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Last Updated: Jun 2024

Best Cell Phone Service Providers - An Overview of the Best Phone Companies and Their Services

Whether you're in need of an all around family plan, or a simple plan for you and your partner, finding the right cell phone provider is essential.

Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a cell phone plan cost?+-

A cell phone plan can cost as little as $8 per month and up to $70 per month, depending on the type of plan you're looking for. Choose the best plan based on your needs and the number of people for whom you need the plan.

Do you need unlimited data?+-

No, most people don't really need an unlimited data plan. Since these plans can get pricey, it's better to opt for a cheaper plan with limited data within what you will actually use.

How much data do you really need?+-

The average person uses around 6 GB of data per month. You can always check your phone usage history to see how much data you typically use in a month, and then choose a plan that gives you a little bit of extra cushion in case you go over your data allowance

Should you get postpaid, prepaid, or resold service?+-

Choosing between postpaid, prepaid, or resold service depends on your needs and preferences. Postpaid plans require paying for service at the end of each billing cycle, a credit check, and may come with a contract or early termination fees. They offer perks like subsidized phones and international roaming, but can be more expensive. Prepaid plans require upfront payment, no credit check or contract, and can be a good option for those on a budget or who want more flexibility, but may not include as many perks. Resold service is a type of prepaid service offered by third-party providers with more affordability, but may have coverage limitations and data speed caps.

How do you determine which network has the best coverage for you?+-

To determine which network has the best coverage for you, you can check coverage maps, ask people in your area, research online, and test drive the network. It's important to consider factors like cost, data plans, and customer service in addition to coverage when choosing a carrier.

Who is the #1 cell phone carrier?+-

The best cell phone carrier depends on your needs. Mint Mobile offers affordable high-speed data plans with great coverage. Tello offers free international calling, while AT&T has one of the best 5G networks available now.

Who has the best cell phone coverage?+-

Verizon offers the best coverage in rural areas, while AT&T has the best 5G coverage in cities. If coverage is your priority, consider choosing one of the major carriers—Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile—rather than an MVNO.

Which wireless carrier is best?+-

Mint Mobile is the overall best wireless carrier in terms of value, coverage, and reliability. It offers affordable plans with plenty of high-speed data and you can try out the carrier risk-free for seven days.

Author's Image
By Kathleen Christie
specializes in call center development and telephony operations


A Closer Look at the Best Cell Phone Providers

When choosing the right cell phone provider, It's not just about finding a plan that fits your budget; it's about discovering a service that genuinely aligns with your lifestyle and needs. That's why we've put together this comprehensive guide. Our goal is to demystify the process and offer you clear, actionable insights to help you make an informed decision.

In this guide, we've evaluated over 20 cell phone companies, diving deep into what each one has to offer. Whether you're in search of an affordable plan, the best 5G coverage, or top-notch customer support, we've got you covered. Let's explore together the top 10 cell phone companies of the year and find the perfect match for your communication needs.

Our Methodology: Finding the Best Cell Phone Providers for You

We've reviewed more than 20 cell phone companies to help you pick the best one. We don't just read about these companies; we actually use their services. Our team checks out their plans, network coverage, and customer service firsthand. We also do a lot of research by looking at industry reports and expert opinions. We gather feedback from real customers to make sure we've covered all our bases. 

What We Looked At:

  • Pricing: We check if you're getting your money's worth, both now and in the long run.

  • Plan Variety: From individual to family plans, we explore their range.

  • 5G Coverage: How broad and reliable is their 5G network?

  • Network Quality: We assess the strength and reach of their underlying network.

  • Innovation: We're on the lookout for new tech and features like eSIM.

  • Customer Service: How easy is it to get help when you need it?

  • User Feedback: We consider what actual users say about their experience.

  • Extra Perks: Think streaming bundles or exclusive deals.

