Verizon Wireless vs. AT&T Wireless

Verizon is our choice for performance, but AT&T edges into the lead with lower prices and head-turning perks.

  • Top-rated coverage
  • Above Unlimited plan for data hogs
  • Pricey plans
  • Perks for TV lovers
  • Affordable prices
  • Not-so-great coverage

Update: HBO® Max, AT&T’s much-anticipated standalone streaming service, is launching on May 27, 2020. AT&T customers who are signed up for the AT&T Unlimited Elite plan will be signed up for a free subscription to the service, which gives viewers access to the entirety of HBO’s catalog along with new, original titles and tons of content from Warner Entertainment.

Bottom line

Verizon is tops for coverage and speed. And its Above Unlimited plan offers a mind-boggling 75 GB of unthrottled data each month, among other perks.

AT&T is perfect if you’re a huge TV buff—you can even get HBO Max included with your Unlimited Elite plan for free. Plus, it has (generally) lower prices, especially if you need more than a few lines.

Ready to swap to a new cellphone plan, but you’re not sure what’s better between Verizon and AT&T?

We feel you. Comparing these two wireless giants is harder than herding cats. But relax—we’ve done some sleuthing to help you decide.

Take a look at how the prices, plans, coverage, and speed compare for AT&T versus Verizon. Then pick up a new plan so your buddy stops singing “You used to call me on my cellphone . . .”

Verizon AT&T

Unlimited Plans*

$70–$90/mo.

Unlimited Plans*

$65–$85/mo.

Family Plans*

$35–$70/mo.

Family Plans*

$30–$35/mo. per line

Coverage

Best available

Coverage

Good for most

Speed

Best available

Speed

Good for most

Phones and Devices

iPhone, Samsung, Google

Phones and Devices

iPhone, Samsung

View Verizon plansView AT&T plans
Verizon

Unlimited Plans*

$70–$90/mo.

AT&T

Unlimited Plans*

$65–$85/mo.

Verizon

Family Plans*

$35–$70/mo.

AT&T

Family Plans*

$30–$35/mo. per line

Verizon

Coverage

Best available

AT&T

Coverage

Good for most

Verizon

Speed

Best available

AT&T

Speed

Good for most

Verizon

Phones and Devices

iPhone, Samsung, Google

AT&T

Phones and Devices

iPhone, Samsung

Verizon View Verizon plans
AT&T View AT&T plans

AT&T vs. Verizon Unlimited plans

If you’re looking for enough data to stream Netflix in the waiting room while your teen plays Fortnite on the way to school, an unlimited plan is likely the way to go.

With AT&T, you get three unlimited options, while Verizon has three tiers of unlimited plans. But for anyone who needs more than one line and isn’t too worried about coverage, AT&T is the more affordable of the two.

How fast are you going?

Make sure you’re getting the speeds you pay for. Take our speed test to find out.

AT&T Unlimited Starter vs. Verizon Go Unlimited

Verizon Start UnlimitedAT&T Unlimited Starter
Price*Starts at $70/mo.Starts at $65/mo.
Data deprioritizationData speeds can be throttled anytimeData speeds can be throttled anytime
Video streaming quality480p480p
Mobile hotspot dataNoneNone
InternationalUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE dataUnlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
View Verizon plansView AT&T plans
Price*
Verizon Start UnlimitedStarts at $70/mo.
AT&T Unlimited StarterStarts at $65/mo.
Data deprioritization
Verizon Start UnlimitedData speeds can be throttled anytime
AT&T Unlimited StarterData speeds can be throttled anytime
Video streaming quality
Verizon Start Unlimited480p
AT&T Unlimited Starter480p
Mobile hotspot data
Verizon Start UnlimitedNone
AT&T Unlimited StarterNone
International
Verizon Start UnlimitedUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE data
AT&T Unlimited StarterUnlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
Verizon Start UnlimitedView Verizon plans
AT&T Unlimited StarterView AT&T plans

AT&T’s Unlimited Starter plan will cost you less than Verizon’s Go Unlimited plan each month. The only other main difference between the two is that Verizon Go Unlimited includes unlimited hotspot data, while AT&T Unlimited Starter has no option for mobile hotspots—you’ll have to upgrade to the Unlimited Extra plan for 15 GB of hotspot data. Of course, that hotspot data doesn’t come at 4G speeds. Instead, it tops out at 600 Kbps.

One other major note is that although these plans offer unlimited data, both Verizon and AT&T state they can throttle (slow down) your data speeds at any time.

This is called data deprioritization, and it often happens during high-traffic times. So, if you’re shopping online with your phone on Black Friday, get ready for some slow cart speeds.

What is data deprioritization?

Sadly, there’s no such thing as a purely unlimited data plan.

