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Best Cell Phone Plans of 2018

There are now over 100 cell phone carriers in the United States, if you're including MVNOs in that number. This means there are thousands upon thousands of plan combinations available. Experts at MyRatePlan have analyzed the vast majority of plans to bring you this list of the best cell phone plans of the year. Not everyone needs an unlimited plan, but it's an enticing opportunity for the average consumer. Without a doubt, each person should consider an unlimited talk, text, and data plan for themselves or their families. Each plan is slightly different than the others, and one option won't work for every subscriber. MyRatePlan ranks the best cell phone plans of 2018 below:

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Which Plans Are The Best?

So, who needs an unlimited data plan? People that use a lot of 4G LTE data, of course! Unlimited data plans make sense for heavy smartphone users. Typically, this includes individuals that stream a lot of music or watch a lot of videos. Travelers tend to rely on their high-speed data connection, and they utilize quite a bit of data. Anyone that uses more than 6GB of data per month should consider an unlimited plan. Otherwise, they'll deal with overages and costly data add-ons on a regular basis.

These are our picks for the best cell phone plans of the year:

Best Unlimited Data Plan for the Price: Sprint Unlimited Freedom Plan

Luckily, the same Sprint promotion applies to individuals as well. A $12.99 upfront fee and bringing an existing device to the service grants a customer a free year of service. It's a temporary promotion that has proven incredibly popular with consumers. For a small fee, subscribers stand to save over $700 for the first year of service. Sprint offers unlimited talk, text, and data with few limitations on usage.

Best MVNO Plan: Tello Unlimited Talk & Text Plan

The Tello Unlimited Talk & Text plan is great because it offers unlimited minutes and messages, and lets you customize the amount of data you need per month. For example, Unlimited Talk & Text and 10GB of data comes out to just $39 per month. The vast majority of people use less than 3GB of data per month. If you reach your limit of 10GB of 4G LTE data per month, your data will be slowed, but you will not be charged any overage fees.

Best Plan With No Data: TextNow Wireless Starter Plan

The TextNow Wireless Starter Plan offers unlimited talk and text for just $9. This is the perfect plan for people who need a phone for making calls and sending texts, but do not need data. $9 per month is an awesome deal that will be tough to beat.

Best Prepaid Unlimited Data Plan: Verizon Prepaid

Verizon's claims of having "America's Best Network" are often backed up by studies. The company also offers the best prepaid unlimited data plan right now. For $50 per month, customers receive unlimited talk, text, and data. A promotion going on now gives customers a one-time $50 credit for new lines with a monthly bill over $50. Quality service is only a few dollars away on one of the nation's best networks.

Best Unlimited Data Plan For Families: Sprint Unlimited Freedom Plan for Families

Sprint has families covered with an incredible family plan promotion. By switching from another carrier, families can have 4 lines for $0 per month during the promo period. A customer pays $51.96 upfront before rebates apply to the account on the third billing cycle. The unlimited plan usually costs $60 per month, but Sprint wants all the customers it can find. On this promotion, a family of four can save $3,000 in a single year.

Best Unlimited Data Plan For Mobile Hotspot Tethering: Sprint Unlimited Freedom Plan

What about people that use their smartphone as a mobile hotspot? Once again, Sprint provides the best solution for such users. Every unlimited plan from Sprint includes 10GB of 4G LTE for mobile hotspot usage. Other carriers tend to offer only 3G speeds for mobile hotspots on their base unlimited plans. To get 4G LTE speeds, those customers will need to pay an extra fee, which ups the cost, but Sprint gives every customer value here.

Best Unlimited Data Plan: Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile offers the best promotion for unlimited data on the planet. Subscribers that buy an Apple iPhone, or upgrade to one, receive an incredible deal. For the first six months, such subscribers will pay only a dollar per month. This deal is available to both new and current Virgin subscribers. Customers will pay a paltry $50 per month after the promotional period expires, and data speeds are only slowed after 23GB of use.

Please note that a $9.99 fee applies for this promotion. It's still an unbeatable deal.

