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Best cell phone plans 2022

T-Mobile website on a OnePlus Nord N200
(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

If you're looking for the best cell phone plan in 2022, check out T-Mobile Magenta, with a massive 100GB of premium data and full 5G access. This plan is a great fit for a new smartphone, thanks to its full access to mid-band 5G, and enough data that you don't need to worry about finding 5G to make the most of your phone.

This is a huge bonus, especially as most of the best Android phones ship with 5G support, and T-Mobile's network is comfortably in the lead for 5G coverage. But if you're looking to save some money over the big postpaid carriers, there are more options than ever in prepaid from carriers like Visible and US Mobile; whether you need one line, or need service for the whole family.

What are the best cell phone plans?

Cell phone plans aren't just about getting as many minutes and texts as possible anymore. People are using their phones more than ever before, and have come to rely on their phone plans as an essential part of their daily lives. Getting the right plan comes down to getting enough data for your needs, using a network with coverage where you need it, and not wasting money on features you don't want.

Our top plan is T-Mobile Magenta, thanks to its focus on next-generation phones, with great support for 5G devices and plenty of data to use them. T-Mobile has continued to expand its 5G coverage, and has the largest and fastest 5G network thanks to its vast amounts of mid-band spectrum. T-Mobile Magenta also offers great value for families, with its multi-line savings and Netflix for free with two or more lines.

When it comes to prepaid plans, Visible is a phenomenal choice with only a single plan, unlimited hotspot data, and great ways to save on your bill. Visible is built on the Verizon LTE and 5G network, and while phone support isn't perfect, most of the best Android phones are compatible as well as pretty much every iPhone. Visible only has one plan starting at just $40 per month, but if you link up with a Visible Party on Visible's website, you can bring your bill down to just $25 per month.

If you've got a family to get connected, you want something that covers all of the bases without getting too expensive. Cricket is a great fit for this with multi-line discounts on all but its cheapest plan. The Unlimited Cricket More plan is a great fit for most families with fast access to the AT&T network with premium data. With four people, this plan also comes down to just $33 per line, without having to worry about data caps, speed limits, or inconsistent data speeds no matter how crowded the phone towers get.

T-Mobile startup screen

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

T-Mobile Magenta

Built for 5G

Specifications

Network: T-Mobile
Talk and text: Unlimited
Data: Unlimited
Premium Data: 100GB
5G: Yes
Hotspot data: 5GB of high-speed, Unlimited at 3G speeds
Mexico and Canada: Unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of LTE data, Unlimited data at 2G speeds
International data: Unlimited (128 Kbps)
International texting: Unlimited
International calling: Extra charge (except Mexico and Canada)
Streaming: SD
Perks: Netflix subscription (1 SD screen with 2+ lines), Unlimited Gogo in-flight texting and 1 hour of Wi-Fi
Taxes and fees: Included
Single line cost: $70 per month

Reasons to buy

+
100GB of high-speed data before deprioritization
+
Multi-line discounts (third line for free)
+
Unlimited hotspot data
+
Unlimited international data and texting
+
Taxes, fees, and Netflix included

Reasons to avoid

-
SD streaming
-
Expensive single line
-
Netflix included with only 2+ lines
-
Only 5GB of high-speed hotspot data

T-Mobile's coverage has come a long way over the years, and today this carrier offers some of the best cell phone plans you can get. T-Mobile's 5G network is the largest in the nation and already reaches more than 300 million people with Extended Range 5G. Adding even more speed and capacity is its high-performance Ultra Capacity 5G, available to more than 200 million Americans. There's no time like the present to join this wireless carrier, and if you're looking for great value, then look no further than T-Mobile's Magenta plan.

The Magenta plan is a reasonably affordable postpaid cell phone plan, especially when you factor in multi-line discounts. A single line on this plan will come out to be $70, with taxes and fees included in this price. You'll pay a total of $120 per month for three lines and $140 per month for four lines. Because T-Mobile is such a great deal when you add a few lines, it also makes for an excellent family plan and comes with a Netflix subscription (one SD screen) included when you have at least two lines. Streaming is offered only in SD, but you can pay $3 extra for an HD day pass.

What's best about the Magenta plan is the unlimited data you'll get and the 100GB of premium data. If you consume a lot of high-speed data and want to avoid dealing with slower speeds, this is the plan for you. You'll also get 5GB of high-speed hotspot data, which should be more than enough for anyone who occasionally tethers their device. Should you run out of your 5GB, you'll still get unlimited hotspot data, just at 3G speeds.

