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Best family cell phone plans for 2024

Picking a family plan requires you first to understand your family's needs.
By

Published onDecember 8, 2023

Google Fi Wireless logo on smartphone with SIM card and SIM ejector next to it Stock photo 7

Raising a family can be expensive, especially once they are old enough to need a phone of their own. If you’re looking for the best family cell phone plan, you’ll want to figure out your family’s needs as well as your own budget. There are many different plans you can choose from, though most families will be best served by an unlimited plan. 

We’ll jump right into the best family cell phone plans below, starting with postpaid options and then working our way through the best prepaid family plans. If you need more guidance, check out the sections below on what to consider before getting a plan, as well as a brief explainer on postpaid vs prepaid coverage

Best postpaid family plans

ATT logo stock image 1

I’ll be honest, none of the big three carriers offer the best pricing anymore, and the perks and extras are pretty similar too. Really it comes down more to which carrier has better coverage in your area and has better promotions that fit with what you’re looking for. T-Mobile does offer slightly better pricing, but not to the degree it once did. 

One thing to note is that we are listing the top Verizon and AT&T plans, but the T-Mobile G05G isn’t their highest offering. There’s also a Plus tier, but we feel that T-Mobile’s Go5G is a better deal for what you get and competes fairly against the other options here. 

Unlimited ExtraVerizon MyPlan UnlimitedT-Mobile Go5G
Cost
Unlimited Extra
$75 for one line
$65 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$40 for four lines
Verizon MyPlan Unlimited
$80 for one line
$70 for two lines
$55 for three lines
$45 for four lines
$42 for five lines
T-Mobile Go5G
Prices per line:

$75 for one line
$65 for two lines
$43 for three lines
$39 for four lines
Talk & Text
Unlimited Extra
Unlimited
Verizon MyPlan Unlimited
Unlimited
T-Mobile Go5G
Unlimited
Data
Unlimited Extra
50GB premium 4G LTE
Unlimited basic 4G LTE
5G access with compatible device
Verizon MyPlan Unlimited
Unlimited 4G LTE
5G Nationwide
T-Mobile Go5G
Unlimited 5G & 4G LTE with 100GB of Premium Data
Hotspot
Unlimited Extra
15GB per line
Verizon MyPlan Unlimited
30GB 4G LTE or 5G
T-Mobile Go5G
15GB of high-speed hotspot data, then unlimited 3G
International Service
Unlimited Extra
Unlimited texting to 120 countries
Verizon MyPlan Unlimited
Talk & Text in Mexico and Canada
Texting in over 200 countries
T-Mobile Go5G
Unlimited texts and data up to 256kbps in more than 215 countries
Voice calls at $.25 a minute
Extra Perks
Unlimited Extra
Device security and spam risk alerts
Standard definition streaming
Verizon MyPlan Unlimited
480p streaming
Can add perks for $10 each, including 100GB hotspot data, Apple Music, Apple One, Disney Plus bundle, and more
T-Mobile Go5G
Netflix Basic, one SD screen
Apple TV+ free for 6 months
480p streaming

AT&T Unlimited Extra is great for those who want the best deals and trade-ins

AT&T Unlimited Extra gives you plenty of prioritized data at 50GB and 15GB hotspot data, and after that, you’ll still get high speeds. You just might see some deprioritization during peak hours.  It’s also priced similarly to the competition at $75 for one line, with a second going down to $65 a line. Lines three and four cost $50 and $40, respectively.

This isn’t much different than the others in the chart, so what really makes AT&T worth the consideration? First, if you live in an area with strong AT&T coverage, it often offers some of the best speeds of any of the big three. The second reason is promotions and pricing. While Verizon and T-Mobile only offer the best deals to existing customers with top plans, with AT&T, you get it with Extra, but also if you decide to go with a lower tier plan. Want the latest phones the fastest? AT&T Next Up lets you optionally upgrade to a new device when the existing phone is half-paid for. 

Pros:

  • 50GB of premium LTE data
  • 15GB hotspot access 

Cons:

  • It limits video streaming to standard definition (480p)

Verizon MyPlan Unlimited Plus is great for those who want Big Red’s massive network

Verizon Plus Unlimited is the ultimate plan for Big Red customers, adding 5G ultra wideband access and 30GB of hotspot data. In many ways, the Welcome plan is a better deal if you don’t mind being deprioritized during times of congestion. However, the Plus tier is the better choice if you need consistently reliable data access at the highest possible speeds.

Regardless of which Verizon plan you go with, they both have unlimited talk and text, as well as international calls and texts to Mexico and Canada. But what makes Verizon stand out from the other carriers? Good question. 

