Verizon plans buying guide: what's the best Verizon plan for you?

So, you’ve decided to join (or renew your plan with) one of the largest networks in the US. Cool… but where does one start? There are plans that can support multiple lines, some let you use your phone as a mobile hotspot while others don’t, some let you add a mobile Internet modem, while others don’t, and then there’s the whole carfuffle with price options, data limitations, and so on.

We studied the options that Verizon provides and came up with a buying guide, which would — hopefully — help you make better sense of all the offers and pick the right one for you. So, without further ado, let’s find the plan that’s good for you!

What can you expect from Verizon's cellular network?

Verizon is the biggest and possibly the priciest carrier in the US. But that comes with a major benefit — it also has an extremely widespread network, giving you 4G LTE coverage over 70% of the USA. Unfortunately, it's a CDMA network (as opposed to GSM), which means that you should choose carefully when buying a new smartphone, and it's generally a better idea to buy straight from Verizon or its huge retail partners if you don't want to read spec sheets. Verizon also has its horse running the 5G race right now, building towers across the States to make sure it'll be ready for the next gen era.

Unlimited plans: good for families

Verizon now offers a few flavors of Unlimited plans to pick and choose from. You can have multiple lines per account, with each line having its own version of Unlimited. Basically, you can play mix-and-match, giving each member of the family what they need. Let’s start with taking a look at the prices:

*shave off $10 per line by rolling in the Auto Pay and paperless bills program

OK, so you have everything in one package for a hefty price. As you can see in the table above, you get a better deal when you add more lines to your contract. A line means a device added, so if you get your whole family on a plan, you get a bigger discount.

Mexico and Canada coverage — you can still use your unlimited talk, text, and some data when north or south of the border. There are a couple of caveats: data is limited to 512 MB per day before being throttled to 2G speeds (around 40 kbps). If for 2 months straight, more than half of your line usage is outside of the US, your service will be blocked.

Just Kids is a brand new offer for 2019. It can only be activated if you pair it with at least one Unlimited line. Kids is basically a cheaper Unlimited that can only call and text with 20 contacts. It has a 5 GB data cap, 480p video cap, and a subscription for the Verizon Smart Family app, which allows you to check location tags and set filters on the content your kids get to consume.

Now, let’s explore the differences between the four plans and discuss the meaning behind them:

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Know which plan you want? Shop Verizon plans here:

Limited speeds in congested areas — when you find yourself in an area with tons of Verizon users hogging the data network, your Start Unlimited data speeds may be limited (heh... heh) as your phone’s requests will be put in a queue. Customers that upgraded to Play More, Do More, or Get More Unlimited get a certain amount data at "Premium speeds", which basically means they will always be at the top of the queue, guaranteeing the fastest possible connection at that time.

Video streaming resolution cap — Start Unlimited and Do More Unlimited users will only be able to stream video in 480p on their smartphones when watching via the Verizon 4G LTE network. In our opinion, that’s not super-terrible, though some purists would frown at the resolution not making full use of their flagship devices’ super-sharp screens, so that’s up to you. Play More and Get More customers will be able to enjoy 720p resolutions. If you stream over 5G, you will be able to watch video in full 4K, no matter which plan you are on.

Mobile Hotspot — the hotspot feature allows you to use your phone as a portable modem and connect your laptop to the Internet through its 4G data modem. Start Unlimited users can't use the hotspot feature, but all the others can't. Do More and Play More are limited to 15 GB of hotspot usage, Get More can go up to 30 GB of 4G speeds. Once the limit is hit, the hotspot will be throttled to 600 Kbps.

5G access — right now, 5G access is free to Play More, Do More, and Get More customers. Start Unlimited users can upgrade to 5G access for an extra $10 per month. When connected to 5G, you get much faster data speeds and you can stream video at 4K and use a 5G wideband hotspot (if your device supports it). The thing is, 5G coverage is not amazing right now, so you should absolutely keep the 4G stats in mind when picking your plan.

Extra devices — of course, it would be rather silly if you had to pay a full line’s price if you wanted to add a smartwatch, tablet, USB modem, or mobile cookie to your lines. Extra data devices that are not a phone can be added via an extra data plan. 

