Mobile hotspots, either in standalone devices or included as a feature inside smartphones, let people share their connection to a carrier’s cellular network with others via Wi-Fi. It’s pretty handy if you are on the road where Wi-Fi internet access might not be available.
The nation’s biggest wireless carriers all sell standalone mobile hotspots, at least to some degree. If you buy one from them, you can go and sign up for a mobile hotspot plan. If you own a smartphone, carriers also offer a way to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot in their regular data plans.
The nation’s largest carrier actually sells quite a few standalone mobile hotspot devices — more than any other carrier on this list. If you just have that postpaid mobile hotspot on your Verizon account, with no other devices, you can get service starting as low as 1GB a month for $15, with a way to add more data if needed. For example, you can get 10GB of data for your standalone mobile hotspot for $60 a month, all the way up to 100GB of data for $710 a month. If you already have a Verizon smartphone, you can add a standalone mobile hotspot to your plan for $20 a month.
If you’ll only use a hotspot every now and then, such as if you are on a business or family trip, Verizon has some prepaid plans as well. Verizon’s prices start at $35 a month for 3GB. You can also get 15GB of data for $45 a month. The other prepaid mobile hotspot plan offers unlimited data for $65 a month.
Verizon recently launched its first 5G mobile hotspot, the Verizon Inseego 5G MiFi M1000. Verizon customers who already own a smartphone with an unlimited smartphone plan can add a 5G MiFi M1000 to their account and get 50GB of 5G data per month, along with 15GB of 4G LTE data for $30 a month. If they just want the 5G hotspot, 5G data plans start at $85 a month. Business customers can get the hotspot, with a $45 per month unlimited plan, for an additional $15 per month with 35GB of combined 4G/5G data.
The second biggest carrier in the U.S. also sells a couple of mobile hotspots. If you buy one. you can sign up for the carriers DataConnect mobile hotspot plans, which offer 10GB of data for $50 a month. If you own an AT&T phone, you can add the Netgear hotspot to your account for $20 a month, and with two plan options. One offers 3GB of data for $40 a month, and the other offers 9GB of data for $60 a month. You can get a $10 discount for either of those plans if you use AutoPay and paperless billing
AT&T has also launched its Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, which is the first hardware device that supports AT&T’s mobile 5G networks that are currently available in parts of many U.S. cities. It allows smartphones and other Wi-Fi devices to access 5G cellular speeds through the mobile hotspot. At the moment, AT&T is not selling this mobile hotspot to the general public, but it will begin public sales later this spring at the price of $499. The AT&T mobile hotspot plans for its 5G network will be priced at 15GB of 5G data for $70 per month, when the carrier starts selling it to the general public.
Sprint sells a couple of mobile hotspots, but not nearly as many as Verizon. If you choose to buy one of these devices and use it on Sprint’s network, you have three plans to choose from. One offers 10GB of data for $30 a month, another sells 50GB of data for just $50 a month and finally, you can get one with 100GB of data for a mere $60 a month.
The nation’s third biggest carrier currently only offers one standalone mobile hotspot, made by Coolpad. If you decide to buy it, you actually have a variety of mobile hotspot plans to choose from. The cheapest is $10 a month for 2GB of data, and it goes up to 6GB if you pay $25 a month. $40 a month gets you 10GB, $55 a month offers 14GB and $70 a month will give your hotspot access to 18GB. Finally, the most expensive plan gives you 22GB of data for $85 a month.
This prepaid subsidiary of Sprint sells a standalone mobile hotspot from ZTE, and if you purchase it, you can also choose from two prepaid plans. One costs $25 a month but only offers 1.5GB of high-speed data. If you pay $50 a month, that data cap goes way up to 10GB, which may offer the best value.
Metro by T-Mobile
T-Mobile’s recently renamed no-contract subsidiary carrier offers the same Alcatel mobile hotspot as its parent. If you buy it, you can get a mobile hotspot plan with 10GB of data for $35 a month. You can go up to 15GB of data for $45 a month, 20GB of data for $55 a month, and 30GB of data for $75 a month.
The nation’s fifth largest cellular wireless carrier offers just one mobile hotspot for sale. If you purchase it, you can choose from three mobile hotspot plans. The first costs $45 a month for 2GB of data, while you can get unlimited data for $65 a month. You can also get unlimited data, but with faster download speeds for $75 a month.
This prepaid carrier currently sells one mobile hotspot. You automatically get 200MB of free high-speed data every month when you buy it. Paying $17.95 a month gives you 1GB of data, and $27.45 a month increases that cap to 2GB. $45.95 a month gets you 4GB of data for NetZero’s mobile hotspots, while $63.95 a month increases it to 6GB, and $89.95 a month sees it going up to 8GB. If you want to get a mobile hotspot with a certain amount of free data every month, this might be for you, but its paid plans are not nearly as competitive as other carriers.
Straight Talk Wireless
Cricket Wireless recently launched its own Wi-Fi hotspot device, and along with it launched new Cricket Wireless mobile hotspot plans just for data. Paying $25 a month gives you 3GB of data, while $35 a month boosts that cap to 10GB of data. If you pay $75 a month, or $65 with Auto-Pay, you can get 30GB of data. Keep in mind that Cricket limits download speeds to 8Mbps.
Smartphone mobile hotspot plans
- Here are the best AT&T plans
- Here are the best Verizon Wireless plans
- Here are the best T-Mobile plans
- Here are the best Sprint plans
Sharing your cellular connection with others is what mobile hotspots are all about. As you can see there are a ton of options to choose from when it comes to finding the right plan for your needs. Which one of these mobile hotspot plans will be the right one for you? Let us know in the comments!