You may see major wireless providers spend tons of money on advertisement in an effort to earn the affections of customers throughout the nation, but these ads just complicate matters.
Sometimes, information spewed may not be 100 percent accurate, which can confuse the consumer. What provider offers the best customer service? What is the reliability percentage? Who has the fastest LTE network speed? Unfortunately, data changes and differs, and we find ourselves unsure of who to choose.
Choosing a wireless provider is as important as getting a Smartphone. The service provider offers the network, considering that you’ll possibly end up spending an acceptable price for the service, and there is no reason in keeping with a poor service. However, there is no assured way to forecast this. For every person who may have a bad story experience with a carrier, recently there tend to be almost just as many consumers that had no difficulty or a problem.
Moreover, user researchers, making the praises of various providers continue to have news reports, no guarantees, then all you have to do is take enough time to pick the best cell phone company and start creating a good experience with your provider.
The Best Cell Phone Companies Available in 2018
Verizon is the largest wireless company in the USA, Verizon Wireless runs a strong and wide-reaching 4G LTE coverage and a good collection of basic phones, Smartphones and feature phones.
Verizon Wireless provides the customer with the strongest and most reliable LTE network, covering 99 percent of the nation. The provider even boasted a subscriber number of 143.9 million as of Q3 2016.
By 99 percent of the nation, this includes rural areas. In fact, Verizon is a host to the LTE in Rural America Program, which allows LTE coverage for 2.7 million rural residents in 169 counties.
Despite the sparkling numbers Verizon hovers over, the service is more expensive compared to your average wireless carrier. Even the re-introduced Verizon Unlimited Plan is more expensive compared to the prices of T-Mobile and Sprint’s unlimited plans. In fact, it is one of the most expensive wireless providers in the nation. However, you can at least admit that you’re paying for quality, even in areas such as customer service.
Verizon is known to be rated a little lower than AT&T and T-Mobile – at least in regards to the ACSI numbers, as it bears a score of 71 – but some publications have claimed its customer service to be the second best, behind T-Mobile.
How much will Verizon pay you to switch?
Like other major carriers, Verizon will attempt to lure you in with its “switch” incentives. Verizon will offer up to $650 per line in the form of a prepaid debit card once you trade in your phone. However, the trade-in must be in good working and cosmetic condition and have a value of more than $0.
Additionally, if you have an outstanding balance for your old device, you’ll receive up to $650. However, if you just paid an early termination fee, you’ll only earn up to $350.
Verizon Cell Phone Plans
Verizon offers unlimited talk and text with its data plans, but unfortunately, it does not offer any “true” unlimited plan. The size-labeled data amount a customer can take advantage of the range between 2GB and Verizon Unlimited.
All of the newer Verizon cell phone plans come with a safety feature, titled “Safety Mode.” With Safety Mode, you won’t be charged any overage fees once your data limit has been exceeded. Instead, you’ll have to deal with slower LTE speeds until the end of the billing cycle.
Overall, Verizon has some solid plans. It has also recently put out a new unlimited data plan, dubbed Verizon Unlimited, which is more expensive than T-Mobile and Sprint’s unlimited plans, but it comes with unlimited data, HD video streaming, mobile hotspot, and more. Do note that the unlimited data may be restricted after 22GB of data, making the Verizon unlimited plan not all that unlimited. However, there is a mobile hotspot restriction of up to 10GB of data, meaning that you’ll be able to use only 10GB of your unlimited data for mobile hotspot usage.
However, there is a mobile hotspot restriction of up to 10GB of data, meaning that you’ll be able to use only 10GB of your unlimited data for mobile hotspot usage.
Like T-Mobile, Verizon also offers prepaid plans and data-only plans. Prepaid plans, which are no-contract plans, come in various sizes for smartphones or unlimited talk and text and unlimited mobile web for basic phones. However, the prepaid plans come with the Carryover Data, which means your unused data will carry over to the next month.
Verizon Family Plans
While T-Mobile’s family plans stick out, it doesn’t mean that Verizon doesn’t care about families. In fact, the service simplifies family plans, which you can find more about here, by integrating additional lines to its New Verizon plans. All you need to do is select a plan and add lines to that plan. Simple!
- 1 Line: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $75/mo per line
- 2 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $65/mo per line
- 3 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $50/mo per line
- 4 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $40/mo per line
Verizon has the best coverage and reliability in the nation, covering 99 percent of the map. As mentioned in the overview, the coverage also blankets over remote areas.
