Verizon Wireless vs. AT&T Wireless

Need 5G, unlimited data, or both? We weigh the best competing cellular plans from AT&T and Verizon.

  • Best for extra perks
    • Unlimited plans: $70.00–$90.00/mo.
    • Family plans: $25.00–$80.00/mo.
    • High-speed data: 50 GB, unlimited mm-wave 5G
    • Hotspot data: 15–30 GB
    Compare Top Features
  • Best for speed
    • Unlimited plans: $65.00–$85.00/mo.*
    • Family plans: $30.00–$75.00/mo. per line
    • High-speed data: 50 GB/mo.–Unlimited (none for Unlimited Starter)
    • Hotspot data: 15–30 GB
    Compare Top Features

Compare Verizon and AT&T head-to-head

We like Verizon the best out of these two cellular carriers. Although its prices are a little higher, you get a ton of extras to go with any of Verizon’s upper-tier unlimited plans.

AT&T is also a great option, with better deals on prepaid plans and a superdeluxe plan that gives you totally unlimited, high-speed data.

Pro tip:

You won’t always get consistent internet speeds on cell phones, since a wireless network can be impacted by a range of factors. But you can download our speed test app to monitor how much speed you have before you jump on a Zoom meeting or download a big file.

Pros and cons: Verizon Wireless vs. AT&T Wireless

Pros:

  • Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ included on some plans
  • Fastest 5G speeds

Cons:

  • Limited millimeter-wave 5G access
  • Stricter caps on premium data

Pros:

  • Unlimited premium data on Unlimited Elite plan
  • Extensive nationwide network

Cons:

  • Slow 5G speeds
  • No premium data for Unlimited Starter plan

Unlimited plans and pricing: Verizon vs. AT&T

Verizon and AT&T both offer unlimited cellular plans—but the one you want depends on what you’re looking for.

Verizon hands over a grab bag of extra perks to go with its higher-tier unlimited plans, including streaming subscriptions and discounts on connected plans. AT&T offers unlimited premium data on its highest-tier plan and slightly lower prices all around.

Let’s take a gander at the details to see what you’ll get from each carrier.

What is premium data?

Premium data is internet data that runs over 4G LTE and 5G networks, giving you speeds in the range of 30–100+ Mbps. While most of these plans are technically unlimited, the truth is that your speeds will slow down to a snail’s pace once you use your premium data for the month.

The only exceptions to this rule in the mobile world are with AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan and T-Mobile’s Magenta Max plan , both of which put zero restrictions on premium data use. You’ll get premium data all month long with no slowdowns whatsoever. Verizon doesn’t have this option—its highest-tier plan caps premium data at 50 GB per month.

Verizon unlimited plans and pricing

PackagePrice*Premium dataHotspot dataExtra perksDetails
Start Unlimited$70.00/mo.None (speeds can slow during network congestion)NoneDisney+ and Apple Music for 6 mos. at no extra cost
Play More Unlimited$80.00/mo.50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G15 GB (then reverts to 600 Kbps speeds)Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ subscriptions included, plus Apple Music for 6 mos.
Do More Unlimited$80.00/mo.50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G15 GB (then reverts to 600 Kbps speeds)600 GB Verizon cloud storage, 50% off Unlimited connected device plans, and Disney+/Apple Music for 6 mos.
Get More Unlimited$90.00/mo.50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G30 GB (then reverts to 600 Kbps speeds)600 GB Verizon cloud storage, 50% off Unlimited connected device plans, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Apple Music subscriptions included

Verizon’s unlimited phone plans are all a tad more expensive than AT&T’s, but they come with a lot of extra goodies that could very well justify the higher price. Play More Unlimited comes with subscriptions to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ at no extra cost. Do More Unlimited features 600 GB Verizon cloud storage and a 50% discount on a connected plan for hotspots, tablets, and other non-phone devices. Both plans also come with six months of Apple Music.

If you want all the prizes, sign up for Get More Unlimited. That cellular plan gives you all these subscriptions, storage perks, and discounts, plus a full subscription to Apple Music. However, unlike AT&T’s flagship unlimited plan, Get More Unlimited doesn’t get you unlimited premium data. Instead, you get 50 GB of premium data per month—which honestly is still a ton of data for a cell phone.

Pro tip:

You can use a mobile hotspot to get high-speed Wi-Fi while you’re working remotely outside of the office or traveling away from home.