The biggest claim to fame for Verizon is its extensive network. Big Red is nearly everywhere, with more rural coverage and stronger widespread city coverage than basically any other carrier. Another way Verizon sets itself apart is its perks system. Verizon used to include free perks but opted to slightly lower the rates (well, unless you’re a family) for the base plans while turning perks into add-ons that cost $10 each. Some of the perks included a Disney Plus bundle, a Walmart Plus membership, Apple Music Family, extra hotspot access, and a few others. 

Pros:

  • 30GB of hotspot access
  • Unlimited prioritized data
  • Ultra Wideband 5G is extremely fast (where available)
  • Customize the perks you need, or leave them out entirely 

Cons:

  • It limits video streaming to standard definition (480p)
  • More expensive than most the competition
  • New perks system is more expensive than Verizon’s old plans for families

T-Mobile Go5G is the best value and probably the best option for most

Go5G isn’t the highest-end plan from T-Mobile, but you’ll pay $15 less and really only lose Apple TV Plus and the 50GB of hotspot data. You’ll still get 15GB of hotspot data, though, and the same 100GB premium access. This makes it the best value not only for T-Mobile but also for the competition.

If you have good access to T-Mobile’s network in your area, you’ll absolutely want to consider T-Mobile. While they’ve crept up in prices over the years, T-Mobile still has the most aggressive pricing of the big three. T-Mobile is also one of the fastest-growing networks and can be found pretty extensively across the US in the wake of its merger with Sprint. Historically it’s done a better job listening to its customers as well. 

If you’ve used T-Mobile in the past and run into reception issues, keep in mind, the network is much much stronger these days. 

Pros:

  • International access to data in 11 countries
  • Plans with two or more lines get Netflix Basic for free
  • Taxes and fees are included in the monthly rate

Cons: 

  • Limits access to 480p for streaming

Best prepaid unlimited family plans

Google Fi Wireless logo on smartphone with SIM card and SIM ejector next to it Stock photo 7

There are a lot of prepaid plans out there, many of which are perfectly designed for families. That’s why we couldn’t narrow it down to any less than four. Looking for more options? Be sure to check out our best prepaid plans guide. Each of these plans does things a bit differently from one another in terms of pricing and structure. We’ll highlight what we like about each in more detail below. 

Google Fi Simply UnlimitedCricket Unlimited + 15GB hotspotMetro by T-Mobile unlimitedUS Mobile Unlimited Basic
Cost
Google Fi Simply Unlimited
$50 per month for 1 line
$80 per month for 2 lines ($40 per line)
$80 per month for 3 lines (previously $25 per line, now $26.67 per line)
$80 per month for 4 lines ($20 per line)
$100 per month for 5 lines ($20 per line)
$120 per month for 6 lines ($20 per line)
Cricket Unlimited + 15GB hotspot
$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$110 for three lines
$130 for four lines
Metro by T-Mobile unlimited
$50 for one line
$80 for two lines
$110 for three lines
$140 for four lines
$170 for five lines
US Mobile Unlimited Basic
$35 for one line
$20 per line for four
Talk & Text
Google Fi Simply Unlimited
Unlimited
Cricket Unlimited + 15GB hotspot
Unlimited
Metro by T-Mobile unlimited
Unlimited
US Mobile Unlimited Basic
Unlmited
Data
Google Fi Simply Unlimited
Up to 35GB of free, unmetered data
Cricket Unlimited + 15GB hotspot
Unlimited high-speed 4G LTE or 5G data
Metro by T-Mobile unlimited
Unlimited high-speed 4G LTE or 5G data
US Mobile Unlimited Basic
Warp 5G mmWave and C-band access
40GB premium access
Hotspot
Google Fi Simply Unlimited
5GB of Wi-Fi hotspot
Cricket Unlimited + 15GB hotspot
$10 extra month
Metro by T-Mobile unlimited
8GB of hotspot data
US Mobile Unlimited Basic
5GB of hotspot data
International
Google Fi Simply Unlimited
Free calls from US to Canada and Mexico
No international calls, texts, and data outside the US, Canada, and Mexico
Cricket Unlimited + 15GB hotspot
Texts to 37 countries
Canada and Mexico usage (must not exceed 50%)
Metro by T-Mobile unlimited
None
US Mobile Unlimited Basic
None
Extras
Google Fi Simply Unlimited
None
Cricket Unlimited + 15GB hotspot
Ad-supported Max subscription
150GB Cloud Storage
Metro by T-Mobile unlimited
100GB Google One membership
1 year VIX Premium
T-Mobile Tuesdays
T-Mobile ScamShield
US Mobile Unlimited Basic
None
Network Partner
Google Fi Simply Unlimited
T-Mobile
US Cellular for roaming
Cricket Unlimited + 15GB hotspot
AT&T
Metro by T-Mobile unlimited
T-Mobile
US Mobile Unlimited Basic
Verizon
OR
T-Mobile

Google Fi Simply Unlimited is the best value for big families

Google Fi Simply Unlimited is a cheap way to get unlimited data for the whole family. One line starts at $50, but once you reach five lines, you’ll see serious discounts: $100 for five lines. That’s just $20 a line! 