Unfortunately, most of Alaska, some of Maine, Western Virginia, and some of the Western US do not have access to the 4G coverage, but the provider offers LTE across 2.4 million square miles of land.
T-Mobile LTE only happens to cover 1.4 million miles. So yes, Verizon has a greater amount of coverage in comparison to the available T-Mobile coverage, making Verizon the clear winner in this category.
Verizon Customer Service
Verizon’s customer service, on the other hand, isn’t bad at all. It’s actually rather solid, scoring a 71 on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Overall, you can receive exceptional customer service through various outlets, including forums, social media, FAQs, chat box, and phone.
AT&T Wireless Network
AT&T is one of the 2 largest cell phone companies in the United States. AT&T is known to have the second-largest customer base in the nation. The wireless carrier boasts a whopping 133.3 million subscribers as of Q3 2016.
AT&T features a strong, reliable network, which is 50 percent faster than 4G LTE2. You can even use the latest smartphones with this network. Furthermore, AT&T offers shareable plans and not one, but two types of unlimited data plans, both of which come with unlimited talk and text.
According to the benchmarks by company chart from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, AT&T’s customer service score stands at 71. This number is one point above Sprint’s customer service score, which is the lowest among the four major carriers.
How Much Will AT&T Pay You to Switch?
AT&T will send you up to $650 per line via an AT&T Promotion Visa prepaid debit card. The value of this particular card will be determined by the amount of your Early Termination Fee of the previous carrier or the device payment plan balance at the time of your termination with the service. In other words, if your Early Termination Fee is $200, which can be lower or higher, depending on the carrier and fine print conditions, you will be credited $200.
To obtain this card, you need to purchase a new smartphone with AT&T Next, a service that provides you with a phone with no money down, and activate a new line. Post-activation, you can then port your number to AT&T, trade in your old smartphone, and then send AT&T your old carrier’s final bill. Do note that you cannot port your current SIM card to AT&T. You will need to purchase a SIM card and activate it with AT&T’s service, which is made easy thanks to the SIM card activation page.
AT&T’s Cell Phone Plans
AT&T’s cell phone postpaid plans include what is known as “Mobile Share Advantage” packages. These are considered the main packages, which come attached with features such as no overage fees (once high-speed data has been exceeded) and shareable data.
Mobile Share Advantage plans range from 1GB of data to 100GB of data, which can be shared among family members.
Furthermore, AT&T offers a prepaid service, known as GoPhone. GoPhone plans, which you can read more about here, range from no data to 8GB of high-speed data. Additionally, you can purchase plans by the minute or by the data, which is quite unique to the carrier.
AT&T offers two types of unlimited plans, known as AT&T Unlimited Plus and AT&T Choice. Both AT&T Unlimited plans grant the customer with unlimited high-speed data, talk, and text. However, the AT&T Unlimited Plus plan includes HBO, 10GB of mobile hotspot per line, high-definition video streaming with the service’s LTE network, unlimited text from the U.S. to over 120 countries, roaming in, as well as unlimited talk and text to, Mexico and Canada, and finally, you’ll save money on DIRECTV packages.
However, with this unlimited plan, you may face slow upload and download speeds after 22GB of data usage. With that being said, you can’t go wrong with included HBO programming and HD video streaming. With all of these goodies stacked, the pricing becomes heftier than the Verizon Unlimited Plan, but if you find this plan too expensive, you can opt for AT&T Unlimited Choice, which is cheaper than the Plus option.
With Choice, you’ll only have access to max speed at 3Mbps, standard-definition video, unlimited text from the U.S. to over 120 countries, and roaming in, as well as unlimited talk and text to, Mexico and Canada. However, mobile hotspot is not included in this package.
Additionally, AT&T attempts to outdo Sprint when it comes to phone upgrades. Not too long ago, AT&T introduced its own trade-in program, dubbed AT&T Next. This program lets you upgrade to the latest smartphones for $0 down each and every year, though taxes will be due at sale. However, you’ll have to meet specified criteria involving monthly installments, just like Sprint’s leasing programs. As it is a Samsung Galaxy and iPhone carrier, this type of program should be worth a look.
AT&T Family Plans
Similar to Sprint, you can add lines to an AT&T family plan for a certain fee, though the fee is dependent on the device. If you’re not a fan of Mobile Share Advantage, you can always opt for the prepaid plans, which feature the Multi-Line Discount. For instance, the second device will save you a few dollars, but the third device will save you a little more, and so on and so forth.
Furthermore, you can add lines to the unlimited plan too.
For the best value (especially if you don’t care to own cable TV), you should consider Sprint’s family plans. They are, overall, far more affordable compared to AT&T’s family options.
