The Best Cell Phone Providers

How to get the best service for your small business

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Business cell phones are a must for professionals, but choosing a cell provider can be challenging because carriers offer many different features and plan prices. Regardless of your decision, it's important to select services that help your employees do their job whether they're at home or on the road. 

To make your decision simpler, we analyzed 20 providers. We looked at coverage areas, quality of customer service, and 5G availability. Then we narrowed our selection by comparing features and perks based on specific business use cases.

Best Cell Phone Providers for 2021

Best Overall : Verizon

Verizon

Verizon

Enjoy business features like a mobile virtual private network (VPN) and go almost anywhere as Verizon networks cover more than 70% of the United States.

Pros
  • Choose from over 100 devices

  • Mobile hotspots with up to 20GB

  • Discounted pricing for additional phone lines

Cons
  • Cell phones purchased through Verizon cost more than other carrier’s devices

  • International calling is an add-on feature

  • Unlimited plans are pricey

With an extensive national network, Verizon is the leading wireless provider. It receives top scores for network coverage, speed, and reliability. Verizon's plan and device flexibility, combined with excellent business features, makes it the clear winner in our best overall cell phone provider category.

In over 50 large cities, Verizon offers its 5G mmWave coverage, while its lower-band 5G has wider availability. Features include: 

  • Unlimited calling and text to U.S., Mexico, and Canada
  • Ability to mix and match plans
  • Unlimited calling, texting, and data while in Mexico and Canada
  • Frequent specials on phones with buy-one-get-one-free offers
  • Verizon call filter feature
  • Unlimited mobile hotspots, with speeds depending on your plan
  • Enhanced security bundle with device management and mobile endpoint security on Pro and Plus plans

Verizon gives extra savings when you add more lines. For example, for one phone line, you'll pay $70 to $95 per month. With five or more lines, the price drops to $30 to $50 per month per line. You can also add international calling starting at $5 per month. The following prices reflect a $5-per-month savings for paperless billing and autopay. Verizon business plans consist of:

  • Business Unlimited Start: $70 per month for one line or $30 per phone per month for five phones
  • Business Unlimited Plus: $80 per month for one line or $40 per phone per month for five phones, with no bandwidth limitations, called throttling, until you go over 60GB
  • Business Unlimited Pro: $95 per month for one line or $50 per phone per month for five phones, with no throttling until you go over 120GB

Best for 5G : T-Mobile

T-Mobile

T-Mobile

Travel from coast to coast and get 5G services, available in more than 7,500 cities.

Pros
  • Best nationwide coverage for 5G

  • Discounts for people over 55, veterans, and first responders

  • No contract required

Cons
  • Only three plans

  • Entry plan doesn’t include a mobile hotspot

  • Unlimited international calling only available on Magenta business plans

T-Mobile is a well-known cell phone carrier that recently acquired the Sprint network, expanding its coverage area. Although T-Mobile's 5G isn't as fast as Verizon's, T-Mobile's 5G coverage includes over 7,500 cities. The company claims its 5G network is bigger than both AT&T and Verizon's 5G networks combined. Strong 5G coverage and plenty of business features make T-Mobile the best choice for 5G.

T-Mobile offers many standard and available features, such as:

  • One hour of in-flight Wi-Fi and unlimited text on select airlines
  • Unlimited talk, text, and data in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico
  • Unlimited international calling
  • Free Scam Shield service with enhanced caller ID and call blocking
  • DIGITS feature allows you to use up to five numbers on your device, which is perfect for business owners covering multiple phone lines
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot data
  • Netflix comes free with Magenta packages
  • Perks like free trials or low rates for TVision streaming service

T-Mobile offers specials for extra savings, so if you pay for two Magenta lines, you'll get the third line free. Business owners appreciate the discounts for multiple lines. One phone line ranges from $60 to $85 per month versus five phone lines for $24 to $40 per line per month. The following T-Mobile plans include a discount for autopay: 

  • Essentials: $60 per month for one phone line or $24 per month per line for five lines plus taxes and fees
  • Magenta: $70 per month for one phone line or $32 per month per line for five lines, and all taxes and fees are included in these prices. Magenta adds Netflix and unlimited international data
  • Magenta Plus: $85 per month for one phone line or $40 per month per line for five lines. The price includes all taxes and fees and comes with Scam Shield Premium

Best Prepaid Carrier : Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile

 Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile offers one of the lowest prices for unlimited nationwide talk and text, with enormous savings on prepaid plans.

