Phone Plans

Wirecutter: The Best Phone Plans

Kyle Reyes
February 21, 2023

Wirecutter recommends solid and reliable information on all topics. Reviewing thousands of products and parsing the good, bad, and ugly, they are a well-regarded and trusted product recommendation service. We wanted to talk about some of the best Wirecutter phone plans. 

The Wirecutter reviewers all try out the phone plans before doing the reviews, coming out with the gritty details about each phone plan. Without further ado, let’s dive into Wirecutter's best phone plans. 

What does Wirecutter Review?

Just about everything! They have many reviews in categories like home and garden, health and leisure, tech, baby and kid, style, gifts, and deals. They publish many articles on all subjects, and searching “best [product] wirecutter” has become an excellent method for finding out great info about all the products on the market in that particular field. There are, really, so many products on the market. Everything has many options at different prices, promising almost the same things. It is hard to decide. 

Websites like Wirecutter are great ways to narrow down your focus and figure out where to start in your search, and, hopefully, find something that is a perfect fit. So many variables go into every item that it is difficult to decide which one is best. That’s where they come in. They dive deeply into various products in the given topic, test them extensively, and come back with all the information you need (and more) to make your decision. Having some direction is excellent, but too much can lead to a new kind of analysis paralysis. When purchasing a product, phone plans are no exception; know that there is not one perfect phone plan. Everyone wants something different out of their plan, so there are a ton of plans that cater to different kinds of customers. Many plans are similar enough that getting one over the other would likely not be too big. 

Affiliate Links

One important caveat about Wirecutter is that they use affiliate links. It is not hidden or sneaky on their part, but Wirecutter uses affiliate links with many of their products, which means they get a small cut if someone follows the link on their website and makes a purchase. Remember they have constructed a lot of articles with the goal of you purchasing a product

Include an image here. 

Wirecutter’s Best Phone Plans

Wirecutter has five major phone plans as their best phone plans of 2023. They have done a lot of research; you can check out Wirecutter’s best phone plans with expert analysis on their website. Their top five plans are 

  • T-Mobile Magenta/Magenta Max
  • Verizon Wireless
  • Metro 
  • Consumer Cellular
  • Mint Mobile

They limited the list to nationwide carriers. If you have a phone carrier limited to your area or want the whole picture, including carriers not available nationwide, you can check out our price comparison tool at Really. All you have to do is input your zip code, which will populate with the best plans and deals in your area. Their review focused on a few critical aspects of phone plans. 

  • Data Value. Their data value was based on median cellular data use at 12 GBs a month. Data use varies wildly for different people, so keep in mind your data use when moving through these plans. If you don’t use a lot of data each month, it opens up many possibilities with low-data plans that are much cheaper than unlimited options. With the near-ubiquity of unlimited talk and text, Wirecutter no longer considers that in their review. 
  • Network Reliability and Speed. Wirecutter focused on stability and consistency of the coverage within the networks rather than which one had the highest top speeds. We agree wholeheartedly with this plan. Extra MBps download speeds are great, but spotty coverage is devastating. You will not remember those extra download speeds, but you will remember every time you see your bars flicker and fade during your travels. 
  • Hotspot Policy. This review considered average hotspot use of 3 GB per month and prioritized hotspots that allow 4G LTE or 5G speeds rather than 2G or 3G. Similarly to spotty coverage, trying to get anything done on a hotspot that’s down to those slow speeds is frustrating and very, very slow. Hotspots are a plus in these plans, but if you know that you will likely never use a hotspot, you don’t need to prioritize it. 
  • Discount Possibilities. The discounts Wirecutter included in their ratings of these plans are those that come into effect during the plan, not new customer deals. New customer deals are excellent, but they should only sway your decision a little because you will, presumably, be with the company for much longer than the duration of the new customer deal. The deals they cover are multi-line discounts and autopay discounts where eligible. 
Find the right phone plan to use your phone to its fullest potential, while not overpaying for data and features you do not need. 

Top 5 Wirecutter Best Phone Plans of 2023

1. T-Mobile Magenta/Magenta Max

T-Mobile Magenta and Magenta Max are plans that deliver amazing high-speed data for the highest tier of data users. If you like to stream audio and video when out and about— one of these plans is for you. Major wireless networks have something called “premium data,” a gigabyte allotment for customers that guarantees that their data will not be slowed no matter how high the bandwidth usage is at any given time. 

Networks are so congested that there is no longer a flat guarantee that data speeds will output at their max speed at all times. This is common in big events like sports games, concerts, and festivals where the density of people in a given place is way higher than normal. There are three-ish tiers of data. On the lowest rung are the MVNO customers. At the first sign of a part of a network hitting its highest capacity, everyone with an MVNO plan gets their data speeds slowed, freeing up bandwidth for the customers on the top two tiers. 

After that are the major wireless network customers with the base unlimited plan, they have unlimited high-speed data on their respective networks unless, after the MVNO customers are slowed down, the network enters high bandwidth strain once more. At this point, to free up bandwidth for the premium customers, the network speeds of the base customers get slowed down. If the bandwidth maxes out again, then they cannot do much more. 

All this to say: T-Mobile Magenta provides 100 GB of premium (third tier) data to all its users, ensuring that you receive the fastest data they can provide at every given time. Their hotspot data is on the weak side, only providing a few GBs of high-speed data, but if you go with Magenta Max, you get a huge suite of extra features, like 50 GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data. 

2. Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is another of their best phone plans, cementing its place on this list with its colossal coverage over the United States. Their coverage has always led the pack, providing great and reliable service to people in many rural areas. This is the plan for people traveling in the United States a lot and traveling through and or staying in rural areas with regularity. While others can choose their service based on their home base and find one that’s strong in their area, big travelers benefit from Verizon’s huge high-speed network that covers 70% of the United States. Seventy percent, mind you, including Hawaii and Alaska. Alaska accounts for around 17% of the United States’ total area, and none of the major networks have significant coverage up there, accounting for most of the US that Verizon doesn’t cover. 

On top of their unlimited plans, Verizon has a prepaid option that gives users 15 GB of high-speed data for a monthly payment of $35. That is a small amount of data, but it adds a nice flexibility to switch to a much cheaper plan if you ever need it. With their prepaid plan, users don’t have access to Verizon’s Ultra Wideband 5G, but we don’t think that’s too big of a deal. Their 4G LTE and regular 5G networks provide lightning-fast data speeds that give you reliable coverage all around the nation. 

Verizon’s base plan starts at $70 and is in the second tier of data throttling, meaning their data can get slowed in times of congestion after the MVNO customers are slowed. This is not often a problem, but we don’t like that the plan does not come with any premium data, meaning you could get throttled at any time, regardless of your data usage. 

3. Metro Mobile

The first MVNO on this list, Metro Mobile steams into third place with its excellent plans. First off, all of their plans come with unlimited high-speed data. This is unusual for MVNOs and is a major boon. For this, Metro Mobile is one of Wirecutter’s best phone plans of 2023. Their first plan is $40 a month for one line but only $25 a line with four lines. 

Twenty-five dollars a line for a family plan with unlimited high-speed data is a huge deal. T-Mobile Magenta is $140 a month with four lines and starts at $70 with only one line, meaning you get huge savings with this MVNO compared to the major wireless network of T-Mobile. T-Mobile provides excellent service and switching to an MVNO on its network lets you capitalize on that service while saving a lot each month on your cell phone bills. 

One of the main risks of switching to an MVNO is that all of their limited-data plans either cut you off when you hit the top or slow your data to where it is almost unusable. The upside to limited-data plans is, of course, how much cheaper they are. You have the opportunity to find ways to use fewer gigabytes during the month, however, that may come about. It all boils down to spending more time on WiFi zones and using them to download as much as you can so you don’t have to when using mobile data. 

If you are trying to lessen your data consumption we recommend starting with either an unlimited plan or a plan that provides more data than you expect to use. It will cost you a little, but so many tasks rely on high-speed data and losing that is a tremendous blow. Once you go through a few months at lower data-consumption you can switch to a plan that gives you just enough data and enjoy some serious savings. 

Include an image here

4. Consumer Cellular

The second of three MVNOs is Consumer Cellular. Consumer Cellular is set apart by its family-plan savings and its network flexibility. When customers open their accounts, they can choose between T-Mobile and AT&T coverage. This lets you compare the two services within your home base and choose the one with more reliable coverage through Consumer Cellular. They offer a five percent discount for AARP members, which is nice, but it is not the savings that we’d hope for from a company that markets itself as senior-friendly. While the discount is underwhelming, their cheap plans make it worthwhile. 

Consumer Cellular has a handful of plans that start at $20 a month and end at $50 a month. Their unlimited plan is $50 a month and comes with 50 GB of high-speed data before your plan gets throttled. That is a ton of data for a one-line plan but be warned that their multi-line plans share data. If you have three lines, you will have to share the 50 GB between them. If you go over your data, you can still use it, but it will be very slow. That is the one downside to their multi-line savings. 

5. Mint Mobile

Last but not least is Mint Mobile, the MVNO that’s recently been at the top of every search list. They are an excellent cheap, prepaid plan for those willing to sign a contract in exchange for the best prices. They offer three, six, and 12-month contracts, and all of their plans lower in cost the longer you are willing to sign on to their service. Mint Mobile offers four plans:

  • 4 GB data for $25/$20$15 a month
  • 10 GB data for $35/$25/$20 a month
  • 15 GB data for $45/$35/$25 a month
  • Unlimited data (35 GB high-speed data) for $40/$35/$30 a month

The savings with the six and 12-month contracts through Mint Mobile are impressive, and those savings make it a strong competitor among the other MVNOs and are why it’s on this list. Mint Mobile always runs a promotion where new customers enjoy three months at the lowest price point regardless of the plan, giving you time to get used to the service and decide whether or not it’s right for you. 

As a Mint customer, you have to compromise, especially in their phone selection. Mint Mobile’s store is not stocked with too many phones, so we recommend purchasing the unlocked phone of your choosing or bringing your phone along to ensure you pick one that suits you. The major disadvantage is that their biggest plan only offers 35 GB of data. When you go over your data allocation, you are reduced to slow speeds, making it almost impossible to do anything on your phone over mobile data. Therefore, we recommend that everyone who switches to a limited-data plan knows how much data they use beforehand. With that info, they can easily switch to one that gives them enough data instead of struggling through the last few days of a plan jumping from WiFi zone to WiFi zone. 

These are the Best Wirecutter Phone Plans

Wirecutter is an excellent review service that provides users with a long list of reviews about almost every topic. When you make a purchase, doing research at Wirecutter is a great place to start. In terms of the best phone plans, Wirecutter puts five plans forward. Picking five plans from the laundry list of companies and all the plans they offer is almost impossible. So much of it depends on you and what you want to get out of your plan. Some people need a ton of data and want to pay a premium to ensure their high-speed data all day every day. Others are fine with a few gigabytes each month, enjoying the savings inherent in limited-data plans.

If none of these plans catch your eye, you should pop on over to Really and check out all our cell phone plan reviews to find one that suits your needs. There is a plan for everyone if you know the right place to look.

Kyle Reyes
Kyles Reyes is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in the wireless industry, phone plan comparisons & advice.