Americans are spending more time than ever on their cell phones. Ironically, the time is not spent talking. Rather, its spent online and texting friends and family. This means that the more important part of your cell phone plan isn’t the talk time, but the data and the reliability.
Earlier this year Verizon decided to launch Unlimited Data plans. Verizon did this because, in the six weeks prior to this launch, they lost almost 400,000 customers to other carriers. Verizon was the last of the four major cell phone providers to do so. I’d like to take a few moments of your time to dig into the value (or lack thereof) of these plans.
Does Unlimited Really Mean Unlimited?
The short answer is no. This is how the Verizon Unlimited Data Plan breaks down:
- Call Minutes – Unlimited
- Texts – Unlimited
- Video – Unlimited
- Data – 22 GB of LTE data. After this point, you’ll be throttled as priorities are used elsewhere.
- Hotspot – 10 GB of LTE data. After this point, connection speed moves to 3G
Take my three year old daughter Everleigh for example. She absolutely loves ABC Mouse. More specifically, she loves to listen to the songs they have about the letters of the alphabet. These two minutes songs played 100 times consecutively saps your data at lightning speed (and also tests your willpower to live). After just a week or two of normal use and one or two of these adventures, your 22 GB of LTE data can vanish. For the next couple of weeks, you’re at the mercy of Verizon.
Compared to Sprint, AT&T and T Mobile, everything outside of the unlimited data plan is the same. However, 22 GB of LTE data is on the low end for what a provider will allow you before they begin to throttle the data. Here’s a handy chart of what each offers in their unlimited data plans.
Verizon Unlimited Costs and Packages
Verizon offers just one Unlimited package. But they have a variety of line options depending on what you need. For example, if you were to purchase just a single line, your cost breakdown would be as follows:
- $65 per month for Unlimited Data
- $20 per month for a smartphone access fee
- $5 discount per month for auto-pay and paper free billing
- Total Cost – $80 + taxes and fees (comes out to about $86 per month).
Verizon offers up to 10 lines for your unlimited needs.
Verizon Coverage Map
If you live in a highly populated area, the chances are Verizon has you completely covered. Outside of the mountainous areas of the west, you can see from the map above that the areas of white are limited. Sorry to Alaskans … unless you live above Anchorage or in Fairbanks, Verizon is not the provider for you.
You can enter your zip code into their coverage locator to find out if your area is blanketed. If the map comes up completed red, then the chances of finding a strong signal day in and day out are great. If you find areas of white and light pink, your calls have a higher chance of being dropped (and your data slowed).
Verizon Unlimited Added Perks
Canada & Mexico – When signing up for a Verizon Unlimited plan, you’ll also have access to unlimited calls and texts in Canada and Mexico. In those countries, your data limits become 500MB per day, then after that 2G speeds apply. Don’t get too comfortable, however. Verizon makes it clear that if more than half your calls, texts, and data come from these countries over a 60 day period, they have the right to cancel your service.
My Verizon App – All Verizon members can manage their account with a few taps of their finger. The My Verizon app allows you to manage your account from anywhere in the world. From this app, you can change plans, pay your bill or check on your data usage.
Verizon Unlimited Prepaid – Everything you see above is also included inside of a Verizon Unlimited Prepaid plan except for tethering, HD video (standard definition instead) and mobile hotspot access. The cost of the plan is the same $80 and no contract in required.
Is There Value in Verizon Unlimited?
Absolutely. When compared to its competition, Verizon fits in nicely with everything that isn’t Sprint. For the next full year, Sprint is offering a heavy discount on their Unlimited packages for up to 5 lines of service. The chart below shows you how Verizon matches up.
Yes, you can do better both on price and on data (before throttling) but not by much. If you’ve been a Verizon customer and enjoy their coverage and customer service, then sticking with Verizon is easy. For new customers, take comfort in knowing Verizon excels in customer service and coverage as proven by the following two awards:
- Highest wireless network quality performance in all six regions from J.D. Power
- Ranked #1 overall network in the US
Is Verizon the best option? Check out our guide to the best cell phone plans.
Updated October 18, 2017 and originally published August 30, 2017.