Military Discounts on Cell Phone Plans – Wireless Plans And Deals For Military Members & Veterans

Which company offers the best military discounts on cell phone plans?

Serving in the military often means spending time away from your friends and families. Thankfully, today’s technology makes staying in touch is easier than ever. And with available military discounts, you can save money staying in touch with your loved ones.

Can you imagine not being able to communicate with friends and family on a daily basis while in the military? Believe it or not, that’s how it use to be. When I was deployed, years ago, you were able to call one person (via military landline) for a very short time maybe once a week. Now, our friends and family are globally available to us 24/7.

You can even use many cell phones in overseas locations without spending a fortune. For example, many cell phone companies now make it easy to enable conversations via WiFi, making it easy to speak with friends and family members, even if you are in an overseas location. Not only does this avoid using your minutes, but you won’t have to pay to use expensive overseas networks if you are on a WiFi enabled plan.

Thankfully, many cell phone companies also offer generous military discounts. Most of these are available not only for current military members, but their family members on the same plan, and for veterans and retirees.

We will show you the best military discounts on cell phone plans from the major cell phone providers in the U.S., as well as some discounts that are offered by some of the smaller regional companies.

Best Military Cell Phone Discounts

This list is no particular order. Wireless is a cut-throat market and the details below can change at any time.

T-Mobile Military Discount

Out of all the wireless carriers, T-Mobile is a good deal because of the extras. As with all service providers, if you don’t have coverage, deals don’t matter. T-Mobile is a GSM carrier.

T-Mobile One Military Plan

  • “Unlimited”, talk, text and data.
  • “Unlimited” in Mexico & Canada – Talk, text, and up to 5GB of 4G LTE data.
  • In-flight texting +1 hour of data. On all Gogo®-enabled flights to, from, or within the U.S.
  • Mobile hotspot data included. (Limited to 3G speeds).
  • Stream unlimited entertainment. Video at DVD quality, 480p.
  • Taxes & fees included.
  • Texting & data abroad. 210+ countries and destinations.
  • Netflix subscription included.
  • 12 Lines max

T-Mobile Military Discount Details:

  • 1 Line: $55/mo (Taxes and fees are included)
  • 2 Lines: $80/mo
  • 3 Lines: $90/mo
  • 4 Lines: $100/mo

T-Mobile Will Also Pay Off Your Current Contract

  • Must buy a new phone with T-Mobile.
  • Must pay with autopay.
  • Must trade in your current phone (may or may not be an eligible phone).
  • Must transfer your current number from current provider.
  • Must have “qualifying” credit.
  • They pay up to $650 per line or $350 in early termination fees. You’ll get a bill credit for your trade-in and the rest in a gift card.

Eligibility

Available to all active duty service members, veterans, retired military personnel, members of the Reserve or National Guard, and Gold Star families.

You will also need to submit military verification within 45 days at t-mobile.com/military/verification; otherwise, your plan will become T-Mobile ONE at an additional cost of up to $20/line per month.

Personal Input

I have always had a soft spot for T-Mobile because they have always seemed to be the underdog. However, John Legere (CEO) has been fixing that. I don’t currently use T-Mobile, however, I have used them for years not long ago. While they have come a long way as far as service coverage has been concerned, they are still really lacking in my particular area. They do support WiFi calling, which does help, it’s still not as good as it could be. Here is the T-Mobile coverage map.

Sprint Military Discount

At the time of this article, Sprint is in the process of being purchased by T-Mobile (pending anti-trust approval). They have previously attempted to merge, but the efforts did not go through. So for now, assume they will remain separate companies if, or until, a merger is approved. We will update this article if or when a merger occurs.

Sprint uses CDMA for its network.

Sprint Unlimited Military Plan

  • “Unlimited”, talk, text and data.
  • “Unlimited” in Mexico & Canada – Talk, text, and up to 5GB of 4G LTE data.
  • Mobile hotspot data included. (Limited to 500MB of data).
  • Stream unlimited entertainment. Video at DVD quality, 480p.
  • Texting & data abroad in almost 200 countries and destinations.
  • Hulu subscription included.
  • 6 Lines max
  • Sprint will donate $10 to the Fisher House Foundation for each new account.

