Consumer Reports Reviews Top 4 Cellphone Carriers

Photo (cc) by melissa.barrausme

You know it’s bad when one of the nation’s largest and oldest consumer watchdog organizations calls cellphone plans “so convoluted you need an accounting degree to decipher them.”

That’s how the nonprofit Consumer Reports describes the so-called “Big Four” carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — in a recent rundown of these major carriers’ plans.

Consumer Reports continues:

They continually shift prices up or down according to the number of phone lines you need and the amount of data you’re purchasing. They further complicate matters with “special” short-term offers to lure customers from rivals.

The nonprofit organization’s rundown breaks down the major carriers’ plans, noting pros and cons, and includes tables that allow for easy comparison shopping based on the number of phones and amount of data you want from a plan.

Note that Consumer Reports omitted short-term specials from its calculations, however, “because of their extremely short lifespan and their fragility (deal benefits often vaporize when a customer buys a new phone or makes other changes).”

To view the tables that break down the major carriers’ plan costs, check out Consumer Reports’ cellphone plan comparison in full. To find out whether the small carriers beat the Big Four, check out the best cellphone carriers.

The rundown on the major carriers follows.

AT&T

“AT&T stubbornly clings to variable-rate access fees that can mislead customers into spending more money when they’re trying to save,” Consumer Reports writes.

On the upside, the company’s customers gave it good marks in Consumer Reports’ survey for voice, text and Web services.

Sprint

Sprint is among the lowest-rated carriers in Consumer Reports’ ratings for both its monthly billed service and its prepaid service.

The good news is that Sprint’s plans are “a bit cheaper” than they used to be, “even besting bargain-champion T-Mobile in some instances,” Consumer Reports writes.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile plan costs are “only slightly cheaper” than those of AT&T and Verizon.

T-Mobile is advantageous for people who stream a lot, though, as streamed music and video content from providers like Spotify and Netflix does not count against your data allowance.

On the downside, the company does not offer data-sharing plans, which enable you to share your data allowance with other people who have cellphones on your plan.

Verizon

Verizon “keeps things simple,” Consumer Reports writes, charging a flat $20 for each plan on its sharable data plans.

The company also received good marks for voice, text and Web services.

Which of the Big Four carriers do you think is best? Sound off in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

This story contains affiliate links, which means Money Talks News may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything from some of the companies in this story. However, we only recommend products we love. Using affiliate links helps us keep the lights on, and allows us to continue to offer you great money-saving tips every day.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
12 Ways Retirees Can Earn Passive Income
12 Ways Retirees Can Earn Passive Income

These simple ways of earning income without a lot of active, ongoing effort can stretch your retirement dollars.

This Is the Best Age to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance
This Is the Best Age to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance

If you wait too long to apply for coverage, you could be denied. So, when’s the sweet spot to apply?

Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer
Marooned at Home? Earn Some Cash Playing on Your Computer

Earn cash by reading emails, taking surveys, playing games, shopping and signing up for offers through this website.

7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings
7 Surprising Ways Retirees Waste Their Savings

You can make your retirement money last a lot longer by avoiding these costly mistakes

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

This Simple Mistake Might Weaken Your COVID-19 Vaccination
This Simple Mistake Might Weaken Your COVID-19 Vaccination

Avoid doing this before you get vaccinated.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic
11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic

Many goods we take for granted have become tough to find in 2021.

9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car
9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car

Thinking of leaving these possessions in a car? Prepare for unexpected consequences.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar
9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar can save you a lot of money, but using it like this can cost you.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

10 Things Successful Retirees Do Differently
10 Things Successful Retirees Do Differently

These habits and characteristics can help put you on the track to success.

7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50
7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

As we age, our bodies wear down. Here is how to cut costs associated with some common ailments.

29 Purchases That Can Save You Money Every Day
29 Purchases That Can Save You Money Every Day

Sometimes, you’ve got to spend to save.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.