Just as one shoe size can’t fit all, there’s no single cell phone plan that will suit every small company. But there are numerous high-quality plans that are worthy of consideration as they strive to meet the needs of different types of businesses. To settle on the best cell phone plan for your business, you first want to figure out what kind of company you are and what you need in a plan.
Business owners generally buy and pay for employee cell phones or plans or both when workers spend at least some part of their time off-site — whether traveling, calling on clients locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally, or just working at home. With employees, you may want to track hours and data. In that case, to streamline operation and collaboration, a specialized business cell phone plan might be optimal.
How to choose a plan
There are numerous factors to reflect on when choosing a cell phone plan for your small company. Here are some major issues you’ll want to take into account.
Business design: Is your proposed plan built for businesses and scaled for business customers? If you are a solopreneur or an extremely small company with just a handful of employees, you may be able to get away with a personal friends and family-type plan, as opposed to a bona fide business plan. But once you have more than a couple of employees, start to think bigger about scalabilities such as multiple lines, unlimited options on talk, text, and data, data-only plans for companies that don’t need talk or text, and discounts for more lines or devices.
Network coverage: Consider sound quality, data speeds, coverage, and overall dependability. Make sure the plan you choose has good coverage in the area where your employees are located or are traveling. If your employees travel internationally, choose from plans that have good rates for the target countries. And don’t forget about airline coverage and in-flight texting services.
Security: Some cell phone business plans offer virtual private networks, encryption, and other features to protect your company’s data. That could be quite valuable, as it relieves you of having to research, choose, and pay for another service.
Hardware: If you need to supply employees with handsets, consider the kinds of phones offered with the plans you’re considering, or whether employees prefer to use their own smartphones.
Hot spot: Some business environments just don’t have usable Wi-Fi, but you can use a cell phone signal to connect a wireless device to the internet with a mobile hotspot. For multiple device connections, look for a dedicated hotspot with a fast, stable, secure connection, as well as other services like call forwarding, voicemail, call hold, analytics, and call queuing.
Data: Business plans should be generous with data, but unlimited is best — unless you really do not need data to conduct business.
Customer service: Count on problems arising, and when they do, you or your employees will want someone reliable to call before customers and clients get restless.
Price: Price is always a factor, and sometimes the cheapest plans offer just the service and features you’re looking for. But for something as critical as your business communications, do not buy on price alone.
Just in case you’re also looking for the best all-around mobile cellular deals, have a look at our survey of the best cell phone plans of 2019 and our report on the best prepaid cell phone plans. Meantime, below are some of the business-oriented plans available now.
Big Four basics
AT&T offers several variations of its Business Unlimited plan — Basic, Plus, and Enhanced — tailored to your budget for up to 10 devices for $70, $80, and $90 per line per month. All offer unlimited data and unlimited calling in Canada and Mexico, with per-minute fees in other countries, alongside unlimited international texting, unlimited domestic calling and texting, and free domestic roaming. All three offer private Wi-Fi (a VPN when you plug into a public network). A Preferred plan includes a 20GB hotspot and access to the AT&T 5G mmWave (5G+) network for compatible devices. Data speeds will slow down with congestion past certain data points. A more economical option is AT&T’s Mobile Share Plus plan for $50 per line per month for up to 10 or 25 phones, which features unlimited domestic talk and text, rollover data, and the ability to stream standard definition video content. Pooled plans, which give each employee line its own data allowance while enabling pooled data under a single billing account, are also available.
Verizon offers the Plan for Business, Business Unlimited, Verizon Plans, and Flexible Business Plans for small companies. The Plan for Business costs $175 per month for up to 25 lines, with data of 25-200 GB and per-minute international calling, though unlimited international is available. For Mexico and Canada, texting and calling is unlimited, as it is in the U.S., and it also offers unlimited international texting. Business Unlimited at $45 per smartphone, offers unlimited 4G LTE data with a four-line minimum, the same domestic and Canada-Mexico connection as the Plan for Business, and throws in an unlimited mobile hotspot. An Unlimited Essential and Unlimited Plus plan for $30 and $50 per month tweak these same features up or down. There’s no free VPN. Verizon offers a vast variety of handsets, so if you plan to supply your team with phones, that might tilt the scale toward Verizon.