The Best Cell Phone Companies in 2024:

1. Mint Mobile

Affordable coverage with plenty of high-speed data Visit Site

Best for: Cost-conscious users seeking efficient 5G plans

Price per month: $15/month for the 5GB plan

5G Coverage: Available, tied to T-Mobile’s network coverage

Money-back Guarantee: 7 days

Uptime: 100%

Mint Mobile is more than just an affordable option in the mobile market; it's a game-changer. With plans starting at $15 for 4GB, Mint caters to a variety of needs, scaling up to unlimited data. Operating on the robust network of its parent company, T-Mobile, Mint offers dependable service across the nation.

Their plans are not just budget-friendly; they are thoughtfully designed for today's connected consumers. Their customer service stands out positively in an industry often known for poor support. Mint Mobile, in essence, is the smart choice for those who value both their dollars and their mobile experience.

Reasons to Choose Mint Mobile: Mint Mobile stands out with its diverse plan offerings, from 5GB to unlimited data, catering to all kinds of data users. The no-contract policy, coupled with the ease of eSIM technology and multi-month discounts, offers a blend of flexibility and savings. Plus, the added perks of free international calls to Mexico and Canada make it an even more appealing choice for global communicators.

Read the full Mint Mobile review

PROS

Affordably priced plans with value-packed options
Flexibility with no-contract commitments and cutting-edge eSIM technology
Free international calls to Mexico and Canada

CONS

Coverage depends on T-Mobile’s network reach.
Speed limitations on unlimited plans after certain usage


Mint Mobile Mint Mobile View Plans

2. Tello

Free international calling to more than 60 countries Visit Site

Best for: Budget-friendly international calling plans

Price per month: $25 for the Unlimited Plan

5G Coverage: Access to T-Mobile’s extensive nationwide 4G LTE/5G network

Money-back guarantee: 100% money-back guarantee

Uptime: 99.6%

Tello, an independent Operator utilizing T-Mobile's network, has made a mark in the mobile carrier industry with its competitively priced plans and notable international calling options. Tello stands out for its flexible plans, which allow customers to adjust their packages monthly to suit changing usage patterns.

The Unlimited Plan at $25 per month includes 35GB of high-speed data and free hotspot & Wi-Fi calling, positioning it as a cost-effective solution for data-intensive users. Tello supports modern features such as Wi-Fi calling, enhancing connectivity in areas where traditional signals might falter. 

Reasons to Choose Tello: Tello stands out for its value-for-money plans, especially the $25 Unlimited Plan, which is tailored for those with high data demands. The flexibility in customizing plans monthly is a significant advantage, catering to diverse data and calling requirements. Tello is also recognized for its responsive and knowledgeable customer service team, a highlight in a sector where customer support is often a secondary consideration.

Read the full Tello review

PROS

Competitive pricing with plans starting as low as $5/month
Customizable plans with monthly adjustments to meet changing needs
Strong customer service reputation

CONS

Highly variable coverage
Limited to the coverage and network speed of T-Mobile


Tello Tello Visit Site

3. AT&T

Unlimited plans with outstanding 5G coverage Visit Site

Best for: 5G Network Access

Price-per-month: $35/line/month for Family Plan with four lines

5G Coverage: Extensive, primarily in urban areas

Money-back guarantee: Within 14 days of activation

Uptime: 99.99%

As a leader in the US telecom industry, AT&T distinguishes itself with its advanced 5G capabilities and a diverse range of plans. While individual plans start around $50/month, a popular choice is the family plan. The typical rate for this plan is approximately $35 per line for four lines, providing unlimited talk, text, and data, though exact pricing may vary. This plan is not just economical; it also capitalizes on AT&T's extensive 5G network, with a focus on providing fast, reliable service.

AT&T's unlimited plans, including features like the ActiveArmor security app, demonstrate the company's commitment to offering more than just connectivity. Specific bundle deals with streaming services are available, although these offers can change. 

