AT&T vs. Verizon: Who Has the Best Data Plans?
|AT&T||- 68% 4G LTE coverage Faster network speed|
– Slightly cheaper plans on average
- High data deprioritization thresholds
- Discounts for first responders, teachers, nurses, physicians, military
|- Fewer mix and match options for unlimited plans|
- Limited entertainment perks
|Verizon||- 70% 4G LTE coverage|
- Great entertainment perks and features
- Mix and match family plans
- Discounts for military, seniors, nurses, teachers, and first responders
- Affordable prepaid plans
|- Expensive unlimited plans|
- Still charge overages on some plans
- Senior discount only available for Florida residents
Compare AT&T & Verizon unlimited data plans
Like most other carriers, AT&T and Verizon offer both prepaid and postpaid unlimited plans, with varying perks and features. Verizon is well-known for having some of the most expensive unlimited plans around, but this is to be expected from the top carrier in the market, boasting 70% nationwide coverage. Alternatively, AT&T—which offers excellent network coverage for slightly cheaper prices—offers faster data speeds than Verizon.
Postpaid unlimited plans
As far as postpaid unlimited plans are concerned, AT&T and Verizon both opt for the tiered plan approach, with AT&T offering three unlimited plans (Unlimited Starter, Unlimited Extra, and Unlimited Elite), and Verizon offering four unlimited plans (Start Unlimited, Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, and Get More Unlimited). That said, despite all of these plans being of the unlimited variety, they have many differences to be aware of and intricacies that might not be readily apparent at first glance—various differences include entertainment features, international perks, hotspot, data deprioritization thresholds, and more.
Compare AT&T & Verizon data deprioritizaion
All unlimited plans are subject to data deprioritization thresholds, regardless of carrier—although these thresholds vary depending on both the selected plan and the carrier itself. Deprioritization can best be described as the temporary slowing of your data speeds in favor of other network users, once you’ve met a specified amount of data usage for any given billing cycle. For instance, AT&T’s Unlimited Elite Plan gives you up to 100GB of “premium” data, before potentially implementing any of these data speed restrictions. Verizon, on the other hand, has a 75GB threshold for its Get More Unlimited Plan, before any potential slowing of your data speeds. Both 100GB and 75GB are hefty amounts of data, and you would be hard-pressed to find yourself hitting that threshold—unless you’re constantly using social media, streaming video and music, or uploading and downloading large media files. On a side note, both AT&T and Verizon’s lowest tiered plans can potentially be slowed at any time during a billing cycle—this is a trade-off worth considering depending on whether price is a main priority for you.
Compare AT&T & Verizon unlimited plan pricing
Verizon is well-known for sporting some of the most expensive plans available on the market, and its unlimited plans are no exception. Verizon’s unlimited plans range in price from $70/month, up to $90/month for its most expensive plan. The range is certainly on the higher end for these Verizon unlimited plans, but you can expect some of the best coverage in the industry, as well as tons of added features and entertainment perks.
Alternatively, AT&T—while still expensive compared to smaller carriers and MVNOs out there—isn’t typically as heavy-handed where costs are concerned, when compared to Verizon. AT&T unlimited plans range in price from $65/month, up to $85/month for its most expensive plan. As we mentioned above, AT&T has some of the highest deprioritization thresholds in the industry, as well as some of the fastest data speeds available. And while you miss out in the way of entertainment features and some reliability, you’ll be getting a fair amount of added features for the price you pay—it’s hard to argue with 100GB deprioritization thresholds.
Compare AT&T & Verizon unlimited plan features
Both AT&T and Verizon offer a solid line-up as far as features are concerned, but where AT&T falls short in comparison to Verizon is its entertainment offerings. Only with AT&T’s highest-priced plan do you get an included HBO Max subscription, whereas with Verizon, all of its unlimited plans come with both free Apple Music subscriptions and year-long Disney+ access.
Beyond entertainment features, AT&T and Verizon both offer a wide array of included features depending on which plan tier you decide to pick—things such as international calling/texting, mobile hotspot, and even 5G access. Regardless of whether you pick AT&T or Verizon, you’ll be sure to have your fair selection of additional features to choose from, but those of us who want just a little added flexibility will find that with Verizon.
|AT&T Unlimited Starter||$65/month||May be deprioritized at anytime||n/a||- SD streaming|
|AT&T Unlimited Extra||$75/month||50GB||15GB||- SD streaming|
|AT&T Unlimited Elite ||$85/month||100GB||30GB||- HBO Max|
- HD-quality streaming
|Verizon | Start Unlimited||$70/month||May be deprioritized at anytime||n/a||- Disney+ (1 year)|
- 6 months of Apple Music
|Verizon | Do More Unlimited ||$80/month||50GB||15GB||- Disney+ (1 year)|
- 6 months of Apple Music
|Verizon | Play More Unlimited ||$80/month||25GB||15GB||- Disney+ (1 year)|
- Apple Music
- HD streaming
|Verizon | Get More Unlimited ||$90/month||75GB||30GB||- Disney+ (1 year)|
- Apple Music
- HD streaming
- 500GB Cloud Storage
Prepaid unlimited plans
If you’re not a fan of postpaid plans (you pay your bill at the end of each month), both AT&T and Verizon offer unlimited prepaid plans that require no credit check and are a bit lighter in the cost department.
