August marks several annual events: the end of summer, the start of school and the beginning of flagship phone season. On Thursday, Samsung announced its. Just a week before, we got our hands on the . And within the next couple weeks, it will be .
Now is the perfect time to consider your carrier plan. Which plan is the most affordable? How much are extra lines? Should you get a prepaid plan or a postpaid plan? We are here to help with answers to those questions and more.
Which carrier has the cheapest plans?
All the carriers offer unlimited talk and texting, so your decision will likely come down to the cost of data. Unfortunately, there are no apples-to-apples here. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon’s data plans are all slightly different.
The handy chart I made below should help. It compares the total cost over two years on each carrier except T-Mobile — more on the “uncarrier” later. To make things as easy as possible, I added up the costs of carrier activation fees, monthly line access charges, financing a new $649 phone (the price of a 32GBor ) and a monthly data plan over 24 months — this does not compare taxes, surcharges or other regulatory fees (and my sanity hopes you’ll understand).
TOTAL COST FOR A SINGLE LINE AND A NEW PHONE OVER 2 YEARS
|Carrier||One-time activation fee||Monthly cost of $649 phone||Monthly access charge||Monthly data plan||Total cost over two years|
|AT&T Next Every Year Plan||$25||$27/month||$20/month||3GB for $40/month||$2,115 ($88/month)|
|Verizon Plan||$30||$27/month||$20/month||5GB for $35/month*||$1,998* ($83/month)|
|Sprint Installment Plan||$25||$27/month||$25/month||3GB for $25/month*||$1,880* ($78/month)|
|Sprint 18 Month Lease||$25||$27/month||$25/month||3GB/month for $25/month*||$1,418* (18 months at $79/month)|
* includes $5/month autopay discount
What about T-Mobile and unlimited data plans?
I didn’t include T-Mobile in the previous section because the carrier only offers unlimited data plans. In fact, all four major US carriers offer unlimited data plans. Sprint has one unlimited plan while AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon each have two unlimited data plan options: an entry-level plan that limits video streaming to standard definition and omits LTE hotspot use, and a more expensive option that competes with Sprint’s unlimited features…. Read More>>>