Dig into the fine print, and you’ll find that pretty much every wireless provider starts to slow your data speeds during times of high traffic or once you’ve used a certain amount of data each month. This is called data deprioritization—and we’re not fans.

AT&T Unlimited Extra vs. Verizon Play More Unlimited & Verizon Do More Unlimited

Verizon Play More UnlimitedVerizon Do More UnlimitedAT&T Unlimited Extra
Price*Starts at $80/mo.Starts at $80/mo.Starts at $75/mo.
Data deprioritizationAfter 25 GBAfter 50 GBAfter 50 GB
Video streaming quality720p480p480p
Mobile hotspot data15 GB of 4G LTE15 GB of 4G LTE15 GB per line
InternationalUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE dataUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE dataUnlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
View plansView plansView plans
Price*
Verizon Play More UnlimitedStarts at $80/mo.
Verizon Do More UnlimitedStarts at $80/mo.
AT&T Unlimited ExtraStarts at $75/mo.
Data deprioritization
Verizon Play More UnlimitedAfter 25 GB
Verizon Do More UnlimitedAfter 50 GB
AT&T Unlimited ExtraAfter 50 GB
Video streaming quality
Verizon Play More Unlimited720p
Verizon Do More Unlimited480p
AT&T Unlimited Extra480p
Mobile hotspot data
Verizon Play More Unlimited15 GB of 4G LTE
Verizon Do More Unlimited15 GB of 4G LTE
AT&T Unlimited Extra15 GB per line
International
Verizon Play More UnlimitedUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE data
Verizon Do More UnlimitedUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE data
AT&T Unlimited ExtraUnlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
Verizon Play More UnlimitedView plans
Verizon Do More UnlimitedView plans
AT&T Unlimited ExtraView plans

Again, AT&T is the lower priced plan here, with the AT&T Unlimited Extra plan costing you less each month than Verizon Beyond Unlimited.

One other key difference between these plans and the lower-tier plans is your data won’t be deprioritized. In Verizon’s case, you can choose between the Verizon Play More Unlimited plan to have 25 GB in one month before the data is slowed down, or you can pay the same price for the Verizon Do More Unlimited plan to give you 50 GB of data.

With AT&T, you get 50 GB per month. So, as long as you’re under that limit of used data, you’ll have smooth sailing even if everyone and their brother is shopping online with their cellphone.

The Verizon Play More Unlimited plan also gives you a free subscription to Apple Music and the ability to watch videos in HD resolution. If you opt for the Verizon Do More Unlimited plan, you’ll get six months of Apple Music at no cost and can only watch videos in SD resolution—but you’ll get twice as much data per month before your data gets slowed.

AT&T Unlimited Elite vs. Verizon Get More Unlimited

Verizon Get More UnlimitedAT&T Unlimited Elite
Price*Starts at $90/mo.Starts at $85/mo.
Data deprioritizationAfter 75 GBAfter 100 GB
Video streaming quality720p720p
Mobile hotspot data30 GB 4G LTE30 GB per line
InternationalUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE dataUnlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
View plansView plans
Price*
Verizon Get More UnlimitedStarts at $90/mo.
AT&T Unlimited EliteStarts at $85/mo.
Data deprioritization
Verizon Get More UnlimitedAfter 75 GB
AT&T Unlimited EliteAfter 100 GB
Video streaming quality
Verizon Get More Unlimited720p
AT&T Unlimited Elite720p
Mobile hotspot data
Verizon Get More Unlimited30 GB 4G LTE
AT&T Unlimited Elite30 GB per line
International
Verizon Get More UnlimitedUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE data
AT&T Unlimited EliteUnlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
Verizon Get More UnlimitedView plans
AT&T Unlimited EliteView plans

If you’re a major data user, the Verizon Get More Unlimited plan was tailor-made for you. It boasts a mega 75 GB of unthrottled data. We’re not even sure how you use 75 GB of data in a month, but if you know how and regularly hit 50 GB or more, this plan is worth the extra cost.

Pro tip: T-Mobile offers 50 GB of unthrottled data.

The only other provider to even get close to Verizon’s 75 GB of unthrottled data is T-Mobile. Both its ONE and ONE Plus plans won’t slow your data speeds until you’ve used more than 50 GB of data in a month. And T-Mobile plans run at a lower price.

Verizon vs. AT&T Family plans

One way to save money on your cellphone plan is to check how much data you actually use each month. You might not need that full-blown unlimited plan after all.

Both AT&T and Verizon offer family plans with shared data to help you get by.