Reasons to Choose AT&T: AT&T is ideal for those seeking robust, reliable 5G coverage, particularly in urban areas. The family plan, approximately priced at $35/line for four lines, offers competitive rates and frequently includes perks like international calling and advanced 5G services. 

Read the full AT&T review


PROS

Expansive 5G coverage in urban settings
Economical family plan rates
ActiveArmor security app included

CONS

Pricier single-line plans
Limited hotspot data options

AT&T AT&T Visit Site

4. Visible

Truly unlimited 5G data Visit Site

Best for: Unlimited high-speed data

Price per month: $25/month for the basic plan; $45/month for Visible+

5G Coverage: Access to Verizon’s 4G LTE/5G network; 5G Ultra Wideband with Visible+

Money-back guarantee: 15-day free trial

Uptime: 99% 

As a subsidiary of Verizon, Visible offers a unique blend of affordable plans and reliable network coverage. Their offerings are primarily centered around two unlimited plans – Visible and Visible+, each distinct in terms of data caps and network priorities. These plans are competitively priced, particularly attractive when compared to other major carriers, and come without the burden of hidden fees.

Visible's embrace of new technologies, such as eSIM capabilities, positions them at the forefront of modern telecommunications. Despite not having physical stores, Visible's customer service is accessible 24/7 via chat, reflecting their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Reasons to Choose Visible WirelessVisible Wireless is a compelling choice for those seeking an affordable, no-contract wireless service with the reliability of Verizon's network. It offers unlimited data and hotspot usage, making it ideal for high data users and those who frequently tether other devices. The service's simple plan structure, inclusive of taxes and fees, adds to its appeal for budget-conscious consumers. Additionally, the 15-day free trial offers a risk-free opportunity to test the service.

Read the full Visible review

PROS

Unlimited data and hotspot usage on all plans
All-inclusive pricing with taxes and fees
High network reliability, running on Verizon's network

CONS

Limited physical customer service locations
Some restrictions on 5G coverage and device compatibility


Visible Visible Visit Site

5. T-Mobile

Discounted plans for seniors, veterans, and first responders Visit Site

Best for: Variety of users including seniors, military, and travelers

Price per month: Plans start at $26.25/line with Autopay for four lines (limited-time offer)

5G Coverage: Largest and fastest in America, covering 98% of Americans

Money-back guarantee: Three-month free trial

Uptime: 100%

T-Mobile stands among the other phone service providers, offering more than just phone services. With their merger with Sprint, they've improved their network, especially in 5G coverage. They provide plans like Essentials™ and Go5G, which include perks such as streaming Netflix or Apple TV+ without using your data. They're also at the forefront of technology with features like eSIMs and have excellent customer service. While rural areas might have less coverage and individual plans can be expensive, T-Mobile is great for families and tech lovers.

T-Mobile also lets customers try their services without risk. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee for customers who buy or upgrade to a new device with JUMP! On Demand. Plus, there's a 3-month free trial with unlimited data for those new to T-Mobile and have an eSIM-capable phone.

Reasons to Choose T-Mobile: T-Mobile is a top pick for those seeking a blend of value and technology. Beyond its basic offerings, it provides a seamless streaming experience with bundled entertainment services, ideal for media enthusiasts. Its family plans are particularly cost-effective, offering significant savings for group users. 

PROS

Broad and fast 5G coverage
Inclusive of entertainment subscriptions
Attractive plans for seniors, military members, and travelers

CONS

Rural coverage can be spotty
Plans can be pricey compared to some competitors


T-Mobile T-Mobile Visit Site

6. PureTalk

Affordable family plans with lots of data Visit Site

Best for: Families that need up to four lines

Price per month: $55/month for unlimited options 

Money-back guarantee: 100% Money Back Guarantee

Uptime: 99%

PureTalk, utilizing AT&T's extensive network, offers a range of prepaid, no-contract mobile plans starting at $20 per month, with unlimited options beginning at $55. Notable for its budget-friendly offerings, this carrier provides discounts for additional lines—up to 20% off for four lines—appealing to families. 

