Once upon a time, single line plans were the most common out there, as most families only owned one cellphone. It’s 2018, and things have certainly changed, with even some of the youngest members of a family rocking smartphones these days. All four major US carriers (Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint), along with other carriers like MetroPCS, offer some version of family plans, but which one is the best? That’s just what we are going to discover today. Keep in mind that carriers frequently make temporary or permanent changes to their fanily plans, so we will be updating this post when that happens.

Verizon family plans

Verizon family plans

For large families who want to sign up for the nation’s largest wireless phone operator, the best option is to choose one of the carrier’s three Unlimited plans. The cheapest is GoUnlimited, which  begins at $75 a month for just one line on the account, and goes down to $65 a month each for two lines, $50 a month each for three lines, and $40 a month each for four line. Each line beyond that will cost $40 each. That price does not include taxes or other fees and it also assumes you will sign up to use AutoPay. If you don’t, that adds an extra $5 a month to the bill.  You are supposed to get unlimited data, but users may experience data slow downs  “in times of congestion”. It also includes unlimited talk and texting in the US, along with unlimited calls and texts from the US to numbers in Mexico and Canada.

Verizon’s next expensive unlimited plan, BeyondUnlimited, begins at $85 a month for just one line on the account, and goes down to $80 a month each for two lines, $60 a month each for three lines, and $50 a month each for four lines. Each line beyond that will cost $50 each. As with GoUnlimited, the prices for the BeyondUnlimited plans do not include taxes or other fees and assumes you will sign up to use AutoPay. Unlike GoUnlimited, signing up for BeyondUnlimited will offer customers 4G LTE speeds at any time, even if your cell tower is considered congested with traffic. You may only get hit with slower speeds if you use 22GB of data before your monthly billing period ends.

Finally, Verizon offers its Above Unlimited plan. It begins at $95 a month for just one line on the account, and goes down to $90 a month each for two lines, $70 a month each for three lines, and $60 a month each for four lines. The biggest feature is that speed slow downs from LTE data won’t happen unless you go over 75GB of data each month.

Verizon is allowing accounts under one family to mix and match the carrier’s unlimited plans, so that children can use the cheaper plans, while their parents can use the more expensive plans, all under one account.

Verizon also has a discount for active-duty military, reservists, Gold Star families, and veterans. The discount cuts down the price by $15 off one line, $35 off two lines, and $40 off three or more lines. This means that the GoUnlimited plan sells for $30 per month per line for four lines. Because Verizon lets you use different unlimited plans for one bill, the promotion also applies to the carrier’s new Beyond Unlimited and Above Unlimited plans.

 

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AT&T family plans

AT&T family plans

AT&T’s two unlimited plans may be a better choice for families, especially for large groups. The cheaper of the two AT&T unlimited plans is called Unlimited & More, and cost $70 a month for one line, $125 for two lines, $145 a month for three lines or you can get a four-line bundle of $160.  Keep in mind that under this plan, your  4G LTE data speeeds could be throttled at any time if the carrier is getting too much traffic. You also can access WatchTV, AT&T’s new skinny internet live TV service, for free with this plan. It offers access to 31 channels, with more to be added in the coming months. Unlimited & More has a $15 monthly credit to use for DirecTV Now, which is AT&T’s full-featured live TV streaming service. It includes access to many more cable channels than WatchTV and a cloud DVR service.

The more expensive of the two AT&T Unlimited plans, Unlimited & More Premium costs $80 a month for one line, $150 a month for two lines, $170 a month for three lines or $190 a month for four lines. The Premium tier will throw in 15GB of free high-speed mobile hotspot data a month, the free access to WatchTV,  a higher quality video streaming experience, and the use of the $15 credit for either DirecTV Now, the DirecTV satellite service or AT&T’s U-Verse internet service. Finally, the Premium plan lets users pick one premium cable or streaming service they can watch for free. The choices include HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, VRV, Amazon Music, or Pandora. Your 4G LTE data speeeds could be throttled if you go over 22GB before the end of your monthly billing cycle.

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T-Mobile family plans

T-Mobile family plans

T-Mobile family plans are unique in that it only offers unlimited postpaid plans, with no such plans with limited amounts of data. The basic T-Mobile One unlimited plan charges $70 a month for one line, $50 a month each for two lines, $37 a month each for three lines, $40 a month each for four lines and $25 a month for each additional line. It offers unlimited talk and text in the US, and unlimited talk, texting and data while you are in Canada and Mexico, but limits video streaming down to 480p resolution.

