Best Unlimited Mobile Hotspot Data Plans

Best budget pick
Visible
Visible phone plan
  • pro
    $40.00/mo. for unlimited data
  • con
    Speeds capped at 5 Mbps
Fastest data
ATT
AT&T Prepaid 100 GB Data
  • pro
    $55.00/mo.
  • pro
    100 GB high-speed data
Best T-Mobile data plan
T Mobile
T-Mobile 30 GB prepaid data
  • pro
    $40.00/mo.
  • con
    Limited high-speed data
Best Verizon data plan
Verizon
Verizon 150 GB prepaid data plan
  • con
    $100.00/mo.
  • pro
    150 GB high-speed data

Kristin Cooke
Researcher & Writer
Read More
October 21, 2021

Are you looking for an unlimited mobile hotspot data plan? Hotspot data pricing depends on which hotspot data plan you get. If you pick wisely, you can get lots of hotspot data for one low price.

We’ve spent weeks researching mobile hotspot plans (and the elusive unlimited hotspot plan) and here are the best deals on Visible, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon hotspot data plans in the US.

Best mobile phone plans for hotspotting

The best mobile plan for hotspotting is Visible’s unlimited phone plan, which costs $40 per month and gives you unlimited mobile hotspot data. It isn’t the fastest data on the planet—data speeds are capped at 5 Mbps—but it’s fast enough to stream Netflix and do video conferencing on one device. There are other plans that offer unlimited 2G data (which is 114 Kbps or 0.1 Mbps), but 2G speeds are too slow for online learning, Netflix, or most gaming apps.

We compared all mobile phone plans solely on the basis of the mobile hotspot feature. We looked at whether hotspotting was allowed on the plan, how much hotspot data it offered, and how much it cost. We also looked at how much data was slowed after reaching the cap.

Best cell phone plans for hotspotting

VisibleT MobileVerizon
VisibleT-Mobile Magenta PlusVerizon Get More Unlimited
Hotspot dataUnlimited hotspot data 20 GB 4G LTE data, then unlimited 3G data30 GB hotspot data at 4G LTE + unlimited 5G data
SpeedUp to 5 Mbps Up to 3–12 Mbps Up to 5–12 Mbps or 5G (where available)
MobileMobile service included (talk/text) Mobile service included (talk/text) Mobile service included (talk/text)
Price$40.00/mo.* $85.00/mo.* $90.00/mo.*

*Data effective 10/22/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. Prices do not include taxes and other fees.

Best budget plan for hotspotting: Visible

If you’re going to be hotspotting all month and need a lot of data, we recommend getting a Visible mobile phone plan. It’s the best deal for unlimited mobile hotspot data. Visible is an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), so it operates on cellular networks managed by one of the big three cellular networks (T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T). 

For $40 per month, you get unlimited talk, text, and data, which includes unlimited mobile hotspot data. The hotspot data is limited to one device at a time and it’s capped at 5 Mbps, but it’s still the best option for folks looking for unlimited mobile hotspot data—even though it’s a cell phone plan with hotspot data included.

Best for occasional hotspot use: T-Mobile Magenta Plus

T-Mobile unlimited plans include a bucket of full-speed data for hotspotting and then unlimited data at 3G speeds. At $85 per month, T-Mobile’s Magenta Plus plan is more expensive than Visible or AT&T, but if you live or travel in areas where T-Mobile has good coverage, T-Mobile’s Magenta Plus plan is a good deal for phone and hotspot in one. 

With this plan, you’ll get unlimited mobile phone service and 20 GB of 4G LTE hotspot data each month. If you surpass 20 GB, you can keep using unlimited data at 3G speeds, which are slower but still usable. You may or may not be able to stream video with 3G speeds (which are usually between 1–3 Mbps). But, 3G is fast enough to send email, check the news, and stream music.

Best 5G pick: Verizon

Verizon’s Get More Unlimited plan is worth checking out for people who are lucky enough to live, work, and play in areas with 5G Ultra Wideband service. If you are in one of these urban areas, you can get truly unlimited data for hotspotting. And, even better, it’s amazingly fast 5G Ultra Wideband data.

Currently, 5G Ultra Wideband is available in select parts of 35 cities. The catch is that you can’t get unlimited 4G, 4G LTE, or even typical 5G data for hotspotting—the unlimited only applies to 5G Ultra Wideband data. Once you step outside an area with 5G Ultra Wideband, you’re limited to 30 GB per month of hotspot data. Just be aware that Verizon isn’t such a great deal for customers who live outside 5G areas because exceeding hotspot data allowance will result in sluggish 600 Kbps speeds for the remainder of the billing period.