AT&T unlimited plans and pricing

PackagePricePremium dataHotspot dataVideo streamingDetails
AT&T Unlimited Starter$65.00/mo.N/A (speeds can be deprioritized during network congestion)N/ASD
AT&T Unlimited Extra$75.00/mo.50 GB (afterwards speeds can slow during network congestion)15 GB (then reverts to 128 Kbps speeds)SD
AT&T Unlimited Elite$85.00/mo.Unlimited30 GB (then reverts to 128 Kbps speeds)HD

Unlimited Extra is a solid bet here because it comes with a hefty chunk of premium, high-speed data for less money than one of Verizon’s equivalent plans. You also get a decent amount of hotspot data, letting you tether other devices to your phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot to get internet when you’re away from the home or office.

Unlimited Elite is also a great bet—it’s one of only two plans available from a major cellular carrier that gives you truly unlimited, premium, high-speed internet data. Not everyone is going to need unlimited data on their phone: on average, people use around only 10 GB of data per month, according to one report.1

But go for this plan if you spend a lot of time using your phone without Wi-Fi for things like posting to social media, making Zoom calls, or streaming movies and TV shows. (And speaking of streaming, Unlimited Elite also comes with a subscription to HBO Max at no extra cost.)

We’re not as sure about the Unlimited Starter plan, which doesn’t come with a set amount of premium data or any hotspot data. Without a premium data cap, your internet speeds can be slowed due to overuse or network congestion. That means you’ll likely get very slow data at music festivals, sports games, airports, or any other place where there are a lot of other people around.

Want to see if Verizon or AT&T are available in your area? Enter your zip code below.

Family plans and pricing: Verizon vs. AT&T

You can add additional lines to Verizon’s and AT&T’s unlimited phone plans for family members and friends. The price per line goes down as you add more lines to your plan, giving you some flexibility to invest in a better plan or simply save money by splitting the bill with others.

Verizon family plans and pricing

PackagePriceDetails
Start Unlimited$30.00–$60.00/mo. per line
Play More Unlimited$40.00–$70.00/mo. per line
Do More Unlimited$40.00–$70.00/mo. per line
Get More Unlimited$50.00–$80.00/mo. per line
Just Kids$25.00–$50.00/mo. per line

All of Verizon’s unlimited plans come with price drops as you add more lines. Adding one additional line to Get More Unlimited drops the cost per line by $10 per month, while having five or more lines brings the per-line price down to just $50 per month. That’s a nice way to save on a deluxe plan.

One thing that’s unique about Verizon’s family options is the Just Kids plan. Available if you sign up for two lines or more on your plan, it comes with unlimited data at max speeds of 5 Mbps. It also features parental controls (including location tracking) to help parents monitor their kids’ whereabouts and phone activity.

AT&T Wireless family plans and pricing

PackagePriceDetails
AT&T Unlimited Starter with 2 or more lines$30.00–$60.00/mo. per line
AT&T Unlimited Extra with 2 or more lines$35.00–$65.00/mo. per line
AT&T Unlimited Elite with 2 or more lines$45.00–$75.00/mo. per line

Like Verizon, AT&T will bring down the price per line on any unlimited phone plan if you add more lines. You’ll get a very nice $10 off per month on each line by adding just one more line to an AT&T Unlimited Elite plan. Having multiple lines on your plan means you can pay less for a higher-tier plan, which still gets you premium service and a bunch of premium data (even an unlimited amount in the case of Unlimited Elite).

Prepaid plans and pricing: Verizon vs. AT&T

Prepaid is the way to go if you want a simple phone plan at a cheap price. You won’t have to worry about overage fees or credit checks, and some plans still give you minimal perks—like hotspot data and premium data.

You won’t get unlimited premium data on any prepaid plans, but that won’t be a problem for most people. So long as you’re not making a dozen Zoom calls a day using phone data or downloading huge files onto your phone, you’ll probably be fine with only a few GB of data per month.

Verizon prepaid plans

PackageStarting price (then $5/mo. off after 3 mos. and $10/mo. off after 10 mos.)Data capCan the data be used for a hotspot? 5G access?Details
5 GB$40.00/mo.5 GBYesYes
15 GB$50.00/mo.15 GBYesYes
Unlimited$65.00/mo.Unlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)Yes (10 GB for $5.00/mo. extra)Yes
Unlimited Plus$75.00/mo.Unlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)Yes (10 GB of 4G LTE/5G data and unlimited mm-wave 5G)Yes

On each of Verizon’s prepaid phone plans, the monthly price starts off quite steep but then drops by $5 once you enter your fourth month of service. It drops another $10 at the tenth month.