- 1 Line: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $60/mo per line
- 2 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $58/mo per line
- 3 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $45/mo per line
- 4 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $39/mo per line
AT&T’s network solid, boasting the second-best coverage in the United States. After all, the service reaches hundreds of millions of people every day. While the network is speedy, it is not as fast as T-Mobile’s network but is still above Sprint.
AT&T Customer Service
AT&T’s ACSI score of 71 is just a point above Sprint. Overall, the service is great, offering help when customers need it, in the forms of FAQ, community forum, telephone, chatbox, and more. After all, who wants to lose a customer? Furthermore, AT&T offers a loyalty program that allows you to save money on products like tickets and allows you to reach the front of the line.
Verizon’s (most vocal) rival, T-Mobile USA, offers an extensive network but the network is speedier in the eastern US. That being said, the T-Mobile network doesn’t cover rural areas well, which can be a major downside for quite a few customers.
T-Mobile plans also vary, but they’ve been shrinking. Now you’re limited to either T-Mobile One or the various prepay T-Mobile plans. Even if you don’t opt for the unlimited cell phone plan, you can always partake in T-Mobile’s Music Unlimited attached to its prepaid plans.
Not only that, but T-Mobile boasts the best customer service among the four major carriers, scoring a 74 on the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. And the cherry on top? It offers an incredible loyalty program.
How much will T-Mobile pay you to switch?
Did you know that you can switch to T-Mobile easily? Like Verizon, the T-Mobile offers an incentive of up to $650 per line (up to 12 lines) in the form of a prepaid MasterCard card. If you’re worried about the early termination fees or being unable to pay off your phone, the T-Mobile network has you covered.
There may be some exclusions to the deal. For instance, the iPhone 7 trade-up offer is ineligible with the switch to T-Mobile program. You can always trade in your phone online or at a T-Mobile store.
T-Mobile Cell Phone Plans
T-Mobile’s cell phone plans fall into the following categories: T-Mobile ONE and Prepaid Plans (which serve as no-contract plans). First, T-Mobile’s ONE plan, which is the available T-Mobile unlimited plan, which provides the individual (or entire family) with unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data and includes mobile hotspot.
The T-Mobile unlimited plan has a little bit of a limit. For one, the top 3 percent of data users (those who use more than 30GB per month) will experience reduced speeds until the next billing cycle during congestion periods. Furthermore, videos will stream at up to 480p, games will stream at up to 2Mbps, and music will stream at up to 500kbps. You can always instead pay for HD video, faster download speeds for streaming with T-Mobile ONE Plus.
You can also add international perks to the ONE Plus plan for an extra fee. These perks include unlimited international calling to a landline in over 70 countries and mobile numbers in over 30 countries. However, it should be noted that the unlimited HD video streaming feature cannot be used outside of the United States.
Fortunately, you can save a few extra dollars per line per month with the AutoPay feature. If the T-Mobile ONE postpaid plan is a tad too pricey for you (in a lot of cases, it’s actually cheaper), you could always adopt T-Mobile’s prepaid cell phone plans or Simple Choice plans.
With T-Mobile’s Simply Prepaid plans, you’ll have access to free unlimited streaming for both video and music, and be able to pay no overage fees.
Prepaid plans are broken up into these types: individual monthly plans, no contract plans, family monthly plans, mobile internet plans, and the international tourist plan. Individual monthly plans range in data amounts from 4GB to unlimited amounts of 4G LTE data.
So in the case of T-Mobile vs Verizon, who is the clear victor? T-Mobile is. The plans are much more affordable.
- $45/mo: Unlimited talk, text and 4 GB of data
- $55/mo: Unlimited talk, text and 6 GB of data
- $75/mo: Unlimited talk, text, and data
T-Mobile Family Plans
T-Mobile cares about family. That’s why T-Mobile focuses on family cell phone plans with the introduction of T-Mobile ONE. After all, T-Mobile allows the ability to add lines to its T-Mobile ONE postpaid plan. In fact, you can add up to 12 lines to the plan.
- 1 Line: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $70/mo per line
- 2 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $60/mo per line
- 3 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $50/mo per line
- 4 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $40/mo per line
If you happen to live in an urban area, then the T-Mobile LTE Network has got you covered. T-Mobile coverage is strong in urban and even many suburban areas, sporting the fastest 4G LTE speed in the east. However, it’s 4G LTE upload and download speeds are not as fast as Verizon’s on the western side of the United States.
