More than two-thirds of Americans own smartphones today. The convenience a smartphone provides to look up an address while on the road, listen to a podcast or audiobook while on a hike, or answer emails while standing in line at the grocery store can’t be beat. Having this convenience has become the norm today, and it’s not likely going away any time soon. Because of that, people expect the expense of a smartphone as part of their routine budget.
Note: We receive a commission for purchases made through the links on this site. Our sponsors, however, do not influence our editorial content in any way.
Best Cell Phone Carriers
|Rank||Carrier||Best For||Monthly Fee||Expert Rating|
|5||Straight Talk||Runner up||$35||★★★|
Buying a phone, however, is only part of the expense. You also need a mobile phone carrier that provides services for talking, texting and browsing the internet. There are several things to consider when choosing which mobile phone carrier is right for you, like price, network performance, customer service, and available incentives. Here’s a look at cell phone carrier reviews for some of the most popular brands today.
Verizon: The Widest Coverage
With the country’s largest network, Verizon is the best option for anyone concerned about coverage. This is especially true for people who live in rural areas, where many mobile phone carriers don’t even offer service. Verizon also offers fast 5G speeds, though speed is affected in some areas.
Verizon does often cost more than other major carriers. Expect to spend $45 for a 15GB plan, though that price goes down with time to $40 after three months and $35 after nine months. Also note that if you want to add people to your plan, the price will go up quickly.
Verizon is problematic for people who travel internationally as well. Despite wide coverage in the US, usage is only available in 40 select countries, so it doesn’t quite qualify as an internally friendly carrier.
T-Mobile: The Hardest to Beat
T-Mobile’s recent merger with Sprint has made it a powerhouse that’s hard to surpass. They’re clearly innovative in their offerings, causing competitors to work hard to keep up. T-Mobile offers decent speed, low-cost tiered data plans and well-priced unlimited plans. Their Magenta plan is $70, which includes taxes and fees, and can be used reliably overseas. If you’re not someone who uses a lot of data, you could stick with their 2GB or 5GB plan, which are both super economical.
T-Mobile also provides a lot of perks for users, including regular giveaways in which subscribers can win prizes like a free trial to Tidal Premium. They’re also diligent about preventing robocalls and offer a free scam shielding service.
Boost Mobile: The Best Perks
Previously owned by Sprint, Boost Mobile is now part of Dish in the aftermath of the T-Mobile and Sprint merger. The Boost Mobile name is still in effect, however, with the carrier being under T-Mobile’s network until Dish builds its own. That means speed and reliability should be comparable to that of T-Mobile as long as they’re under their network’s wing.
Boost Mobile plans can run a little more pricey, but they do come with perks. The carrier’s $50 plan offers 12GB of hotspot data and a six-month subscription to the Tidal music streaming service. For just $10 more, you can get 30GB of hotspot data, plus HD video streaming. If you don’t need a lot of data, you can also opt for 10GB at only $35 a month.
Straight Talk: The Least Variety
Straight Talk is by far the slowest performing of the group and doesn’t come with much plan variety. They also don’t offer any incentives for customer loyalty. Their 5GB plan is priced at $35 a month, and the 25GB plan is $45 a month. For $15 more, however, you can get 25GB plus the ability to make international calls to a small group of select countries.
These prices aren’t bad compared to the other carriers’, but you can get faster service and customer perks for relatively the same cost with other providers.
AT&T for Compromise
AT&T doesn’t have the biggest network. It also doesn’t have the cheapest plans. It does, however, offer the country’s second-largest network at prices that most families can afford. These qualities make AT&T a good compromise for people who want good coverage and don’t want to spend a lot of money. It’s not the best in either category, but it is a good option.
AT&T’s 8GB prepaid plan is priced at just $40 a month and can be discounted if you pay for a year of service in advance. AT&T also gives you the advantage of using a GSM network. No matter where you go, your mobile device should work on the local network. Keep in mind that international calling rates may apply outside of North America.
The carrier also now offers nationwide 5G service, so you should see an uptick in speed.
So, which is the best cell phone carrier? Choosing a mobile phone carrier isn’t necessarily something to follow the back about. Carefully review the coverage, speed, costs, perks and service provided by each carrier and determine where your needs and priorities lie. You may not find an option that provides you with the best in every category, but you’re likely to find something that works well for you given how many carrier options are available today.