T-Mobile's Magenta plan doesn't cease to impress when it comes to international features. With this plan, you'll be able to use your data abroad at 128Kbps. Unlimited international texting is included, as is unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of LTE data in Mexico and Canada (later unlimited at 2G speeds). This plan gives you everything you could expect from a great cell phone plan and more. It's the perfect fit for most smartphone users who like having no limits when it comes to data (premium, hotspot, or international) and appreciates T-Mobile's multi-line discounts and perks.

Bottom line: T-Mobile's Magenta plan allows you to make the most out of T-Mobile's growing 5G network and reliable coverage. With unlimited data, 100GB premium data, unlimited hotspot data, international features, and a Netflix subscription, the Magenta plan is the best value cell phone plan you can find today.

Visible SIM card

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)
Prepaid Verizon 5G with C-band

Specifications

Network: Verizon
Talk and text: Unlimited
Data: Unlimited
Premium Data: 50GB
5G: Nationwide + Ultra Wideband
Hotspot data: Unlimited at 5Mbps
International calling: 30+ countries
International data: Mexico and Canada
Streaming: SD
Perks: SPAM protection
Taxes and fees: Included
Single line cost: $45 per month

Reasons to buy

+
Huge Verizon network
+
Access to Verizon Ultra Wideband 5G
+
Unlimited data with 50GB premium
+
Taxes and fees included

Reasons to avoid

-
Hotspot speed is capped
-
SD streaming

Visible is a prepaid carrier operated by Verizon with two simple plans, both offering unlimited data. The cheaper Visible plan is a bargain at just $30 per month and aligns closely with the old Visible plan we tested in our Visible review. While the base plan will be a great fit for many bargain hunters, the $45 Visible+ plan is one of the best values on Verizon, thanks to its unthrottled access to C-band 5G. If you're looking to make the most of a new phone, Visible+ has plenty of performance, even in dense areas.

Visible+ will deliver higher speeds on average than the basic Visible plan, thanks to coming with 50GB of premium data. This means that Visible+ will hold up better in densely populated areas better than the base Visible plan or the old Visible plan. The hotspot data is still unlimited though you only get 5Mbps on a single device like before.

Visible has also added some worthwhile international features to this premium plan, starting with calling to 30+ countries and texting to 200+ countries. You also get unlimited talk, text, and data while roaming in Mexico and Canada. If you live near the U.S. border or just travel to Mexico or Canada frequently, Visible+ can be a great pick to stay connected.

Bottom line: Visible is one of the most affordable prepaid plans available today, and it gets even better with a Party Pay discount. Along with excellent Verizon coverage, Visible gives you access to unlimited data, unlimited hotspot data, and no secret taxes, fees, or contracts to tie you down.

Cricket Coverage Map S20+

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Cricket More Unlimited

Save with a family plan

Specifications

Network: AT&T
Talk and text: Unlimited
Data: Unlimited
Premium Data: Yes
5G: Yes (Nationwide)
Hotspot data: 15GB
Mexico and Canada: Unlimited talk, text, and data (must not exceed 50% of usage)
International data: Only in Mexico and Canada
International texting: Unlimited to 37 countries
International calling: Add-ons available
Streaming: SD
Perks: HBO Max (ad-supported)
Taxes and fees: Taxes included
Single line cost: $55 per month

Reasons to buy

+
Great AT&T coverage with 5G access where covered
+
Unlimited premium data
+
15GB of hotspot data
+
Multi-line discounts
+
HBO Max bundled in

Reasons to avoid

-
SD streaming
-
5G phone support isn't very clear

Cricket is owned by AT&T and is one of the best ways to get service on AT&T's massive LTE and 5G network without signing up for an expensive postpaid plan. In the past, Cricket was difficult to recommend due to low data speeds, but Cricket has removed these restrictions and the top Unlimited Cricket More plan has been upgraded with premium data. This makes this plan act a lot more like a postpaid AT&T plan but with a single-line price of just $60 per month. Of course, multi-line discounts take rates even lower with four lines working out to just $33 per line.

