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AT&T Cell Phone Plans vs. Verizon Cell Phone Plans

AT&T and Verizon are two of the largest telecommunications companies in the U.S. Combined, their wireless networks provide the majority of the country with cell phone service. As 5G becomes more relevant, both companies are updating their towers to accommodate higher-speed services, while consumers may be examining their current cell phone plan to prepare for the latest technology. Here, we compare both companies’ suites of cell phone plans to help you find the best one for you.

AT&T vs. Verizon

AT&T Cell Phone Plans

Verizon Cell Phone Plans

  • Best for consumers who are interested in 5G

  • Best for consumers who want HBO MAX

  • Best for consumers who don’t live in a 5G enabled area

  • Best for consumers who don’t travel often

  • Not recommended for consumers who are budget-conscious

  • Not recommended for consumers who want a lot of options

  • Not recommended for consumers who want unlimited data

  • Not recommended for consumers who need multiple lines

AT&T Cell Phone Plans

  • Best for consumers who are interested in 5G

  • Best for consumers who want HBO MAX

  • Not recommended for consumers who are budget-conscious

  • Not recommended for consumers who want a lot of options

Verizon Cell Phone Plans

  • Best for consumers who don’t live in a 5G enabled area

  • Best for consumers who don’t travel often

  • Not recommended for consumers who want unlimited data

  • Not recommended for consumers who need multiple lines

As 5G is still being rolled out across the country, coverage may be lacking in most areas. Between T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, Verizon is in last place in terms of area covered by 5G. AT&T isn’t significantly ahead of Verizon, but while Verizon’s 5G access is tiered to match its plans, AT&T offers unilateral 5G access across its plans and adds fraud call blocking along with HBO Max for its top plan. Neither company’s plans are considered low cost, however, AT&T’s plans are more than the average cost of plans in our Best Cell Phone Plans of 2021 rating. Verizon is in a similar cost bracket as AT&T, but unlimited data plans can be a good deal if you stick to one line. However, once you begin adding additional lines, costs can add up quickly.

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The cost of Verizon’s international options also tends to quickly stack up. If you don’t have an unlimited plan, it’s $5 per day to use its plan in Mexico and Canada, and $10 per day to use the plan in more than 185 additional territories. However, if you have one of Verizon’s unlimited plans then the daily charge does not apply. If you travel more frequently you can pay $70 to $130 for a monthly plan that gives you up to 250 minutes of talking time, 1,000 sent text messages (unlimited received messages), and 2 gigabytes (GB) of high-speed data in more than 185 countries. On the other hand, AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan allows calls to and from Mexico and Canada at no additional cost, and for $10 per day, you can use your existing AT&T cell phone plan in more than 200 other countries. More frequent travelers may save more with AT&T Passport which includes unlimited texting, 2 GB of high-speed data, and calls for 0.35 cents per minute all for $70. If you want AT&T Passport to include 6 GB of high-speed data instead of 2 GB of data, then the cost is $140. Charges are billed as a one-time fee or monthly if you want to keep the service.

AT&T vs. Verizon: Most Comprehensive Cell Phone Plans

AT&T’s highest tier, the Unlimited Elite plan, starts at $85 in comparison to Verizon’s Get More Unlimited plan which costs $90 per month. Both prices include a $10 discount for autopay and paperless billing. However, you only get half as much high-speed data with Verizon – 50 GB to AT&T’s 100 GB. In exchange for this, you get Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband (the fastest form of 5G technology available through Verizon) but 5G is so sparse right now that it’s less of a factor.

Verizon picks up the slack with its optional features. While AT&T includes HBO Max, Verizon includes Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Apple Music, and 12 months of Discovery+ alongside 600 GB of Verizon Cloud Storage. Plus you can get 50% off the cost of an additional device plan if you already pay for Verizon’s Get More Unlimited plan. Overall, Verizon offers a more attractive package for people who prefer access to more high-speed data over streaming services.

