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Compared: 5G data plans from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile

Figuring out whether or not you have 5G service in your area is only part of the equation.

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Looking over coverage maps to see whether you live somewhere with 5G coverage is only part of the equation, with carriers doing a respectable job throughout 2020 to expand their 5G networks. Especially since the launch of the Galaxy S20 earlier this year

But coverage is only part of the equation: You'll also need to be on one of your wireless carriers' plans that includes 5G connectivity. 

Odds are, if you're on one of your carrier's current unlimited plans, you shouldn't have any issues using their 5G service. However, if you're on an older plan, you'll probably need to change to one of the plans listed below. Pricing for each plan depends on how many lines of service you have on the plan, so the prices listed below are for a single line of service. Keep in mind the price goes down as you add more lines. 

Verizon Wireless

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Verizon Wireless is in the lead for the carrier with the most plans, and it gets confusing really fast. I'll try my best to break down the main options, but keep in mind that this is not all of the plans Verizon offers. There's another set of plans that allows you to share data between multiple lines, but they're more expensive. 

Verizon Start Unlimited

For $70 a month, you get unlimited 4G LTE and access to Verizon's 5G Nationwide network, although you'll be limited to 480p video streaming and your speeds can be throttled when the network is congested. You won't be able to use Verizon's mmWave network, which it calls 5G Ultra Wideband (5G UWB). 

$70 at Verizon

Verizon Play More Unlimited

For $80 per month, you get unlimited 4G LTE with access to Verizon's 5G Nationwide and 5G UWB networks, with 50GB of premium data. You'll get 15GB of hotspot tethering, and up to 720p video streaming when connected to 5G Nationwide and 4G LTE connections. When on 5G UWB, you'll get unlimited hotspot and 4K video streaming. Included in the price is a subscription to Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+, along with a six-month subscription to Apple Music.

$80 at Verizon

Verizon Do More Unlimited

For $80 per month, you get unlimited 4G LTE with access to Verizon's 5G Nationwide and 5G UWB networks, with 50GB of premium data. You get unlimited 5G UWB data/mobile hotspot, and 4K video streaming. You also get 15GB of 5G Nationwide/4G LTE mobile hotspot, 720p HD streaming, a Disney+ subscription for six months, an Apple Music subscription for six months, 50% off a tablet, hotspot, or jetpack plan, and 600GB of Verizon's cloud storage. 

$80 at Verizon

Verizon Get More Unlimited

For $90 per month, you get the perks of both the Do More and Play More plans. Meaning, unlimited 4G LTE with access to Verizon's 5G Nationwide and 5G UWB networks, with 50GB of premium data. You get unlimited 5G UWB data/mobile hotspot, and 4K video streaming. You also get 30GB of 5G Nationwide/4G LTE mobile hotspot, and 720p HD streaming. You also get an Apple Music subscription, 50% off a tablet or jetpack plan, 600GB of Verizon's cloud storage, and a subscription to Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+. 

$90 at Verizon

When you go over the premium data allotment for the 5G Nationwide/4G LTE portion of the plan, Verizon will slow down your data speeds when its network is congested. 

AT&T

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

AT&T customers who want to access the carrier's 5G network have three main plans to pick from. 

AT&T Unlimited Starter

For $65 per month, users will get unlimited talk, text, and data in the US, Mexico, and Canada. You can also text to 120 countries from the US If the network is congested, you may see reduced speeds, regardless of your current data usage. This plan lacks hotspot capabilities. Videos will stream at standard definition. Automatic fraud blocking and spam risk alerts are also included. 

$65 at AT&T

AT&T Unlimited Extra

For $75 per month, users will get unlimited talk, text, and data in the US, Mexico, and Canada. Fifty gigabytes of premium data is included, along with 15GB of mobile hotspot, and texting to 120 countries from the US. Videos will stream at standard definition. Automatic fraud blocking and spam risk alerts are also included, along with safe browsing and identity monitoring as part of AT&T's Advanced Mobile Security service. 

$75 at AT&T

AT&T Unlimited Elite

For $85 per month, users will get unlimited talk, text, and data in the US, Mexico, and Canada. One-hundred gigabytes of premium data are included, along with 30GB of mobile hotspot, and texting to 120 countries from the US. Videos will stream at high definition. The entire Advanced Mobile Security service is included, including automatic fraud blocking and spam risk, along with HBO Max. 

$85 at AT&T

After a user goes over the premium data allotment, AT&T may slow down your data speeds when the network is congested. 

T-Mobile

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

T-Mobile has the simplest approach to 5G-specific plans, per its FAQ: "All T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile plans include access to 5G at no extra cost." Meaning, if you're a T-Mobile customer, you don't need to change a thing -- even if you're on an older plan. 

T-Mobile has three plans currently listed on its site.

T-Mobile Essentials

For $60 per month, you get unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data. You'll also get unlimited talk, text, and data in Mexico and Canada, with data speeds limited to 128Kbps. You'll get T-Mobile's scam-blocking protection, and unlimited 3G mobile hotspot, video streaming at 480p, and access to Simple Global text message service abroad. 

$60 at T-Mobile

T-Mobile Magenta

For $70 per month, you get unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data. Mobile hotspot use is limited to 3GB of 4G LTE data (after which it falls back to unlimited 3G speeds). You'll get 5GB of 4G LTE data in Mexico and Canada, along with unlimited talk and text. Gogo in-flight text messaging is concluded, along with one hour of free Wi-Fi use. Videos will stream in 480p. If you have two or more lines on the Magenta plan, it'll also include a Netflix subscription at no extra charge. 

$70 at T-Mobile

T-Mobile Magenta Plus

For $85 per month, you get unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data. Mobile hotspot use is limited to 20GB of 4G LTE data (after which it falls back to unlimited 3G speeds). You'll get 5GB of 4G LTE data in Mexico and Canada, along with unlimited talk and text. Gogo in-flight text messaging is concluded, along with unlimited Wi-Fi use. Videos will stream in 1080p. If you have two or more lines on the Magenta Plus plan, it'll also include a Netflix subscription at no extra charge. 

$85 at T-Mobile

For any of the above plans, T-Mobile will slow down your connection speed after 50GB of data use each billing cycle. 

Metro by T-Mobile customers can also use the company's 5G network. Plans range from $40 per month for 10GB of data with unlimited talk and text to $60 for unlimited high-speed data, an Amazon Prime membership, 100GB of Google One storage, and 15GB of hotspot data. Metro will slow down your data speeds after 35GB of use. 

Sprint

If you're a Sprint customer, you won't have to change to a T-Mobile plan in order to access its 5G network after the merger. However, we can no longer view Sprint's cellular plans, so if you need to make any changes, you'll need to call customer care and ask what your options are.