AT&T and Verizon’s prepaid unlimited plans cost $75 and $65 (w/ Autopay) respectively, and while being viable options for the average user, you won’t get some of the additional plan features and options you’ll see in some postpaid plans—such as Disney+ or Apple Music with Verizon and HBO Max with AT&T. Prepaid plans also don’t allow you to make monthly payments in the event you’re shopping for a new phone, so it may make sense to consider a postpaid plan if you want to buy a phone on a monthly installment plan.
Compare Verizon & AT&T limited data plans
As far as AT&T and Verizon’s limited plans are concerned, there are quite a few different options to sift through—with both prepaid and postpaid options being available. And while limited plans are a great way to cut costs, figuring out whether or not you can get by with limited data is something to consider.
Limited data postpaid plans
Both AT&T and Verizon have flexible limited postpaid data plans, as all of them share international features with the unlimited plans mentioned earlier—additionally, all but Verizon’s Basic Phone Plan are hotspot capable, meaning you can use your monthly data allotment for tethering. And while Verizon is usually the front-runner for most expensive plans, the price comparison between its and AT&T’s limited postpaid plans are a bit closer in value.
That said, if you don’t find yourself using much data monthly, AT&T limited data plans allow you to keep unused data from the previous month (aka rollover data). These plans are great for those whose data usage varies from month to month, allowing you to avoid wasting data that you’ve paid for.
Limited data prepaid plans
As we mentioned earlier, AT&T and Verizon both offer a fair number of limited prepaid data plans to choose from—with AT&T’s plans ranging from $25/month (w/annual plan) to $50/month, and Verizon’s ranging from $35/month to $65/month.
Verizon typically leads in the additional features department, but AT&T wins out with its limited prepaid options this time around. AT&T prepaid plans include its rollover data feature, international calling perks, and is mobile hotspot capable, whereas Verizon’s prepaid limited plans include international calling, mobile hotspot, but no data rollover option.
AT&T also offers longer-term alternatives to its monthly, limited data plans—making an 8GB 3-month and annual plan available for $99 and $300, respectively. AT&T limited data prepaid plans may be the better option for those of us who are into saving money, but always keep in mind that you may be sacrificing network reliability when choosing AT&T over Verizon.
Compare AT&T & Verizon family plans
Both AT&T and Verizon offer family plan options in a variety of different fashions, with Verizon allowing you to mix and match its unlimited plans, whereas AT&T offers a bit less flexibility when customizing shared plans. A 4-line unlimited family plan starts at $140/month for both Verizon and AT&T, although there are differences in features such as deprioritization thresholds, overage fees, and perks (Disney+, Apple Music, etc.).
Both carriers also offer prepaid variations for their family plans, with AT&T allowing for more flexibility in regards to mixing and matching, compared to its postpaid alternatives. It’s also worth mentioning that Verizon offers a Just Kids plan, so long as there is an existing line on an unlimited plan. The Verizon Just Kids plan, which keeps your child both safe and connected, includes unlimited talk and text to 20 approved contacts, 5GB of data, location tracking, and more.
AT&T mobile hotspot vs. Verizon hotspot
It’s not uncommon for data plans to include some amount of hotspot data with most carriers, and AT&T and Verizon are no exception. A mobile hotspot allows you to share your mobile data with other devices that require internet access (laptops, TVs, and essentially anything that can connect to Wi-Fi), also known as tethering. Both AT&T and Verizon’s top-tiered unlimited plans offer 30GB of monthly hotspot allowance.
AT&T vs Verizon data speeds
When it comes to data speeds, there are differences worth noting between the two carriers and while data speeds are not the only consideration to take into account with mobile data, it is an important deciding factor, nonetheless.
OpenSignal conducted a study comparing all four major carriers’ performance on a number of data-related criteria, such as video experience, download experience, latency experience, 4G availability, and more.
Verizon, while having what is considered to be the best video experience, really shines when it comes to the stability and consistency of its network. AT&T, on the other hand, wins out in the download speed experience and latency experience categories, with average download speeds of around 26.3Mbps (Verizon’s speeds are around 25.3Mbps, for comparison), and latency numbers at an industry-low of 49.7ms. That said, you likely will have comparable real-world experiences with both networks—just be aware that Verizon will likely give you better consistency across its network, and in more locations.
Does AT&T or Verizon have better data plans?
Both AT&T and Verizon offer some of the best data plans available in the industry—the right answer will depend entirely on your personal needs and use habits. In the event you’re looking for an unlimited plan, and want to save a bit of money in the process, consider looking at one of AT&T’s unlimited plan options, such as the AT&T Unlimited Extra Plan. Alternatively, if you’re looking for the best overall unlimited plan—meaning perks, coverage, and reliability—it may make sense to consider spending a bit more, and going with one of Verizon’s unlimited plans.
Similarly to unlimited plans, limited plans on AT&T and Verizon offer a wide variety of viable options to choose from. AT&T will typically offer better pricing on its limited plans, while. Verizon limited plans will typically cost you more money than AT&T’s, but you can find peace in knowing that you’re on the best network that money can buy.