As for what else you get, Fi gives you 30GB of priority data and then deprioritized speeds during congestion after that. As someone who periodically has used Fi over the years, I can tell you that the speeds are always pretty solid, even after you burn through the premium data. Beyond that? You get free calls from the US to Canada and Mexico. 

One thing to mention is that Fi uses the T-Mobile network, but when there’s no Tmo signal, it will automatically connect to US Cellular instead. This is a useful roaming option for those who live or regularly visit the midwest, as there are some parts of the country (Chunks of Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska particularly) where US Cellular is the only network with access. 

Pros:

  • Great value for families
  • Quality service based on T-Mobile
  • US Cellular for roaming is great for midwesterners 

Cons:

  • It would be nice if 1-3 lines were slightly cheaper 

Cricket Wireless Unlimited is a great choice for perks

Cricket’s most expensive plan is also its best. It starts at just $60 for one line but gets as cheap as $130, which works out to $32.50 a line. That’s not the cheapest plan, but you get unlimited data, texting in Canada and Mexico, and free access to the Max streaming service.

Ultimately though, Cricket isn’t the best value. Even if you factor in the cost of Max and the 150GB of cloud data storage, Cricket is a bit more expensive than Google Fi and US Mobile, though it is comparable to Metro by T-Mobile.

If you want extra perks and have strong AT&T coverage, Cricket is a great choice. If you live in an area with T-Mobile or Verizon coverage, you’ll save more by going with Fi or US Mobile and signing up for Max on your own.

Pros:

  • Access in Canada and Mexico
  • 15GB of hotspot data
  • Free cloud storage
  • Free Max subscription

Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than other plans

Metro by T-Mobile Unlimited is a good way to get Tmo benefits for less

Metro by T-Mobile is a good option for those that want T-Mobile’s service at a discount. You’ll pay just $50 for one line, but prices go as low as $170 for five lines — which works out to $34 a person.  You’ll get unlimited 4G and 5G speeds, though there may be deprioritization in times of congestion. It’s worth noting T-Mobile offers its own Unlimited prepaid plan with 3G hotspot access for the same price as Metro, and yet with the latter, you get 8GB of high-speed hotspot data and then unlimited free 3G.

 Metro doesn’t offer any free streaming services, but you do get a 100GB Google One membership and a 1-year VIX Premium. You also get Tmo extras like ScamShield and the T-Mobile Tuesday program that offers special discounts every week. 

This is one of the only plans that doesn’t offer any form of international coverage, but if you need it, you can upgrade to its more expensive $60/monthly plan that offers 25GB of hotspot data and unlimited texting to 210+ countries. 

Pros:

  • A decently affordable way to get T-Mobile service
  • Metro tends to have above average customer service

Cons:

  • No international access without paying for a more expensive plan

US Mobile Unlimited is an extremely affordable way to experience Verizon’s network

US Mobile is the only option on the list that gives you the choice between GSM or CDMA. If you pick the former, you get T-Mobile’s network with features and pricing that are pretty similar to Google Fi. The latter gives you the same 40GB of premium data but on Verizon’s 5G mmWave network. You also get 5GB of hotspot data.

Unlike Fi and Cricket, there’s no international access on this plan or any perks. Still, this is a great way to experience Verizon’s network at a very reasonable price. Just be aware there is data deprioritization which will be similar to Visible’s base plan. That means it works great when there’s little congestion, but speeds can fall into the 2-6Mbps during peaks or in busy cities. If that’s a dealbreaker, you’ll want to upgrade to a more expensive US Mobile plan or consider one of the other options on this list. 

Pros:

  • A decently affordable way to get T-Mobile service
  • Metro tends to have above average customer service

Cons:

  • No international access without paying for a more expensive plan

Should I consider a limited data plan for my family?

Stock photo of Mint Mobile fox on phone with money 1

For most families, we recommend sticking to an unlimited plan either through a prepaid service or via one of the big carriers. For one, there’s less likely to be surprise overages or a situation where a teen blows through their data cap. Still, if you know your family uses little data or is mostly around a Wi-Fi connection, you can potentially save money going the limited data route.

Keep in mind there aren’t many limited plans that offer discounts for families, aside from a few options like Google Fi Flexible. Still, some, like Mint allow you to bundle for convenience. Regardless, limited plans can range as little as $10 a month for a single line, so stacking them together can still be cheaper than family unlimited bundles.