Customers enjoy flexibility with plans catering to various needs, including unlimited data, and benefit from 5G in major cities. PureTalk distinguishes itself with features like bring-your-own-phone, easy online activation, and a customer-first attitude. Their no data overage policy and highly praised customer service further enhance their appeal.

Reasons to Choose PureTalk: Choose PureTalk for its highly competitive pricing and diverse plan options, ideal for individuals and families. Their no-contract, unlimited talk and text plans, combined with the convenience of bringing your own device, make switching to PureTalk hassle-free. Additionally, new customers can get up to $250 off a new phone, enhancing its appeal for those seeking a personalized, cost-effective mobile service.

Read the full PureTalk review

PROS

Mix-and-match data plans
Discounts for adding multiple lines
Get up to $250 off a new phone

CONS

No international data options
Doesn’t offer live chat support


Pure TalkUSA Pure TalkUSA Visit Site

7. Boost Mobile

Affordable 5G data plans for individuals Visit Site

Best for: Mobile hotspot data plans

Price-per-month: From $15/month for 5GB 5G/4G data, with unlimited talk & text

5G Coverage: Access to three major 5G networks for expansive coverage

Money-back guarantee:  30-day money-back guarantee 

Uptime: 99.99% 

Boost Mobile differentiates itself with its focus on flexible data plans and mobile hotspot offerings. Recognized for its pragmatic approach to mobile services, Boost caters to the cost-conscious without compromising on network reliability.

Its strategic partnership with three top 5G networks positions Boost as a contender for expansive coverage. While unlimited data starts at a premium, Boost attracts tech-savvy users with innovative features like eSIM for seamless international roaming. 

Reasons to Choose Boost Mobile: Boost Mobile appeals to the budget-friendly audience, offering substantial 5G coverage and versatile data plans starting at just $15/month. Its hotspot capabilities are a standout, providing added value for the connected user. Boost’s embrace of eSIM technology also caters to the globetrotting clientele, offering ease in international travel.

Read the full Boost Mobile review

PROS

Cheap plans offering limited high-speed data
Hotspot data plans available
Wide selection of phones

CONS

Moderately expensive unlimited data plans
Activation fee if you bring your own phone


Boost Mobile Boost Mobile Visit Site

8. Xfinity Mobile

Share data across multiple lines Visit Site

Best for: Xfinity internet customers

Price per month: From $15/month for 1GB of high-speed data.

Money-back guarantee: 14-day money-back guarantee

Uptime: 99%

Xfinity Mobile, a Comcast subsidiary, is making waves in the mobile carrier market with its versatile data plans and integration with Xfinity internet services. It offers flexible data options, including 1GB, 3GB, or 10GB plans, and an unlimited plan at $30/line for at least 2 lines. 

These plans are backed by extensive 5G network access and features like eSIM capabilities and strong customer support. However, it's exclusive to Xfinity internet customers. This innovative approach, along with competitive pricing (starting at $15 for 1GB), makes Xfinity Mobile a notable option in the telecom sector.

Reasons to Choose Xfinity Mobile: Xfinity Mobile is ideal for those seeking flexible, cost-effective mobile plans. With options ranging from small to unlimited data packages, it's a great choice for families and individuals alike. The integration with nationwide 5G networks ensures fast and reliable connectivity, enhancing your mobile experience.

Read the full Xfinity Mobile review

PROS

Share data across multiple lines
Affordable unlimited data plan
Bring your own phone for free

CONS

Only available to Xfinity internet customers
A limited selection of phones for sale


Xfinity Mobile Xfinity Mobile Visit Site

9. Verizon

Huge selection of mobile plans to suit every situation Visit Site

Best for: Mix-and-match family plans

Price per month: $30/month for the Unlimted Welcome plan for four lines

Money-back guarantee: A 30-day free trial

Uptime: 100%

Verizon, a key player in telecommunications and part of Verizon Communications, is known for its wide array of customizable plans and leading 5G coverage. Its unique selling point is the flexibility in plans, allowing customers to tailor services to their needs, paying only for what's required. This includes a variety of devices and home internet options. Renowned for its customer service, Verizon consistently receives high satisfaction ratings.