Pros
  • You can bring your own device

  • Excellent coverage via the T-Mobile network

  • Works with over 70 phones

Cons
  • Data throttling on 8GB

  • No unlimited international calling plans

  • Some service inconsistency during peak hours

With many prepaid cell phone plans, you pay more for convenience. However, Mint Mobile offers excellent prices, 5G connections, and plenty of device options. Its standout prepaid packages put Mint Mobile at the top of the pack for the best prepaid carrier. 

Mint Mobile is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), meaning it uses T-Mobile networks to provide phone and data services. This network delivers reliable service and 5G access in over 7,500 cities. On Mint Mobile’s excellent prepaid packages, you’ll get features such as:

  • Free calls to U.S., Mexico, and Canada
  • Complimentary mobile hotspot
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Free 3-in-1 SIM card
  • Free mobile hotspot

Mint Mobile offers three, six, and 12-month prepaid plans, based on your data requirements. You can buy up to four plans per order. The following packages don't include taxes and fees and reflect your total for a three-month prepaid plan:

  • 3GB: $45
  • 8GB: $60
  • 12GB: $75
  • Unlimited: $90

Best Basic Option : Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless

If you need to buy phones for your remote or on-site staff, Republic Wireless provides the basics for a low price.

Pros
  • Free 14-day trial

  • No contracts

  • Extremely affordable

Cons
  • Doesn’t work on most iPhones

  • No customer service phone support

  • Not for people who need unlimited data

Republic Wireless is an MVNO that runs on the reliable and nationwide T-Mobile wireless network. The plans are best for employees who don't need to use their phones for streaming videos. With Republic Wireless, your teams can take business calls from anywhere without breaking the bank, which is why it's the best basic option.

This phone carrier keeps its prices low because your services automatically default to Wi-Fi whenever wireless service is available. You don't have to worry about unexpected charges with Republic Wireless because once you reach your data limit, the data stops. You can quickly add more data using your mobile app. All plans come with essential features such as:

  • A mobile application with data protection tools
  • Free Wi-Fi calls to the U.S. when overseas
  • Built-in spam call blocking features
  • Free talk and text

With Republic Wireless, you can pay month-to-month or opt for an annual plan. Yearly plans give you two months free, so you only pay for 10 months. You can add 1GB of data for $5, up to 15GB of data with all plans. The following My Choice packages don't include fees or taxes:

  • Talk & Text: $15 per month or $150 per year
  • 1GB: $20 per month ($200 per year) for 1GB of data and a mobile hotspot
  • 2GB: $25 per month ($250 per year) for 2GB of data and a mobile hotspot
  • Build-Your-Own: $15 per month plus $5 per 1GB

Best Value : RedPocket

RedPocket

 RedPocket

With plans starting at $2.50 per month and the ability to mix and match your networks, RedPocket is the best deal online.

Pros
  • No contracts or credit checks

  • Tons of customizable plan options available through Amazon or eBay

  • Lowest priced services

Cons
  • No rollover minutes, text, or data

  • Limited features

  • No mobile app

Since 2006 RedPocket has worked out agreements with all major networks to provide nationwide coverage at low prices, making it an excellent choice for business owners needing the best value for their money. 

RedPocket is an MVNO that offers coverage using T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon networks. Cell phone services include:

  • Free international calls to over 80 countries
  • Unlimited text on all plans
  • Available mobile hotspots
  • Free SIM card
  • Free international text messaging except on Verizon networks
  • Wi-Fi calling on select phones

RedPocket offers various plans on its website, or you can purchase packages on eBay and Amazon. All plan prices are actual prices before any current deals, and pricing doesn't include taxes or fees. The following packages provide unlimited text: 

  • 1GB: $10 per month for 1,000 minutes and 1GB of data at the highest speeds
  • 3GB: $19 per month for unlimited minutes and 3GB of data at the highest speeds 
  • 10GB: $30 per month for unlimited minutes and 10GB at the highest speeds
  • 22GB: $40 per month for unlimited minutes and 22GB at the highest speeds

You can also purchase 360-day plans at ultra-low monthly prices. Plans include:

  • Phone: $2.50 per month for 200 minutes, 1,000 texts, and 200MB of data at the highest speeds
  • Basic: $5 per month for 100 minutes, 100 texts, and 500MB of data at the highest speeds
  • Essentials: $8.25 per month for 1,000 minutes, unlimited text, and 1GB of data at the highest speeds
  • Unlimited: $15 per month for unlimited talk, text, and 3GB of data at the highest speeds
  • Ultimate: $20 per month for unlimited talk, text, and 8GB of data at the highest speeds
  • XL: $30 per month for unlimited talk, text, and 20GB of data at the highest speeds

Best for International Use : Google Fi

Google Fi

 Google Fi

Use your Google Fi service with data and text while visiting more than 200 countries.

