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 worth considering 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 plan best fits your company.
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. 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. Today, more American businesses are accommodating work-at-home schedules that avoid meetings and travel, but note that quarantines and shelter-in-place orders will not last forever, so it’s a good idea to take the entire spectrum of your business activities into account.
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 consider.
Business design: Is your proposed plan built for businesses and scaled for business customers? If you’re 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. Also, 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 additional services.
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 2020 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 Mobility Rate Plans — Mobile Share Plus, Mobile Select Priority Pooled, and Business Unlimited Elite, plus several in between — tailored to your budget for $50, $55, and $85 per line per month. Designed for small- to medium-sized businesses, the Elite plan offers unlimited data, talk, and text for up to 10 devices. The Pooled plan gives employees a data allowance alongside pooled data within a single account. The Plus plan lets you share data across up to 10 or up to 25 business devices. All plans feature unlimited domestic talk and text and unlimited talk from the U.S. to Mexico and Canada, plus unlimited texts from the U.S. to over 120 countries, along with high definition video streaming. The Elite and Pooled plans also feature 5G. Data speeds may slow down with congestion past certain data points.
Verizon markets the Plan for Business, Business Unlimited, the New Verizon Plan, and the Flexible Business Plan specifically for small companies. The Plan for Business starts at $175 per month for up to 25 lines, with data plans ranging from 25GB to 200GB for various prices and topping out at $1,000 per month. All plans include carryover data, safety mode, calling to and from Mexico and Canada, use of your device in Mexico and Canada, and data boost costing $15 per 1GB. With all business plans, you can turn your device into an internet hotspot and send unlimited messages to more than 200 countries worldwide. Additional smartphones cost $15 per month.
Sprint is in the midst of reorganizing its small business offerings in the wake of its merger with T-Mobile. Today, its small business and cell phone and data plans feature a simple interactive menu that leads to its familiar offerings of Unlimited Basic and Unlimited Premium for $200 and $300 per month respectively for five lines, and Unlimited Plus for 11 lines or more starting at $300 per month. The Basic per line cost is $20 per month for smartphones only, while the Premium is $30 per month covering only smartphones. Basic offers DVD-quality video streaming and a 500MB mobile hotspot. Premium is 5G phone capable and includes HD streaming, a 100GB LTE mobile hotspot, unlimited data, talk and text, secure Wi-Fi, global roaming in over 200 destinations, unlimited use in Mexico and Canada, and more. The Unlimited Plus plan is targeted to a minimum of 11 lines for $24.55 per month with a 50GB hotspot.
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. You can call and text from any Wi-Fi connection, as your unused LTE data (up to 20GB) rolls forward for 12 months. You get unlimited calling and texting to and from Mexico and Canada — in addition to up to 5GB of data at 4G LTE speeds. T-Mobile Essentials, which costs $30 per month per line for four lines, is a more streamlined plan. 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 20 cents per minute in over 210 countries. For $10 per month, you can add 10GB of high-speed 4G LTE mobile hotspot data. The Magenta for Business plan is available for two, four, eight, and 12 lines for $60, $40, and $30 per month per line, respectively. It features 5G service, 3GB of 4G LTE hotspot data, plus unlimited 3G data, 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 and 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.
Cricket Wireless is a top-rated prepaid wireless service that costs anywhere from $30 to $60 per month. The cheapest plan is all talk and text — no data. For data, choose from 2GB, 5GB, unlimited, or unlimited with a 15GB mobile hotspot. Various plans include a mobile hotspot, unlimited talk, text, and picture messages, and SD quality streaming video. You’ll also see Canada and Mexico coverage, unlimited text to 37 countries, HD voice, and Wi-Fi calling from a compatible phone on the list of options. Data-only plans of 20GB and 40GB are available for $35 and $50 per month, respectively, with Mexico and Canada usage in the mix.
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. Rates start at $15 per month ($150 each year) for an unlimited talk and text plan. At this level, Republic Wireless charges $5 per gigabyte of data, up to 15GB. Your data will automatically cut off when funds run out, so there are no overage fees. With Republic Wireless data plans, you can also turn your smartphone into a hotspot. Another option is unlimited Extend Home phone service. You can access the service by purchasing a one-time Extend Home kit and home phone handset — and that’s it.