Which Company Has the Best iPad Data Plans?

A man uses the new Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro after an Apple special event at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium September 9, 2015
iPad Pro. Stephen Lam/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Every iPad can connect to Wi-Fi networks in order to get online, but only some models can access 4G LTE cellular networks provided by phone companies like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. These networks are the same ones that your iPhone uses.

Just like when choosing the phone company you want to use with your phone, there are a lot of choices when researching the best monthly iPad data plan. Luckily, these plans are little simpler than phone plans: just figure out how much data you need and you're basically done.

iPad Data Plans from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon

Monthly DataAT&TSprintT-MobileVerizon
100 MB $10  
250 MB$14.99   
1 GB $15$20 
2 GB   $20
3 GB$30$35$30 
4 GB   $30
5 GB$50 $40 
6 GB $50 $40
7 GB  $50$40
8 GB    $50
9 GB   $60 
10 GB    $60
11 GB   $70 
12 GB  $80 $70
14 GB    $80
16 GB    $90
18 GB    $100
20 GB    $110
30 GB  $110 $185
40 GB    $260
50 GB    $335
60 GB    $410
80 GB    $560
100 GB    $710
     
Overages    
250MB plan$14.99/
250 MB
   
Other plans$10/
1 GB
  $15/
1 GB
     
Monthly Device Charge    
    $10
     
Monthly Price for 3 or 4 GB$30$35$30$40

These prices don't include taxes and fees

Ways to Save: Contracts

There's not much way to save on the price of a monthly plan (unless your employer has a corporate or group discount with one of the carriers. Check into it; mine does and I save more than 10% each month), but you can save on the cost of the iPad itself.

That's because phone companies discount the price of the iPad if you sign a two-year contract, just like when you buy an iPhone.

Signing that contract does lock you into 24 months of payments, but it can save you a bunch, too.

For instance, Verizon charges $629.99 for a 16 GB iPad Air 2 with no contract but cuts that price to $429.99 with a contract. If you're sure you'll be keeping 24 months of data service on your iPad, a contract can save you big money.

Just be sure to keep an eye out for Early Termination Fees (ETFs) that penalize you for cancelling before your contract is up.

Ways to Save: Shared Data Plans

The prices listed above are for iPad-only data plans, but if you've already got at least one smartphone (any kind; it doesn't have to be an iPhone) with a phone company, check out their shared data plans. Those plans often offer a better deal for multiple devices.

For instance, AT&T's Mobile Share Plan offers between 300 MB and 50 GB of data to split between all devices on your plan each month. If you've already got a smartphone data plan, you can probably add your tablet to it for just the per-device fee (with AT&T, that's $10/month).

The monthly charge for the device will almost always be less than the tablet data plan. As long as you don't go over your monthly data limit, you'll save money.