A few days ago AT&T added a new prepaid unlimited data plan to its lineup and priced it at $85/month. It is the most expensive carrier prepaid unlimited data plan on the market. However, with auto pay billing enabled, the price of the plan drops down to $75/month.
At $75/month it competes head to head in price against prepaid offerings from both Verizon and T-Mobile. Sprint meanwhile sells its unlimited prepaid plan for $60/month. So which one of these 4, if any, is worth your hard earned cash?
Let's take a closer look and see how they compare.
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- AT&T's $85 Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan
- Verizon's $75 Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan
- T-Mobile's $75 Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan
- Sprint's $65 Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan
- The Big 4 Carrier Prepaid Unlimited Data Plans Summarized In A Table
- The Veridict
AT&T's $85 Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan
AT&T's full speed prepaid unlimited data plan includes global texting to over 100 countries. Calls and texts from the U.S. to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Mariana Islands are also included at no extra charge. So are talk, text and data roaming to those traveling in either Mexico or Canada. Customers whose usage outside the country exceeds more than 50% in a month compared to their domestic voice or text usage in any month over a consecutive 3 month period may have their service terminated.
AT&T's data prioritization policy gets applied after more than 22GB of data has been consumed in a month. This means that during times of heavy network traffic, customers who exceed that limit may see their data speeds temporarily slowed down when compared to other AT&T subscribers. Once the network traffic becomes less busy, speeds return to normal.
AT&T's plan includes 1080p HD video streaming and 6 GB of mobile hotspot at 4G LTE speeds. After the full speed mobile hotspot data gets used up, speeds get reduced to 128 Kbps for the remainder of the billing cycle. This could be a deal breaker for some, and is a big area of difference between each provider.
The $75/month price point does not include any taxes or fees.
AT&T Includes A Multi-Line Discount
A multi-line discount is available to AT&T's subscribers. This is another feature that varies greatly between carriers. AT&T's pricing for multiple lines breaks down as follows:
- 2 lines - $145
- 3 lines - $210
- 4 lines - $270
- 5 lines - $325
Verizon's $75 Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan
Verizon just reduced the price of its prepaid unlimited plan by $5/month. Previously it was priced at $80/month, and was likely reduced to $75 to price match the T-Mobile and AT&T plans. Taxes and fees cost extra here as well.
Unlike AT&T's unlimited data plan, this plan has a data prioritization policy that differs from most others on the market. Instead of temporarily slowing speeds down after a certain amount of data has been consumed in a month, speeds may be temporarily slowed down anytime the network is congested.
This plan includes unlimited mobile hotspot, but speeds are limited to just 3G. Verizon says that this should equate to about 600 Kbps. Video streaming is limited to a resolution of 480p.
There is no international calling included, but there is international texting and it can be used to text over 200 countries.
Verizon Includes A Multi-line Discount
A multi-line discount is available with this plan. Lines 2-5 get $20 off each line, so pricing works out as follows:
- 2 lines - $130
- 3 lines - $185
- 4 lines - $240
- 5 lines - $295
T-Mobile's $75 Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan
T-Mobile's prepaid unlimited data plan comes with a very generous data prioritization policy. Customers won't be subjected to it unless they consume more than 50 GB of data in a month. Those that go past the threshold will have their data speeds temporarily slowed down during times of heavy network traffic.
International travel to Canada and Mexico is included with this plan at no extra cost. Customers can use their talk, text and data in either country. An additional 200 MB of domestic data roaming is also included.
Video streaming is limited to 1.5 Mbps or about 480p. HD video streaming is available as an add on for $3/day. Mobile hotspot is unlimited but seeds are restricted to 3G or about 600 Kbps, just like it is with Verizon's prepaid unlimited plan.
The plan also comes with Wi-Fi calling and texting, and unlimited texting and 1 hour of free data while traveling on Gogo equipped flights.
Taxes and fees are not included with the price shown and do cost extra.
Currently there are no family plan discounts available, but that may soon change given that the competition offers it on the other carriers.
Sprint's $65 Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan
Sprint's prepaid unlimited data plan is the cheapest carrier prepaid unlimited plan on the market. The plan is even cheaper with auto pay billing applied as the price gets reduced to $60/month. The plan is likely the cheapest out of all the networks because Sprint's network coverage is the weakest.
Sprint's quality of service or data prioritization policy gets applied after 23GB of data has been consumed in a month.
A total of 10 GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot is included before data throttling to 2G speeds or about 128 Kbps takes place. This is the most generous allotment of high speed mobile hotspot data that is available among the major carriers.
Video streaming is at a resolution of 1080p, another area where Sprint's plan is ahead of the competition. Gaming streams are however limited to a maximum speed of 8 Mbps, while music streams top out at 1.5 Mbps.
International texting is included with the plan as is 50 domestic voice roaming minutes.
Taxes and fees are not included in the price shown.
Sprint Includes A Multi-Line Discount
Sprint's multi-line discount pricing breaks down as follows:
- 2 lines - $100/month
- 3 lines - $100/month
- 4 lines - $100/month
- 5 lines - $100/month
Those aren't typo's above. Lines 3-5 are free. Sprint's plan really nails it as far as multi-line discounts go. The prices shown are said to be promotional discounts that will be available until 3/31/19.
The Big 4 Carrier Prepaid Unlimited Data Plans Summarized In A Table
|Auto pay price||$75||$75||$60||$75|
|Data Prioritization Threshold||22GB||50GB||23GB||Always Applied|
|Includes 1080p Video Streaming||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Includes Global Text||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Includes Global Calls||No||No||No||No|
|Includes Mobile Hotspot||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|4G LTE Hotspot Limit||6GB||Unavail||10GB||Unavail|
|Includes Mexico/Canada Roaming||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Unlimited Calls To Mex/Can||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Price 2 Lines||$145||$150||$100||$130|
|Price 3 Lines||$210||$225||$100||$185|
|Price 4 Lines||$270||$300||$100||$240|
|Price 5 Lines||$325||$375||$100||$295|
There are enough differences between each plan to make each one stand out from the other, even when they are priced the same. The one that really stands out the most to me is Sprint's prepaid unlimited data plan. If you are in an area with good Sprint coverage, the price cannot be beat. Especially if you want a family plan. Plus you get more high speed mobile hotspot data than you do with any other major carrier prepaid plan. You also get 1080p video streaming, which isn't available on every carrier.
If you're a true data hog, and are bothered by the data prioritization policies that are out there, T-Mobile's plan will probably be your best bet. However, if you need a family plan, you'd better look elsewhere as T-Mobile is not offering any discounts with this plan.
Those that really need premium coverage will likely be choosing between AT&T and Verizon. Although both carrier plans cost the same, their features vary greatly as highlighted in the table above.
Of course if all these plans seem like too much money, you can always go with an unlimited data plan from an MVNO. MVNO unlimited plans will save you anywhere between $15-$30/month compared to what the major carriers offer.