How To Buy Unlimited Talk, Text, and Data Plans

In the past, unlimited data plans were quite common among wireless carriers. Then, at some point, these plans fell out of fashion for awhile. Only customers grandfathered into an unlimited plan could keep using these plans. Recent years have seen stiff competition between wireless service providers. From that competition, unlimited data plans have made a major comeback and continue to expand among wireless carriers today. Today's unlimited plans are competitively priced and come with a lot of extra to entice customers. You can also compare cell phone plans using MyRatePlan's plan comparison tool.

Wireless service customers have two options when it comes to service:

Postpaid Plans

With postpaid plans, customers work with a recurring monthly cycle plus a monthly bill. Customers often go through a credit check for service and device purchases. Postpaid customers pay for their service after a monthly cycle closes. Most consumers obtain a postpaid plan from either Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, or AT&T. Generally speaking, Sprint offers the most affordable unlimited data plans, but competitively priced options are available from the other providers as well. Each plan comes with its own terms.

Prepaid Plans

A prepaid plan comes with no credit check and no month-to-month contract. Customers pay for service in advance for the coming month. However, they'll need to pay for smartphones upfront, which can burden some customers. Prepaid plans are popular among consumers that want total control over their wireless plan and want to save some money. The average unlimited prepaid plan is noticeably cheaper than a comparable postpaid option. Savings alone can propel someone to choose a prepaid plan rather than a postpaid plan.

Don't Forget About Mobile Hotspot Features

More and more smartphone owners take advantage of mobile hotspot capabilities. Sadly, not all wireless service providers support mobile hotspot usage. Some unlimited plans lack this feature altogether, and others charge extra for 4G LTE speeds. All subscribers need to find an unlimited plan that suits their needs related to mobile hotspots. For some customers, mobile hotspot features don't matter, and others can't live without them. Certain service providers are more hotspot-friendly than the others these days.

Buying A New Phone Sometimes Necessary

Customers looking for an unlimited data plan might switch service providers from their current carrier. In that case, buying a new phone might become necessary. Not all smartphones are compatible with all networks. Every individual should factor in the cost of a new smartphone, if they're looking to switch service providers. Failure to do so could lead to sticker shock when they go to obtain a new data plan. Depending upon a person's budget, smartphones are available across all price ranges and budgets.

Is Unlimited Data Actually Unlimited?

Unfortunately, all unlimited data plans come with certain caveats and restrictions. Most carriers set data caps for unlimited plans. Exceeding this cap, which is somewhat challenging to do, leads to data de-prioritization. Subscribers passing the data cap will experience slower data speeds while the network is congested. When the network is stable, customers don't have to worry about de-prioritization while over the data cap. Surprisingly enough, unlimited data plans used to be truly unlimited.

The early days of smartphones saw unlimited data plans offer 3G speeds. Carriers didn't have to worry about customers using staggering amounts of data. At some point, wireless carriers started to sell millions and millions of smartphones. All of that unlimited data usage started to exceed carriers' ability to maintain their networks. Too much network congestion would bring everyone's data speeds to a crawl, and customers tend to get angry after the internet stops working like normal.

As congestion started to become a larger issue, carriers started to kill of unlimited data plans. They introduced tiered data plans with both caps and overage charges. Only a small number of customers are still grandfathered into truly unlimited plans nowadays. Thankfully, competition among carriers brought back unlimited data plans (with restrictions), and now they're here to stay. Wireless carriers have learned how to manage congestion and avoid major network slowdowns due to heavy data users.

Perhaps truly unlimited data plans are gone for good. Despite that fact, today's unlimited data plans are still quite good for consumers. De-prioritization is used as a tool to prevent network congestion, and most subscribers will never experience this slowdown. Most unlimited data plan subscribers don't use insane amounts of data, so they don't have to deal with de-prioritization with any frequency. Although current unlimited plans come with caveats, it's a fair tradeoff for the very existence of these plans.

To find the perfect unlimited data plans, potential customers need to compare all of the available options. The plans mentioned in this comparison are the best of the best as far as we're concerned. Another unlimited plan might work better for someone else, though. Therefore, research and comparison shopping are necessary to obtain the best results. With careful searching, consumers can find the perfect unlimited plan for themselves or their families. Nobody needs to spend a fortune to get the service they deserve today.