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.
Share your mobile data with plans from these MVNOs
Best unlimited plans
Visible makes a lot of sense if you like to use a lot of data. It keeps things simple with just one plan with unlimited talk, text, and data in the U.S. It also offers unlimited hotspot data, and while it is limited to 5Mbps, you can use it as much as you want. Long story short, browsing, social media, and music streaming should feel fine but you should only expect around 720p for videos on the hotspot.
Mint Mobile offers data packages in 4GB, 10GB, or 15GB chunks and lets the customer save money by buying more than one month at a time, with maximum savings at 12 months. There's also an unlimited plan that comes with 5GB of hotspot data. Using the T-Mobile network, Mint Mobile lets you use your data allowance for hotspot and standard phone usage. If you're not sure if this is the pick for you, the network lets you check out the discounted three-month service.
Best with international calling
Boost Mobile is now owned by Dish Wireless and has several plans to choose from depending on how many months you sign on for. The smaller data packages can share their data between phone and hotspot usage. The two more expensive unlimited plans come with 12GB or 30GB of hotspot data included. With multiple international add-ons, Boost can be a great pick for travelers.
Most flexible plan
US Mobile has a custom flexible plan as well as two unlimited options. While the flexible plan can share its data with tethering, the better value comes with unlimited. Unlimited Basic has 5GB while Unlimited Premium takes that up to 50GB. The best part is these unlimited plans get multi-line discounts so you can save when you bring the whole family.
Wide network coverage
Straight Talk is one of the most traditional prepaid carriers around with service on three networks and several data packages to choose from. The smallest 10GB allows up to 5GB to be used as hotspot data. The larger Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans have 5GB, 15GB, and 20GB of hotspot data respectively.
Best custom plans
Tello has a series of custom plans starting with just minutes and going up to unlimited with 25GB of high-speed data. All of your data can be used as a hotspot if you want. Tello uses the T-Mobile network so be sure you have good coverage before signing on. Tello also offers calls to the U.S., Canada, Mexico, China, and Romania with all of its plans.
Best for international use
Google Fi's biggest trick is using a combination of T-Mobile towers, U.S. Cellular towers, and contracted Wi-Fi to create a strong coverage map across the country on compatible phones. Not only that, but you can roam internationally on two of Fi's plans. Fi plans are either flexible with service starting at $20 and charging $10 per gigabyte used. The smaller unlimited plan comes with 5GB of hotspot data while Unlimited Plus can use all of its 50GB of high-speed data.
Best multi-line savings
Metro by T-Mobile utilizes T-Mobile's 5G network to offer large data plans with multi-line discounts. The middle unlimited plan is the cheapest with hotspot data with 5GB. The top plan takes that up to 20GB. Metro by T-Mobile has multi-line discounts so the best way to save is to bring the whole family along.
Best on the AT&T network
Cricket is owned by AT&T and uses its network exclusively. Even so, the only plan with hotspot data is the top Unlimited More plan starting at $60 per month with 15GB of hotspot data. Hotspot functionality can be added to the other unlimited plan for an additional $10 per month. There are multi-line discounts so the price comes down a lot when you bring a family.
Pick the right MVNO for your data needs
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 tablet or PC. 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.
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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.