Our verdict: The Get More Unlimited plan just looks like it's too much bang for the buck to pass by. It's not that much more expensive than its siblings, yet it gives you plenty of cloud storage, hotspot usage, and Apple Music. These services alone save you some money in the long run. Every other plan compromises somewhere, so you'll have to pick — get Do More for the free cloud storage, or Play More for Apple Music and HD video. Don't get sparkly-eyed by the "free 5G access" — most phones don't have 5G modems yet, and coverage is still pretty limited.

What are the best Verizon 5G plans?

All of the Unlimited plans, with the exception of Start Unlimited, come with 5G access built into the price. This is how it's going to be for the time being, as Verizon still considers its 5G network to be in "beta". So, if you wish to take advantage of this while you can, skip Start Unlimited. Play More Unlimited seems like a good option to go for — 720p video, free Apple Music. Sounds good!

How Verizon's best plans compare to other carriers

*All prices are after Auto Pay and w/ paperless billing, include unlimited talk&text in the US

Shared data plans: do you need data?

Limited plans let you pick a cheaper package if you don’t want to shell out for an unlimited contract. They let you buy a certain amount of data at top speeds and attach as many phones to that plan as you want.

We’ve got two tiers of data to pick from, but these are for account access only. As soon as you add a phone line to that account, you need to pay an extra $25 per month (with paperless billing). So, you can get the 5 GB plan and then add two phones to it. That'll be $30 for the plan and $50 for the two devices — $80 in total.

Please note: if you are connecting a phone that you bought from Verizon on a 2-year contract (and are still paying off said phone), it'll cost you $40/mo to connect that phone to your shared data plan.

The shared plans still give you unlimited text & talk, even outbound international texting. The only place they are limited is data — and that limit is shared between all phones that are attached to your plan! If you run out of premium data for the month, you can buy an extra 1 GB for $15, which is rather steep. Unused data does carry over to the next month (for 1 month only, though), so that's nice.

Shared data plans have 720p video streaming caps and allow you to use the hotspot feature for as long as you haven't hit your chosen limit.

Essentially, getting a 5 GB limited plan with a single smartphone will cost you $55 (or $65). The benefit is that you get hotspot usage and a higher video resolution stream. But that 5 GB can fly by like nothing, and adding an extra GB will make this an extra-expensive plan. Instead, you can just get Play More Unlimited and sign up for Auto Pay, bringing its cost down to $80.

Our verdict: The more phones you need to add to your line, the more it makes sense to actually go for Unlimited and look away from the shared data plan. The latter is only viable if it is shared between users that don't really browse the web all that much (or one user that does, while the rest don't). And even then, the extra perks of Unlimited (Apple Music, cloud storage) bring extra value where it matters, while the shared plan only offers you data.

Unbound: prepaid plans with no contract

If you don’t want to bind yourself to a lengthy contract, you can always go prepaid. There are no credit checks to worry about, too, and you are always free to jump ship or skip a payment if you are not going to be needing your line for that particular month. You can mix and match these lines however you please, in accordance with you household's needs!

*shave off $5 per line by rolling in the Auto Pay program

Pretty cool, right? But there are a few caveats — every tier here gets video streaming capped to 480p for phones and 720p for tablets. Also, you may experience slowdown in data speeds in congested areas. But, on the flip side, you get unlimited text to over 200 countries and users that are on 15 GB or Unlimited will get unlimited talk & text to Mexico and Canada!

Once you reach your data limit, you get capped at 128 kbps — not ideal but enough to respond to chats. You can buy an extra gig of top speed for $15. Your data will carry over to the next month if you prepay before your billing cycle is up or if you have Auto Pay enabled. You can 

Our verdict: Depending on how many lines you will be using, a prepaid Unlimited plan could cost around the same as a Go Unlimited one. Also, the limited prepaid options seem to be a better deal than the contract-bound limited plans.

The best Verizon plan for seniors

You've got a couple of options here. Either go for a simple, $30 prepaid plan with talk and text, or use the ability to mix and match unlimited plans on a single account. If you have 5 lines or more on a single account, a Start Unlimited will cost you $30 per month with Auto Pay enrolment, so why not?

Getting a device with Verizon prepaid

If you want to get a brand-new phone from Verizon, but would rather be on a prepaid plan — you still can. You need to pay for the device upfront and be aware that it will be locked to Verizon for the next 12 months, and locked to prepaid plans specifically for 6 months. If you skip a payment, the 6-month counter gets reset.

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