Unlimited No-Contract Plans From
The big four wireless providers aside (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint), there are tens of companies out there vying for your business, making it a tough market for them but also making it really hard for you to choose. The choice of an unlimited plan isn’t an easy one, especially given the plethora of providers, their respective network technologies, pricing models, and device availability.
To try and simplify things a bit, we’ll break the types of plans into three categories:
- All you can eat: that’s unlimited everything all the time.
- Hybrid: a plan made up of buckets. Something like 1000 minutes, unlimited text, and 500 megabytes.
- Pay-as-you-go: or paygo. Such plan should have a set rate per unit and a credit against which you will draw for your usage. There are many plans referred to as paygo when in reality they’re not.
Had this been 2009, we’d cover each of the above three categories with equal emphasis and detail. But it’s 2016 and prices are about half what they used to be in 2009. Unlimited talk and text ran around $50 back then, it’s about $25 today. So unlike wireless devices, which have gotten more expensive as manufacturers packed more functionality, features, capacity and speed into them, wireless service has gotten cheaper. The difference between having a worry-free unlimited plan and a hybrid or paygo alternative has been reduced to a few bucks, and most people have been going the worry-free route.
What to look for in an unlimited wireless plan? Let us address this by splitting consumers into two categories based on data usage, since unlimited talk and text are all but a standard on every plan:
- I’m almost always around WiFi
- I’m never around WiFi, or I just don’t think it’s necessary to connect to one
If your’e type 1, then you can get away with purchasing a talk and text plan with a bit of data. Such plans are available at around $20 or $25 (check out Tello or Ultra for cheap unlimited talk and text plans). For an extra $5 or $10, you can go up to unlimited talk and text with a one or two gigabytes of data.
If you’re type 2, then you’ll need a bigger plan with 3+ gigabytes of high-speed data to be on the safe side. Here you’ll have to make the decision on whether it’s more important to save money or to get to use your phone the way you like. If price is the determining factor, then go with an independent carrier or MVNO (resellers). They generally offer cheaper service on single-line accounts. You can look at Straight Talk for example (a Tracfone product), who offers an unlimited talk and text plan with 5 GB of high-speed data at $45 per month.
Another thing to consider here is the type of data you are using. Some providers do not count music streaming against your data allotment (like Boost and T-Mobile). So if the nature of you data usage focuses on streaming music on Spotify or Pandora, then it might make sense to consider such plans over others that might look cheaper with more data.