AT&T Mobile Share Plus plans

3 GB9 GB
1 Line$30/mo.$35/mo.
2 Lines$60/mo.$70/mo.
3 Lines$90/mo.$105/mo.
4 Lines$120/mo.$140/mo.
5 Lines$150/mo.$175/mo.
1 Line
3 GB$30/mo.
9 GB$35/mo.
2 Lines
3 GB$60/mo.
9 GB$70/mo.
3 Lines
3 GB$90/mo.
9 GB$105/mo.
4 Lines
3 GB$120/mo.
9 GB$140/mo.
5 Lines
3 GB$150/mo.
9 GB$175/mo.

AT&T’s Mobile Share Plus plans come in two sizes: 3 GB and 9 GB. While the features of the family plans aren’t nearly as epic as the unlimited plans, they’re enough for most folks if you’re not surfing, texting, streaming, or calling on your phone constantly.

If it’s more than just you and your partner on the family plan, we recommend upgrading to the 9 GB plan.

Pro tip:

Make sure to opt for paperless billing when you sign up. If you get two or more lines on your plan, you’ll be signed up for a $20 discount.

AT&T Mobile Share Plus features

Here’s what you get with one of AT&T’s Mobile Share Plus plans:

  • Number of Lines: Up to 10
  • Video Quality: Up to 480p
  • Mobile Hotspot: Included, with data limited to 3 GB or 9 GB, depending on the plan you choose.
  • Data Deprioritization: Speeds are slowed to 128 Kbps (2G) after you hit your plan’s GB limit.
  • International: Talk, text, and data in Mexico included

AT&T Mobile Share Plus plan line access fees

DeviceLine access fee
Tablets, connected car, and cameras$20/mo.
Laptops, netbooks, and hotspots$20/mo.
Wearables$10/mo.
Owned phone$20/mo.
Leased phone*$40/mo.

If you check out your AT&T or Verizon family plan bill, you may notice an extra charge called a line access fee. Supposedly, that line access fee is simply a charge for each device to access the network.

Er, yeah. We’re as confused about that as you are. Doesn’t the activation fee or even our base monthly payment cover that? Guess not. But unfortunately, this is a universal practice among all wireless providers and probably not one we’ll get more insight into any time soon. Sigh.

Verizon family plans

S (2 GB)M (4 GB)L (8 GB)
1 Line$35/mo.$50/mo.$70/mo.
2 Lines$55/mo.$70/mo.$90/mo.
3 Lines$75/mo.$90/mo.$110/mo.
4 Lines$95/mo.$110/mo.$130/mo.
5 Lines$115/mo.$130/mo.$150/mo.
1 Line
S (2 GB)$35/mo.
M (4 GB)$50/mo.
L (8 GB)$70/mo.
2 Lines
S (2 GB)$55/mo.
M (4 GB)$70/mo.
L (8 GB)$90/mo.
3 Lines
S (2 GB)$75/mo.
M (4 GB)$90/mo.
L (8 GB)$110/mo.
4 Lines
S (2 GB)$95/mo.
M (4 GB)$110/mo.
L (8 GB)$130/mo.
5 Lines
S (2 GB)$115/mo.
M (4 GB)$130/mo.
L (8 GB)$150/mo.

If you prefer the family plan approach and need more than five lines, Verizon’s family plans go up to ten. You’ve also got three data options to choose from, making it easier to personalize your plan for your data needs.

Remember, you share that data with all the people on your account. So, if you’ve got a mob of data-hungry munchkins with their own phones on your plan, we recommend going for the 8 GB plan.

Verizon family plan features

Here’s what you get with a Verizon family plan:

  • Number of Lines: Up to 10
  • Video Quality: 720p
  • Mobile Hotspot: Included, with data limited to 2, 4, or 8 GB depending on the plan you choose.
  • Data Deprioritization: Speed are slowed once you hit your plan’s GB limit.
  • International: Unlimited texts

Verizon family plan line access fees

DeviceLine access fee
Tablet$10/mo.
Phones purchased at full price*$20/mo.
Phones purchased at a discount$40/mo.

Yup, here are those line access fees again. Just like AT&T, Verizon charges you an additional amount each month per each device on your account. And no, we still don’t know what exactly these line access fees pay for.

Verizon vs. AT&T coverage map

Verizon Wireless coverage map

AT&T Wireless coverage map

Wireless coverage scores

Verizon grabbed top coverage scores in both RootMetrics’ and OpenSignal’s latest tests, while AT&T was close behind in second place.

It’s a general rule that cities have better coverage than rural areas, but if you live in less populated areas, Verizon’s your best bet for latching on to that 4G LTE signal.

RootMetrics Score: 1st

OpenSignal Score: 1st

RootMetrics Score: 2nd

OpenSignal Score: 3rd

Verizon vs. AT&T speed

Of the two, Verizon is also your best bet for zippiest data speeds, while AT&T lags behind in all three tests from RootMetrics, Speedtest, and OpenSignal. But lately even Verizon seems to be falling behind T-Mobile.

