Best MVNO Carriers for Data Hungry Users
When you need all-you-can-eat but still want to save money, Walmart Family Mobile has just the thing for you.
It's no secret that MVNOs, or alternative carriers, offers the best value when it comes to phone service — particularly mobile data. For some of us, though, the price is secondary because we need to use a lot of data. The good news is that there are options when it comes to MVNO service for data-hungry customers!
We looked at what's out there, did some math and decided that Walmart Family Mobile is the best MVNO to use if you need a lot of data every month. Here's how we made that decision.
The Unlimited Plan
Of course, we mean unlimited 4G LTE data. You have to be careful while shopping because there are plenty of "unlimited" plans with a set limit on LTE data and a fallback to slower speeds once it's reached. Those are fine plans for a lot of people, but calling them unlimited is deceptive. Don't fall for it.
Thankfully, Walmart Family Mobile's Truly Unlimited plan is dead simple: $49.99 per month gets you all the calls, texts and LTE high-speed data you can use. No frills, no international use, no extras. Just as much LTE data and you want each and every month on T-Mobile's nationwide LTE network.
Walmart Family Mobile isn't the cheapest MVNO with an unlimited LTE data plan. Notably, Teltik offers the same no-frills unlimited LTE on T-Mobile for just $40 per month, or a plan with unlimited consumption plus 10GB of LTE hotspot for $50. We're just not sure if we can trust the company enough to call them our choice for the best because of their history.
Formerly Harbor Mobile, they left plenty of people in a pickle when they dropped AT&T service on short notice resulting in lost phones numbers. More information is available at Howard Forums. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ...
Why Walmart is the best
Sum this one up with two words: cheap and easy.
A SIM card for Walmart Family Mobile costs just $0.99 and you can buy one right at your local store. Drop it in a compatible phone (any T-Mobile branded phone or unlocked phone with the correct network support), set things up online and enter the PIN from your monthly unlimited purchase and off you go. Most every MVNO is this easy to set up, but the kicker is that you can also walk into a Walmart store and get some help with the process if you need it. With a Walmart on every corner of the U.S., this makes a difference for a lot of people.
$50 gets you unlimited calls, texts, and data from a company that will still be here in a year.
T-Mobile's network still isn't as good for coverage as Verizon's, but it's as good as AT&T's — and that's saying plenty. It's fine for over 95% of the people in the U.S. according to companies like OpenSignal, which makes checking this sort of thing its business, but there are still people who won't be able to use T-Mobile's network so they won't be able to use Walmart Family Mobile. There's no sense in denying any of this and if you fit into this group of people your best bet is to talk to Verizon about a post-paid plan if you consume copious amounts of LTE data.
That price though. Fifty dollars a month is a substantial savings over every postpaid unlimited plan with any carrier, and having the freedom of paying for service when (and with who) you want is worth just as much as any monetary savings. MVNOs offer cheaper service because they don't have the same overhead of maintaining a physical network and focus on phone service instead of extras. You won't be able to make calls to or from Canada or Mexico. You won't be able to use the service for tethering. You won't get the same level of support for network issues that you would from T-Mobile proper. But you're saving over $20 each month and if you just want a real unlimited LTE plan for your phone Walmart Family Mobile is the best MVNO to get it from.
Things you might not like
- T-Mobile's Network. T-Mobile has come a long way in just a few years, and we're not kidding when we say the network is as good as AT&T's now. We're also not kidding when we say it's not as good as Verizon's. It's fast, and as long as you don't venture too far off the beaten path you'll be fine. But if you regularly visit or live in rural America, T-Mobile service can be iffy at best. As always, check this out as best you can before you send any money to any company.
- There is no tethering. None. If you want unlimited data so you can watch YouTube or Netflix all day on your phone (you can be slowed down after you use 32GB in a single month) this isn't a problem. But if you want to play online games on your iPad or use your laptop away from Wi-Fi, this is not the plan for you.
- Not every phone is compatible. Your phone has to have support for the network frequencies T-Mobile uses. Savvy consumers already know if their phone does, but not everyone is a savvy user. If your phone comes from T-Mobile, regardless of brand, it's compatible. If you bought your phone unlocked recently, it should be fine, too. But if your phone comes from another network provider and you had it unlocked, or if it's an older model, you should check. Visit this T-Mobile page and they'll look it up for you!
MVNOs can be pretty "fluid" and things change from month to month. That means the next time we visit this one the recommendation might change, but right now we say Walmart Family Mobile is the best MVNO for data-hungry users.
Alternative carriers (MVNOS)
- What is an alternative mobile carrier?
- What are the advantages of going with an alternative carrier?
- How to make sure your phone works on a prepaid alternative carrier
- 8 Important Considerations When Switching To An MVNO
- These are the cheapest data plans you can buy in the U.S.
- Mint SIM vs. Cricket Wireless: Which is better for you?