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The Best Unlimited Data Plan: Verizon vs. T-Mobile vs. AT&T vs. Sprint

In February 2017, something miraculous happened: Almost every major carrier in the U.S. announced revamped, tweaked, or entirely new unlimited data plans. Verizon, the nation’s largest in terms of total subscribers, brought back uncapped data for the first time in more than five years; T-Mobile and Sprint, both of which offered unlimited data before Verizon’s announcement, removed throttling schemes from their respective plans; And AT&T, the nation’s second-largest carrier, made unlimited data available to customers who don’t pay for DirecTV or U-verse.

But just because all four major carriers now offer “unlimited” data doesn’t mean that the plans are equal. Beyond subtle (and not-so-subtle) variations in pricing, there’s fine print to consider. Some plans slow the download speeds of subscribers who exceed a data limits. Others impose caps on certain forms of traffic. And still others omit basic benefits like tethering.

More: AT&T vs. Verizon vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile: Who has the best individual plan?

We’ve broken down each of the major four carriers’ plans down to their essentials to see which offers the most bang for your buck.

Our pick

T-Mobile One Unlimited Plan

It’s tough to choose a winner among four imperfect unlimited data plans, but one stands above the rest. We think that T-Mobile offers the best value for your money.

Why we chose it

T-Mobile’s One plan is more than just an unlimited plan. Sure, subscribers get unlimited music and high-definition video streaming and 10GB of tethering data. But they also get benefits that other carriers don’t offer. T-Mobile One customers get texting and data in 140 countries around the globe. Thanks to Binge On, they get the option to stream standard-definition videos without worrying about contributing to their throttle cap. And every Tuesday, subscribers get discounts on fast food, Lyft rides, movie tickets, and more.

More: AT&T executive calls out Google Fiber — “Pardon our dust”

And that’s to say nothing of T-Mobile’s excellent network. OpenSignal’s latest rankings put it among the top in terms of speed, and a forthcoming expansion this year promises to drastically improve its rural coverage.

For $70 a month, there’s no better unlimited plan out there. Verizon comes close. Its unlimited plan’s pricing ($80 for a single line), terms, and geographic reach rank best in class. But T-Mobile’s extras — in addition to its plan price’s included taxes and fees — put it over the finish line.

Carrier Price Throttling cap Tethering Other extras
T-Mobile $70-$180 28GB 10GB T-Mobile Tuesdays, international data and calling
Verizon $80-$200 22GB 10GB
Sprint $60-$190 23GB; music throttled to 1.5Mbps, gaming throttled to 8Mbps 10GB Plans start at $50 a month until 2018
AT&T $90-$205 22GB N/A

T-Mobile   Verizon   Sprint   AT&T

In the next few pages, we’ll go over all of the details of each carrier’s Unlimited plan.

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