Finding an unlimited hotspot plan used to be a tall order. These days, you have several options for unlimited and dedicated hotspots, and all the major carriers (along with a handful of MVNOs) offer unlimited hotspot functionality with their phone plans—albeit with some caveats. In this article, we’ll cover the best options for each carrier so you can get online with as little fuss as possible. Let’s jump in!
Best Unlimited Hotspot Plans
The best unlimited hotspot plans
These data-only plans use dedicated hotspot devices instead of your phone itself. Of the major carriers, only Verizon and T-Mobile offer unlimited data. AT&T has decent hotspot plans, but it will charge you automatically for additional data use if you go over your allowance. With the Verizon and T-Mobile plans, you have the option to add more high-speed data, but you can also continue using your hotspot at a (significantly) reduced speed for no additional charge.
Also, you’ll need to sign up for these plans separate from your normal phone plan. You’ll also need a separate hotspot device—these can be purchased directly from the carrier for a decent rate, or you can bring your own if you already have one. If you want to use your phone as the hotspot, see the next section.
The best unlimited hotspot phone plans
|60GB at high-speed, then unlimited at reduced speeds
|50GB at high-speed, then unlimited at reduced speeds
|50GB at high-speed, then unlimited at reduced speeds
|Unlimited (capped at 5Mbps speeds)
Our picks for the best unlimited phone hotspot plans include one from each major provider, as well as a fantastic budget option that can actually outperform the others in certain situations.
What makes these plans the best is the large amount of high-speed data each offers, as well as giving you unlimited data at reduced speeds once you hit the high-speed caps. While nearly every mobile provider has hotspot functionality, not all of them have truly unlimited hotspot data. These do, even if the speeds are reduced.
Since these are phone plans, you’ll be using your phone’s hotspot feature rather than a separate device. For most people, we think this is the way to go: You get both a fantastic phone plan and unlimited hotspot functionality, and you don’t have to carry a second device.
Of the plans listed, Verizon is the best for hotspot use. You get more high-speed hotspot data for the same price as T-Mobile and just a bit more than AT&T. That said, we wouldn’t generally recommend people switch just for the hotspot feature, since these are all so similar. Instead, consider the overall service coverage in your area, as well as the areas you most frequently travel to.
Should I get a separate hotspot plan or use my phone?
Now that we’ve covered the basic plans, you may be wondering whether you need a separate device, or if you can get by with just using your phone.
For most people, we think using your phone is probably the way to go. It’s cheaper, in the sense that you don’t need a second data plan and device. It’s also more convenient—you don’t need to charge and carry another device. Just toggle on your phone’s hotspot and you’re good to go.
The main disadvantage is that this feature can really chew through a phone’s battery, especially if you’ve got more than one device connected to the hotspot. Some plans also share high-speed data between the hotspot and phone, so you can quickly eat up your monthly allowance.
A dedicated hotspot gets its own data allotment and will typically have better battery life than your phone in hotspot mode. Additionally, these devices can often handle multiple connections better than your phone, which ultimately leads to better performance. If you find yourself using the hotspot feature constantly, or connecting multiple devices regularly, you may want to invest in a dedicated hotspot device and plan to save some headaches.
Verizon unlimited hotspot plans
Verizon offers several plans with unlimited hotspot features. We like these two for the sheer amount of high-speed data available. They’re definitely the best value when considering dollars per gigabyte of data.
Verizon has a few other perks besides just lots of data. The overall network coverage is excellent. The provider offers very fast speeds, especially if you live in an area that can get Ultra Wideband, its fastest 5G network.
T-Mobile unlimited hotspot plans
T-Mobile also offers a number of plans with unlimited hotspot data. There are several dedicated hotspot plans available depending on how much high-speed data you need—we’ve highlighted this one as a great middle-of-the-road option. As for phone plans, Go5G Plus offers the largest data limit, but again, there are a couple options available.
It’s worth noting that T-Mobile has become the most expensive of the big three carriers, which is ironic given its roots as the “Uncarrier.” That said, T-Mobile’s Go5G plans are excellent options if you need unlimited phone service (and unlimited hotspot) with coverage across a significant portion of the country.
AT&T unlimited hotspot plans
AT&T offers three phone plans with unlimited hotspot data. The progression here is pretty straightforward: you pay more for more high-speed hotspot data, and they all offer unlimited data at reduced speeds once that’s gone. Unfortunately, AT&T does not currently offer a dedicated hotspot plan with unlimited data.
Since each plan offers increasing amounts of data, the main deciding factor is how much you need. That said, the Unlimited Premium plan is definitely the best deal, considering the data to price increase over the other plans.
Compared to Verizon and T-Mobile, AT&T tends to have a reputation for poorer coverage and slower speeds. However, this will largely depend on your area—coverage can vary drastically even from one town to the next, so don’t totally discount AT&T (or any other provider) without checking how coverage is in your location.
Visible unlimited hotspot plans
Visible is a fantastic option for phone service. However, at first glance, it looks less than exciting for hotspot use. That’s because Visible doesn’t offer any high-speed hotspot data on its phone plans. Instead, you get unlimited data at 5Mbps.
That’s going to be too slow for many users. However, it’s significantly faster than the unlimited, reduced-speed hotspot data you get from other providers after you’ve used your high-speed data allotment. For that reason, some users may get more benefit from Visible’s hotspot feature than that of other carriers.
The other major selling point for Visible is, well, the price that it sells for.The price is, by far, the cheapest option of all our top contenders. For many people, that’ll be enough.
