Cell Phones

Anyone have insights into US Wireless Carriers / phone plans?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 10th, 2021 6:01 pm
Oct 16, 2020
54 posts

Anyone have insights into US Wireless Carriers / phone plans?

May be a shot in the dark, but does anyone here either live in the US or moved recently from the US to Canada, and has a good understanding of the "State of Play" for wireless carriers and plans in the US?

I will be moving to Los Angeles later this year, and so want to understand the latest & greatest as it relates to cell phone plans. I've got a "good for Canada" $50 / 20GB Unlimited plan with Telus (EPP plan from last year), and prior to that, was on the $50 / 15gb LTE plan with Rogers. So I've generally had my pulse on the market in Canada for many years, but am in the dark about US plans.

Things like:
- For big cities (like LA), how is T-Mobile (now that they merged with Sprint), vs AT&T or Verizon? I know the general story from years ago that AT&T/Verizon were premium, and T-Mobile and Sprint were the upstarts who had great prices but coverage wasn't as strong. Still the case?
- Unlimited plans: what's a good price / plan these days? Is it same deal as in Canada where unlimited plans usually have a set data limit for full-speed, after which point its speed-throttled?
- BYOD vs Phone financing: I've always bought my iPhones outright here from Apple for last few years, given benefits of not being tied down to any carrier, and freedom to switch to good BYOD plans when they come up. Is this the case in the US, or do we have ability to get good deals on phones through carriers / good rationale to do so? We'll be in the market for a new iPhone for my wife come Sep/Oct, so can think about whether we should go through carrier, maybe get iPhone Upgrade Plan via Apple, or buy outright like we have done in Canada.
- New subscribers: I will be having 2 lines for my wife and I. Are there good deals available for new subscribers? Is there a similar dynamic as Canada where win-back plans tend to get the best deals, and new subscribers less so?

Appreciate any insights anyone may have!
7 replies
Deal Addict
Apr 17, 2014
1120 posts
Corunna, ON
You are probably better to ask this detail of questions at Howardforums.com
Deal Addict
Nov 1, 2009
2067 posts
Wouldn't be better to get something like this.
You may have to park yours & your wife numbers somewhere else & call forward them to your new US numbers or ditch them altogether.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 14, 2003
6032 posts
T-Mobile is much better now than it was 15 years ago because they have been growing and updating their infrastructure aggressively. I'd say 10 years ago T-Mobile sucked outside of large cities but I think within large cities T-Mobile is just as good as AT&T is. I was with AT&T 15 years ago but I've been with T-Mobile for the last 10 years and it has largely been fine anywhere I went in the US. The notable exceptions for me are in the Nevada desert and in some remote coastal areas there wasn't T-Mobile coverage. This may have changed recently though.

Plans with unlimited data are the norm in the US these days. It's probably $30 and up for unlimited plans. There's also lots of competition with MVNOs. Free phones are also a big thing in the US whether it be prepaid or postpaid plans. The only caveat is if you are able to qualify for a postpaid plan as soon as you arrive in the US. If you have a credit history in the US then it shouldn't be a problem but you might be using prepaid plans until you can get your credit established.

Deals are open to all in the US unlike in Canada. You do not need to worry about whether you've been an established customer with a provider or you are a new customer everybody gets access to the same rates. There is real competition in the US and good rates because of that.
Deal Addict
Apr 25, 2019
1164 posts
YXE, Sask.
I hear Mint Mobile is a good option for $30 Unlimited everything. Only thing is you have to buy a year of service to get the lowest price. However, Mint sells a $5 test sim that lasts 7 days so you can test the speeds and coverage.
Koodo $30 75 GB
Samsung Galaxy A53 / Galaxy Watch 5 owner.
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2011
2152 posts
AT&T or Verizon are your best bets in Los Angeles. I was there in 2018 and used T-Mobile and AT&T.

T-Mobile was unbelievably congested, some places would literally max out at 1mbps download. Instagram would be stuck on loading indicator. Not sure if it's because I used prepaid, but customer service in 2018 insisted that it's the same prioritization with postpaid... From reading the t-mobile subreddit, I know postpaid people who have the same issues.

Only problem with AT&T in 2018 was there seemed to be a ton of weak spots all over the city, mostly inside LA city limits. Ironically didn't have problems outside of the LA city proper in Southern California. Some places I literally had better signal with T-Mobile, and that's due to them acquiring Cingular or whatever it was called...

Check this for reference: https://www.pcmag.com/news/fastest-mobi ... os-angeles They don't seem to have a 2021 report yet.

TL;DR: AT&T is the fastest in Los Angeles. Don't use T-Mobile unless you want the cheapest data plan at the cost of shitty network (they're really like an American Freedom Mobile)
Jul 28, 2021
38 posts
Just moved from the US. Have used
1) AT&T
Postpaid --> Best but most expensive
Prepaid --> Best with no credit check. Check for Walmart AT&T plans as well. Order online to save on fees. Never experienced data deprioritization but max data I use is around 5GB.
Cricket --> I used to miss calls in 2015-2016, but it has become better now. Check ebay for referral codes, dont need to pay to get them. its in the ebay post description.
AT&T has loyalty department, but I think you need to be a long time customer. Never heard of winback deals in US.
2) Tmobile
Postpaid --> Good
Prepaid --> deprioritization
MetroPCs --> Cheap but deprioritization
3) Verizon
Xfinity --> 15$ plan if you have internet, includes 1gb data. You keep getting 200/300$ gift cards with phones. Deprioritization
Visible --> 25$ unlimited, mileage varies as they have speeds like 50mbps+ and then you get less than 1mbps. Also varies with location.
4) Google FI
Best if you are an international traveler or use less data. Generally has deals like low priced android phones or gift cards. Max phone discount you will get is 50%. If you don't use any data, your bill will be around 25$.

If you don't have credit history in US and are looking for postpaid plan, go to the store or call them as you will have to put in a deposit. Avoid monthly bill credits, that's how they tie you into 24 month contract in the US these days. Search for outright discount or gift cards or one time credit.

Costco US wireless website:

US deals --> slickdeals. Go to community-->hotdeals rather than looking at just frontpage.
US cashback --> rakuten.

Also, howardforum is the best place for this question like @proplayer44 said