The Cheapest Mobile WiFi Hotspot Plans (Updated for 2023)

Mobile wifi hotspot plans and devices are growing in popularity, particularly with those who travel frequently or live a nomadic lifestyle. Broadband internet access has pretty much become as indispensable as the food we eat, water we drink, and air we breathe – it doesn’t matter where we are, we want it. And, in recent years, mobile data plans (while still pricier than they should be) have dropped in price significantly. I’ll include some of the best cheapest mobile WiFi hotspot data plan prices at the bottom of this article.

Luckily, there are a lot of options out there and prices are on the decline. As I previously did with research into the cheapest prepaid plans and cheapest data plans, I similarly wanted to research and share what the cheapest mobile wifi hotspot plans on the market were. First, let’s start with some mobile hotspot basics.

What is a Mobile Hotspot?

A mobile hotspot is device that allows you to connect one or multiple wifi-enabled devices in order to connect to the internet. Some people refer to a mobile hotspot as “MiFi”, however, MiFi is a registered brand name for mobile hotspot devices created by the Novatel company – not a name for the technology. Since MiFi was one of the first mobile hotspot devices, the MiFi name became a bit of the go-to name for mobile hotspot technology (similar to Kleenex for facial tissues).

cheapest mobile hotspots

Mobile hotspots can be generated in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. Through a dedicated mobile modem device (similar to the one seen in the image above)
  2. Through a mobile device such as a mobile phones or tablet, through hotspot tethering functionality

As I’ll discuss next, there is a difference in experience. Today’s dedicated hotspots are typically cheap, tiny, and can often connect somewhere between 3-15 wifi-enabled devices simultaneously. Many of them enable a 4G LTE connection, though a few are starting to offer 5G speeds.

Mobile Hotspot vs. Tethering with your Phone

Many of the mobile wifi hotspot device providers below additionally have free hotspot tethering on their data plans, where you can connect wifi-enabled devices to your phone and use it as a data passthrough. Unfortunately, today, no carriers offer unlimited data tethering on unlimited data plans without significantly pumping the brakes on speeds when you reach a certain data allotment.

So, why would you want to buy a hotspot device (that is only a hotspot device) when you could just buy a mobile phone and tether it to your wifi devices for free?

It’s a great question. For those who are frequent hotspot users, a dedicated hotspot is more reliable than tethering from your phone. And, there are a few other reasons why a dedicated mobile hotspot device can make sense for certain users than tethering:

  • Battery life: mobile hotspots have a much longer lasting battery life than mobile phones used as data passthroughs, particularly tethered ones.
  • Free up your phone: a mobile hotspot lets you keep your phone free for taking calls, using apps, and doing other work without bogging it down.
  • Reliably tethering to multiple devices: while some mobile phones can tether multiple devices, the more devices that are tethered, the worse the experience, with drops, etc. Devices that are dedicated as a wifi modem can provide a better experience.

Mobile hotspots are cheap enough that, for power users, the benefits outweigh the cost of the device and the hassle of carrying a dedicated mobile hotspot device around.

Mobile Network Coverage Maps

When it comes down to it, as I highlighted in my cheapest prepaid plans post, there are really only 3 mobile national network operators left in the U.S. (though Dish Network is building a 4th):

  1. Verizon
  2. AT&T Wireless
  3. T-Mobile

If you’re not one of these 3 mobile providers, you’re classified as a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO. MVNOs do not own their own wireless spectrum and networks, they lease network access at wholesale prices from the big 3 and re-sell it to consumers.

As you’re reviewing what the best cheapest mobile hotspot providers are, it’s important to note what network they run on. A mobile hotspot is worthless if the provider does not have strong coverage (preferably 5G or 4G LTE) where you live and frequently travel to.

Here are the coverage maps of the big 3:

  1. Verizon
  2. AT&T Wireless
  3. T-Mobile

It’s worth noting that in recent speed tests, however, T-Mobile came in ahead of all other carriers, despite its perceived lesser reputation, with median download speeds close to double that of AT&T and Verizon. Your mileage may vary significantly based on your location.

The Cheapest Mobile WiFi Hotspot Plans

Here is a list of the cheapest prepaid mobile hotspot plans I was able to find, including monthly/data costs, device costs, network used, and more. Note that a few of the service providers do not sell hotspot devices, however, you should be able to use a mobile device as a hotspot (or potentially find and connect a dedicated hotspot device, if you prefer).

Mobile WiFi Hotspot ProviderHotspot Plan CostHotspot Device & CostMobile Network Used & Peak Speed on Hotspot DeviceNotes
AT&T hotspot$25/mo (12 months prepay): 20GB
$35/mo: 15GB
$55/mo: 50GB
Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro: $12.78/mo, or Franklin A10 (4G LTE): $2.23/moAT&T, 5G speedsPre-paid option called "AT&T PrePaid Mobile Hotspot". Data add-ons available. Most AT&T prepaid voice plans allow data as a mobile hotspot (excluding the $65 unlimited plan). You may purchase a mobile hotspot add-on. $75 Unlimited Plus plan includes 10GB of mobile hotspot data.
Boost Mobile hotspot$15/mo: 2GB
$20/mo: 5GB
$25/mo: 7GB
$50/mo: 35GB
Alcatel Linkzone 2: $49.99 1-timeT-Mobile, 5G speedsConnect up to 15 devices.
Cricket Wireless hotspot"Simply Data" data-only plans (for hotspot use):