Besides unlimited calling, texting, and data usage, Cricket also includes a few extras. HBO Max is included, though it is the ad-supported version, it's still a nice bonus. Cricket also includes 150GB of backup storage for your photos and videos with the myPhotoVault app so if your phone breaks or gets lost, you don't lose your memories. Cricket also includes Call Defense, a feature that can help block scam calls before they even reach your phone.

Cricket's data speeds have been unlocked so there's no longer an artificial speed cap though most of its plans have lower-priority data access that can slow down much more than other AT&T phones when a cell tower gets congested. The top unlimited plan comes with premium data which sets the data connection as a higher priority than other traffic so the speeds stay high even when a lot of people are connected to the network.

Another interesting Cricket bonus is free usage in Canada and Mexico. As long as you use less than 50% of your data in these countries, you can travel to either without worrying about data. If you live near the border or have business in either country, this perk can pay for itself in a couple of trips.

Cricket's most expensive plan is a great value but if you want to save a little money, you might be able to get by on the Cricket Core plan. This one also comes with unlimited data but not premium data. The hotspot data is also removed. Still, if you live in a rural or low-density area, you may never notice the difference in priority between the plans.

Bottom line: Cricket's plans have been updated with faster access to data and include access to 5G as standard. Multi-line discounts make Cricket's unlimited plans a great choice for families and the premium data keeps speeds consistent even when there's a lot of congestion.

Mint Mobile review

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)
It's pronounced unliminted

Specifications

Network: T-Mobile
Talk and text: Unlimited
Data: Unlimited (35GB at full speed)
5G: Included
Hotspot data: 5GB
Mexico and Canada: Calling
International data: Varies by country
International texting: Varies by country
International calling: Varies by country
Streaming: 480p
Perks: Multi-month savings
Taxes and fees: Not included
Single line cost: 3 months for $40 per month6 months for $35 per month12 months for $30 per month

Reasons to buy

+
Access to the full T-Mobile network with 5G
+
Great phone compatibility
+
Multi-month savings
+
5GB of hotspot data included
+
No overages

Reasons to avoid

-
Must buy at least 3 months
-
No multi-line discounts

Mint Mobile delivers great network performance on the T-Mobile LTE and 5G network. Mint has four basic plans with 4GB, 10GB, 15GB, or unlimited (35GB) of high-speed data. Every Mint Mobile plan comes with unlimited talk and text in the U.S. with free calls to Mexico and Canada. 5G is included for free where available, including Ultra Capacity 5G. On top of that, this plan comes with 5GB of hotspot data to share with your other devices.

While Mint asserts that most people don't need unlimited data, signing up for its unlimited plan is one of the best ways to prove that thanks to a feature called unliMINTed. When it comes time to renew, Mint Mobile will recommend the plan that makes the most sense for you if it turns out you don't use that much data. Mint also gives you another way to save with big discounts available to those willing to buy six or 12 months of service upfront. Best of all, if you're not sure if Mint is a good fit, you can try your first three months for the 12-month rate.

Mint Mobile supports both international roaming and international calling with varying prices per country. For example, if you travel to the United Kingdom, calls are $0.25 per minute, texts are $0.05 each, and data is $0.20 per MB. Calling rates are much lower at $0.01 per minute for landlines. You can add funds to your roaming balance in $5, $10, or $20 increments. It's nice that this is included, but it might be worth finding another SIM with better roaming support if you travel a lot.

Mint Mobile allows you to bring the whole family with Mint Family. Mint Family allows one user to manage all of the lines on the account from one place, and you can choose a mix of whatever plans make the most sense. There is no multi-line discount, however. Finally, as we found in our Mint Mobile review,  just about any unlocked phone thanks to using the T-Mobile network, so if you've paid off your phone, there's a good chance you can bring it to Mint.

Bottom line: Mint Mobile Unlimited is the perfect plan for someone that knows they need a lot of data on a single line with great options to save by signing up for multiple months upfront. If it turns out you don't need unlimited, Mint Mobile will even recommend a cheaper plan at the end of your cycle. Also, because Mint runs on T-Mobile's LTE and 5G network, it has excellent phone compatibility.

