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.
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.