Find and compare the best cell phone plans in Vienna, VA 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.
Choosing the cell phone plan that's best for Vienna, VA
There are a multitude of cell phone plans available to everyone nowadays, as well as the different wireless carriers who provide them. Figuring out which one is best for yourself or your family can be difficult, but not impossible if you know what you are looking for going in. You need to know exactly what you need in a phone before you sign up for a plan, especially if you are signing a one or two-year contract. While many plans are very similar, a few differences can make the difference between saving money and wasting it. You may be paying more for one feature with one carrier that is exactly the same with another when you don't need to. Use Wirefly to view and compare all the different rates and plans that are available from different carriers. We are here to make sure you don't find yourself trapped in a one to two-year plan that isn't satisfactory.
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 Vienna, VA 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 Vienna, VA. 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 Vienna, VA, 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.
Getting started: what types of cell phone plans are out there?
While the American wireless industry is changing rapidly and becoming exceedingly competitive, the basic structure of wireless plans remains the same. In Vienna, VA, you'll be able to choose from a multi-line family plan, a single post-paid line, or prepaid options that present no long-term contractual or device financing requirement. Here's a primer on each type of plan:
By far the most popular type of plan in the United States, family plans allow multiple people to 'share' a single account, splitting line and data fees across several different people in order to get a lower monthly cost of service for each person. Most carriers offer significant discounts on the price of a gigabyte of data for multi-line accounts, making it the economical way of signing up for service. Of course, multi-line accounts are also hard to move between carriers due to different device payment plans and coverage concerns.
Quite the opposite of a family plan, individual plans allow a single person to pick the amount of data they need each month without splitting the bill. Though more expensive than family plans, individual accounts are easier to manage and are perfect for people who don't want to split expenses and device upgrades with friends or family members.
Once a strong draw because they lacked contracts, today no-commitment plans are a more affordable alternative to individual plans. Most prepaid plans offer more data at a lower cost than an individual plan at a major carrier. Furthermore, prepaid family plans offer a lower cost for multi-line accounts than some traditional family plans at the 'Big 4.' These plans are ineligible for device financing, however, which means you'll have to pay full price to buy a new phone upon release.
Which cell phone plan is the right one for you?
When choosing the right plan for use in Vienna, VA, you should think about how many people will be on the plan and what types of services you want to include. Most carriers factor the points below into your plan.
Before committing to a plan you need to know who will be on it, how they will use it and how much. Cell phone plans are comprised of three elements: talk, text and data. Talk refers to how many minutes you spend speaking to someone on your phone. Text is the volume of text messages you send or receive, and data is the megabytes or gigabytes of information that your phone uploads or downloads using the internet.
To reduce costs on a contract plan you can limit your texts and talk to under 400 minutes or messages combined. If you are a heavy talker, you may fare better with an unlimited plan. The same is true if you tend to send a lot of texts.
If you are using a pay-as-you-go plan, you would simply reload your phone to pay for services. When you purchase minutes you can choose to buy them one at a time or pay for a package. For example, you could choose to buy 1000 minutes at once for a flat payment of $400.
With the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, data is more important than ever before. In Vienna, VA data can cost a lot of money, and nearly all carriers force you to adhere to a limit. Unlimited data plans are hard to find, but they exist. Data is often charged per megabyte and gigabyte and is subject to expensive fees for overages. This is why it is of the utmost importance to select a data plan that covers you typical data needs. In fact, it is a good idea to allow for more than you will need.
Finding the best cell phone plan for your needs
Now that you know which kind of cell phone plan you want, it's now time to make another important decision: what do you need each month in terms of minutes, text messages, and data? This used to be a slightly complex decision to have to make, but that is no longer the case due to changes in the wireless industry. Current cell phone plans have almost all dropped limits on calling minutes and texts messages. Postpaid family plans and individual plans at Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, all include unlimited talk and text. Only a small number of no contract prepaid plans still enforce limits.
The good news is that you can choose to look at only the amount of data that you need on a monthly basis. Two of the major carriers make this decision pretty simple, while two of the other major carriers require a bit more decision making before choosing a plan. Here's what to keep in mind when selecting a cell phone plan in Vienna, VA:
Like T-Mobile, Sprint recently unveiled a flat-rate, all-unlimited mobile plan for new and existing subscribers. Customers who prefer not to get an unlimited plan can opt for a 'shared' amount of data that can be used by all lines attached to the account. By default, data speeds on limited plans slow down after all data has been used. Customers can buy a high-speed pass if they wish to have more full-speed data until the end of the month, however.
The Un-Carrier, as T-Mobile has dubbed itself, recently made a move toward unlimited data for all. The company added to its Simple Choice plan lineup with T-Mobile ONE, an unlimited, single plan for individuals or families. T-Mobile Simple Choice plans are still available for customers who prefer them, however. These plans feature data rollover and no overage charges, so there's no extra fees added to the bill based on your usage.
Verizon got rid of overages early in 2016 and started offering rollover data for its shared data plans. Verizon's plans are similar to AT&T's, however an unlimited data option is not available to new customers at all.
AT&T offers unlimited data only to customers who also have DIRECTV or AT&T Internet. Otherwise, customers have shared data plans with every line on their account. In 2016, AT&T introduced a no-overages policy that throttles data to 2G speeds when a data bucket is exhausted. The company also has its 'Stream Saver' service in 2016, which reduces the quality of all streaming video and uses data more slowly as a result.
Smaller prepaid carriers, called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), usually operate on one of the four above networks and resell services to no-commitment customers. These plans cover Vienna, VA and change very frequently, but they do often represent a good savings each month.
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