It’s nice that you’ll save money—eventually. But we’re not sure it’s worth paying so much upfront for a bare-bones prepaid plan. AT&T’s prepaid options give you a more straightforward deal.

AT&T prepaid plans

PackagePriceData capCan the data be used for a hotspot?5G access?Details
AT&T PREPAID 8 GB$30.00–$60.00/mo. per line8 GB (then speeds slowed to 128Kbps)YesNo
AT&T PREPAID 5 GB$35.00–$65.00/mo. per line5 GB (then speeds slowed to 128Kbps)YesNo
AT&T PREPAID 15 GB$45.00–$75.00/mo. per line15 GB (then speeds slowed to 128Kbps)YesNo
AT&T PREPAID Unlimited$50.00/mo. w/ AutoPay§Unlimited (speeds can be slowed due to network congestion)Yes (add-on required)No
AT&T PREPAID Unlimited Plus$50.00/mo. w/ AutoPayUnlimited (includes 22 GB premium data, after that speeds can be slowed due to network congestion)10 GB included for hotspotYes

AT&T has a wide number of prepaid plans to pick from, ranging from very cheap to something closer to what you’d get from the flagship unlimited plans. You won’t get the same perks as the unlimited plans—no 5G access, no HBO Max, less hotspot data—but they’re a lot cheaper, which is nice.

Get part of your prepaid bill covered with the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program

Beginning December 31, 2021, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) will help low-income families afford an internet connection by subsidising the cost of their internet bill. The ACP provides $30 per month toward a household’s internet bill, though households on Tribal land or high-cost areas might be eligible for enhanced support of up to $75 per month.

To qualify, someone in your household must be enrolled in certain social programs (Lifeline, SNAP, WIC, National School Lunch Program, and others)—or you can qualify based on your income. This program replaces the temporary Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program that was instituted in 2021 to help those dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Want to see if Verizon or AT&T are available in your area? Enter your zip code below.

Best mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs): Verizon vs. AT&T

An MVNO is a wireless cellular provider that uses a major cellular company’s network to give you discounted phone service.

An MVNO phone plan doesn’t have the same bells and whistles of a major carrier’s flagship plans—you’ll likely experience slower speeds and less reliable reception since major network data is prioritized over MVNO network data. But an MVNO plan will cost you a lot less and still give you decent cell service. In some cases, you can also get generous premium data allotments, data for hotspots, and other extra perks.

Here’s a look at the best MVNOs associated with each major cellular carrier—Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

MVNO carrierNetworkPriceData capDetails
VisibleVerizon$40.00/mo. after first monthUnlimited (speeds can slow down during network congestion)View Plans
Cricket WirelessAT&T$30.00–$60.00/mo.2 GB–UnlimitedView Plans
Mint MobileT-Mobile$15.00–$30.00/mo.4 GB–UnlimitedView Plans

Visible—Unlimited data and perks for friends

The best MVNO for Verizon is Visible, a relatively new wireless provider. Its one plan costs $40 a month and comes with unlimited cellular data and unlimited hotspot data.

Keep in mind that the unlimited wireless data can be slowed during network congestion, since you don’t have a set amount of premium data. Also, the hotspot is pretty limited: it hits max 5 Mbps speeds and connects just one other device at a time.

Still, Visible is a solid option if you want a phone plan that’s cheap and generous. And you can get a lower price if friends sign up or if you join a “Party Pay” plan with four lines or more.

View Visible Plans

Cricket Wireless—Affordable pricing and lots of options

Cricket Wireless, which uses AT&T’s nationwide network, is a well-established MVNO that gives you a lot more to choose from compared to Visible—Cricket even has its own 5G phone. Cellular plans range in price from $30 to $60 per month, with plenty of data coming from even the lower-tier plans.

In our personal experience, cell service on a Cricket plan can be hit or miss. In some cities, your phone reception will be perfect and you won’t have any issues; in other places, you could get bumped behind AT&T’s primary customers and experience spotty reception (or no reception at all).

But you really can’t beat the price, and it probably won’t be a problem if you live in an area with solid AT&T coverage.

View Cricket Wireless Plans

Mint Mobile—Dirt-cheap deals and Wi-Fi calling

Mint Mobile works over T-Mobile, and it gives you some of the cheapest prices you can find from any cellular provider. The cheapest plan is just $15 per month, giving you 4 GB of premium data and 5G access in areas where 5G is available.

