The Best Cell Phone Family Plans

The Best Cell Phone Family Plans

You want to put your entire family on one cell phone plan, but you're not sure which one to choose. Family plans are a great way to keep everyone connected and save money while you do. In this article, I'll talk about the best cell phone family plans!

What Do I Need In A Family Plan?

There are a lot of different factors that go into choosing a cell phone family plan. So, before we dive into our favorite plans, we'd like to talk about some of those factors and help you make a more informed decision.

How Many Lines Do I Need?

This answer is pretty straightforward — you'll want one line for each phone you want to include on your family plan. Most cell phone plans let you add 4–10 lines.

How Much Data Does My Family Need?

The average person uses about 7 GB of cellular data per month. If you want to be sure your family won't go over their monthly data allotment, seeking out a plan offering at least this amount of data per line will probably keep you safe from overage charges. However, every family is different, so there are still lots of other factors you can consider when looking into a plan.

Check Data Usage On iPhone

If you have an iPhone, you can track your data usage by going to Settings -> Cellular. Here you'll see the amount of data that has been used over the Current Period, the start of which can be seen if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the screen. In the screenshot below, I've used 31.7 GB of data since September 10, 2020. This works out to about 3 GB per month.

check data usage on an iphone

You can reset the Current Period, by scrolling to the bottom of the screen and tapping Reset Statistics.

reset statistics on iphone

Check Data Usage On Android

If you have an Android, open Settings and tap Connections -> Data Usage. Here you can check your data usage over the past month.

A pair of screenshots showing Network settings and then data usage settings.

Shared Data vs. Fixed Data vs. Unlimited Data

On a similar note, it's important to figure out whether you need a family plan with shared data, fixed data, or unlimited data. Here's the difference between the three:

  • Shared data: Your plan includes an allotment of data that is shared between all lines. If you had 20 GB of shared data on a three line plan, one line could use 14 GB, another could use 5 GB, and the third could use 1 GB.
  • Fixed data: Every line has a set allotment of data that can only be used on that specific line. One line can’t borrow or use the data from another line. If everyone in your family has regular access to Wi-Fi, fixed data plans might save you some money without hurting anyone's mobile experience.
  • Unlimited data: If everyone in your family uses a lot of cellular data, you may be better off looking into plans that offer unlimited data for the whole family. If every line has access to unlimited data, you'll never have to worry about running out early or encountering overage fees.

Reliable Coverage

This isn't exclusive to family plans. You'll want reliable coverage from your mobile network no matter what type of cell phone plan you sign up for.

Make sure to check coverage in a few places — your neighborhood, a nearby relative's home, your child's college or university, and your family's favorite vacation spot.

You'll want to have reliable coverage in any place you visit frequently. You can compare the networks of every wireless carrier using our coverage maps!

Do I Need A Family Cell Phone Plan With 5G?

Carriers are racing to build 5G infrastructure. While T-Mobile is winning that race (by a lot), we're still far away from 5G benefitting consumers. Most 5G coverage today is low-band 5G. It's the slowest 5G, but also has the largest range.

If you find a plan that's a good fit for your family, and that plan includes 5G, there's no harm in switching to it. However, we strongly advise against paying for 5G as an add-0n to your plan. The technology simply is there to justify the additional cost.

Check out our other article to learn more about 5G!

Parental Controls

If you want to add your younger child to your family plan, you're probably interested in a plan that has some parental controls. Although some carriers do provide some parental control service included, you'll actually have most control using the settings on the phone you get for your child.

The iPhone has a great feature known as Screen Time, which allows you to set time limits for apps, block certain content, and much more. You can access them by opening Settings and tap Screen Time.

screen time settings on iphone

Androids have a lot of great parental controls too! Check out our other article to learn how to set up parental controls on your Android.

Do I Need To Sign A Contract?

You don't have to sign a long-term contract to get a family plan anymore. Many wireless carriers offer no contract and prepaid family plans data plans. These plans are very flexible and give you the freedom to quickly change your plan or switch carriers if you feel that it's necessary.

However, some family plans still require that you sign a contract. This is often true of premium unlimited data plans, which tend to have more features and less restrictive high-speed data caps.

Make sure to check the contract details of the plan you're interested in before signing up!

Why Should I Put My Entire Family On One Plan?

There are a couple reasons why you would want to consider putting your entire family onto a single plan. First, it's just easier to manage one account. You'll get one bill rather than two or more. If there's a problem with your account, you can resolve the problem quickly.

Many carriers offer special multi-line discounts when you sign up for a plan with more than one line. Typically, the amount you’ll save increases when you add more lines to your plan. Check out our other article to learn more about multi-line discounts!

Verizon Family Plans

Plan Name Minutes Messages Data Lines Price
Prepaid 5 GB Unlimited Unlimited 5 GB per line 1–10 $25 / month View Plan
Prepaid 15 GB Unlimited Unlimited 15 GB per line 1–10 $35 / month View Plan
Visible Plan Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 1–4+ $25 / month View Plan
Do More Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 1–10 $80 / month View Plan

Although the starting prices may seem high, Verizon offers multi-line discounts on family plans. You can save $10 or more for every line you add onto your Verizon family plan. Additionally, you can save on your bill by enrolling in Autopay and Paperless Billing.

