Verizon Is Offering Unlimited Data Again, But Is It A Good Deal?

Find out if this data plan is right for you.

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Years ago, Verizon Wireless dropped its Unlimited Data option. Instead, users could opt for an “XL” Plan (16GB for $90 a month ) or the “XXL” plan (24GB for $110 a month). Well, all of that is changing now and everything old is new again: unlimited data is back at Verizon. But the question is, would it actually be a good deal for you?

The answer, in short, is somewhat obvious: It depends on how much data you use. First, let’s start with the basics. How much will each line cost if you switch over to the unlimited plan? According to Gizmodo, here’s the breakdown.

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For a single line: $80 a month before taxes. This includes a $65 fee for unlimited data and a $20 line access fee but also gives you unlimited phone calls and texts in addition to your data. Verizon will take off $5 a month from your bill if you register with AutoPay and Paperless billing (good for the environment!).

For a family plan: prices start at $110 a month for unlimited data, but you get a $10 monthly discount for signing up with AutoPay and paperless billing. With a $20 access fee per line, your total will come in at $140 a month for two people for unlimited data. If you have four lines on the account, you’ll end up paying $45 per line for the data.

So now that you know the basics of how much the plan will cost you specifically, let’s turn to the data itself. Most companies aren’t going to let you stream Netflix from the top of a mountain in Switzerland—even with an unlimited data plan. And even Verizon says once you use 22GB of data on the unlimited plan, your service might throttle back significantly. They’re not guaranteeing it will happen, but you shouldn’t be surprised if it does.

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Interestingly, this move from Verizon has prompted T-Mobile to drops its charge for HD streaming. Starting Feb. 17, T-Mobile’s plans will include free HD video and 10GB of LTE tethering in response to Verizon’s unlimited data plan. Previously, T-Mobile customers had to pay extra for HD video. T-Mobile charges $70 for one line, $100 for two and $160 for for (taxes and fees included, unlike Verizon’s pricing), and offers unlimited data up to 28GB before users may experience a congested network.

To see how other plans stack up, check out this handy tool from NerdWallet, which breaks them all down. Clark Howard also outlined all the mobile plans, including prepaid options, earlier this year. His site offers maps of each service’s areas of coverage, and Verizon does seem to be the most covered of all plans. If you live in an area with spotty service, and you have found one provider to work better than other, it’s probably worth paying for whichever gives you the best service. Because is there anything more frustrating than dropped calls or not being able to watch video at all from your phone?

So, ultimately, should you opt for the unlimited data package? It depends on how much data you use. If you’re a heavy data-user or have a large family plan where everyone is using their phones a lot, it’s probably a good deal. If you can comfortably stay within the offered plans of 2, 4 or 8GB of data, don’t bother.

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