Check your local internet providers
What is a hotspot?
Info

A hotspot is a Wi-Fi connection that allows you to connect laptops, tablets, and other devices to the internet while you are traveling or away from your home network.

A hotspot can refer to any of the following: 

  • Mobile hotspot devices are portable, pocket-sized modems that are paired with a cellular data plan from Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T. Popular for travel,  hotspot devices give you internet access wherever you have cellular service. Learn more by checking out our reviews of top mobile hotspot devices.
  • The hotspot feature on your mobile phone is another way to get internet access on a tablet or laptop while you’re away from home. Many mobile plans allow you to share a limited amount of data with another device, like a laptop. Some plans give you a lot more data than others.
  • Public hotspots are also connectivity options when you’re traveling. A public hotspot could be a free public Wi-Fi zone, Wi-Fi offered to customers by a business, or a network of Wi-Fi hotspots provided by an internet provider (such as Xfinity’s Wi-Fi hotspot network). Public hotspots are less reliable than carrying your own hotspot with you and are less secure, but they can be helpful in a pinch.

Best mobile hotspot device plans

If you have a mobile hotspot device, you can provide Wi-Fi to five or more devices. But the more devices you have connected at once, the slower your data speeds will be. Many plans let you choose how much data you want to pay for each month, which can be handy if you travel seasonally and don’t need a lot of data year-round. 

However, if you’re thinking about using a mobile hotspot instead of getting a dedicated home internet connection, we recommend against it. There are no unlimited mobile hotspot device plans (yup, you read that right—you’ll have to use a cell phone plan like we mentioned earlier if you’re interested in getting unlimited data). All data-only hotspot plans limit the amount of data you can use. Plus, you’ll pay more for each GB of data than you will with most other types of internet. 

You can buy prepaid data for your mobile hotspot and then use it as you go, or sign up for a monthly plan that gives you a set amount of data each month. Verizon has the most expensive data per GB for mobile hot spotting while T-Mobile has the most affordable plans.

Best data-only plans

T-MobileVerizonAT&T
ProLow prices on hotspot data Widest coverage networkGood network
ConNo roaming data allowedMost expensive data No budget plans
PricePlans starting at $5.00/mo. for half a GBPlans starting at $40.00/mo.Plans starting at $60.00/mo.

*Data effective 10/22/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Hotspotting pros and cons

There are dozens of plans in the US that offer hotspotting, including mobile phone plans and mobile hotspot device plans.

The most common way to hotspot is to use your mobile phone as a personal hotspot. Many (although not all) mobile phone plans include a separate data allowance for hotspotting. Mobile phone hotspot data isn’t usually unlimited (although we did find a plan from Visible that truly has unlimited mobile hotspot data), but it can keep you connected when you’re away from home.

By hotspotting off your phone, you can avoid the cost of a mobile hotspot device and paying for a hotspot data plan but keep in mind that there are significant limitations with hotspotting off your phone. Mobile phone plans offer only a limited amount of hotspot data—generally between 10 GB and 25 GB per month. Since the average American household uses about 350 GB of data per month, hotspotting off your phone plan is convenient for occasional use but it doesn’t offer enough data to keep a whole family connected at home and on the go.1

The second way to hotspot is to get a mobile hotspot device and a mobile hotspot plan. Most mobile hotspots devices cost between $75 and $300, with a few outliers costing more (such as Verizon’s $649 Insego 5G MiFi Hotspot). Mobile hotspot plans all have limited data—the unlimited plans of the past are gone. Mobile hotspot plans vary in cost but are generally higher priced per gigabyte than a typical home internet plan.

Mobile hotspots have become more popular since the COVID-19 pandemic because they offer a simple solution to connect students and remote workers to the internet.2,3 But, that doesn’t mean that mobile hotspot devices are a good choice for a family internet connection. Because data costs so much more on a hotspot device than it does with mobile phone plans or home internet, we recommend using hotspot devices for travel or vacation homes but not for full time home connectivity.

Pro tip
Light Bulb

If you’re interested in a mobile hotspot because you need home internet but have limited internet options in your area, check into LTE home internet from Verizon or T-Mobile. It’s competitively priced at $40 to $60 per month and offers unlimited data. Although you can’t take the modem with you on the road like you could with a mobile hotspot device, it’s an excellent alternative to satellite internet in many parts of the country.