Sprint‘s Unlimited Basic, Unlimited Premium, and Unlimited Plus plans for small businesses are economical choices. The Basic per line cost is just $19 per month each for five lines, and with it you get unlimited talk and text, DVD quality streaming, and a 500MB hotspot. You also get international 5GB 4G LTE data roaming for Mexico and Canada and Global Roaming for over 200 countries. You can add up to 20 lines. The Premium plan for $39 per line per month, and which is 5G capable, has a 10-line limit, full HD streaming, a 100GB LTE hotspot, unlimited data, talk, and text, and global roaming in over 200 destinations. The Unlimited Plus plan for a minimum of 11 lines for $30 per month for up to 500 lines, is similar, with a 50GB hotspot, no line limit, and a VPN. If your company is not a data hound, this might be a good option.
T-Mobile offers Simple Choice for Business for $50 per line per month up to $110 per month for up to five lines, with an added $10 per line per month for 6 to 12 lines, and up to 2GB of 4G LTE Data. There are further options within the plan for 6GB and 10GB of data at prices ranging from $50 per month for a single line to $260 per month for 5 lines of 10GB data. You can call and text from any accessible Wi-Fi connection, your unused LTE data (up to 20GB) rolls forward for 12 months, and you get unlimited calling and texting to and from Mexico and Canada — in addition to up to 5GB of data at 4G LTE speeds. For a more bare-bones plan, check out T-Mobile Essentials, which costs $30 per month per line. It offers unlimited 3G mobile hotspot data; unlimited talk, text, and 2G data in Mexico and Canada, and unlimited texting and flat-rate calling at 25 cents per minute in over 210 countries. T-Mobile Essentials features unlimited 3G hotspot data, but for $10 per month, you can add 10GB of high-speed 4G LTE mobile hotspot data. Magenta for Business is available for two, four, eight, and 12 lines for $60, $40, and $30 per month per line respectively, and features McAfee Security, on-demand IT support, in-flight texting and data, unlimited data and texting in over 210 countries, and unlimited talk, text, and data in Canada and Mexico. The included Digits program lets you access up to five numbers on one device or use one number across several devices.
RingCentral is an office-centric VoIP system that offers unlimited calling, unlimited conferencing, toll-free numbers, and a customizable caller ID. Additional functionality, such as texting, online meetings, and faxing is available. With RingCentral, you can call, text, and fax from your business number on any mobile device as incoming calls automatically go through the same call-routing system as at the office. It offers four levels: Essentials, Standard, Premium, and Ultimate for $20, $25, $35, and $50 each with a free trial. It scales from two users to 1,000.
Teltik offers a variety of packaged VoIP “wireless solutions” that are bundled with its cloud-based phone service. Prices range from $20 to $55 per month and the service is backed by the T-Mobile network. For $20 per month, you get unlimited talk and text, 2GB of high-speed 4G LTE data, and a mobile hotspot. For $30 per month you get the same, except its 6GB high-speed 4G LTE data, and unlimited video streaming and rollover data. For $40 per month, you get all that plus a 3G mobile hotspot and video streaming at 480p. The more expensive plans feature high-speed 4G LTE and up to a 20GB mobile hotspot. Optional add-on features include international calling for $20 per month, including unlimited mobile-to-landline calling to about 70 countries, unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling to over 30 countries, and calls to the remaining countries at a reduced rate.
Cricket Wireless is one of the country’s most popular prepaid wireless services and costs anywhere from $25 per month to $60 per month. The cheapest plan is all talk and text — no data. You can choose from 2GB, 5GB, unlimited, or unlimited with a 15GB mobile hotspot. Various plans include a mobile hotspot, unlimited talk, text, and picture messages, SD quality streaming video, unlimited text to 37 countries, and HD voice and Wi-Fi calling from a compatible phone. Simply Data plans cost $25, $35, and $70 per month depending on the features you need.
Republic Wireless uses Wi-Fi to provide a virtual network to customers via their cell phone plans. The vendor relies on T-Mobile and Sprint networks when Wi-Fi is unavailable. All Republic Wireless plans start at $15 per month for unlimited talk and text, with an additional $5 per gigabyte of data. The Republic app helps customers monitor their data use, letting you see how much data you’re using, and letting you add 1GB at a time for $5 through the app. When you run out of data, it will stop working until you buy more — with no overage fees.