To learn more about your options, we recommend checking out our guide to the best cheap cell phone plans. That said, we’ll briefly run through three options we recommend below. Please note all three choices run off the T-Mobile network. 

  • Mint Mobile 5GB: You can snag 4 lines for just $60 a month. You get unlimited talk and text, and 5GB of data that can be used for hotspot access too. The only catch is you’ll have to pay the whole year’s cost upfront for the low “$60 monthly” rate. 
  • Tello Economy 5GB plan: A 5GB plan costs just $19 a month, so a family of four would pay just $76 a month. This includes unlimited talk and text, and 5GB of data. This is actually only slightly more than you’d pay for Mint Mobile’s plan and yet you don’t have to pay for the whole year up front. 
  • Google Fi FlexibleIf your family rarely uses data outside of Wi-Fi, a Flexible plan can be extremely affordable. You can get 4 lines for $65, which works out to $16.25 a line. The catch is there is no data included. Instead, you’ll be charged $10 for every gig used. We really mean only what you use. For example, if you only use a half gig, you’ll only pay $5. If you’re a family that doesn’t use much data, this is a really cheap way to get a family plan. 

What to consider before getting a phone plan

Before you sign up for any of the plans listed above, consider what you’re looking for in a plan. You’ll want to figure out the following:

  1. How much data does your family use?
  2. Do you need international access?
  3. Do you need hotspot access?
  4. How much will device upgrades end up costing you?
  5. Does the plan offer extra protections like insurance, and do you even need them?
  6. Does the network in question work well in my area? 
  7. Do you want or need extra perks like free streaming services for your family?

That’s just a few questions you’ll want to consider. Once you know what you’re looking for in a plan, the next step is to decide if you want to go with traditional postpaid carriers like AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile. Or if you’d rather go the prepaid route and save some cash. 

Prepaid vs postpaid: Which is better for a family?

Verizon logo on smartphone laying on desk Stock photo 2

Today’s prepaid plans offer many of the same features as postpaid but for much less. This makes them a great choice for saving money if you have a big family. Of course, there’s more to it than the upfront savings.

Here are just a few reasons you might want to go with postpaid over prepaid:

  1. If your kids are accident-prone, let’s be honest; kids don’t take care of things nearly as well as most adults. Most prepaid plans aren’t going to have the insurance and replacement options that you’ll get with postpaid. That said, if you buy an unlocked phone it’s very possible it will qualify for extended warranties or insurance through your retailer. Amazon and Best Buy are just two examples that offer these kinds of warranties.
  2. If you don’t want to pay full price or upfront for phones. Carriers offer pretty great trade-in deals on old phones, letting you turn in your old device for a new one at a significantly reduced price. For a big family, that’s a good way to save some cheddar. Of course, even this point has a workaround. If you were to sell your old phone online you could use that to provide the same kind of discount as you’d get through a carrier. Many stores like Best Buy even offer device financing, as do some prepaid carriers.
  3. If you need brick-and-mortar assistance. Families are much more likely to utilize brick-and-mortar stores for quick repairs, questions, and other issues. Very few prepaid providers offer this kind of customer service, with Cricket being the most notable exception.
  4. If you want the fastest speeds and best prioritization. Nearly every prepaid carrier will have some level of deprioritization versus the most expensive postpaid plans. That means in times of congestion, you’ll get the fastest speeds possible with one of the big three’s best plans, while cheaper postpaid and prepaid plans will all see slower speeds that vary depending on the carrier.

As you can see, there are some very real reasons you might want to stick with postpaid. That said, all but the last point have ways to work around the problem if you get creative. Ultimately postpaid services have better customer service, better speeds, and better trade-ins and promotions. You get what you pay for. What you have to decide is if what you save on the prepaid side is worth it.

Here are a few reasons to go with prepaid over postpaid:

  1. You don’t mind going through hoops. The best savings for prepaid might require you to device shop for unlocked phones on sale or take advantage of store credit for device plans from a retailer like Best Buy. The more comfortable you are with doing your own basic troubleshooting the better as well, as customer service is usually just not as responsive as with most postpaid options.
  2. You want flexibility. Find a better deal? You can drop carriers much faster with prepaid. There are no commitments and if you buy your devices unlocked it will be even easier to pick up and leave. It’s also good if you want the ability to shut off a line quickly. For example if you have a teen that is grounded, most prepaid services make it easy to stop service and will typically have a grace period in which they will keep the number for you if you wish to return.
  3. You want to save money each month. You might be going through more hoops or paying more upfront for phones once or twice a year, but each month you’ll save dramatically with prepaid service in almost every scenario.

That gives you an idea of the strong suits of both prepaid and postpaid plans, but check out our detailed guide if you want more on the differences between postpaid vs prepaid.