If you’ve heard someone talk about unlimited mobile hotspots, they’re probably talking about 4G LTE internet plans. For more tips about getting 4G LTE internet, check out the Best 4G LTE Home Internet Providers for Rural Areas.

Final verdict

There are many hotspots but few that offer an unlimited amount of high-speed data. You’ll be comparing speed, price, and data, and there are no options that give you the best of everything at the lowest price. Determining your ideal internet speed is the first step to narrowing down a potential list of providers.

T-Mobile’s hotspot device plan is among the most reasonably priced—$40 for 30 GB of data, which can be enough for weekend travel.

Verizon’s mobile hotspot speeds are pricier but the plans deliver priority Verizon data. And, if you happen to live and work in an area with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband, jump on it! You’re the luckiest of all because you can get truly unlimited, high-speed hotspot data through several Verizon Unlimited plans.

Visible is an affordable alternative to getting a separate hotspot device and data plan. Visible data speeds are slow (they're capped at 5 Mbps), but you'll get unlimited hotspot data all month long.

And finally, AT&T’s new 100 GB data-only plan earned a place on our best-of list. With this plan, you get oodles of priority, full-speed data at the attractive price of $55.

FAQ about unlimited mobile hotspot plans

Does T-Mobile have unlimited hotspot data on its phone plans?

Technically, yes, T-Mobile does have unlimited hotspot data on Magenta and Magenta Plus mobile plans, although speeds are slowed to 3G speeds (typically 1-3 Mbps) after you reach your hotspot data cap (which varies by plan from 2–22 GB per month). T-Mobile Essentials has unlimited hotspot data but it’s all 3G data—similar to Visible’s plan.

Does Verizon have an unlimited hotspot plan?

Technically, yes, there are Verizon plans with unlimited hotspot data but this only applies to 5G Ultra Wideband data—available in select neighborhoods of cities with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband. So, if you don’t live or work in one of these areas, you are out of luck for getting unlimited full-speed hotspot data. 

All Verizon mobile plans have a soft data cap for hotspotting 4G LTE, 4G, and 5G data (15–30 GB) and then speeds slow down to 600 Kbps or slower for the rest of the billing cycle. Verizon calls this unlimited data—but it isn’t unlimited full-speed data, and it won’t be a good solution for homes or businesses. 

If you want to use Verizon data for your home internet, consider getting Verizon LTE Home Internet, which is $40 to $60 per month and does indeed offer unlimited full-speed data. 

If I have unlimited data on my phone, is the hotspot data free?

In almost all cases, unlimited cellular data does not mean unlimited hotspot data. You might have unlimited data on your mobile phone, but you’ll have a limit on how much data you can share with other devices while hotspotting. Some plans offer a bucket of hotspot data at full speed and then unlimited hotspot data at reduced speeds. Some mobile providers require you to set up hotspot data, while others (such as Verizon) have it already set up. 

Who has the best unlimited hotspot plan?

The best unlimited mobile plans for hotspotting are Visible’s mobile plan (they have just one) or T-Mobile’s Magenta plan. Although these plans aren’t designed for hotspot devices, they offer ample data for hotspotting off your phone. For those who live in areas with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband, there are a few more unlimited data options available because several of Verizon’s unlimited plans offer unlimited full-speed 5G Ultra Wideband hotspot data. The catch is that you’d have to live in an area with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband (even 5G hotspot data is metered).

Can a hotspot replace home internet?

No, a hotspot isn’t 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 paying hundreds of dollars in data overage fees. 

If you’re interested in getting home internet through cellular data, we recommend checking out Verizon LTE Home Internet or T-Mobile Home Internet instead of using a mobile hotspot, as these options give you unlimited data at an affordable price.  

Sources

  1. Toledo, Rob, “REPORT: The Average Household’s Internet Data Usage Has Jumped 38x in 10 Years,” April 2020. Accessed October 22, 2020.
  2. AP News, “Colorado spending $2M to provide internet access to students,” September 2020. Accessed November 13, 2020.
  3. THE Journal Staff, “Updated: Free WiFi for Online Learning During COVID-19,” June 2020. Accessed November 13, 2020.
Kristin Cooke
Written by
Kristin Cooke
After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Utah, Kristin learned to geek speak while working as a technical recruiter, interviewing software developers and tech companies. For over 20 years, she has created award-winning content for technology, health, and finance companies. Kristin is an advocate for affordable internet for all and writes about rural internet solutions, satellite internet news, and tech products at SatelliteInternet.com. Her work has been featured in New York Post, PCMag, Forbes, Business Insider, Telecompetitor, Space.com, and The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.