$35/mo: 20GB
$55/mo: 50GB
$90/mo: 100GB

Hotspot tethering on some "Unlimited" plans:
$60/mo: 15GB
$65/mo: 10GB
Cricket Turbo Hotspot 2: $79.99 1-timeAT&T, 4G LTE speeds (w/Turbo Hotspot, 5G with compatible device)Cricket is an AT&T Wireless brand that uses AT&T's network. Data-only plans include US/Canada/Mexico use.
Gen Mobile hotspot$10: 1GB
$20: 3GB
$30: 6GB
Alcatel Linkzone 2 (pre-owned): $19.99T-Mobile, 4G LTE speeds (w/Alcatel Hotspot, 5G with compatible device)Good price for a hotspot device, if you don't mind that it is pre-owned.
Karma Mobility hotspot$10/mo: 1GB
$30/mo: 5GB
$50/mo: 10GB
Franklin Wireless R717: $59.99 1-timeVaries, 4G LTE speeds4G LTE speeds on T-Mobile.
Mint Mobile hotspotVaries by length of term. See "notes":
$15-20/mo: 4GB
$20-25/mo: 10GB
$25-35/mo: 15GB
$30-35/mo: "Unlimited" (35GB 4G/5G cap)
n/a - use your own Mint Mobile (T-Mobile) compatible device, no specific hotspot available for purchaseT-Mobile, 5G speeds (w/ compatible device)Prices listed vary based on how many months you purchase at the beginning of term.
T-Mobile hotspot$10/mo: 2GB
$20/mo: 5GB
$30/mo: 10GB
$40/mo: 30GB
$50/mo: 50GB
Franklin T10 Mobile ($90 1-time) or
Inseego MiFi X PRO 5G ($264 1-time)
T-Mobile, 4G LTE (Franklin device) or 5G (Inseego device)Plans work in Canada and Mexico at no extra charge.
Tello Mobile hotspot"No minutes" plans (talk/text plans also available):
$5/mo: 500MB
$6/mo: 1GB
$10/mo: 2GB
$15/mo: 5GB
$20/mo: 10GB
$29/mo: Unlimited - (25GB of high speed)
n/a - use your own Tello (T-Mobile) compatible device, no specific hotspot available for purchaseT-Mobile, 5G speeds (w/ compatible device)Excellent deal for the "unlimited" plan, which comes with 25GB of high speed data! Tello is an MVNO that uses T-Mobile's network.
Twigby Mobile hotspot$20: 4GB
$25: 7GB
$40: Unlimited (20GB 4G/5G cap)
n/a use your own Twigby (Verizon) compatible device, no specific hotspot available for purchaseVerizon, 5G speeds (w/ compatible device)Pricing is reasonable and on Verizon's network.
US Mobile hotspot$35/mo: 5GB hotspot w/ "Unlimited Basic"
$45/mo: 50GB hotspot w/ "Unlimited Premium"
n/a - use your own US Mobile (T-Mobile or Verizon) compatible device, no specific hotspot available for purchaseVerizon or T-Mobile, 5G speeds (w/ compatible device)"Unlimited Premium" seems to be a good deal.
Xfinity Mobile hotspot“By the Gig” (hotspot at top speeds):
$15/mo: 1GB
$30/mo: 3GB
$60/mo: 10GB

$55/mo: "Unlimited Plus" (5GB high speed hotspot)
$65/mo: "Unlimited Premium" (15GB high speed hotspot)
n/a - use your own Xfinity Mobile compatible device, no specific hotspot available for purchaseVerizon, 5G (w/ compatible device)See my Xfinity Mobile review for more info on plans & pricing. All Xfinity Mobile plans are able to connect to millions of customer hotspots.
Verizon hotspotMobile hotspot available as an add-on to Mobile Hotspot only available on 5G Start, 5G Play More, 5G Do More, 5G Get More, and One Unlimited for iPhone unlimited plans at an added cost:
$20/mo: 15GB
$40/mo: 50GB
$60/mo: 100GB
$80/mo: 150GB
Verizon Orbic Speed ($79.99 1-time), Verizon Jetpack ($399.99 1-time), Verizon Jetpack MiFi 8800L ($199.99 1-time)Verizon, 5G speeds (w/ compatible device), 4G LTE (Orbic/Jetpack)Pricey, but a lot of data being offered by Verizon.
Visible Mobile hotspot(Unlimited plans, but hotspot speeds limited to 5 Mbps)
$30/mo: "Visible Unlimited"
$45/mo: "Visible+ Unlimited"
n/a - use your own Visible (Verizon) compatible device, no specific hotspot available for purchaseVerizon, up to 5Mbps (w/ compatible device)Visible is a Verizon sub-brand. No hotspot device, but tethering offered at speeds up to 5Mbps.

Here’s a random tip: since many of these plans come with free text messaging, but pricey data, you may want to learn how to send text messages to email, so you don’t have to constantly pay data fees when accessing your web browser for email composition.

Which mobile wifi hotspot plan do you use and why?

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