The plans all come with Wi-Fi hotspot capability at no extra charge. And if you’re in an area with no cell reception, a Mint plan lets you make calls and send texts over a Wi-Fi connection (so long as your phone is compatible to do so).

View Mint Plans

Phones: Verizon vs. AT&T

PhonePriceStorageConnectionDisplayGet it
iPhone 12$884.00–$1,034.0064 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB4G LTE, 5G6.1" Super Retina XDR DisplayView on Amazon
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G$699.99128 GB, 256 GB4G LTE, 5G6.2" 120 Hz Adaptive DisplayView on Amazon
Google Pixel 4A 5G$514.99128 GB4G LTE, 5G6.2" 60 Hz Full HD+ OLEDView on Amazon
OnePlus Nord N200 5G$239.99128 GB4G LTE, 5G6.49" 90 Hz Full HDView on Amazon

You can use any of the most popular cell phones on a plan from Verizon or AT&T. Flagship phones like the iPhone 12 and more affordable models with fewer features, like the OnePlus Nord N200 5G, will serve you well over either network. As long as you’ve got an unlocked phone—or a phone certified for service with one of these carriers—you’re good to go.

A lot of phones coming on the market today are compatible with 5G wireless networks. It’s not completely necessary to get a 5G phone since 5G coverage is still limited (especially over AT&T and Verizon’s networks). But it won’t hurt to get in on the new tech now if you can get a great 5G phone at an affordable price.

Pro tip:

If you’re shopping for a 5G phone, here are the best 5G phones when it comes to pricing, speed, and additional features.

5G availability: Verizon vs. AT&T 

Carrier5G availability (% of time customer is on 5G)Details
Verizon9.7%
AT&T16.4%

Neither Verizon nor AT&T have much of a 5G presence nationwide—certainly not compared to T-Mobile, which has taken the lead for 5G availability and speed consistently over the past year.

5G is still quite new technology, so it’s understandable why the footprint is small. But according to a recent study by Opensignal, if you’re in a 5G-accessible area, you’ll get 5G from AT&T and Verizon for only a fraction of the time you’re on your phone.2 AT&T gives you more access overall, but neither provider will give you a whole lot of quality time on a 5G network.

Still, the networks could very well grow in 2022, so there may be more 5G around soon enough.

Pro tip:

Not sure about what 5G is and whether you should be paying for it? Learn about 5G speeds, pricing, devices, and more.

4G LTE and 5G speeds: Verizon vs. AT&T

Avg. 4G LTE speedsAvg. 5G speedsAvg. 5G speeds (millimeter-wave)View plans
Verizon28.7 Mbps56.0 Mbps607.2 Mbps
AT&T35.2 Mbps52.3 Mbps254.2 Mbps

AT&T takes the lead for 4G LTE speeds, but Verizon beats out AT&T when it comes to 5G speeds.

If you’re using a 4G phone, you’re likely to get average speeds of over 35 Mbps on AT&T, whereas your speeds could be more like 28–29 Mbps on Verizon. That’s not a big difference, but it could be noticeable if you’re on a Zoom call or playing a fast-paced game.

However, your 5G speeds will be faster on the Verizon network. Average 5G speeds on Verizon land around 56 Mbps, just a hair faster than AT&T’s 51.5 Mbps.

Even more impressive are Verizon’s millimeter-wave 5G speeds—the fastest type of 5G available. On a millimeter-wave 5G network, you could be seeing speeds upwards of 607 Mbps. Wowee! The main drawback is that millimeter-wave 5G is far from widely available, limited to parts of several dozen American cities, according to Verizon’s availability map.

Data caps and premium data: Verizon vs. AT&T

Although Verizon and AT&T boast about having “unlimited” cell phone plans, usually there are limits hidden in the fine print.

You get unlimited talk and text, sure, but most of these carriers’ plans come with caps on so-called “premium data”—the faster data that comes over 4G LTE and 5G networks. Once you’ve used up that premium data, then your phone will revert to 1 Mbps speeds or slower, which won’t be useful for anything other than the most rudimentary emailing and web browsing.

The cap likely won’t be a problem, though, since AT&T and Verizon both offer generous allowances of premium data on their upper-tier unlimited plans. Most people don’t need more than 15 GB per month of premium data for their cell phones, but these carriers give you 50 GB on second-tier plans. Even better, AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan comes with totally unlimited premium data.