Pros
  • Available 100GB cloud storage

  • No contracts

  • Mobile application

Cons
  • Works best on Google Pixels or select Moto phones

  • More expensive if you use a lot of data

  • Only two plan options

Google Fi is an MVNO that uses T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Sprint networks. With Google phones or compatible third-party devices, you can seamlessly switch between networks to ensure you have coverage everywhere. 

Business travelers appreciate features like: 

  • Unlimited calls and texts
  • Free international texting
  • Data works in other countries
  • When traveling abroad, you can call the U.S. for free
  • Free calls to over 50 countries and territories on select plans
  • Low international data rates, starting at $0.01 per minute

With Google Fi, you can choose between two plans. Prices drop when you add more users, but pricing doesn't include taxes or fees. Google Fi packages include:

  • Flexible: $20 per month for one phone or $16 per month per phone for five phones, plus $10 per 1GB of data
  • Unlimited: $70 per month for one phone or $45 per month per phone for five phones for unlimited data, free international calling to over 50 countries and territories, and a Google One membership that includes 100GB of cloud storage that you can share with up to five family members

Best for Customizing Plans : US Mobile

US Mobile

 US Mobile

Save money and only pay for what you use with custom plans from US Mobile.

Pros
  • Available 15% military discount

  • 14-day risk-free trial

  • iOS application

Cons
  • Limited phone selection

  • Fewer features than top carriers

  • No discount on multiple lines for businesses

US Mobile is an MVNO that uses T-Mobile and Verizon networks, making it a reliable cell phone provider. But the real appeal of US Mobile is how you can create plans that fit each of your employees. US Mobile is the only carrier offering personalized packages, making it the best choice for customization. 

Use the US Mobile tool to design your order based on minutes, text, and data needs. Standard features on unlimited plans include:

  • Unlimited talk and text 
  • Free perks like audio and video streaming services
  • Unlimited international calling
  • Up to 10GB of international roaming data

You'll find tons of variety in plans, from a single phone to group packages. For instance, you can purchase four monthly unlimited plans for only $110 plus taxes and fees. US Mobile offers two standard packages:

  • 2.5GB data plan with unlimited minutes and text for $15
  • 10GB data plan with unlimited minutes and text for $30

However, the standout packages are the build-your-own plans. Simply select the amount of data, minutes, and text you want, then tally up your total. À la carte options include:

  • Add zero, 75, 150, 300, 500, 1,000, or unlimited minutes with prices ranging from $0 to $8 per month
  • Add zero, 50, 100, 300, 1,000, 2,000, or unlimited texts with costs ranging from $0 to $6 per month
  • Add zero, 50MB, 100MB, 500MB, 1.5GB, 3GB, 5GB, or 8GB of data with prices ranging from $0 to $26 per month

Best for Phone and Internet : Xfinity Mobile

Xfinity Mobile

 Xfinity Mobile

Bundle high-speed internet and your choice of mix-and-match phone plans to get top speeds at low prices.

Pros
  • Great selection of cell phones

  • One of the lowest prices for unlimited services

  • Free SIM card if you bring your own phone

Cons
  • No multi-line discounts

  • Bring your own device is limited to iPhones

  • Can only buy up to 10 lines per account

Xfinity Mobile uses the Verizon network and Xfinity hotspots to deliver stable and fast cell service. It comes bundled with Comcast's Xfinity internet services, a top internet service provider (ISP) available from coast to coast. Xfinity Mobile's affordable pricing and robust internet services make it the best choice for phone and internet. 

Cell phone plans offer available features such as:

  • Unlimited data, calls, and text
  • Personal hotspots
  • LTE data savers help reduce data consumption
  • Unlimited international calling
  • Verizon network offers 5G network access 

With Xfinity Mobile, you can mix and match plans to give each employee what they need to do their job. With the following programs, your data is sharable. You can add extra data for $15 per 1GB or unlimited calls to Mexico and Canada for $10 per month. The Xfinity Mobile plans below don't include fees or taxes:

  • By the Gig—Shared Data: $15 per month for 1GB, $30 per month for 3GB, and $60 per month for 10GB, includes high-definition streaming
  • Unlimited—Per Line Data: $45 per month for unlimited data and standard-quality video streaming

Xfinity Internet services are based on your location. You can select plans with 25 to 2,000 Mbps speed. Prices start at $20 per month and go up to $299.95 per month.