Verizon is a strong contender in the 5G space, often outperforming AT&T and T-Mobile in rural U.S. coverage. The company offers a wide range of plans, including prepaid and comprehensive 5G options with hotspots. Additionally, Verizon provides data-only plans for smart devices. This variety makes it easy for customers to create customized family plans.

While on the higher end, Verizon's pricing offers value through decreasing per-line costs in family plans and includes perks like hotspot allowances and entertainment subscriptions in its unlimited data plan. Verizon offers several plans, with the most common ones being the Unlimited Welcome, Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Ultimate plans. The pricing for these plans varies based on the number of lines and whether discounts like auto-pay are applied.

Reasons to Choose Verizon: Opting for Verizon means enjoying the perks of a highly customizable plan on America's most reliable 5G network. With options for every family member and additional benefits like international calling and advanced 5G services, it's a versatile choice for diverse communication needs.

Read the full Verizon review

PROS

Wide range of plans with mix-and-match options
Excellent coverage across the US
Includes free subscriptions to major streaming services

CONS

Expensive 5G plans
Plan offerings can be confusing


Verizon Verizon Visit Site

10. US Mobile

Affordable plans with customizable options Visit Site

Best for: Customizable plans tailored to individual needs

Price-per-month: $29/month for unlimited starter plan

5G Coverage: Offers 5G coverage through either Verizon or T-Mobile 

Money-back guarantee: Offers 30 days free trial of its unlimited plan 

Uptime: 100%


US Mobile is making quite a mark in the telecom industry with its versatile plans on T-Mobile and Verizon networks. They've got something for everyone: the Unlimited Starter plan at $23/month and the Unlimited Premium at $37.50/month, both priced annually. These plans come loaded with ample data, talk, and text. 

They also cater to international travelers, allowing usage in over 180 countries. A standout feature is their eSIM technology for quick activation, making life easier for those on the move. The Unlimited Premium plan steps it up with extra perks like streaming and gaming credits for multiple lines. 

And let's not forget their 24/7 customer support, ensuring help is always a call or click away. They also offer a 30-day free trial, complete with an attractive offer of up to $500 in prepaid cards. Overall, US Mobile combines flexibility, technological convenience, and attentive customer service, making it an appealing choice for mobile users.

Reasons to Choose US MobileUS Mobile is a smart pick for its customizable plans, letting you choose exactly what you need in talk, text, and data. With access to Verizon and T-Mobile's networks, they ensure wide coverage. Their 24/7 customer support and added perks like international roaming make them a practical choice for various mobile users.

Read US Mobile Review


PROS

Affordable plans with customization options
Reliable coverage on the T-Mobile network
Add-ons for additional features

CONS

International roaming limitations
A limited selection of devices available for purchase


US Mobile US Mobile Visit Site

What to Look for in the Best Cell Phone Providers

What makes the top cell phone service providers stand out? Let's l take a closer look at several factors that influence a provider’s affordability, reliability, and overall quality.

Cell phone plan price: Cell phone providers can charge widely differing amounts for what might appear to be the same level of service. It’s important to dig into providers’ pricing to find out whether there are limitations on talk, text, or data, and whether an unlimited data plan is really unlimited after all. If you’re looking for cellular coverage for a whole family, look for providers that offer family plans that can save you money.

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) offers: MVNOs are carriers that piggyback on the cellular networks of major telecom companies like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. MVNOs can offer much cheaper prices, but you typically get second-tier status when the networks are busy. So, think carefully about whether the money savings are worth a slight decrease in reliability.

