Mobile hotspots, either in stand-alone devices or included as a feature inside smartphones, allow people share their connection to a carrier’s cellular network with others via Wi-Fi. It’s a pretty handy thing to have around, especially if you are on the road where Wi-Fi Internet access might not be available.
The nation’s biggest wireless carriers all sell stand-alone mobile hotspots, at least to some degree, and 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 stand alone 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 1 GB a month for $15, with a way to add more data if needed at $10 per GB. Paying $60 a month will get you 10 GB of data for your mobile hotspot, while $90 a month offers you 20 GB of data. Finally, you can get 30 GB of data for your Verizon mobile hotspot for $120 a month.
If you already have a Verizon smartphone, you can add a stand alone mobile hotspot to your plan for $20 a month. The data amounts include 4 GB for $30 a month, 6 GB for $40 a month, 8 GB for $50 a month, 10 GB for $60 a month, or 12 GB for $70 a month. You can also choose to add unlimited data for your mobile hotspot for $110 a month. Verizon is the only carrier that offers a way to get unlimited data for your stand alone mobile hotspot with this choice.
If you want to use your hotspot infrequently, such as a business or family trip, Verizon has some prepaid plans as well. Verizon’s prices start at $15 a month for 250 GB, or the same price for one week at 500 GB. You can also get 1 GB of data for $20 that will last for a month. The other prepaid mobile hotspot plans last for two months, and range for $35 for 2 GB, $60 for 5 GB and $100 a month for 10 GB.
The second biggest carrier in the US is not as big on mobile hotspots as Verzion. AT&T currently only sells one stand-alone model. It’s available on the company’s prepaid plan. If you buy it, you can sign up for three plans. The cheapest is $25 a month, which gives you 2 GB of data, and you can buy additional data for $10 per 500 MB. $50 a month gives you 5 GB of data for your mobile hotspot, and you can get 1 GB of additional data for an extra $10. Finally, you can spend $75 a month for 8 GB of mobile hotspot data, and you can spend $10 to get an additional 2 GB of data.
Sprint sells a few 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 a few plans to pick from. The cheapest is $40 a month, which offers 3 GB 4G of high-speed data, and after that the speeds go down to 2G. Paying $55 a month boosts the high-speed data allotment to 6 GB, and $85 a month gives you 12 GB of high-speed data for your mobile hotspot. Finally, Sprint gives you a whopping 30 GB of high-speed data for your mobile hotspot at a cost of $115 a month.
The nation’s third biggest carrier currently only offers a couple of stand alone mobile hotspots for sale. If you do decide to buy one from T-Mobile, you actually have a variety of mobile hotspot plans to choose from. If you just need your mobile hotspot when you travel away from home, T-Mobile lets you buy prepaid data packs for the device. You can pay $5 for just one day of access, with a data cap of 500 MB, or you can purchase 1 GB of data for seven days for $10. If you are going to be away more than a week, there’s also a plan that offers 3 GB of data for a month for the price of $30.
If you know you will be using mobile hotspot plans a lot more than this, T-Mobile also offers some data-only plans that auto-renew each month unless you cancel the subscription. The cheapest is $20 a month for 2 GB of data, and it goes up to 6 GB if you pay $35 a month. $50 a month gets you 10 GB, $65 a month offers 14 GB and $80 a month will give your hotspot access to 18 GB. Finally, the most expensive plan gives you 22 GB of data for $95 a month.
This prepaid subsidiary of Sprint sells a stand alone mobile hotspot, and if you purchase it, you can also choose from two prepaid plans. One costs $25 a month but only offers 1.5 GB of high speed data, but if you pay $50 a month, that data cap goes way up to 10 GB, so that may be the one to pick for the best value.
This prepaid carrier offers a few mobile hotspots for sale, along with several plans for those devices. You automatically get 200 MB of free high-speed data every month when you buy one of those devices. Paying $14.95 a month gives you 500 MB of data, and $24.95 a month increases that cap to 1 GB. $39.95 a month gets you 2 GB of data for NetZero’s mobile hotspots, while $59.95 a month increases it to 4 GB and $89.95 a month sees it going up to 6 GB. 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 the ones on many other carriers.
Straight Talk Wireless
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