Sprint Military Discount Details:

  • 1 Line: $60/mo (Taxes and fees are NOT included)
  • 2 Lines: $80/mo
  • 3 Lines: $90/mo
  • 4 Lines: $100/mo

Eligibility

Available to all Veterans, Active Duty, and Reserves of the U.S. Armed Forces through the Sprint Works Program. Sprint Works is a special program that offers discounts to various organizations.

You will also need to verify your military status here: https://sprint-verify.sheerid.com/, which make take a little bit of time to activate.

Personal Input

I have also used Sprint for my work account and unfortunately, in my area, it is far worse than T-Mobile. Data speeds are usually sub 4 Megabit. Your mileage may vary. That said, Ryan Guina, the founder of The Military Wallet, has used Sprint for over a decade. His experience is the opposite – Sprint works great in his region, but T-Mobile has lesser coverage.

Sprint also offers WiFi calling to mitigate poor service areas. It’s always good to check coverage before you switch.

It’s also best to take the coverage map with a grain of salt.

Verizon Military Discount

Otherwise known as “Big Red,” Verizon is one of the larger providers and they use CDMA technology.

Verizon does not have any special plan for the military. They simply give a discount on whatever plan they currently have available. If you have an old plan, you can still get 15% off that plan. Verizon currently offers the Go, Beyond or Above Unlimited plan.

Go Plan

  • “Unlimited”, talk, text and data.
  • “Unlimited” in Mexico & Canada – Talk, text, and up to 512MB of 4G LTE data per day.
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot data included. (Limited to 600kbps speeds).
  • Streaming video at DVD quality, 480p.
  • Apple Music free for 6 months.
  • 25% off select accessories.

For the Go Plan

  • 1 Line: $55/mo (Taxes and fees are NOT included)
  • 2 Lines: $95/mo
  • 3 Lines: $110/mo
  • 4 Lines: $120/mo

Eligibility

Available to all Veterans, Active Duty and Reserves of the U.S. Armed Forces. Again, you will need to apply for the discount.

Personal Input

I currently use Verizon and for my area they are rock-solid. I have also noticed that the data speeds are by far the fastest of the other carriers. My biggest complaint is the price because I do not currently utilize the military discount plan. Perhaps that will change in the future.

AT&T Military Discount

AT&T is a GSM carrier and one of the larger ones around.

Much like Verizon, AT&T does not have any military plans, they just give discounts to specific plans. The current discount is 25% per line.

AT&T Unlimited & More Plan

  • Unlimited talk, text & data.
  • SD Streaming (480p DVD quality, max of 1.5Mbps).
  • Live & On-Demand TV: 30+ channels, live & on-demand.
  • Mexico & Canada – Unlimited talk, text & data included.
  • Up to 5 lines.

AT&T Unlimited & More

  • 1 Line: $52.50 (Taxes and fees are NOT included)
  • 2 Lines: $93.75/mo
  • 3 Lines: $108.75/mo
  • 4 Lines: $120/mo

Eligibility

AT&T requires active and guard/reserve to use their .mil email addresses to signup. Visit this link to see if you are eligible for the AT&T military discount.

Vets can use a DD214 at an AT&T store. Like other carriers, the discounts can take time to reflect on your bill. Also requires autopay and paperless billing.

Personal Input

My old employer uses AT&T and they were by far the carrier with the most coverage in my area. I would have full service where Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile had none. The data service was also rock-solid. I would mention that they do seem to have a higher number of dropped calls than other providers. AT&T also has WiFi calling to increase service areas.

US Cellular Military Discount

US Cellular is the 5th largest carrier and uses CDMA technology.

The wireless footprint of US Cellular is fairly small, so it’s very region specific. Plans look to start at $45/mo and they offer a 15% discount to military members.

