You’re checking the GPS on your phone when you get the dreaded message. Your monthly allotment of data is nearly up and you still have a week before it resets. It’s time to consider one of those unlimited data phone plans, but there’s one little problem. With so many unlimited data cell phone plans on the market, how do you know which one is right for you?

Understanding Unlimited Data

Before you consider the following options, understand that cell phone plans with unlimited data aren’t as “unlimited” as they seem. Pay close attention to how many gigabytes (GB) of data you’ll receive before your access begins to slow down. This can happen either because the type of service changes from LTE to something slower, or your data needs are prioritized lower than those of your fellow users. This does not mean these providers are trying to trick you. This process, called throttling, is universal among unlimited data plans. 

T-Mobile

This might be the shiniest of all the plans on this list. T-Mobile loves to shower its users in perks, making them an appealing option.

The Data: They give you about 30GB of fast LTE data before they throttle you back. For T-Mobile this means switching you from LTE to 3G.

The Cost: Normally, they charge $70 a month for a single line and $40 each for four lines. You can pay an extra $5 a month for their premium package, which includes HD streaming, unlimited Wi-Fi on flights that are Gogo enabled, faster international speeds, and more.

Pros: They offer an unlimited 3G hotspot to users, but you’ll soon see how this pales in comparison to some of the other packages. Mostly, what sets T-Mobile apart is its excellent international service. It has unlimited texting and data in 140 countries, making it a solid choice for frequent travelers.

Cons: Unlike most other unlimited data plans, they don’t offer HD streaming unless you spring for the premium package. Of course, at $5 more a month, the premium package is still cheaper than Verizon.

Verizon

Verizon might not have as many fancy international travel features, but it’s worth the extra cost if you want consistent, reliable data here at home.

The Data: The bad news is that Data may be throttled after only 22GB of usage. The good news is that for Verizon, throttling data does not mean slowing it down to 3G. It does mean that you may be prioritized behind other Verizon customers if traffic is high on a given network.

The Cost: This plan is no light-weight at $80 for a single line, $140 for two lines, or $45 each for four lines. Be aware that the $80 includes a five-dollar discount for paperless billing.

Pros: Verizon offers unlimited HD streaming for all customers. They also offer 10GB of LTE hotspot data, after which the hotspot remains unlimited but runs on 3G. Finally, don’t forget that they don’t slow down your overall unlimited data after 22GB, they simply prioritize it lower on busy networks. In other words, you may never notice a change.

Cons: In short, it’s expensive.

AT&T

Not everyone can shell out for top of the line unlimited data. AT&T understands this and offers two options for its users: Unlimited Choice and Unlimited Plus. Unlimited Choice is one of the cheapest unlimited cell phone plans that’s still worth its salt.

The Data: Both Unlimited Choice and Unlimited Plus cap their LTE data at 22GB, throttling down to 3G afterward. However, Unlimited Choice also caps download speeds at 3 megabytes per second (mps).

The Cost: Unlimited Choice is a very affordable option at $60 for an individual line and $115 for two. Additional plans cost $20 a line. Unlimited Plus is more expensive even than Verizon at $90 for an individual line or $145 for two. Additional Unlimited Plus lines also cost $20 a line.

Pros: The Unlimited Choice plan is very stripped down as AT&T wireless phone plans go. However, it does include unlimited texting to over 120 countries, and unlimited talking and texting to Mexico and Canada. Finally, it’s affordable. Unlimited Plus includes all of that and a 10GB hotspot, HD streaming, and even HBO.

Cons: That really depends on which you’re considering. One is more expensive while the other has limited options (isn’t that always the way).

Keep a Bead on Promotions

If you want a cheap unlimited cell phone service that doesn’t limit your data and provides you with all the perks, you’re in a tough spot. Many of the best unlimited cell phone plans require you to shell out. Still, you can always get lucky if you happen upon a promotion. A couple of the providers listed above are likely doing promotions right now. If they’re not, they will be soon. However, before you get ready to cancel your old plan because you're not getting enough bang for your buck, consider cell phone bill negotiation. Our service at Shrinkabill is intended not only to cut your unwanted costs, but also get those promotional features without you having to break a sweat.