Network coverage and service: All of the major cellular carriers claim to provide nationwide coverage in the US, but coverage can still vary quite a bit depending on where you are. Some carriers offer better coverage in some areas, especially for LTE and 5G data speeds. Be sure to check coverage maps for your region when deciding on a cell phone provider.

Deals and features: Cell phone providers occasionally have introductory offers or deals that can help them stand out. For example, if your family needs new phones, you might be able to find appealing offers such as buy one, get one free when you sign up for a new cellular plan.

Choosing the Best Plan for Your Needs

With so many cell phone providers and plans available today, the options are nearly endless. Every cell phone carrier has different selling points, cell phone coverage, and all of their plans offer different amounts of minutes, data, and package costs. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help pin down the best choice for you.

What Kind of Cellphone User are You? 

Finding the right cell phone plan is all about knowing what you need, which is all about what you use your phone for. Are you a phone call kind-of-person, or do you spend most of your time texting? Do you spend your commutes to work catching up on the news and streaming videos, or do you prefer to listen to pre-downloaded audiobooks?

These are all questions you should be answering, as they will greatly help you whittle down your choices to find the right plan.

Are You Choosing a Plan for Your Entire Family?

If you’re going to be sharing a plan with a social media obsessed, series-streaming teen, you will get the most bang for your buck with a plan from Mint Mobile which offers unlimited plans for the first 3 months starting at only $15 per month.

The T-Mobile  is ideal for families, as it starts at just $160 for 4 lines. With the plan you also get a Netflix plan for free, unlimited HD streaming and 4G LTE data.

Since you’re purchasing the plan for your family, you will likely have members that own a tablet or wearable, like an Apple Watch or other smartwatch. Adding these to your plan is simple and only costs an extra $20 per tablet, and $10 per wearable. If that’s not enough, T-Mobile also offers perks on Tuesdays with its T-Mobile Tuesday app. The company really does offer a great all around plan that you and your whole family will enjoy. Your kids and spouse will be able to do what they want on their phones, while you will feel you’re getting what you pay for.

Is It Just You and Your Partner?

If you’re only buying a phone plan for you and your partner, you will probably need less data and a smaller amount of minutes compared to that of a family plan. Two really popular providers for couples are Boost Mobile and Cricket. Boost Mobile has a $60 a month plan that gives you unlimited talk, text, and data, as well as 20GB of mobile hotspot.

Since it’s backed by Sprint, you will get top-quality nationwide LTE coverage. You can also add extras to your plan like BoostTV, Boost Dealz, and roaming. Cricket also has a plan ideal for couples, that gives you a whopping 8GB per user at just $90 a month. Cricket runs on AT&T’s network, so you know you will get good coverage in most places, and offers excellent customer service.

There are also more simple and straightforward providers like Tello, where you can choose how many minutes and data you waqnt. .

Do You Have any Family Members Living Abroad?

No matter if you’re a single person, family, or couple looking for a plan, if you have family living abroad that you plan on staying in contact with, you should choose Verizon. It’s important to choose a plan that lets you make international calls because if not, you will get nailed on your monthly bills. Verizon offers really great coverage and competitive pricing for international calls.

There’s a Plan for Everyone

Cell phone companies offer many plans to satisfy a broad range of customers, including cell phone plans for seniors or kids, whether they have a smartphone or not. But before going into the store and getting overwhelmed by the choices, plan types, and differentiating factors, it’s important to be informed. 

So get the most bang for your buck by knowing what you need and how much of it you need. With that, you’re sure to leave a happy customer!

Kathleen Christie

About the Author

Kathleen Christie, a Top10 writer, specializes in call center development and telephony operations. She's skilled in Avaya provisioning, IP Telephony, Modular Messaging, Microsoft Suite, and Telecom Expense Management, along with Training, Leadership, Customer Service, and Problem Resolution

How we created this
list
Compiled from “Best of” lists published by the world’s most trusted sources, and with our own recommended brands peppered in - this Top10 list aims to help consumers make smarter decisions.