Visible just got an update to 5G, if Verizon supports it in your area. Sadly, 5G coverage is still scarce outside certain major cities—and it’s not all that game-changing yet. Your 5G data is capped at 200 Mbps.
In times of heavy network traffic, Visible will deprioritize its customers below Verizon customers sharing the Verizon cellular infrastructure. It sucks, but it’s common among these low-cost carriers, and at least Visible is transparent about it. You get mobile Wi-Fi hot-spot data included, which is often missing from base plans among the three major carriers, though it’s limited to 5 Mbps and supports only one tethered device at a time. Video streaming is restricted to 480p resolution.
Visible has only one plan, and it costs $40 per month for unlimited talk, text, and data. Wireless taxes and fees are included. Monthly pricing drops to $35/$30/$25 if your plan has 2/3/4 lines on it.
Phone compatibility: It runs on Verizon’s network, so any ex-Verizon or ex-US Cellular phone or universally unlocked phone can be brought over. Check here to see if your phone is compatible.
Best for Homebodies (and World Travelers)
For people who use little data, Google Fi is an easy way to have access to the data you might need without the possibility of buying too much.
You pay $20 for one line, plus $10 per gigabyte of data, whether you’re in the US or traveling in one of the 200-plus supported countries. It’s also prorated, so if you don’t use a whole gigabyte, you won’t get charged for a whole gigabyte. (I recommend you turn off your mobile data in your phone’s menu at home to ensure you’re always using Wi-Fi.)
Google Fi uses T-Mobile’s and US Cellular’s 4G LTE and 5G networks. Data after 6 GB is free, so you won’t get a surprise giganto bill if you lose track of your data use. And there’s free travel, so you don’t have to pay a daily fee overseas just to be allowed to pay again for by-the-minute phone calls. Instead, calls are a flat 20 cents per minute from outside the US and there’s free, unlimited texting. Data costs don’t change outside the US either.
It works with more than just Google phones now, including certain Huawei, Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Apple models, but its iOS support is still in beta. If you’re using an iPhone, Fi won’t switch between networks for best call quality, which is a feature that’s a big chunk of its appeal. The Unlimited plan exists, but is expennnnsive: $70 per month for a single phone line, not including taxes and fees.
Google Fi offers a $20 per line + $10 per GB of data plan and the unlimited plan for $70. If you have five or more lines, the standard plan is reduced to $16 per line (+ $10 per GB), and if you have four or more lines, the unlimited plan reduces to $45 per line.
Phone compatibility: Only certain phones will work with Fi. The list of compatible phones is small compared to other providers.
Owned by Sprint for many years, Boost was bought by Dish Network when T-Mobile gobbled up Sprint last year. It has five plans, from $10 to $45 a month, each with Wi-Fi hot spot data and unlimited talk and text. (The lowest tier has a 1-GB hot spot limit, which is pretty darn low if you connect it to a laptop to browse the web.) All the plans are competitively priced for the data and features offered. The two top tiers, at $45 for 15 GB and $35 for 10 GB, are outright good deals, though you might be better off with Visible’s unlimited plan at those prices (if you have a Verizon-compatible phone).