For all of the great deals that come with family plans and shared accounts, sometimes they don’t apply to us. Not everyone can, or wants to, be paired with another person.
Maybe you’re a college student or someone striking out on your own and looking to pick up a new plan. Or, maybe you just want a single-line account of your own.
Let’s take a look at the major cellular providers and what each offers at a particular price point. For the sake of this post we’ll see what single line plans are available at $50 per month.
Who has the best value at $50 a month?
Included in this roundup will be the following wireless network companies: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. If there’s nothing at the $50 tier, we’ll select the next closest one. We’re working with a budget, right?
“Small” Plan ($35)
For $50 per month, Verizon’s “Medium” plan offers subscribers unlimited talk, text, and 2GB of high-speed (4G LTE) data.
To be clear, this price does not factor in the $20 per month access fee for any devices purchased on payment plans. If you go over the allotted data, you’ll pay $15 per gigabyte. Other features include Carryover Data, Safety Mode.
Bottom line: All in at $55 per month, you’ll bust your budget if you stick with this one. And you only get 2GB high speed data.
AT&T customers receive unlimited talk, text, and 3GB of monthly data at 4G LTE speeds. Hit the threshold and you’ll see speeds slowed for the remainder of the bill cycle. Also included in the plan are 480p video streaming, mobile hotspot, Rollover Data, and access in Mexico. If you go over the data allowance, you’ll pay $15 per gigabyte.
Customers have to sign up for AutoPay for automatic bill payments to get this rate; it’s $10 extra each month without.
Bottom line: Assuming you sign up for automatic payments, you’re right in line with the budget. You get a small amount of high speed data plus a few extras.
Unlimited Plan ($50)
T-Mobile doesn’t have a postpaid plan, but this prepaid option offers unlimited talk, text, and unlimited high-speed data. Top users may see speeds slowed once they get to around 50GB of data consumed. Mobile hotspot is also unlimited, but it’s throttled at 3G speeds.
Videos are streamed 480p by default but you can turn that off whenever you’d like; many music streaming services do not count against the data allowance.
Bottom line: You get much more high speed data for your money and you stay within budget.
Single Line 6GB Plan ($40)
Sprint does not offer a plan at the $50 price point but it does have an option at $40 per month. Details include unlimited talk and text as well as 6GB of high speed data. Hit the 6GB barrier and you’ll be slowed down for the rest of your bill cycle.
You’ll have to enroll in automatic monthly bill payments (AutoPay) for this rate otherwise it’s $5 more each month. Mobile hotspot is included, however it goes against your data allotment. Domestic and international text to select countries is also thrown in, too.
Bottom line: This one comes in ten bucks lower than your budget and has a respectable amount of data for the money. It beats a few others here.
Basic Plan ($55)
US Cellular also doesn’t have anything at the $50 mark but it does have a plan that comes out to $55 per month – just as long as you sign up for automatic payment and paperless billing. Otherwise, you’re looking at another $5 per month. Either way, you get unlimited talk, text, and high speed data.
Video streaming is limited to 480p (DVD quality) but that may be imperceptible to most. On the other hand, speeds may be temporarily slowed in times of congestion.
Bottom line: Even if you automatically pay your bill each month you’ll be in the red with this plan.
Nobody beats the T-Mobile plan for the money as it’s the best value for the $50 budget. Not only do you conceivably have unlimited data, but you’re not charged any stupid access fees to use the data. You stay in line with your budget and you get plenty of high speed access.
To be fair, you might find something different when you start comparing multiple lines or factoring in deals, discounts, or limited time promotions. Don’t forget that this doesn’t account for any device costs, either.
- These dirt cheap rate plans are $20 or less
- Best unlocked phones under $150
- Best unlocked phones between $150-$250
Lastly, there may be some monthly savings available to you as part of an employee, affiliate, or military discount. That might be good for a few bucks each month!
Before considering a carrier switch you’ll want to ensure that coverage is available everywhere you want or need. What’s more, look at the up-front costs associated with changing providers as well long-term fees.