With all that being said, if you live in a rural area, then you will find any form of T-Mobile coverage in the location rather shoddy.
T-Mobile Customer Service
T-Mobile has earned a high score – in fact, it has earned the highest score on just about everyone’s lists lately. It has earned an ACSI score of 74, which is the highest out of all wireless carriers.
Furthermore, T-Mobile offers incentives, friendly and knowledgeable support, and a fantastic loyalty program. It’s hard to top something like that. However, if you do have an issue, T-Mobile provides you with several methods to contact customer service, i.e. the T-Mobile store or via social media.
Out of the four major wireless providers, Sprint is the fourth largest carrier, serving 60.2 million customers as of October 2016.
Like AT&T, the Sprint network offers the latest and most popular phones, as well as quality plans to complement. However, while Sprint’s plans are affordable, its network coverage isn’t as strong as AT&T’s coverage. Sprint’s plans are considered more affordable compared to AT&T, and the service also boasts an unlimited talk, text, and data plan that rivals a popular T-Mobile plan, dubbed the T-Mobile ONE, making it far cheaper compared to the re-introduced Verizon Unlimited Plan.
Unfortunately, Sprint’s customer service rating is among the lowest of the four providers. With that being said, Sprint’s ACSI score is still 70, which is only one point lower than AT&T’s ACSI score.
Sprint’s Cell Phone Plans
Sprint’s cell phone prepaid and postpaid plans have shrunk, and despite the downsizing of plans, they remain suitable for users. There are a few prepaid plans, complete with unlimited talk and text, and then there is the Sprint Unlimited plan. If you purchase a prepaid phone, you may receive some added perks, such as a free mobile hotspot.
Similar to AT&T, Sprint prepaid also charges no overage fees once you exceed your data amount. Instead, your data will slow down once your high-speed data amounts are exceeded.
Nevertheless, let’s talk for a moment about the Sprint Unlimited plan, the highlight of Sprint’s service. First of all, with Sprint Unlimited, promotions may – at times – be attached to this plan. For example, you can receive two lines of unlimited data, talk, and text for a good deal, with the third, fourth, and fifth lines being added for free. This makes this plan enticing, even when compared to the unlimited T-Mobile plan.
Furthermore, there is only one Sprint Unlimited plan now, which is more competitive against the likes of the AT&T and T-Mobile unlimited plans. How do I mean? Well, the one and only Sprint Unlimited now include “premium” benefits, meaning that you can stream high-definition videos at up to 1080p+, music at up to 1.5Mbps, and gaming at up to 8Mbps. So if you prefer HD video with maximum Sprint LTE upload and download speeds, then you should certainly consider Sprint’s network.
As a side note, with Sprint, you can take advantage of a couple of cell phone programs: the iPhone for Life, otherwise known as iPhone Forever, and Samsung Forever.
The iPhone for Life and Samsung Galaxy Forever programs are nifty, allowing you to nab the latest iPhone every year. All you need to do is lease an eligible device, and once you’ve made a certain amount of payments on said device, you can bring it back and upgrade to the latest phone.
This gives Sprint a good rep of being a Samsung Galaxy and iPhone carrier.
Overall, which comes out on top in terms of plans: AT&T or Sprint? While both carry nifty features, Sprint is a bit more affordable compared to AT&T’s unlimited plan.
Sprint Family Plans
As mentioned in the previous section, Sprint has decided to split the amounts of data it offers into two categories: family and single. The Sprint family plans or shared data plans – range in data amounts from 6GB to 40GB. Additionally, Sprint family plans can have up to 10 lines attached.
- 1 Line: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $60 a month
- 2 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $100 a month
- 3 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $100 a month
- 4 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $100 a month
- 5 Lines: Unlimited talk, text, and data for $100 a month
Sprint doesn’t have as vast of coverage – especially Sprint LTE coverage – as AT&T, but the Sprint network reliability, according to recent data from Nielsen (and as flaunted on commercials), is within one percent of Verizon. Despite this, people have encountered incredibly spotty LTE network coverage. In the bout of coverage, who wins? I would have to give the point to AT&T.
Sprint Customer Service
Sprint was previously known as the worst in customer service among the four carriers, with many criticisms thrown toward the provider’s value and 4G reliability. That being said, the service has since improved vastly, including the customer service. Representatives have been armed with the knowledge of Sprint offerings, ready to help out customers in a variety of methods, including FAQs, phone, social media, chat, and community forums.
Due to the ACSI score and the fact that Sprint doesn’t exactly have a loyalty program, AT&T has edged beyond the provider, claiming the crown for “better customer service.”