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What to Consider When Purchasing an Unlimited Data Plan

Constant Access, Everywhere You Go

Data plans govern what you can do online with your device. Your data plan governs everything from e-mails, videos and pictures to website usage. Simply said, data plans control how much internet you can use when you don't have access to WiFi. It might be wise to reconsider your current plan — there’s a high possibility you can get a better deal.

Unlimited data plans are now widely available. Knowing that you can’t surpass some arbitrary limit and incur a huge bill can bring you a lot of peace of mind. An unlimited family data plan can help you save money, too.

Here’s a quick overview of unlimited data plans, as well as what to look for when purchasing one to find the best unlimited data plan for you.

How Do Unlimited Data Plans Work?

Not all unlimited data plans are the same, which is why it's helpful to do an unlimited data plans comparison. They do always share one thing in common, though: they give you constant and unfettered access to the internet. But the specifics depend on the plan in question and the carrier or provider.

There are two main types of unlimited data plans: unlimited full speed data plans, and unlimited data plans with de-prioritization. The first type of plan will always provide you with high-speed access to any internet content.

Data plans with de-prioritization, however, can slow down significantly after a certain threshold or during network congestion. That means that after a certain amount of data is used, or during times when the network is overcrowded, your data speed will be notably slower. You will still be able to access the internet, but there is that one catch.

Unlimited full speed data plans are obviously more appealing, but if you don’t use very much data, a cheaper plan with de-prioritization may be the better choice. Most of the major carriers are now offering multiple tiers of data plans, with speed guarantees and high-speed priority, even with de-prioritization.

On the other hand, knowing that you can reliably use your device even during network congestion should also factor into your purchase.

Family Plans

Family data plans can be a great way to both cut down on bills and get a better deal. An unlimited family plan covers multiple phones. Making sure every member of your family has unlimited data is a great investment.

Phone bills can become quite expensive — if you have more than two lines, you can save a sizeable amount of money by getting a family plan. Paying one bill instead of three or four is also much easier and less time-consuming.

Before choosing a plan, iron out the basics. How many lines do you have? What number of texts, minutes and data works for you? Does the plan in question have good coverage for your area?

These are all important factors to consider. The most important distinction when it comes to a family plan is whether it uses a shared or per line allotment.

A shared allotment means the amount of data can be used unevenly by the members of the plan, while a per line allotment means the data is split evenly among each line. This is very important for data plans with de-prioritization.

The price of the plan is also an important factor. Most carriers charge between $55 and $75 for the first line and $40 to $60 for the second. From the third line onward, the industry standard is about $20 per additional line.

Most family plans come with additional perks, like free overseas calls, phone leasing and free subscriptions to various online services. Take the time to browse available deals — you can find even more affordable options.

The Best Providers for Unlimited Data Plans

The U.S. market is dominated by four large telecommunication companies: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. All these companies offer a variety of unlimited data plans. These companies have all found their niche, so it’s possible to make general statements about the phone plans they provide.

AT&T is a reliable network with great coverage nationwide. Their plans are affordable and offer a wide variety of phones for leasing. The downside is that most of AT&T’s plans include de-prioritization.

Verizon offers the best coverage and data speeds in the nation. Their data plans also offer the highest amount of high-speed data. However, Verizon is generally the most expensive option.

T-Mobile has decent coverage and offers good speeds. T-Mobile’s plans offer a lot of bang for your buck — the amount of data is lower than with Verizon, but the plans are much more affordable.

Sprint offers the cheapest unlimited data plans but comes in last place for coverage and reliability. Most of Sprint’s plans have de-prioritization. Sprint can be a great affordable option — just make sure it offers good coverage for your area.

What to Consider When Looking for an Unlimited Data Plan

Choosing the right plan isn’t easy. Figure out how much data you need and for what purpose. If most of your data usage comes from a single source, you may be able to find a plan that benefits you on that front. You may be tempted to overpay, but there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce data usage and avoid de-prioritization.

Make sure the provider has good coverage for your area. Decide if you want a plan with unlimited calls and text messaging. Always read the fine print when it comes to data plans. The most important thing is to find out how the data plan in question treats data overages, throttling, high traffic congestion and de-prioritization.

Ask yourself if you need a new phone — some carriers require that you buy or lease a new phone from them. Above all, don’t worry — early termination fees are going out of style, so there’s less of a penalty for trying out different options.


Unlimited data plans can make life much easier for people who spend a lot of time online. Getting an unlimited data plan means having reliable access to the internet at all times.

Purchasing a family plan can help you save money and get better coverage at the same time. Having around-the-clock access to the internet is a huge advantage, both for your career and leisure time. Bear the advice in this article in mind, and you’ll find the plan that suits your needs the best.