Find and compare the best cell phone plans in Columbia, SC at Wirefly. Which cell phone carrier has the best coverage in your area? Click the carrier logos below to launch their coverage maps. Then, use our tool below to compare the price and features of each carrier’s plans. Smaller carriers and MVNOs typically run on the networks of one of the big four carriers you see below.
How to choose the ideal mobile phone plan in Columbia, SC
With such a rich assortment of options available for mobile phone plans, it takes little effort to find one that adheres to your spending budget while keeping you linked in. But what features are most important to you, and just how much are you willing to spend on them? While one offer might seem to offer it all, it might also be a major burden on your finances when compared with another package that has similar talk, texting, and data transfer restrictions. As soon as you've found a decent cell phone package, it's wise to review it in comparison to as many mobile phone plans as you can. At Wirefly, you can check out a number of diverse cell phone plans at the most affordable rates. We work to save you time and cash, enabling you to find the most effective plan at the lowest cost.
Coverage is still king: a few things to keep in mind
Coverage has gotten dramatically better for all carriers in the last few years, especially for Sprint and T-Mobile. While the country's two smallest carriers often had their coverage compared to Swiss cheese in the early 2000s, their LTE networks today are fully modernized, dense, and ready to perform well even during times of peak demand. With that said, it's a good idea to take a look at independent test results that show the strengths of each network. These tests, performed by RootMetrics, will help clarify which carrier is best for clear calls, fast data, or consistent texting.
Best for Calls: For the third time in two years, RootMetrics testing found that all four major carriers are almost the same in Columbia, SC when it comes to 'call performance.' This indicates that all four carriers have crystal clear calls, and that all four carriers rarely drop a call that has been initiated. That's great news if your main area of usage each month is wireless minutes.
Best for Texting: During the second half of 2016, RootMetrics testing found that AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile were tied for first place in overall texting performance. All three carriers had a near-100-percent success rate in sending and delivering texts. Sprint's texting performance was just a bit shy of making this metric a four-way tie.
Best for Data-Heavy Usage: This category is a bit more nuanced than the others. Overall, Verizon's LTE network delivered both the fastest speeds and the most reliable connections to customers in Columbia, SC. T-Mobile's average data speed increased dramatically in 2016, however, and AT&T showed improvement in average speeds as well.
Breadth of Coverage: All four carriers have an extremely broad network in Columbia, SC, with coverage almost everywhere. Sprint, which is still expanding its LTE network, has slightly less high-speed coverage. Even so, it has the high-density city and suburban areas covered very well.
Understanding the different types of cell phone plans
When searching for a cell phone plan in Columbia, SC, you're looking for one that gives you enough minutes, text messages and data to fit your needs. These features are broken down in plans by: minutes covered, text messages available and data limits.
Most people rely on cell phones for the majority, if not all, of their communication needs. You'll need to make sure the plan you choose has enough talk, text and data for you and anyone else you choose to carry on your plan.
Each cell phone plan has its own limitations, so deciding the most important features for you and your family is key to discovering the perfect plan. To help you out, here's a breakdown of the 3 main categories of cell phone plans:
Individual plans offer services for one line on one phone. All of the minutes, data and text available in the plan can only be used by that phone. If you don't want to add anyone else to your plan, then this could be a great choice.
Family plans spread out the data, minutes and text over several lines and phones. The number of lines and phones is up to you and some plans offer discounts for adding additional lines. If you want service for your entire family, these plans are the best deal because they are cheaper than buying individual plans for each person.
With no contract plans, you pay for service without the obligation of a contract. Often called pay-as-you-go, these plans offer the same features and benefits of individual and family plans, but often with additional fees. Most plans now allow you to use the same smart phones available for other plans, but at a higher price. Payments can be made each month and some carriers offer online or phone payments by credit card, bank account or prepaid cards that you can find in most Columbia, SC department stores.
The biggest advantage of the monthly plans is the absence of a contract. With family and individual plans you are bound by a contract that is typically no less than 2 years. This contract obligates you to pay for service through the end of the contract, and early termination comes with fees, penalties and extra charges.
Choosing a wireless plan that works best for you
When you are searching for a wireless plan, you will need to consider who will all be using the plan and the different services that you will need to include. Almost all cell phone carriers factor three things into each plan: minutes, text messages, data usage in MB or GB.
When you choose a cheaper plan, you can set a limit on how many minutes and text messages you can use to about 400 or less. But if you talk on the phone a lot and send multiple text messages, an unlimited plan will be the best bet. When you choose a no contract plan, you'll be loading your wireless card with cash that will pay for the minutes. These can be purchased by the minute or bought as a package. For example, 1,000 minutes for a flat rate of $40 is a typical purchase. When your minutes are used up, you'll need to add more to your plan.
The amount of data you use is another big factor in how to pick a cell phone plan. Almost all carriers in the Columbia, SC area charge higher amounts for high data usage, and there are basically no plans that allow for unlimited data. Cell phone plans are usually priced per gigabyte and megabyte. With many plans, going over the data limit per month can occur and will cost you in overages. To avoid this, choose a data plan that will be enough for yours or your family's needs.
Comparing cell phone carriers in Columbia, SC
These carriers all cover Columbia, SC. Odds are good that your area is covered. Should you choose to go with a smaller carrier called Even most of the smaller carriers, known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators or MVNOs, they are usually attached to one of these larger carriers and share the same coverage area.
One of the most well-known wireless companies in the country, and they offer an array of plans. These plans include family, single line, contract and prepaid.
This company also offers plans for families and individuals with or without a contract. You can pre-pay or share and unlimited text and talk plans are available.
With Sprint, even your friends can get in on the deal. With their Better Choice Plan, you can have friends and family members on the plan with you. They may be the place for you if you have large data needs. They are one of the few companies who offer truly unlimited 4G LTE data.
T-Mobile offers no-contract plans exclusively, hence their moniker, the 'uncarrier.' If you want unlimited talk, text and data, go with their T-Mobile ONE or Simple Choice plans. All three services are throttled at various levels and you pay once a month. Plans are available for tho individuals and families.
Other cell phone carriers and MVNOs
Use our comparison tool to compare major carrier plans against those of smaller companies and MVNOs that also have coverage in Columbia, SC. They can be an effective way to save money while still getting great coverage.
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