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 2GB a month for $20, 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 (we are not kidding) 100GB 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 8GB of data for $45 a month. The other prepaid mobile hotspot plan offers unlimited data for $65 a month.
The second biggest carrier in the U.S. is not as big on mobile hotspots as Verizon. AT&T currently only sells one standalone model, the Netgear Nighthawk LTE Mobile Hotspot Router. If you buy it for $199,99. you can sign up for the DataConnect 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 date 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 is also planning to launch the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot sometime before the end of the year. It will be the first hardware device that supports AT&T’s 5G networks when they go live in a number of U.S. cities. It will allow smartphones and other Wi-Fi devices to access 5G cellular speeds through the hotspot. Pricing and the specific launch date for the Nighthawk 5G hotspot has not been announced, but we will update this post when that info is revealed.
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 two plans to choose from. One offers 10GB of data for $30 a month, and the other offers 50GB of data for just $50 a month.
The nation’s third biggest carrier currently only offers one standalone mobile hotspot, made by Alcatel. 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 have just one mobile hotspot plan available, offering 10GB of data for $90 a month. If you go over 10GB before your monthly billing period ends, you will be charged $10 for each extra 1GB of data that’s used.
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 500MB of data, and $27.45 a month increases that cap to 1GB. $42.95 a month gets you 2GB of data for NetZero’s mobile hotspots, while $63.95 a month increases it to 4GB ,and $89.95 a month sees it going up to 6GB. 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
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!