US Mobile SIM cards

(Image credit: Android Central)
Choose your network and customize your plan

Specifications

Network: T-Mobile (GSM) and Verizon (Warp 5G)
Talk and text: Unlimited
Data: Unlimited
Premium Data: 30GB (25GB with GSM)
5G: Yes
Hotspot data: None
International calling and texting: Calling not included, International texting included with GSM LTE
International data: None
Taxes and fees: Not included
Single line cost: $35 per month

Reasons to buy

+
Choice between Verizon and T-Mobile networks
+
Great deal for 3+ lines
+
Unlimited data
+
5G access
+
Taxes and fees included

Reasons to avoid

-
Cannot switch between GSM LTE and Super LTE networks
-
Extra hotspot data charge
-
Limited phone selection

US Mobile offers one of the most unique family plans, mainly because this MVNO leverages both the Verizon and T-Mobile networks for coverage. This means that you have the choice between the two networks depending on which one gives you better coverage. The Verizon SIM is called Warp 5G, and the T-Mobile SIM is called GSM. For most people, the Warp 5G SIM is the way to go, with support for Verizon's 5G network including C-band though the GSM card will work with 5G, just not on iPhones yet.

For most families, an Unlimited plan offers the best value so there's no need to worry about sharing data. US Mobile has an Unlimited Basic plan and Unlimited Premium getting 100GB of premium data and access to mmWave 5G. Premium also comes with 50GB of hotspot data, as well as a streaming perk if you bring three lines. Even so, most families will be happy with Unlimited Basic which comes with 30GB of premium data and no hotspot data.

This plan starts cheap at $35 for a single line and goes lower with each line added up to four. With four lines this plan is just $20 per line. While it lacks mmWave 5G on the Warp 5G SIM, most people will be more than happy with the speeds on C-band or the GSM SIM's 5G speeds. One thing to keep in mind is the GSM SIM only comes with 25GB of premium data compared to 30GB. If you exceed this amount, you may notice lower speeds.

There are no international data with Unlimited Basic so if you think you'll need it, upgrading to the Unlimited Premium plan will net you 10GB of data on an international eSIM.

Bottom line: US Mobile is one of the most unique family plans, and its features are almost too good to be true. For four or more lines, you'll pay only $20 per line for great coverage, unlimited data with no speed caps, international data, and even an entertainment perk or two thrown on top.

Verizon Wireless and Disney+

(Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Verizon 5G Play More

Perfect for streamers

Specifications

Network: Verizon
Talk and text: Unlimited
Data: Unlimited
Premium Data: 50GB
5G: Yes (Nationwide and Ultra Wideband)
Hotspot data: 25GB of high-speedUnlimited at 600Kbps
Mexico and Canada: Unlimited talk, text, and data2G speeds after 0.5 GB per day
International data: Only in Mexico and Canada
International texting: Unlimited to 200+ countries
International calling: Extra charge (except Mexico and Canada)
Streaming: Up to 720p
Perks: Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+Apple Music (6 months)discovery+, Apple Arcade, and Google Play Pass (12 months)
Taxes and fees: Not included
Single line cost: $80 per month

Reasons to buy

+
Access to Verizon's entire 5G network
+
50GB of premium data
+
25GB of high-speed hotspot data
+
Great entertainment perks
+
HD streaming

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited international benefits
-
Expensive
-
Taxes and fees not included

An unlimited plan with Verizon is never a bad idea, especially when considering its extremely reliable 4G LTE network and its quickly growing 5G network that's now available in most big cities. To accompany its fantastic network, this carrier offers a great selection of unlimited cell phone plans to choose from, though Verizon's Play More plan hits that sweet spot when it comes to meeting data needs at a price that's not outrageous. For a single line, you'll pay $80 per month; for three lines, your bill becomes $165 per month, and for four lines, you'll pay $180 per month. But keep in mind that taxes and fees aren't included.

With this plan, you'll get access to Verizon's entire 5G network (Nationwide and Ultra Wideband including C-band) along with unlimited data. Of that unlimited data, 50GB will be premium, which should be more than enough for you never to witness slower data speeds. Though the hotspot offering isn't quite as generous as Verizon's top-tier unlimited plan, you'll still get a solid 15GB of high-speed data to power another device and comfortably work or be entertained when Wi-Fi isn't an option. But once you've used up that allotment, your speeds will slow to 600Kbps for the remainder of the month, so if you'll need more, it's best to upgrade.

Verizon 5G Play More shines when it comes to entertainment perks and was created with streamers in mind. A Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ subscription comes included with your plan, as does an Apple Music trial for six months and discovery+, Apple Arcade, and Google Play Pass for a year. To top things off, you'll get access to HD streaming for all your shows and movies. But with every strength comes a weakness, and this Verizon plan isn't a top choice for international use. Though you do get unlimited international texting and unlimited talk, text, and data (2G speeds after 0.5 GB per day) in Mexico and Canada, you won't get much more than that. This plan is a great choice if you already have solid Verizon coverage and need it for hefty domestic data use.

