The 6 Best Cell Phone Plans in Illinois: Coverage, Price, and More

Hi there! Choosing the best cell phone plan in Illinois can be tricky with so many options to evaluate. My goal in this guide is to break down everything simply so you can make the right choice.

I‘ll compare coverage availability across Illinois, especially in rural regions. I‘ll analyze pricing for individuals and families. And I‘ll highlight key features that set the major carriers and networks apart.

My advice comes from extensive analysis of industry data combined with local carrier insights. I hope this overview gives you clarity so you can pick the perfect Illinois wireless plan with confidence!

Comparing Statewide and Regional Coverage Reach

When picking a cell provider in Illinois, you first want to evaluate coverage reach. The state has a fairly even mix of major cities plus wide rural areas. So carriers need to balance both geographies.

Here‘s a look at overall statewide population coverage across Illinois:

CarrierStatewide Coverage

AT&T edges out Verizon when it comes to covering both urban and rural regions in Illinois. But some parts of the state still lack strong coverage, regardless of carrier.

For example, Verizon shows limited reach in West Central Illinois:

Verizon Coverage Map Showing Gaps in Rural Illinois

While AT&T exhibits holes along the state‘s Western border and the Shawnee Forest area:

AT&T Rural Illinois Coverage Map

So even though AT&T ranks slightly higher statewide, certain counties and rural zones still lack reliable service on their network or Verizon‘s.

This demonstrates why it‘s important to check granular coverage reach down to the local neighborhood or regional level. Don‘t rely solely on broad state-level claims.

Now let‘s explore how cell phone plan pricing compares for individuals first. Then we‘ll look at family discounts…

Comparing Individual Plan Pricing in Illinois

One advantage of living in a state with multiple metro regions like Illinois is that all the major carriers compete aggressively on pricing and features. This gives you leverage as a buyer.

Here is a breakdown of what unlimited individual plans cost from the top Illinois providers:

CarrierBasic UnlimitedBetter UnlimitedPremium Unlimited

A few things stand out:

  • Entry-level unlimited runs $60-$70 across all carriers
  • T-Mobile sets their basic plan cheaper by $5
  • Sprint only offers two tiers of unlimited
  • Top unlimited plans get up near $90 for highest perks

Remember from our earlier coverage discussion that Verizon and AT&T invest heavily to reach more regions of Illinois. So you pay a small premium on their base plans versus Sprint or T-Mobile without as broad of dedicated infrastructure across the state.

Now let‘s explore how adding lines and family members changes the equation…

Comparing Family Unlimited Pricing

The major advantage of family cell plans is they slash the per-line rate significantly. Most carriers offer decent discounts on unlimited pricing when you add more users – often $25-$35 less than paying for single lines.

Here is what popular unlimited family pricing looks like across top Illinois providers:

Comparison table showing family plan pricing across carriers

A few things jump out when comparing family plan rates:

  • Family plans drop monthly rates by ~50% per user
  • T-Mobile offers best overall family value
  • But require at least 2+ lines
  • Individual rate higher than Verizon/AT&T
    *Mint Mobile provides unlimited everything for $30 total regardless of lines

So if supporting multiple lines, T-Mobile often delivers the best mix of network coverage and plan savings in Illinois. Their pricing stays super aggressive to win families over.

Next let‘s shift gears to prepaid…

Prepaid vs Postpaid: Making Sense of Plan Options

In addition to the major carrier postpaid plans we analyzed above, Illinois consumers have choices when it comes to prepaid options as well. These help you cut costs in exchange for some drawbacks.

Here is an overview comparing Illinois prepaid plans versus postpaid:

Prepaid and Postpaid Plan Comparison

Key Takeaways:

  • Prepaid plans roughly 50% less than postpaid
  • But prepaid has no phone financing options
  • Must bring your own device or pay full retail cost
  • Data speeds may be slower with prepaid
  • Prepaying months in advance saves most money

So weighing prepaid vs postpaid comes down to a mix of your budget, data needs and phone preference. But prepaid plans can slice wireless bills substantially for the right consumer.

Choosing the Right Data Plan

With the rise of mobile apps and video streaming, data usage climbs yearly. So picking the right data allowance matters both for speed and overall cell phone costs.

Here is a look at how average smartphone data usage aligns to plan levels:

Recommended data plan tiers based on usage

A few best practices:

  • Audit your monthly data usage before deciding – don‘t guess!
  • Include spikes from travel periods or binging
  • Buffer extra data cushion with next tier to be safe
  • Downgrade if not using full allowance to save $10-$20 monthly

The right data fit also provides enough high-speed data and hotspot allotments so your usage isn‘t throttled and slowed unnecessarily when you need performance.

Picking your data lifestyle aligns well to tiers from a major provider. But also consider prepaid carriers like Mint Mobile which sell data buckets without overages.

Evaluating Plan Perks (And Gotchas)

In addition to premium data speeds, each carrier touts their own perks to help differentiate cell phone plan offers in crowded Illinois markets.

Here is a comparison of extra plan features included to provide value:

Side-by-side feature comparison of carrier data plans

But beware of plan gotchas:

  • Video streaming quality varies
  • International roaming restricted
  • Hot spot usage limits
  • Monthly access fees & taxes

So having a clear handle on what features matter most for your wireless usage helps cut through marketing hype and avoid surprises.

Next let‘s examine how more lines and family members impact pricing…

Family Cell Phone Plan Money Saving Tips

To recap, almost all carriers now offer discounted pricing when you bundle multiple lines together in a family plan. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile now let you build a customized multi-line plan to optimize value.

Here are some tips to maximize savings on Illinois family cell plans:

1. Audit each line‘s data needs – Don‘t oversubscribe data buckets and speed

2. Mix unlimited and light usage lines – Assign cheaper talk/text options for basic secondary devices

3. Compare prepaid vs postpaid discounts – Calculate total costs fitting lines on optimal network

4. Negotiate multi-line deals – Leverage promos and don‘t be afraid to ask! Most places empower managers to cut monthly rate deals on larger family plans if you push a bit or threaten to defect.

Top Plan Recommendations for Illinois Residents

Hopefully walking through all the various coverage considerations, pricing plan options and features helps frame the key decisions.

Here are my quick Illinois wireless recommendations in popular usage scenarios:

Individual Users

  • Best Overall – AT&T Unlimited Extra
  • Most Affordable – Mint Mobile 10GB Plan


  • Best Family Value – T-Mobile Magenta
  • Best Premium Plan – Verizon Play More Unlimited
  • Cheapest Family Option – Visible $100 Pooled 4-Lines

Rural Users

  • Best Rural Carrier – Verizon
  • Most Reliable Network – AT&T
  • Best Rural Prepaid – Visible

As you can see, best Illinois cell phone options can hinge on how you use mobile devices and any geographic restrictions. I suggest everyone checks granular coverage maps first, then sizes data appropriately. Those two filters position you best to maximize satisfaction.

Hope this guide brought some clarity so you can find wireless joy! Let me know if any other questions pop up. Happy to dig in and provide more Illinois-specific recommendations.

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