However, the data threshold difference is important because once that 50 GB of data runs out, your data’s speed will decrease for the duration of the billing cycle. So if you’re somebody who enjoys streaming videos or playing games on your phone, you’ll run out of high-speed data faster than you expect. But if you don’t need as much high-speed data, you’re better off sticking with Verizon’s plan just because of the access to additional streaming services, which you can experience from another device if you happen to have used up your cell phone plan’s data.

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AT&T vs. Verizon: Cheapest Cell Phone Plans

If you’re looking for the most affordable plan possible, there’s AT&T’s Prepaid 8 GB plan and the Verizon Basic Phone 500 megabytes (MB) plan at $25 and $30 respectively. AT&T’s Prepaid 8 GB plan gives you 8 GB of unthrottled, high-speed data on AT&T’s 4G LTE and 5G Nationwide networks. That 8 GB of data can also be used with the included mobile hotspot capability. The Verizon Basic Phone 500 MB plan includes 500 MB of data on Verizon’s 4G LTE network with unlimited talking time and texting included.

These are both pretty basic plans. However, you might pick Verizon’s Basic plan over AT&T’s prepaid plan if you don’t want to go the full 12 months being locked into one plan. But keep in mind, once you expend 500 MB of high-speed data per month, you won’t be able to do much aside from talking or texting with your phone. Whereas AT&T’s plan gives you 8 GB of high-speed data for $5 less. So which activities you plan to use your phone for and how long you plan to access them, is probably the deciding factor here.

To see other prepaid plans visit our guide, the Best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans of 2021.

AT&T

AT&T  »

(844) 944-1113View Plans

Monthly Cost
$25 and Up
Plan Type
Contract or Prepaid
Data
4 GB and Up

Some restrictions may apply.

AT&T is the world’s largest telecommunications provider. Founded by the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, AT&T provides its customers’ phones, tablets, televisions, and computers with access to its network. Formerly named Bell Telephone Company, this business has been a leading member of the telecommunications industry since the founding of the original company back in the late 1800s. In 1982, the AT&T we know today was created when the original company was broken up into several individual companies due to fears that it held a monopoly over the market. Despite that, AT&T continues to be a market leader.

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Verizon

Verizon Shared Data 5 GB  »

View Plans

Best Nationwide Coverage

360 Overall Rating

4.1 out of 5

Monthly Cost
$55
Plan Type
Contract
Data
5 GB

Some restrictions may apply.

Verizon, short for Verizon Communications Inc, is one of the companies that was established after AT&T was broken up in the 1980s. Then named Bell Atlantic, the company rebranded itself in the early 2000s when it merged with the telephone company, GTE. Today it still shares a significant amount of its towers with AT&T, while also competing with them in the same space. At present, Verizon provides its more than 120 million subscribers with a variety of wireless services to cover the home, phone, and office.

The Bottom Line

Point for point, Verizon’s plans offer more than AT&T’s and tend to give you access to additional services in place of more data. That places Verizon ahead of AT&T for anyone who isn’t looking for basic cell phone service. Because you get so much more than just data with Verizon, you should consider it if you find yourself using your cell phone more for entertainment. For most people, you’re better off with Verizon because of the sheer number of options you’re afforded compared to AT&T, at nearly the same price.

AT&T has three unlimited plans, while Verizon has four plans, five if you include the Just Kids cell phone plan. While AT&T’s plans are superior for people who travel frequently and need access to high-speed data, most will find that their money goes further on average, with Verizon. The added mobile protection that AT&T provides with fraud call blocking only becomes worthwhile once you start paying more. And even then, depending on the user’s priorities, it could be less appealing than getting access to these additional streaming services at no extra cost.

Cell Phone Plans

Learn More

For more information about cell phone plans visit our guides:

Other Ratings from 360 Reviews

Our 360 Methodology for Evaluating Cell Phone Plans

We explain what matters most to consumers, experts, and professional reviewers when it comes to cell phone plans. Then we provide an unbiased evaluation of cell phone plans available at the time of review. Our goal is to empower consumers with the information and tools they need to make informed decisions. Learn more about our 360 Reviews methodology for evaluating cell phone plans here.

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