Bottom line: Verizon 5G Play More gets you unlimited data on Verizon's fast and reliable network, along with just enough hotspot data and some of the best entertainment perks a cell phone plan has to offer.

5G connected on Zenfone 8 with Android 12

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

T-Mobile Magenta MAX

Make the most of your 5G phone

Specifications

Network: T-Mobile
Talk and text: Unlimited
Data: Unlimited
Premium Data: Unlimited
5G: Yes
Hotspot data: 40GB of high-speedUnlimited at 3G speeds
Mexico and Canada: Unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of LTE dataUnlimited data at 2G speeds
International data: Unlimited (256Kbps)
International texting: Unlimited
International calling: Extra charge (except Mexico and Canada)
Streaming: Up to 4K UHD
Perks: Netflix subscription (1 SD screen with 1 line or 2 HD screens with 2+ lines)Unlimited Gogo in-flight texting and Wi-Fi
Taxes and fees: Included
Single line cost: $85 per month

Reasons to buy

+
Unlimited premium data
+
40GB hotspot data
+
4K UHD streaming
+
Netflix subscription
+
International data (256Kbps)

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for a single line

T-Mobile already covers more than 300 million people in the U.S. with its 5G network and it's still expanding with its Ultra Capacity mid-band coverage. As the nation's leader in 5G coverage, speed, and reliability, it comes as no surprise that T-Mobile's latest Magenta MAX cell phone plan was made for the 5G generation. It's by far the most lavish T-Mobile plan you can get, and it certainly won't come cheap. A single line on Magenta MAX costs $85 per month, but the third line is free like all other T-Mobile plans. So for three lines, your monthly bill (which includes taxes and fees) will come out to be $141 per month, or $172 per month for four lines.

Magenta MAX's higher price tag is worth it for those who consume heavy amounts of data and want nothing less than the best data speeds possible. Not only does this plan come with unlimited premium data, meaning that data speeds will never be slowed down or deprioritized, but it also offers a very considerate 40GB of hotspot data to keep you connected wherever you go. If you ever manage to use that up, your hotspot will still be unlimited at 3G speeds.

This cell phone plan also comes with several international perks, making it an ideal choice for frequent travelers who would rather not deal with swapping out SIM cards or purchasing an add-on feature. Along with unlimited international texting, you'll also get unlimited data abroad (256Kbps), unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of LTE data (later unlimited at 2G speeds) in Mexico and Canada, and unlimited Gogo in-flight texting and Wi-Fi.

When it comes to entertainment and streaming, Magenta MAX doesn't fall short. This plan comes with a Netflix subscription included. With one line, you'll get one SD screen on Netflix, but if you happen to have two lines on your account, you'll get two HD screens. And if you're someone who likes streaming on the go, you're in luck because you can do so in 4K UHD. If you can't wait to take advantage of T-Mobile's quickly growing 5G network and already own a 5G compatible device, there's simply no better plan to consider.

Bottom line: With T-Mobile home to the nation's largest 5G network, it's hard to imagine a plan better suited for 5G than Magenta MAX. Unlimited premium data and a whopping 40GB of hotspot data will keep plan subscribers connected and never slowed down.

Tello website on a phone

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)
A plan that can adapt to you

Specifications

Network: T-Mobile
Talk and text: Unlimited
Data: 1GB
5G: Included
Hotspot data: Shared with main
International texting: Varies by country
International calling: Free to 60+ countries
Streaming: No limit
Taxes and fees: Included
Single line cost: $10 per month

Reasons to buy

+
Great coverage with the T-Mobile network
+
Free calls to 60+ countries
+
Most unlocked phones work
+
Very low starting price

Reasons to avoid

-
No international roaming support

Tello is a prepaid carrier that operates on the T-Mobile network. While the carrier formerly used Sprint, current activations will be on the new network with improved coverage and speeds. The T-Mobile network also brings 5G data as long as you have a 5G phone. All Tello plans can be manually configured with a combination of data and minutes, though unlimited texting is included with all plans.