Eligibility

Available to all Veterans, Active Duty and Reserves of the U.S. Armed Forces. you will need to call them to set up the discount. 1-888-944-9400

Military Discounts from MVNO Providers

This can be a long list because smaller, local companies can fall into this category, For this article, I will only focus on larger MVNOs. Keep in mind that MVNOs resell T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint service. Most, if not all, MVNO providers are discounted enough to where they compete with the larger non-MVNOs. Also, most MVNOs are prepaid providers. No credit check required.

  • Boost Mobile (Sprint) – Boost will allow you to suspend your service if you’re deployed. More info.
  • Armed Forces Mobile (Verizon) – No military discount. More info.
  • Cricket Wireless (AT&T) – No military specific discount, only a multi-line discount.
  • Metro PCS (T-Mobile) – No military specific discount, only a multi-line discount.
  • Straight Talk Wireless (T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon) – No military discount. More info.
  • Virgin Mobile (Sprint) – No military discount. More info.
  • Google Project FI (T-Mobile and Sprint) – No military discount. More info.
  • TracFone (T-Mobile, AT&T or Verizon) – No military discounts. More info.

This is not a complete list of MVNOs and it’s a good idea to do a little bit of research before choosing one. Anyone remember Defense Mobile? Lots of military members jumped on that bandwagon and the company went out of business only after a short time. I will also mention that all of the larger providers have prepaid plans available at lower rates than standard postpaid plans. Again, no credit check required.

Wireless / Cell Phone Terminology – How to Decode the Best Deals

Wireless Carrier: This the company that provides the service. AT&T, T-Mobile etc. While a company like Cricket Wireless is a wireless carrier, they don’t directly provide the service. They are considered an MVNO.

Mobile Virtual Network Operator: Otherwise known as an MVNO. This is a company that sells someone else’s service. Companies like Cricket Wireless and Boost Mobile are MVNOs.

“Unlimited”: Each carrier is a bit different, however, the general idea is that you have full access to the provider’s services (date, voice, text) until you hit a threshold. You then get restricted to the point that it’s almost unusable. So, the term “unlimited” may be a bit of a misnomer.

Data – 2G/3G/4G/5G/LTE: I could write a whole article on this. However, to keep it simple, it basically means the speed of the data network. The higher the number, the faster your data speed. Websites, videos, music and so on are sent to your mobile device faster based on the underlying xG technology. The data speed is usually measured in Megabit, while how much data you use is usually measured in Gigabytes. Verizon has a handy data calculator.

Talk: Remember when we use to talk on our cell phones? Anyway, I mention this because some plans still limit the number of minutes you can talk

Text: Again, some companies limit the amount of texting you can do. Keep this in mind when selecting your plan.

Hotspot: Some plans allow you to use share the data to your computer. This is usually accomplished by WiFi, Bluetooth or simply plugging in your phone to a computer. I mention this because providers have started including it.

Roaming: When you venture outside a carrier’s service area, you are considered to be roaming. If a plan does not cover it, you will pay hefty fees when you roam outside a service area. Basically, if you travel outside the USA, you can be subject to roaming.

WiFi Calling: This feature is a true life-saver. If you go anywhere outside the USA and have WiFi internet access, you can use your phone without racking up any additional charges. It lets you call and text with no cellular connection. It’s also good if you work inside a building with no cellular service. As of this article, most carriers offer this, however, not all phones support it.

GSM & CDMA Networks: This is the underlying technology used by the wireless provider networks. T-Mobile and AT&T use the GSM network. The GSM network is also used more globally.

CDMA is used by carriers like Verizon and Sprint. One is not better than the other, however, GSM is a little easier to swap around phones and more compatible globally.

One of the final options is that you can always call and ask if the company offers a military discount. After all, you’ve earned it.

Jes Naber is an Air Force Veteran who loves all things military and personal finance. When not daydreaming about being back in the military, he is the Director Of Technology for a public K-12 school district.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Comment? Question? What's on your mind?