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The  T-Mobile One Plus plan boosts that video streaming resolution up to 1080p, plus 10 GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data.  It costs $80 a month for a single line, $60 a month each for two lines, $47 a month each for three lines, $50 a month each for four lines and $35 a month for each additional line.

Finally, T-Mobile recently launched a new plan, T-Mobile One Unlimited 55+, that is specifically for couples that are 55 years of age and older. It charges $50 a month for the first line, but just $10 a month for the second line. That means two people that meet the age criteria can get unlimited data for a total of just $60 a month.

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Sprint family plans

Sprint Family Plans Shutterstock

The carrier’s Unlimited Basic is the cheapest unlimited Sprint plan that’s currently being offered, and perhaps best of its family plans. At the moment, one line on the plan costs $60 a month, and two lines costs a total of $100. If a customer wants to add a third, fourth or a fifth line to the account, Sprint will throw them in for $20 a month each. All of these prices assume the customer will choose AutoPay as a payment option. Activation fees will be waived for lines three to five from now until July 31. While the plan does offer “unlimited” 4G LTE data, your speeds might get throttled if you exceed 50GB of data before your monthly billing period ends.

In addition to unlimited data, talk and texting in the US, the Sprint Unlimited Basic offers support for streaming video at up to 480p resolution, along with streaming music at up to 500kbps and streaming data for games at up to 2 Mbps. Each line on the plan can also offer 500MB GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot downloads. After that limit is reached before the billing month closes, mobile hotspot streaming goes back down to 3G speeds. The plan also offers unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of LTE data a month for people in the US who travel to Mexico and Canada, along with text and data (likely not LTE data) for over 185 other countries.

Sprint is also offering free access to the Hulu video streaming service for Unlimited Basic Plan customers. New and current Hulu subscribers who sign up for Unlimited Basic can get the standard Hulu Limited Commercials tier package for free, which normally costs $7.99 a month. 

Sprint also offers an upgraded version of its Unlimited Basic Plan. The Unlimited Plus plan costs $70 a month for the first line, and a total of $120 a month for two lines. Lines three to five will each cost $30 a month. However, if you bring your own phone, or pay the full price for your new phone from Sprint, you will be able to cut the price of the Unlimited Plus plan down by $20 for each line. Again, while the plan does offer “unlimited” 4G LTE data, your speeds might get throttled if you exceed 50GB of data before your monthly billing period ends.

This Sprint plan increases your video streaming to 1080p resolution, and you also get 15GB of LTE data a mobile for mobile hotspots. Music streaming gors up as well to 1.5 Mbps. The plan also offers unlimited talk, text, and 10GB of LTE data a month for people in the US who travel to Mexico and Canada, along with text and data (likely not LTE data) for over 185 other countries. Finally, in addition to the free access to Hulu, Sprint Unlimited Plus plan uses can also access the Tidal Premium music streaming service, which normally costs $9.99 a month.

Sprint also offers what it calls its Unlimited Military Plan for veterans, active duty and reserves of the U.S. armed forces. It offers the same features as the Sprint Unlimited Basic Plan, but prices for lines two to five are 50 percent less. For couples who are 55 years of age or older, there’s also the Sprint Unlimited 55+ Plan which costs just $70 a month for two lines.

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MetroPCS family plans

MetroPCS, which is the pre-paid subsidary of T-Mobile, has an excellent unlimited plan that also works as one of the best family plans. It offers four lines of unlimited 4G LTE data for just $100 a month. Yep, that’s the total price, and MetroPCS says that includes the extra taxes and fees. The video streams for this plan are down to 480p, and users might experience data slowdowns if they exceed 35GB of data before their monthly billing cycle ends. Otherwise, this is one of the best family plans we have ever seen.

Who has the best family plan and who has the worst?

Currently, there’s no doubt that the best family plans among the top wireless carriers are offered by MetroPCS. Four lines, each with unlimited LTE 4G data, for the equivalent of $25 a month for each line is going to be hard to beat.

family plans The Guardian

If you want some extra stuff with your family plans, you might want to consider  AT&T’s two unlimited plans. Both offer free access to the carrier’s WatchTV internet-based live television service, and the more expensive plan throws in free access to another streaming premium TV or audio service as well.  Finally, if you don’t want to worry about throttling speeds, the Above Unlimited plan from Verizon may be for your family. It’s more expensive, but there’s no risk of speed slowdowns unless you use more than 75GB of data a month, and almost no one will reach that limit.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that while some wireless networks may offer cheaper family plans, their network reliability and speeds may vary depending on where you live. So you still need to factor how good the top four carriers are in your neck of the woods before deciding which carrier, and which family plans, you will pick.