The Economy plan is a ready-made plan with 1GB of high-speed data and unlimited minutes. Of course, like any Tello plan, you can customize it with fewer minutes or even more data. Tello also allows for upgrades or downgrades at any time, so if you aren't happy with your first configuration, you're not stuck. Data is available up to 25GB if you need it, and the price is even fairly competitive. Tello also allows you to use as much of your data for tethering (mobile hotspot) as you like.

Tello, unfortunately, does not include any support for international roaming, so you'll need to find another SIM if you intend to travel. Tello does allow free calls to more than 60 countries, making it a great choice for someone that wants to call family or friends abroad; it also allows calling to and texting to many other countries at varying rates. Calls start at less than a cent per minute, but some countries are much more expensive, so make sure your country of choice is supported before signing up.

If you're looking for a cheap and simple plan, Tello can be a fantastic value.

Bottom line: Tello Economy comes with enough data to get by without paying for features you don't need. Calling and texting are unlimited, including free calls to 60+ destinations.

Google Fi SIM card

(Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Google Fi Unlimited Plus

Connected wherever you go

Specifications

Network: T-Mobile, UScellular, Wi-Fi
Talk and text: Unlimited
Data: Unlimited (50GB high-speed data)
5G: Included
Hotspot data: Shared with main
International data: Shared with main
International texting: Unlimited
International calling: 50+ countries included
Streaming: SD
Perks: Google One membership (100GB), VPN included
Taxes and fees: Not included
Single line cost: $65 per month

Reasons to buy

+
Great coverage with three networks in the U.S.
+
Free international data roaming in over 200 countries
+
T-Mobile 5G support on all supported phones
+
Free VPN adds security to all connections

Reasons to avoid

-
Plans are relatively expensive for domestic use
-
Not all phones support network switching

Google Fi has come to feel like the default carrier for Android enthusiasts, with amazing support for Google's own Pixel line of phones and one of the best international experiences possible. While Google Fi originally only supported a handful of phones, it has expanded with support for nearly any T-Mobile compatible phone, including iPhones. Keep in mind that iPhones don't get 5G access on Google Fi. To get the full Fi experience, however, a Designed for Fi phone is still recommended. Designed for Fi means that the phone will support Google Fi's most compelling features.

Designed for Fi phones include the Pixel series and several devices from other companies such as the Galaxy S22 series. This includes automatic network-switching between T-Mobile, Sprint, and UScellular towers, depending on which is strongest. Google Fi can also use some partnered Wi-Fi hotspots with a VPN for coverage on a network called W+ on some Pixel phones.

Google Fi Unlimited Plus comes with unlimited calls, texts, and 50GB of high-speed data. This data can be used either fully on your phone, or as a hotspot. Google Fi also has a data-only SIM that allows you to use your data on another device without creating a hotspot. Keep in mind that videos will only stream in 480p quality most of the time. Fi Unlimited comes with free calls to more than 50 countries and territories.

Google Fi's most impressive feature is the ability to use data and text abroad for free. Data is used the same way in more than 200 supported countries, helping solidify Google Fi as the best carrier for those who need to travel abroad. Calling is not free while abroad, though the rates are reasonably low. For the best results, stick to a VoIP solution like Telegram or Whatsapp to make calls over your data connection.

Fi Unlimited comes with 100GB of cloud storage on the Google One platform, so you can be sure you never lose your important files with your phone. Also, Fi comes with Spam protection for calls and family content controls if you bring your kids along. Like many other carriers, Google Fi offers multi-line discounts for up to four lines with a maximum of six lines on your account.

Bottom line: Google Fi has access to T-Mobile's network, including Sprint and UScellular, and automatically connects to the country's best network as long as you have a supported phone. Google Fi also keeps international usage simple and cheap by charging the same per gigabyte used in the U.S. or abroad.

How to pick the best cell phone plan

Picking a new cell phone plan can be stressful, but if you focus on what matters most to you, you can get set up on the right network for the right price. T-Mobile Magenta has focused on delivering value to those looking to make the most of their smartphones with plenty of premium data so you can forget about watching the meter. T-Mobile was also the first to include 5G in all of its plans, meaning that if you have a new 5G phone or are going to be ready for one in the next couple of years, your plan is ready to go.

T-Mobile's great phone compatibility also reinforces its dominance. While a phone designed for AT&T might not get all of T-Mobile's best coverage, you will be able to bring it with you. The same is true for just about any unlocked phone, whether it runs Android or iOS. If you're a fan of phones like the OnePlus 10 Pro, for example, you'll want to make sure you're using T-Mobile or Verizon for 5G access.

