Best Single Cell Phone Plans In 2018: Compare Verizon, AT&T, Sprint & More

Single line cell phone plans aren’t just for college grads and single people. A lot of my professional friends have separate cell phones for work and family. After all, we have two ears. So why not two phones? (Just kidding.) In this article, we’ll compare the single cell phone plans being offered by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.

I’ve decided to put this article together to help people decide on the best single line cell phone plan for them, because as everyone knows, shopping for cell phone plans can be confusing. If you’re thinking about signing up for more than one line (which can save a lot of money), check out my side-by-side comparison of family plans.

You should know that I may receive a referral fee if you click on one of the links in this article, but I never allow money to influence my recommendations or the information I provide.

A Side-By-Side Comparison Of The Single Cell Phone Plans Offered By AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon

CarrierDetailsTalk & TextDataLearn More
AT&T's single line plans work just like their family plans: You pay an access fee for talk and text that varies according to how much data you buy.

To me, AT&T's website gives the impression that unlimited talk and text are included with the data plan you choose. They aren't—I checked with a customer service representative, and the access fee is still there.
$25 / line for unlimited talk and text if you buy the 5GB or lower data plan.
$15 / line for unlimited talk and text if you buy the 15GB or higher data plan plus free talk and text to Canada and Mexico.
300 MB for $20
2 GB for $30
5 GB for $50
15 GB for $100
20 GB for $140
25 GB for $175
30 GB for $225
40 GB for $300
50 GB for $375

Overage charges
$20 for each additional 300MB on the 300MB data plan
$15 for each additional GB on all other data plans
View Plan
on AT&T's website

AT&T is currently offering up to a $650 credit per line if you switch.
All Sprint plans include unlimited talk and text. You'll pay an access charge that varies according to whether you sign a two-year contract, lease a phone on their installment plan, or purchase the unlimited data plan."Limited" data plans
$20 / line if you choose Sprint Installments or Lease for phone payments
$45 / line if you choose a 24-month contract (and Sprint subsidizes the phone cost up front)

Unlimited data plan
$75 for unlimited talk, text, and data
"Limited" data plans
1 GB for $20
3 GB for $30
6 GB for $45
12 GB for $60
24 GB for $80
40 GB for $100

Unlimited data plan
Unlimited data included with talk and text. Data slows to 2G speeds after 23GB usage / month, and there is a 3 GB limit on mobile hotspot. (Data slows to 2G speeds after hotspot data is used up.)

Overage charges
Sprint has no data overage charges—data slows to 2G speeds when you go over the limit.
View Plan
on Sprint's website

Sprint is currently offering a 50% discount off your current rate and $725 back in contract termination fees if you switch.
All Verizon single line plans include unlimited talk and text—you just choose the amount of data you want.$20 / line for unlimited talk and text1 GB for $30
3 GB for $45
6 GB for $60
12 GB for $80
18 GB for $100

Overage charges
$15 for each additional GB
View Plan
on Verizon's website

Verizon is currently offering to waive all activation fees, but only if you purchase online.
T-Mobile’s stock plan includes unlimited talk, text, and data. You'll pay a flat rate and get unlimited everything (for the most part).

For example, T-Mobile's unlimited streaming doesn't stream at full resolution — HD is a paid upgrade. If you use more than 26 GB of data in a month, T-Mobile deprioritizes your usage and speeds may slow down significantly.
$70 for unlimited talk, text, and dataUnlimited data included. After 26 GB of usage, your usage is "prioritized below other customers" and you may experience slower speeds.

Overage Charges
T-Mobile has no overage charges.

Binge On
T-Mobile allows you to stream unlimited video and music from YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and a slew of other sources without using any of your high speed data allowance. However, Binge On video is streamed at lower quality (480p), not 720p or 1080p HD quality like the other carriers. HD video streaming is available as a paid upgrade.
View Plan
on T-Mobile's website

T-Mobile is currently offering the new T-Mobile ONE plan.

In this section, we’ll look at some real-world examples of how much someone named Suzie might pay for a single line plan with light, moderate, and heavy duty usage.

Single Cell Phone Plans For Light Data Usage

First, let’s pretend that Suzie only uses a light amount of data, which works out to about 1 GB per month.

CarrierTalk & TextDataTotal (excluding taxes and fees)Learn More
$25 for unlimited talk and text2 GB for $30$55View Plan
on AT&T's website
$20 for unlimited talk and text1 GB for $20$40View Plan
on Sprint's website
$20 for unlimited talk and text1 GB for $30$50View Plan
on Verizon's website
$50 for unlimited talk and text2 GB included$50View Plan
on T-Mobile’s website

Single Cell Phone Plans For Moderate Data Usage

Next, let’s pretend that Suzie needs a one-line plan with a moderate amount of data, or around 4 GB per month.

CarrierTalk & TextDataTotal (excluding taxes and fees)Learn More
$25 for unlimited talk and text5 GB for $50$75View Plan
on AT&T's website
$20 for unlimited talk and text6 GB for $45$65View Plan
on Sprint's website
$20 for unlimited talk and text6 GB for $60$80View Plan
on Verizon's website
$50 for unlimited talk and text6 GB for $15$65View Plan
on T-Mobile’s website

Single Cell Phone Plans For Heavy Data Usage

Finally, let’s pretend that Suzie is a real data hog and burns through around 8 GB of data per month.

CarrierTalk & TextDataTotal (excluding taxes and fees)Learn More
$15 for unlimited talk and text15 GB for $100$115View Plan
on AT&T's website
$20 for unlimited talk and text12 GB for $60$80View Plan
on Sprint's website
$20 for unlimited talk and text12 GB for $80$100View Plan
on Verizon's website
$50 for unlimited talk and text10 GB for $30$80View Plan
on T-Mobile’s website

Is Sprint’s Unlimited Data Plan Really Worth It?

Unlimited data sounds good, but is it really worth the price? For single line plans, most of the time the answer is no. Sprint’s unlimited data plan costs $70 plus a $20 line charge when you lease a phone, so you’re paying a total of $90 / month for unlimited data. A plan with 12 GB of data per month ($60) plus the $20 line charge adds up to only $80 / month. Here’s my rule of thumb:

If you use 12 GB of data or less per month, buy the 12GB (or lesser) data plan. Sprint’s unlimited data plan is only worth it if you use more than 12 GB of data per month. 

Final Thoughts On Single Cell Phone Plans

I hope this was helpful comparison for you, especially if you’re considering signing up for a single cell phone plan. Why do single line plans cost so much more per line than family plans? I don’t know, but at 33-years-old, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m still on my parents’ family plan, and it saves me over $50 a month. Check out my article about the best family plans if you’re thinking that if your parents want to have the privilege of calling you, maybe they should pay your cell phone bill. (I do not recommend this approach.)

Best of luck, and remember to Payette Forward,
David P.

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I'm a former Apple employee and the founder of Payette Forward, and I'm here to help you with your iPhone.