Once upon a time, single line plans were the most common out there. It’s 2020 and things have certainly changed, with even some of the youngest members of a family rocking smartphones. The majority of US carriers, including the four big ones (Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint), offer family plans, which we’ll take a look at in detail in this post. Let’s dive in.
Best family plans:
Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list regularly as new family plans are launched.
1. 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 Unlimited plans. This ensures your kids don’t go over the data limits, and there are plenty of options for every user in the family. Prices per line get lower as you add more lines. If you have a four-line plan you can get plans as low as $35 per line. There is also a $35 plan for kids, which offers more parental controls and location tracking. Prices are reduced by $5 when you have five or more lines.
You are supposed to get unlimited data, but users may experience data slowdowns “in times of congestion.” It also includes unlimited talk and text in the US, along with unlimited calls and texts from the US to numbers in Mexico and Canada. Those who want to make sure data speeds stay snappy can get one of the higher-priced plans. These include Play More Unlimited, Do More Unlimited, and Get More Unlimited.
2. AT&T family plans
AT&T offers three unlimited plans that are great for families. The cheapest one is called Unlimited Starter and costs $65 a month for one line, while a four-line bundle goes for $140 — $35 per line. Keep in mind that under this plan, your 4G LTE data speeds could be throttled at any time if the carrier is getting too much traffic.
The second of the three AT&T Unlimited plans is called Unlimited Extra and will set you back $75 a month for one line or $160 a month for four lines — $40 per line. Unlike the Unlimited Started plan, it includes 15GB of free high-speed mobile hotspot data a month and allows you to use 50GB of data before any throttling kicks in. You can also access AT&T’s 5G network with the Unlimited Extra plan and a capable device.
The most expensive plan goes by the name of Unlimited Elite and can be yours for $85 per month for one line. Pricing goes down to $50 per month if you opt for four lines — $200 per month in total. The plan offers the same things as AT&T’s Unlimited Extra and also throws in access to a premium streaming service of choice — HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, VRV, Pandora Premium, or Spotify Premium. It also bumps up video streaming quality from SD to HD, but will slow down your internet speed once you use 100GB of data in a given month.
3. T-Mobile family plans
T-Mobile is unique in that it only offers unlimited postpaid plans, with no plans offering limited amounts of data. The basic T-Mobile Essentials unlimited plan charges $60 a month for one line, $45 a month each for two lines, $35 a month each for three lines, $30 a month each for four lines, and $27 a month for each additional line. It offers unlimited talk, text, and data while in T-Mobile’s network. You can also use unlimited 3G data for a hotspot. Additionally, you can get unlimited talk, text, and 2G data in Mexico and Canada.
The T-Mobile Magenta plan has more to offer, including 3GB of LTE mobile hotspot data, 5GB of 4G data in Mexico and Canada, and a free Netflix account, among others. It costs $70 a month for a single line, $60 a month each for two lines, $40 a month each for three lines, $35 a month each for four lines, and $32 a month for each line after the fifth line.
Those who want to go all out can get the Magenta Plus plan. This offers HD streaming, 20GB of LTE hotspot data, a free Netflix account for two screens, unlimited in-flight Wi-Fi, and more. Prices are set at $85 a month for a single line, $70 a month each for two lines, $47 a month each for three lines, $43 a month each for four lines, and $40 a month for each line after the fifth line.
4. Sprint family plans
Sprint has added a new Unlimited Kickstart plan to its lineup that starts at just $35 a month. You can either buy a phone or bring your own, and each line you add will cost an additional $35. That means two lines cost $70, three cost $105, and so on. Unlimited Kickstart does not include Hulu or a shareable hotspot, but it makes up for it with savings across the board.
The carrier’s Unlimited Basic is the second 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 cost 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, but the carrier is currently running an offer in which lines three to five are free. This means you can have five lines for $100 a month!
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. Each line on the plan can also offer 500MB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot. After that limit is reached before the billing month closes, mobile hotspot streaming goes back down to 3G speeds. The plan offers unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of LTE data a month for people who travel to Mexico and Canada, along with text and 2G data for over 200 other countries.
