Verizon Wireless vs. AT&T Wireless

by | Jan 17, 2019 | Brand Guides, Provider Comparisons (Versus) | 0 

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

The 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 (hello, WatchTV app). 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 . . .”

Unlimited Plans*

$75–$95/mo.

Unlimited Plans*

$70–$80/mo.

Family Plans*

$35–$70/mo.

Family Plans*

$50–$60/mo.

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 PlansView Plans

Unlimited Plans*

$75–$95/mo.

Unlimited Plans*

$70–$80/mo.

Family Plans*

$35–$70/mo.

Family Plans*

$50–$60/mo.

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 Plans
View Plans

* Prices shown are for 1 line only and include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

Make sure you’re getting the speeds you pay for. Check your mobile data speed now.

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 two 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.

AT&T Unlimited &More vs. Verizon Go Unlimited

Verizon Go UnlimitedAT&T Unlimited &More
Price*Starts at $75/mo.Starts at $70/mo.
Data DeprioritizationData speeds can be throttled anytimeData speeds can be throttled anytime
Video Streaming Quality480p480p
Mobile Hotspot DataUnlimited (tops out at 600 Kbps)None
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 Go UnlimitedStarts at $75/mo.
AT&T Unlimited &MoreStarts at $70/mo.
Data Deprioritization
Verizon Go UnlimitedData speeds can be throttled anytime
AT&T Unlimited &MoreData speeds can be throttled anytime
Video Streaming Quality
Verizon Go Unlimited480p
AT&T Unlimited &More480p
Mobile Hotspot Data
Verizon Go UnlimitedUnlimited (tops out at 600 Kbps)
AT&T Unlimited &MoreNone
International
Verizon Go UnlimitedUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE data
AT&T Unlimited &MoreUnlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
Verizon Go UnlimitedView Plans
AT&T Unlimited &MoreView Plans

* Prices shown are for 1 line only and include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

AT&T’s Unlimited &More plan will cost you less than Verizon’s Go Unlimited plan each month—unless you need four lines, in which case the two providers cost the same.

The only other main difference between the two is that Verizon Go Unlimited includes unlimited hotspot data, while AT&T Unlimited &More has none. 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 &More Premium vs. Verizon Beyond Unlimited

Verizon Beyond UnlimitedAT&T Unlimited &More Premium
Price*Starts at $85/mo.Starts at $80/mo.
Data DeprioritizationAfter 22 GBAfter 22 GB
Video Streaming Quality720p1080p
Mobile Hotspot Data15 GB of 4G LTE15 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 Beyond UnlimitedStarts at $85/mo.
AT&T Unlimited &More PremiumStarts at $80/mo.
Data Deprioritization
Verizon Beyond UnlimitedAfter 22 GB
AT&T Unlimited &More PremiumAfter 22 GB
Video Streaming Quality
Verizon Beyond Unlimited720p
AT&T Unlimited &More Premium1080p
Mobile Hotspot Data
Verizon Beyond Unlimited15 GB of 4G LTE
AT&T Unlimited &More Premium15 GB per line
International
Verizon Beyond UnlimitedUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE data
AT&T Unlimited &More PremiumUnlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada
Verizon Beyond UnlimitedView Plans
AT&T Unlimited &More PremiumView Plans

* Prices shown are for 1 line only and include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

Again, AT&T is the more affordable choice here, with the Unlimited &More Premium plan costing you less each month than Verizon Beyond Unlimited—even if you need four lines.

AT&T Unlimited &More Premium also comes with 1080p video streaming resolution, while Verizon Beyond Unlimited caps at 720p. Either way, both resolutions are better than the standard definition (480p) that comes with the basic unlimited plan from either provider.

One other key difference between these plans and the lower-tier plans is your data won’t be deprioritized until you’ve used 22 GB in a month. So, as long as you’re under 22 GB of used data, you’ll have smooth sailing even if everyone and their brother is shopping online with their cellphone.

Verizon Above Unlimited Plan Overview

Verizon Above Unlimited
Price*Starts at $95/mo.
Data DeprioritizationAfter 75 GB
Video Streaming Quality720p
Mobile Hotspot Data20 GB of 4G LTE
InternationalUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE data
View Plans
Price*
Verizon Above UnlimitedStarts at $95/mo.
Data Deprioritization
Verizon Above UnlimitedAfter 75 GB
Video Streaming Quality
Verizon Above Unlimited720p
Mobile Hotspot Data
Verizon Above Unlimited20 GB of 4G LTE
International
Verizon Above UnlimitedUnlimited talk and text in Mexico and Canada plus 512 MB of 4G LTE data
Verizon Above UnlimitedView Plans

* Price is for 1 line only and include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

If you’re a major data user, the Verizon Above 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.