Finally, we should mention that Visible isn’t your typical mobile network. It’s what’s known as an MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator. That means it uses another carrier’s network to provide service—Verizon, in this case. So you get all the pros and cons of Verizon service coverage at a fraction of the cost.
What is an MVNO?
MVNOs are cellular carriers that rent bandwidth from other carriers, rather than owning and operating their own networks. This is far cheaper for the carrier, and that savings typically gets passed on to the consumer. Essentially, that means MVNOs provide the same cell service as the big carriers for less money.
The tradeoff is what’s known as “deprioritization.” Basically, when the parent network gets congested, it will sometimes prioritize its own customers and deprioritize MVNOs in order to provide a better experience. During this time, MVNO customers can see reduced speeds. It’s not guaranteed to happen, but it is something to be aware of.
More hotspot plans
What is cellular data?
Cellular data is the type of data that your cell phone uses to connect to the internet. These days, that mostly means 4G LTE or 5G. It’s broadcast over the air from cell towers, and your phone picks it up. If you’re using the hotspot feature, your phone then rebroadcasts it as a Wi-Fi network for other devices to connect to.
The main advantages of using cell data for your internet connection are availability and portability. These networks cover the majority of the country, so you can take your hotspot almost anywhere and get a connection. That’s huge for remote work, staying connected when traveling, watching Netflix in your RV, and any other scenario that calls for portability. Cell data also tends to be faster than satellite, making it a solid option for rural internet.
The disadvantage is performance. Although 5G can theoretically be extremely fast, real-world performance doesn’t yet match up to the fastest cable or fiber plans on the market. Fiber, in particular, tends to be much speedier. The 5G networks are always improving, though, so it’s entirely possible that one day they’ll catch up.
What does unlimited data mean?
All of the plans covered in this article offer unlimited hotspot data. However, when it comes to hotspots, there’s always a caveat: The unlimited data comes at reduced speeds, sometimes as little as 128Kbps—we’re talking dial-up speeds here.
Most hotspot plans offer a certain amount of high-speed data—data that operates at normal 5G speeds. After that’s up, you can either purchase more or fall back to the slower unlimited data.
Needless to say, we’re not huge fans of this approach—it feels a bit disingenuous. It’s partly a matter of prioritizing the performance of the cellular customers, and partly an opportunity to upcharge you on additional data. Not great, but that’s where we’re at in the industry right now.
How many GB of data do you really need?
That’s a tough question to answer, because everyone uses their internet connection in different ways. This is especially true of hotspot plans, where some users will only use it for occasional road trips or emergencies, while others want to use it as a full-time home internet replacement.
Ultimately, we’d say that if you travel a lot or stream a lot, you probably want a larger amount of high-speed hotspot data. This is true for both work and recreational use. On the other hand, if this is just a backup connection for you to use in emergencies, you can probably get by with less (or none at all, and just go with Visible’s lower prices).
How much is 1GB of data?
To help you get an idea of how far your data will go, here’s a breakdown of what 1GB of data will get you:1
- 16 hours of general web browsing
- Between 7 and 92 hours of music streaming, depending on quality
- One hour of SD Netflix
- 18 minutes of HD Netflix
- 30 minutes of YouTube
- 11 hours of scrolling social media
- 6 hours of FaceTime
There are a number of options for unlimited hotspot plans. If you want a dedicated hotspot, we like Verizon Premium for large amounts of high-speed data and T-Mobile’s $20.00/5GB for a more affordable option. If you prefer to use your phone as the hotspot, we think Verizon Unlimited Ultimate, T-Mobile Go5G Plus, AT&T Unlimited Premium, and Visible+ will be the best plans for most people, depending on which carrier is strongest in your area (and your budget).
At SatelliteInternet.com, we base our analyses on thorough research, including customer interviews, first-hand testing, results from our speed test tool, and proprietary internet provider data on speeds and pricing. We also dive deep to get all the details on plans, fees, and future developments. We then bring this info together in one place so you can find it easily. Finally, we use our satellite internet industry expertise to help you make the best decisions you can for your household. As always, thanks for reading!
Hotspot plans FAQ
Does T-Mobile have unlimited hotspot data on its phone plans?
Yes, T-Mobile offers unlimited hotspot data on several plans, including Go5G Plus and Go5G Next. However, be aware that you only get a certain amount of high-speed hotspot data—after that, the rest of the unlimited data is at reduced speeds.
Does Verizon have an unlimited hotspot plan?
Yes, Verizon has several unlimited hotspot data plans, including Unlimited Ultimate and Unlimited Plus. Just be aware that you only get a certain amount of high-speed hotspot data—after that, the rest is at reduced speeds.
If I have unlimited data on my phone, is the hotspot data free?
This depends on the plan. Most cell plans have some allotment of hotspot data included, and many offer unlimited hotspot data at reduced speeds. Others may require you to pay extra for high-speed hotspot data.
Who has the best unlimited hotspot plan?
We think T-Mobile’s Go5G Plus and Verizon’s Unlimited Ultimate are the best unlimited hotspot plans for most people, due to the generous high-speed data allotments and wide coverage areas of the providers.
Can a hotspot replace home internet?
Maybe. A hotspot isn’t really designed to replace home internet for most households, although it can work for some households that use very limited data. If you don’t stream video content, use video conferencing, or upload photos to social networks, then a hotspot could provide enough data at a reasonable cost. But if your household uses a lot of data, you could end up spending most of the month with drastically reduced speeds.
If you’re interested in getting home internet through cellular data, we recommend checking out Verizon 5G Home Internet or T-Mobile Home Internet instead of using a mobile hotspot, as these options give you unlimited data at an affordable price.