Finally, T-Mobile's Magenta plan expands into a family plan with multi-line discounts and free Netflix. If you're already paying for Netflix, it's a great bonus. T-Mobile also includes 5GB of high-speed hotspot data with unlimited hotspot usage at 3G speeds. If you're traveling with one of the best Android tablets or a great Chromebook, this is a useful feature to have.

1. How much data do you need?

This is tricky because you don't want to risk running out of data, but most of us don't need much more than 4GB. You can get an idea of how much data you use by looking at your prior phone bills or even by keeping track of the data usage section in your phone's settings. Furthermore, you could also take steps to reduce your usage, such as connecting to Wi-Fi whenever you can.

If you find yourself using more than 10GB, you might actually be able to save some money by selecting an unlimited plan. Cheap unlimited plans are typically structured to deprioritize data usage when network congestion is high. This is due to a lack of premium data which aims to keep you connected at top speed as long as you haven't used too much.

Deprioritization looks like your connection drops speed for a short period of time before the network recovers. This isn't ideal for someone that relies on their phone for on-demand high-speed data. However, if you're just browsing social media or messaging with friends, you may never even notice a change.

2. Do you need a new phone?

The next thing to consider is your phone. If you just bought a new phone and want to keep using it for a few years, you'll want to make sure it works as well as possible on your new network. While phones can be unlocked to use on other carriers once they're paid off, you might not get optimal performance on a different set of towers. This is also true for phones purchased in other markets such as Europe or India. Also, even if your phone supports all of the right bands, you still might run into some activation issues. This is particularly important if you want to use AT&T 5G, which doesn't work properly with OnePlus most of the time.

If you are ready for a new phone and can front the full cost, you can buy one of the best Android phones unlocked and bring it with you, but if you want to pay for it monthly, you have to plan ahead a bit more. You can buy an unlocked phone with payments directly from the manufacturer, such as Samsung, but other options exist. For example, some credit cards will allow you to spread your payments out interest-free as well.

Finally, you can buy a phone from the carrier, but keep in mind that you're on the hook for the full amount if you're paying monthly for it. If you lose or break the phone, you have to finish paying for it. If you're signing up in a carrier store and the salesperson suggests a bundle, be sure to get an itemized invoice with payment durations for each item to know exactly what you're paying for.

If you already have a phone and you know it's unlocked, be sure to check with customer support or use a BYOD compatibility checker on the carrier's website to be sure. If you're taking a bit of a risk with this, familiarize yourself with each carrier's return policy.

4. Do you need hotspot data?

Most smartphones are capable of sharing their mobile data connections as a Wi-Fi hotspot. This feature is great for getting other devices online, like a tablet or Chromebook. Hotspots can work in one of two ways, with the first sharing your standard mobile data with your other devices. This is nice because you don't have to worry about managing a second data pool, but it will eat into the data you need for phone usage. This is common on the cheapest data plans such as Mint Mobile's 4GB, 10GB, or 15GB plans.

The second way is with dedicated hotspot data. Most unlimited plans will use this approach with unlimited data on your phone but a smaller amount for devices connected through the hotspot. Verizon Wireless, for example, includes 15GB of high-speed hotspot data with its Play More Unlimited plan. Some carriers offer unlimited hotspot data with a significant speed cap. Visible, for instance, offers unlimited hotspot data though you'll only ever see a max of 5Mbps.

5. Do you need international features?

The last thing to consider with your phone plan is international features. While many postpaid services will include talk and text to some countries, you may need to pay by the minute to call internationally. If you need to call another country frequently, check to make sure it's included or at least cheap.

If you need to travel to another country, things are a bit more limited. Google Fi is a shining example of international roaming support with more than 200 countries included for no extra charge. At least for data use. Some other carriers like Cricket Wireless offer service in Mexico and Canada, while others such as T-Mobile and US Mobile come with at least some international roaming data, though it may be slower than back home.

Pick the plan that fits your needs

There's a lot to keep in mind when you're looking for the perfect plan for your new phone, but if you stay focused on the aspects that are most important to you, there should be plenty of options. It's not possible to eliminate all waste on your phone plan, and you'll likely buy more data than you need but running out is a lot more of a hassle. Still, the plans listed here will cover most people's needs and help them make the most out of their phones.