RootMetrics Score: 1st

Speedtest Score: 2nd

OpenSignal Score: 2nd

RootMetrics Score: 2nd

Speedtest Score: 3rd

OpenSignal Score: 3rd

AT&T vs. Verizon phones and devices

Here’s a peek at some of the top smartphone models you can get with AT&T and Verizon.

AT&T’s top cellphones

  • iPhone XS, iPhone XR, iPhone X, and more
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+, Note9, and more

Verizon’s top cellphones

  • iPhone XS XS, iPhone XR, iPhone X, and more
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+, Note9, and more
  • Google Pixel Pixel 3 and more

Both AT&T and Verizon have a multitude of iPhones to choose from, including the latest releases. But we found more options for Samsung phones at AT&T.

However, if you’re keen on grabbing the Google Pixel 3 and checking out its new camera, you’ll find it only at Verizon and with Google Fi. (You may have the option to unlock a Pixel and bring it to AT&T.)

AT&T vs. Verizon bundles and perks

What would a cellphone plan be without perks? And, my, does AT&T bring home the bacon when it comes to extras.

AT&T Unlimited perks

Unfortunately, you no longer get the WatchTV app included with your AT&T unlimited plan. But AT&T’s top-tier Unlimited Elite plan comes with a free HBO subscription. You’ll also be signed up at no extra cost for HBO Max, AT&T’s new standalone streaming service, which includes all of HBO’s content along with originals and a whole universe of TV and movie titles from Warner Entertainment.

Unlimited Elite
HBOIncluded
HBO MaxIncluded
HBO
Unlimited EliteIncluded
HBO Max
Unlimited EliteIncluded

Verizon Unlimited plan perks

If you bundle your unlimited plan with Verizon Fios fiber internet, you’ll save $10 on both bills for a total of $20 savings. Not too shabby, if you ask us.

You’ll also get six months of Apple Music for free, so you can jam out to Imagine Dragons’ new album in the shower.

If you’re all about the Above Unlimited plan (seriously, who names these things?), you’ll get a few extra perks. Along with 500 GB of Verizon Cloud storage, you get five TravelPasses each month. Each TravelPass gets you unlimited talk, text, and data in more than 130 locations plus 512 MB of 4G data each day.

Start UnlimitedPlay More UnlimitedDo More UnlimitedGet More Unlimited
DiscountsSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on FiosSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on FiosSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on FiosSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on Fios
Verizon CloudNoNo500 GB500 GB
Apple Music includedNoYes6 mo. subscriptionYes
Discounts
Start UnlimitedSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on Fios
Play More UnlimitedSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on Fios
Do More UnlimitedSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on Fios
Get More UnlimitedSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on Fios
Verizon Cloud
Start UnlimitedNo
Play More UnlimitedNo
Do More Unlimited500 GB
Get More Unlimited500 GB
Apple Music included
Start UnlimitedNo
Play More UnlimitedYes
Do More Unlimited6 mo. subscription
Get More UnlimitedYes

Our verdict

Verizon is your best bet if you want expansive coverage and fast speeds, as well as a bigger selection of cellphone brands to choose from. (Hello, Google Pixel.)

But if you’re searching for a deal, Verizon just can’t beat AT&T’s prices. Plus, AT&T pulls out all the stops with its WatchTV streaming service perk and bonus premium TV channel or music service with its &More Premium plan.

FAQ about Verizon Wireless vs. AT&T Wireless

What are Verizon’s and AT&T’s early termination fees?

Sometimes you need to cancel a contract early, so it’s smart to read through any early termination policies thoroughly.

That said, here’s a brief look at what you can expect from Verizon and AT&T if you decide to cancel before you’ve paid off your phone:

Verizon’s return and early termination policy:

  • Returns and exchanges accepted within 14 days
  • $35 restocking fee charged even if return or exchange made within 14 days
  • You can exchange your device only once.
  • Read the full Verizon policy here.

AT&T’s return and early termination policy:

  • Up to $45 restocking fee if device is returned or exchanged within 14 days after purchase.
  • Up to $325 early termination fee if device is returned/exchanged more than 15 days after purchase.
  • Read the full AT&T policy here.

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

Yes. 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 checking out each provider’s bring-your-own device policy.

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

Thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), your current cellphone 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 cellphone service. It’s best to check before you hand over your credit card.

Author -

After earning a degree in journalism at the University of Minnesota, Catherine McNally has been writing professionally for 10+ years. After falling head over heels into the black hole that is the internet in 1998, she taught herself to code websites and build computers. She has a soft spot for gadgets that make life easier (hello, Roomba!) and loves RPGs and MMOs. #PCMasterRace

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has edited for HighSpeedInternet.com for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.

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