Verizon premium data caps

PlanData capPriceDetails
Start UnlimitedNone (speeds can slow during network congestion)$70.00/mo.
Play More Unlimited50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G$80.00/mo.
Do More Unlimited50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G$80.00/mo.
Get More Unlimited50 GB 4G LTE/5G, unlimited mm-wave 5G$90.00/mo.
5 GB5 GB$40.00/mo. (for first 3 mos.)
15 GB15 GB$50.00/mo. (for first 3 mos.)
UnlimitedUnlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)$65.00/mo. (for first 3 mos.)
Unlimited PlusUnlimited (speeds can be slowed during network congestion)$75.00/mo. (for first 3 mos.)

Play More, Do More, and Get More Unlimited plans all come with 50 GB of premium 4G LTE data, which is plenty to let you check email, stream music, Zoom, and stream the occasional movie on your phone. These plans also come with totally unlimited millimeter-wave 5G data, although 5G has low availability, so you probably won’t use much of that anyway.

You get a lot less data on Verizon’s prepaid plans. You can probably manage fine just by limiting the amount of phone time you spend online, but an upgrade may be worth it if you really love downloading large files and watching movies on a six-inch screen while on the go.

As for the unlimited prepaid plans, bear in mind that they don’t come with premium data caps, so your speeds can be slowed down at any time.

AT&T premium data caps

PlanData capPriceDetails
AT&T Unlimited StarterN/A (speeds can be deprioritized during network congestion)$65.00/mo.
AT&T Unlimited Extra50 GB (afterwards speeds can slow during network congestion)$75.00/mo.
AT&T Unlimited EliteUnlimited premium data (speeds will never slow)$85.00/mo.
AT&T PREPAID 8 GB8 GB (then speeds slowed to 128Kbps)$25.00/mo.
AT&T PREPAID 5 GB5 GB (then speeds slowed to 128Kbps)$30.00/mo.
AT&T PREPAID 15 GB15 GB (then speeds slowed to 128Kbps)$40.00/mo.
AT&T PREPAID UnlimitedUnlimited (speeds can be slowed due to network congestion)$50.00/mo. w/ AutoPay
AT&T PREPAID Unlimited PlusUnlimited (includes 22 GB premium data, after that speeds can be slowed due to network congestion)$50.00/mo. w/ AutoPay

Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Elite are the go-to plans for heavy data users—the former gives you a hefty 50 GB of premium data, while the latter plan comes with completely unlimited premium data all month long.

All the other plans either have limited amounts of data or come with “unlimited” data and no promise of premium speeds, so your connection can be slowed down at any time.

Coverage: Verizon vs. AT&T

Verizon and AT&T both have nationwide coverage to ensure you get consistent cell service. Looking at their respective coverage maps, it appears that coverage can get spotty in some remote areas, namely in parts of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and other western states. But both carriers have cell service in all 50 states and Washington, DC.

Not sure whether these carriers have strong cell service in your area? Head over to Verizon’s coverage map or AT&T’s coverage map to search your address.

Final call: Verizon vs. AT&T

This is a very close race, but we think Verizon is the slightly better option. The prices are a little bit higher than AT&T’s, but you get a ton more goodies when you order Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, or Get More Unlimited—bonuses range from subscriptions to Disney+ and other platforms to a 50% discount on a separate hotspot plan.

You honestly can’t go wrong with AT&T either though. We love AT&T’s Unlimited Elite plan because it comes with totally unlimited, premium, high-speed data (which is not an option with any of Verizon’s plans). AT&T also has much better prepaid options, with straightforward plans that come with a fair amount of data at a cheap price.


FAQ about Verizon vs. AT&T

Can I bring my own phone to AT&T or Verizon?

Yes, you can bring your own phone to AT&T or Verizon. AT&T and Verizon run on different networks, so you’ll need to unlock your phone before you bring it over. (AT&T runs on GSM; Verizon runs on CDMA.)

If you’re switching to AT&T from Verizon or switching to Verizon from AT&T, you can also check if your phone is already compatible by reading each provider’s bring-your-own device policy.

Can I keep my phone number if I switch to Verizon or AT&T?

Yes, you can keep your phone number if you switch cell phone providers. Thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), your current cell phone provider can’t say no if you ask to take your phone number with you.

But the FCC doesn’t require your new provider to automatically give you your old phone number when you start your new cell phone service. It’s best to check before you hand over your credit card.

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.