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, but they are currently available for only $10 each. The plan increases your video streaming to 1080p resolution, and you also get 50GB of LTE data for mobile hotspot. It also offers unlimited talk, text, and 10GB of LTE data a month for people who travel to Mexico and Canada, along with text and 2G data for over 200 other countries. Finally, in addition to the free access to Hulu — which is also available for the Unlimited Basic plan — Sprint’s Unlimited Plus users can also access the Tidal Premium music streaming service, which normally costs $9.99 a month.
5. Project Fi plans
Google’s own Project Fi offers some of the most enticing plans around. Aside from being affordable, coverage is solid thanks to the three networks it uses: T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. The system will figure out which has the best signal at any given moment and connect to it. To reduce prices, Google Fi leverages on the power of Wi-Fi. Whether you are connected to your home’s router or any Wi-Fi hotspot, calls, text, and data will be routed through the internet when possible.
Time to talk money! You could save quite a bit of cash if you are often connected to Wi-Fi or don’t require too much data. Google Fi’s Flexible plans have a base price of $20 for one line, which covers talk and text privileges. You would be charged $10 per GB for data. The base price would be lowered to $18 per line for two lines, $17 per line for three to four lines, or $16 per line for five to six lines. Of course, you would still have to pay the $10 per GB for data the family consumes.
Those who prefer an unlimited option can pay $70 for a single line, $60 per line for two lines, $50 per line for three lines, or $45 per line for four to six lines.
6. Simple Mobile plans
Simple Mobile runs on T-Mobile’s network, and the prices sure look like they could compete against Magenta. All plans include unlimited talk, text, international text, international calling to 69 countries, and roaming in 16 Latin American countries.
Plans start at $25 per month for 3GB of 4G LTE data. You can also pay $30 for 5GB, $40 for 15GB, or $50 for unlimited data. Simple has also added a new $60 per month unlimited plan with a 15GB hotspot and 50GB cloud storage. Additional lines would cost $20 for the $25 service plan and $25 for all other plans. As per usual, Simple Mobile is willing to give you a small discount if you sign up for automatic payments. These could range anywhere from $1.25 to $5, depending on your plan.
7. Cricket Wireless plans
Cricket Wireless single-line plans may not seem too exciting, but things start looking really enticing once you see prices drop after adding a few lines. Their most popular tier is the $55 unlimited Cricket Core plan. The same plan costs only $80 for two lines, $90 for three lines, $100 for four lines, and $125 for five lines. Cricket also offers smaller 2GB and 5GB plans that might just be perfect for the young ones in your family. The 2GB plan is just $30 per month and the 5GB plan is $40 per month.
Cricket Core includes unlimited talk, text, and data, as well as added features like roaming in Canada/Mexico and SD streaming. Cricket Wireless operates on AT&T’s network, so it’s also reliable.
8. Ting plans
Ting takes customization to another level when it comes to its plans. You only pay for what you use. Start by paying $6 per line, then add your shared minutes, texts, and data for an extra sum of cash.
I put together a plan that would suit my needs, which included two lines, 1,000 shared minutes, 1,000 shared texts, and 5GB of data. For this plan I would have to pay $85 a month. Of course, I am not skimping out on anything. If I switched to one line with no minutes or texts (I can live without them) and 3GB of data, the price comes down to $36 a month. This is not the absolute best deal, but it shows the flexibility you get with Ting.
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Which carrier has the best and worst plans?
Sprint offers the best bang for your buck if you have a large family, but the network is also known for its spotty signal. Make sure you live in an area with good Sprint coverage if you go with their deals. Verizon’s plans are pricier, but they do offer the strongest network in the country.
Those who enjoy some extras will love what AT&T has to offer. You get the choice of a premium service, less restrictions when going to Canada or Mexico (where they have their own network), free access to a premium streaming service, and more. Of course, T-Mobile has some things to offer too. They are the “Uncarrier,” after all.
Meanwhile, prepaid carriers and MVNOs have affordability and plenty of features to offer, as well as a no-strings-attached philosophy many of us still appreciate. I am a fan of Cricket’s multi-line discounts and Google Fi’s flexibility.