitors previously mentioned in this article.

You can choose a daily, weekly or monthly data plan for your tablet. You can also have more than one device on one plan, just like Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. With T-Mobile, if you do choose to have multiple devices on one plan, they will not share data like with Sprint. Instead, you will have separate data specifications for each device.

With T-Mobile, you can bring your own device and add a tablet to your T-mobile phone plan for $10 more a month. They also have unlimited plans with no overage fees. For example, you can get unlimited talk, text and data starting at $40 with up to 3GB of 4G LTE data. It's a pretty great deal.

You can even use your data plan in Canada and Mexico. Just keep in mind that data speeds can slow down in congested areas, especially if you are using over 26GB a month.

Metro PCS Tablet Data Plans

  • Pros
  • Unlimited data
  • No annual contract requirements
  • Cheaper than competitors
  • No hidden fees
  • Bring your own device if it's compatible
  • Cons
  • Reduced speeds after certain data cap
  • Less reliable connection

Metro PCS is owned by T-Mobile and is also known for its extremely competitive tablet data plan rates. Their 4G LTE data plans for tablets start at just $15 a month and include unlimited data. Once you use 2GB, though, your connection speed will begin to slow.

Will Metro PCS, you don't have to worry about contracts. They offer an unlimited data, talk and text plan similar to T-Mobile, except it's $10 cheaper at $30 per month. With this plan, your first gigabyte of data will get 4G LTE speed.

The downside to Metro PCS tablet data plans is that their connection is less reliable than other providers like Verizon and AT&T. Customers have complained in the past about network congestion and slower speeds. Luckily, Metro PCS is cheap with no hidden fees and you can bring your own device if it's compatible; so they may be worth it.

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Best Tablet Data Plans - What to Know

You should always learn a little more about what you're buying before you commit. Here are some basic principles regarding tablets and their data that you should know before you make a purchase.

In 2015, companies shipped over 46.4 million tablets word wide.

Megabytes and Gigabytes

  • Megabytes and gigabytes are units of measurement that measure data allowances. There is also a smaller measurement called kilobytes.
  • A Megabyte is made up of 1,024 kilobytes. A Gigabyte is made up of 1,024 megabytes.
  • The most popular phone and tablet data plans usually offered by carriers include 1GB, 2GB, or 5GB.

4G and LTE Data

  • 4G stands for fourth-generation. 4G is the fourth generation of technology related to mobile-data.
  • LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. 4G LTE is the quickest version of the 4G network.
  • The different between 4G networks and 4G LTE networks is simple: download speed. You can download at a rate of 5 to 12 megabits per second with the advanced LTE network. 4G only offers download speeds of 3 to 8 megabits per second.

Keep track of your data

  • You can avoid overage fees by keeping track of your data each month. First, you should know how much data you're paying for each month. Then, determine when your bill cycle begins and when it ends.
  • Once you know this information, you can download an application to manage your data tracking. All you have to do is type in the information about your billing cycle and data allowances. Then you can monitor your data usage and even receive alerts when you're running low.

iPads Have Built-in Tracking

  • If you have purchased an iPad tablet, you have built-in tracking. Go to your settings and look for cellular data usage. This will tell you how much data you have left on your tablet.
  • On the first day of your bill cycle, go to the bottom of the page and click reset statistics to monitor the month's usage. It will only be useful if you remember to check it regularly.

Convertible vs. Hybrid Tablets

  • Convertible tablets are a little thicker and heavier than hybrid tablets because the keyboard doesn't detach from the screen. You would simply fold the keyboard over for tablet mode.
  • Hybrid tablets have a screen that completely detaches from the keyboard. This makes hybrids lighter and possibly easier to travel with.

Best Tablet Data Plans - Prepaid

  • When you purchase a prepaid tablet data plan, you agree to a certain amount of data per month. You are then charged on your credit card every month before your data is used.
  • Prepaid plans often don't require a credit check. Many of the best tablet plan providers in this article also offer prepaid plans that do not require a contract.
  • Keep in mind that there may be different data overage charges for prepaid plans than for postpaid data plans. Always ask your carrier about the details of your plan compared to other plans.

Best Tablet Data Plans - Contract

  • With a postpaid tablet data plan, the data charge of your choice will show up on your monthly bill after your data is used for the month.
  • Although the plans don't necessarily offer cheaper options, it may make you feel better to pay after you've used your data instead of before.
  • If you choose to go with a postpaid tablet plan, you will likely have to do a credit check. You also may have to agree to a contract of some sort.

How I Chose the Best Tablet Data Plans

After inspecting the web for features, price comparisons, and reviews, I came up with the five best tablet data plans listed above.

Best Reliable Tablet Data Plan

If you are looking for the most reliable tablet data plan, I would go with Verizon. Although they are more expensive, their connection can be counted on. I have had their data service on my iPhone for years and have never experienced issues, other than the price.

Best Cheap Tablet Data Plan

If you're looking for a cheap plan, I would definitely go with T-Mobile. Since I'm a traveler, it makes me happy that they offer free data usage in Mexico and Canada. My current Verizon data phone plan does not do that.

T-Mobile is a cheap data service with a more reliable connection than providers like Metro PCS. Their affordable and practical plans are hard to pass up.

Which Tablet Data Plan Will You Choose?

All in all, I have no doubt that my list exemplifies the best tablet plans you can get for a decent price. Take your pick and tell me about your experience in the comments.

Best Tablet Data Plans Recap

Conclusively, tablets are portable, lightweight computers. They are more convenient than a laptop and bigger than a smartphone. If you choose to purchase a tablet data plan, you will have a connection wherever you decide to go. The best data plan will allow you to email, stream movies, read, draw, research and much more whenever and wherever you can imagine.

If you are thinking about purchasing one of the best tablet data plans listed above, you may want to read about the best cell phone plans. When you add a tablet data plan to an existing cell phone plan, it could save you a lot of money.

You may also want to check out our guide on the best bring your own phone plans. It will tell you more about which carriers offer the best bring your own device options for cell phones and tablets. Bring your own device options are offered by every one of the best tablet data plan providers listed above. They are often a cheaper alternative to buying a brand new phone from a carrier.

Best Tablet Data Plans FAQs

Do you have to have a data plan for a tablet?

As tablets are wireless devices, they include Wi-Fi capability. You can use the internet with a tablet via a wireless signal. Some tablets also have SIM cards, accessing data over cellular networks as a cellphone does. Cellular enabled tablets are used by professionals such as sales people and contractors working away from a Wi-Fi signal.

What is LTE on a tablet?

LTE is an acronym for Long Term Evolution. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) developed the 4G LTE wireless communications standard to deliver up to ten times the speed of 3G networks. These networks are used in mobile devices including tablets, smartphones, netbooks, note books and wireless hotspots.

How much is the data plan for an iPad?

Here's some low cost data plan rates for iPad from the big cellular carriers:

  • T-Mobile – 200MB free, 500MB $5 (24 hours), 1GB $10
  • AT&T – 250MB $5 (24 hours), 250 MB $15 (monthly)
  • Verizon – 500MB $15 (7 days), 1GB $20 (monthly)
  • Sprint – 300MB $5 (24 hours), 500MB $10 (7 days)

What is a SIM card and what does it do?

SIM cards are smart cards storing user data for cellular phone subscribers. SIM card data includes your identity, phone number, location, security key, network authorization data, text messages and contact list. Cellular phones require a SIM card to function properly. Users pay a cellular service provider to activate the SIM card.

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In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.