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Pixel 3 hotspot
Pixel 3 hotspot (Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

You never know exactly when you'll have a solid Wi-Fi connection for your tablet or computer which is why it's great to be able to share your phone's data connection. While using a mobile hotspot, or tethering, isn't a great solution for your home internet, it can be great to know you have a backup plan. If you're looking for a tethering mobile hotspot plan that works with your preferred network these are some of the best options available. These days, most MVNO carriers offer hotspot data with most if not all of their plans so you might even already have some data.

How do you pick?

Pixel 3 hotspot

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

It can be hard to know exactly how much data you'll need on your hotspot. For the most part, you should be making use of public or private Wi-Fi networks as much as possible with your computers. If you find you just need a little extra coverage for light web browsing, something like Mint Mobile makes a lot of sense because you can share your data with your phone plan and won't need to pay any more for your plans. Mint also gives you unlimited 2G speed data if you use up your data allowance so you're never completely cut off.

If you are looking to use your data all the time or want the flexibility to do some streaming, Visible offers the best solution with its rates coming in under most other unlimited plans while offering great coverage on the Verizon LTE network. With unlimited hotspot data at 5Mbps, you won't be watching in 4k, but streams around 720p or lower should work without issue and the speed should be more than fast enough for the majority of web browsing and even social media.

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.

19 Comments
  • It's pretty rare that I need to tether these days thanks to WiFi being in lots of public locations. I'll use it in emergencies or if I'm logging into a sensitive website in a Starbucks or other public network. Currently on an unlimited plan that discourages tethering, but that's the benefit of having an unlocked, unbranded device with hotspot baked in.
  • You missed the best MVNO that there is that also happens to allow tethering- Project Fi. I pay about $80 less on Project Fi than I was for Verizon for 3 GB data per month and the coverage/tethering has been just as good.
  • Tethering on Fi will quickly approach a mortgage payment if you use it like most do for tethering. Data is hella expensive.
  • If you use as much data as I do Project Fi is an absolute no go.
  • I understand for you, but considering the very vast majority use less than 5gig per month, Fi, when using tethering, is on par if not lower than the average.
  • That's not a common thing for all carriers in the states? Lol.
  • For what it's worth, I have Cricket and I can tether without specifically having it on my plan. Not sure if I'm supposed to be able to do that though.
  • When I had cricket I too tethered without specifying it as an option for service. It was with the One Plus and Nexus so it it entirely possible that when you buy a non cricket branded phone, this is how it is done. Probably applies to most carriers.
  • It's been a few years since I used Cricket, so maybe they've fixed this since then, but I was always able to tether with them even though my plan specifically did not include it.
  • Boom Mobile allows it
  • All of them do. Byod
  • Mint doesn't allow tethering.
  • Are you a Mint customer? Curious since I've been trying to reach someone there for 3 days now with ZERO success :)
  • Unlocked devices are best for tethering.
  • AT&T GoPhone
  • And Verizon prepaid also allows tethering included in your plan.
  • I tether all day long with cricket wireless and don't have to pay the stupid $10 fee. The trick is to understand that carrier branded phones are programmed to first check in with a server at the carrier to ensure your paying for ththering, then the phone will start tethering. It's preprogrammed as part of the carrier bloatware. I'm using an unlocked Note 5 (SM-N920C) with zero bloatware, when I tether, it just startes and work everytime. Gotta love the unlocked phones :)
  • Huawei phones are also programmed to check with carriers before tethering and they're supposedly unlocked and unbranded. Friend of mine bought the Honor 8 from bestbuy and found out the hard way. So not all unbranded devices will tether but my Axon 7, Moto x pure, and Xperia Z3 all tether just fine regardless of the network or restrictions.
  • As a person living in the actual free world, it boggles me that you actually have to pay to tether/have it enabled network-side.
    You should not have to pay to use this basic phone function. I can only assume that american carriers built their networks wrong (whether by coincidence or deliberately), that then causes tethering to be a strain on the network, thereby making it 'necessary' for you to pay a toll for the privilege of using something that's already yours. If the networks were built properly, then someone needs to start one of those petitions to the white house to stop the carriers from charging for this.