Above Unlimited also gets you 20 GB of zippy hotspot data speeds, as well as a few other perks, like five TravelPasses per month and Verizon Cloud data storage. Not bad.

P.S. If you’re wondering where AT&T’s third unlimited plan is, spoiler alert: it doesn’t have one.

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$50/mo.$60/mo.
2 Lines$80/mo.$100/mo.
3 Lines$100/mo.$120/mo.
4 Lines$120/mo.$140/mo.
5 Lines$140/mo.$160/mo.
1 Line
3 GB$50/mo.
9 GB$60/mo.
2 Lines
3 GB$80/mo.
9 GB$100/mo.
3 Lines
3 GB$100/mo.
9 GB$120/mo.
4 Lines
3 GB$120/mo.
9 GB$140/mo.
5 Lines
3 GB$140/mo.
9 GB$160/mo.

* Prices shown include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

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.

AT&T Mobile Share Plus Features

  • Number of Lines: Up to 5
  • 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

Heads up: you’ll share that data across however many lines you need on your account. So, if you choose the 3 GB plan for you, your partner, and two children on your account, that’s four people sharing 3 GB of data.

Also, AT&T’s family plans are limited to five lines. Families of six or more or anyone who needs phones for extended family members will want to shop for an unlimited plan instead.

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.

* A phone purchased on a monthly device payment plan.

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.

* Prices shown include autopay, paperless billing, and multi-line discounts where applicable. Taxes and fees not included.

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

  • 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.

* This includes phones purchased for full price on a monthly payment plan.

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

Source: Verizon

AT&T Wireless Coverage Map

Source: attsavings.com

Verizon Wireless Coverage Scores

RootMetrics Score: 1st

OpenSignal Score: 1st

RootMetrics Score: 2nd

OpenSignal Score: 3rd

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.

Verizon vs. AT&T Speed

RootMetrics Score: 1st

Speedtest Score: 2nd

OpenSignal Score: 2nd

RootMetrics Score: 2nd

Speedtest Score: 3rd

OpenSignal Score: 3rd

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.

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 Top Cellphones

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

Verizon 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 Plan Perks

Unlimited &MoreUnlimited &More Premium
WatchTV AppIncludedIncluded
Premium TV Channels/Music PerksNoneChoose one: HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, STARZ, VRV, Amazon Music, or Pandora
WatchTV App
Unlimited &MoreIncluded
Unlimited &More PremiumIncluded
Premium TV Channels/Music Perks
Unlimited &MoreNone
Unlimited &More PremiumChoose one: HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, STARZ, VRV, Amazon Music, or Pandora

With either of AT&T’s unlimited plans, you get the WatchTV app, which has over thirty livestreaming channels. That includes favorites like HGTV, Cartoon Network, and AMC. And if you’ve upgraded to the Unlimited &More Premium plan, you can add another premium channel to stream on the WatchTV app. Or you can grab Amazon Music or Pandora. Not bad.

Not to be outdone, Verizon offers a few special perks if you sign up for one of its unlimited plans too.

Verizon Unlimited Plan Perks

Go UnlimitedBeyond UnlimitedAbove Unlimited
Discounts*Save $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
TravelPassesNoneNone5/mo. included
Verizon CloudNoNo500 GB
Apple Music6 mos. free6 mos. free6 mos. free
Discounts*
Go UnlimitedSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on Fios
Beyond UnlimitedSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on Fios
Above UnlimitedSave $10/mo. on wireless and $10/mo. on Fios
TravelPasses
Go UnlimitedNone
Beyond UnlimitedNone
Above Unlimited5/mo. included
Verizon Cloud
Go UnlimitedNo
Beyond UnlimitedNo
Above Unlimited500 GB
Apple Music
Go Unlimited6 mos. free
Beyond Unlimited6 mos. free
Above Unlimited6 mos. free

* When you add a Verizon Unlimited plan to a qualifying Fios Double or Triple Play with 100 Mbps or higher speeds.

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.

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.

Want to know more?

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 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 Return and Early Termination Policy

  • Returned/exchanged within 14 days after purchase: up to $45 restocking fee
  • Returned/exchanged more than 15 days after purchase: up to $325 early termination fee
  • 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.

About the Author

Catherine McNally is an experienced writer who loves to dig into the story behind every headline. Along with dropping dope puns, she loves to game and can often be found looting *all the things* for her Resto Druid on World of Warcraft. #FortheHorde!

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