Bottom Line

Although the major carriers offer similar prices and features, not all services will work in your area. You can save money with an MVNO, but you still need to check which network it uses. While basic plans offer pay-as-you-use service, others include exclusive perks. With prices ranging from $2.50 to $95 per month, it's vital to consider coverage and features while considering how you and your employees use the phone. 

Verizon's advanced security bundle with mobile endpoint security and device management, combined with a VPN, make it a fantastic option for small businesses. You can mix and match plans based on your usage and you'll save money when you add more lines. Verizon also offers frequent deals on cell phones so that you can equip your crew with their choice of more than 100 devices.

Compare Providers

Best Cell Phone Providers
Phone Carrier Why We Picked It Top Features
Verizon Best Overall Well-rounded plans with business features and nationwide coverage
T-Mobile Best for 5G Offers coast to coast 5GB across 7,500 cities
Mint Mobile Best Prepaid Carrier A three-month prepaid plan gives you three free months
Republic Wireless Best Basic Option Offers the lowest price per 1GB of data and affordable talk and text plans
RedPocket Best Value Save money when choosing from plans that range from $2.50 to $40 per month
Google Fi Best for International Use Visit more than 200 countries and use your data and text plan
US Mobile Best for Customizing Plans Build your own plan with a custom number of minutes, texts, and data
Xfinity Mobile Best for Phone and Internet Bundle your internet and cell phone with packages starting at $35

FAQs

What Is a Cell Phone Provider?

A cell phone provider, also called a mobile service provider (MSP), is a business that offers mobile phone services like data, text, and calling. It transmits your calls using a network of towers instead of the copper wires used for landlines. 

How Can I Get the Best Coverage?

Get the best coverage by looking at a map or using an online tool to see which towers are near you. All providers use phone lines owned by the major MSPs. Recently, T-Mobile purchased Sprint, which may extend its coverage further. Below is the estimated amount of coverage in the United States per company:

  • 70% Verizon
  • 68% AT&T
  • 62% T-Mobile
  • 30% Sprint

If you're in a major city, then there's a good chance most cell services will deliver the highest speeds. However, coverage drops outside metro areas. 5G is new and not available in most non-urban regions. For super-fast 5G speeds, here's how the networks compare:

  • T-Mobile: Offers the most extensive coverage, with 5G services available to an estimated 65% of customers
  • AT&T: Coverage is spotty and not available in all states, but the company says over 200 million people can access it
  • Verizon: Ultra wideband available in 55 cities, and nationwide 5G is available around the major cities

Can I Port a Landline to a Cell Phone?

Yes, according to the Local Number Portability act, all landline and wireless providers must give customers the option of porting eligible phone numbers. Several factors determine your eligibility, including geography and service area coverage. You can use a free online tool or check with your landline provider to see if your number is eligible. 

What Does a Cell Phone Plan Cost?

Cell phone plans offer packages to fit all budgets. Many providers offer discounts for multi-line plans. You can also find great deals when buying phones or annual plans, with hundreds of dollars in savings. 

For unlimited text, calling, and data plans, prices range from $45 to $95 per phone per month. Or select basic talk and text plans, starting at $2.50 per month per phone. With most packages, you can add data with 1GB costing $5 to $15. Several carriers charge according to data amounts: 

  • 1GB: $10 to $20 per month
  • 3GB: $14.17 to $45 per month
  • 8GB: $17.08 to $60 per month
  • 10GB: $30 to $60 per month

Most services don't include taxes and fees in plan costs. You may not know what your total bill will cost until it arrives. According to the Tax Foundation, "Taxes, fees, and government surcharges on wireless consumers increased again in 2020, jumping from 21.7% to 22.6% of a customer's bill." Depending on where you live, you may pay 911 fees, state universal service fund charges, or taxes to your local government. 

How We Chose the Best Cell Phone Providers

We reviewed 20 different mobile service providers and mobile virtual network operators to uncover leaders in categories critical to small business owners. During our research, we discovered service perks or special features that made individual companies stand out. However, we also analyzed pricing structures, customer service reviews, and overall quality. Since MVNO's rely on three phone networks for service quality, we also explored the best options based on coverage areas.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Tax Foundation. "Wireless Taxes by State 2020." Accessed Jan. 11, 2021.