5 GB Prepaid Plan

This plan includes unlimited minutes, unlimited messages, and 5 GB of high speed data. You can continue using data at slower speeds after you've used your high-speed data cap. Mobile hotspot, unlimited calling to Canada and Mexico, and unlimited texting to more than 100 countries.

15 GB Prepaid Plan

Verizon's 15 GB Prepaid Plan is just like their 5 GB Prepaid Plan. It has the same international features and mobile hotspot data access.

The Visible Plan

Visible is a wireless carrier owned and operated by Verizon. Visible's Plan includes unlimited minutes, messages, and data. Unlimited mobile hotspot as well as calling and texting to Canada, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

With Party Pay, you can get this plan for as little as $25 / month when you add four or more people to your Party. If you refer a friend to sign up for Visible, you'll both get a month of service for just $5.

Do More Unlimited Plan

The Do More Unlimited Plan includes unlimited data, 15 GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot, and a 500 GB Verizon Cloud storage. The perks are great too — you'll get a free year of Disney+ and a six-month Apple Music subscription. For an additional fee, users can access Verizon's 5G networks as well.

AT&T Family Plans

Plan Name Minutes Messages Data Lines Price
8 GB Prepaid Unlimited Unlimited 8 GB 1 $25 / month View Plan
Unlimited & More Premium Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 1–10 $85 / month View Plan
5 GB Prepaid Unlimited Unlimited 5 GB 1–5 $30 / month View Plan

8 GB Prepaid Plan

The AT&T 8 GB Prepaid Plan is a good option for families that want to stay under budget while enjoying lots of great perks. In addition to unlimited minutes and messages, you can stream HD videos, text over 230 countries, and use talk and text data in both Canada and Mexico.

This plan is available for just $25 / month when you prepay for 12 months. Any unused data rolls over to the next month with AT&T. Don't miss out on this great family plan!

Unfortunately, this plan doesn't have multi-line discounts. Prepaying for a year of service for several lines can get expensive quickly, but if you can afford it, this plan is one of your best options!

Unlimited Elite Plan

The Unlimited Elite Plan includes high-speed unlimited data usage, 30 GB of mobile hotspot, and international roaming in Canada and Mexico. This is AT&T's most expensive plan, but it's well worth the price!

Thanks to the AT&T exclusive Stream Saver, videos stream over the minimum amount of data on this plan. However, if you're interested in HD video streams, you'll most likely need to connect to a Wi-Fi network to achieve that level of quality.

Check out our comparison tool to compare more AT&T family plans.

5 GB Prepaid Plan

AT&T's 5 GB Prepaid Plan is a great low-cost option for families. The $30 monthly charge gives you 5 GB of high-speed data, plus unlimited minutes and messages. You're able to stream video with ease, enjoy fraud and spam calls blocking, and use your data toward mobile hotspot.

Any unused data with AT&T automatically rolls over to the next month, ensuring you'll never lose any data. When switching to AT&T, you can bring your own unlocked device for free, or purchase a new device directly from your carrier. Be sure to check out the AT&T 5 GB prepaid plan for your family!

T-Mobile Family Plans

Plan Name Minutes Messages Data Lines Price
Essentials Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 1–5 $60 / month View Plan
Simply Prepaid Unlimited Unlimited 10 GB 1–5 $40 / month View Plan

T-Mobile offers big discounts on family plans. You'll get a multi-line discount when you add lines to your plan and you can save even more by signing up for Autopay.

For example, you can get a four-line Essentials plan for just $120 / month. This brings your monthly price per line down from $60 to $30.

Another benefit to signing up for a T-Mobile plan is that, recently, Sprint and T-Mobile merged. Thanks to this partnership, there are more rewards and variety available from T-Mobile's coverage than ever before!

T-Mobile Essentials Plan

The Essentials Plan gives customers just that — unlimited talk, text, and data. The plan also comes with a 3G mobile hotspot that can be upgraded to include an additional 10 GB for just $10 / month.

T-Mobile Simply Prepaid 10 GB Plan

The Simply Prepaid Plan is a great fit for those who want to be on T-Mobile's network, but don't need unlimited data. This plan includes 10 GB of 4G LTE data, unlimited minutes, and unlimited messages. You can continue to use cellular data at reduced speeds if you exceed your 10 GB high-speed data cap.

Best MVNO Family Plans

Carrier Plan Name Minutes Messages Data Lines Price
Ting Mobile Set 5 GB Unlimited Unlimited 5 GB 1-10 $25 / month View Plan
Mint Mobile 4 GB Prepaid Unlimited Unlimited 4 GB 1-5 $15 / month View Plan
Tello Mobile 2 GB Unlimited Unlimited 2 GB 1-10 $14 / month View Plan

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are wireless carriers that lease coverage from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. One big advantage of choosing an MVNO is that they typically offer plans at a lower price than the big carriers.

However, the larger carriers can distinguish between their subscribers and the subscribers of MVNOs who lease their coverage. This means that MVNO subscribers may have their data speeds throttled during times of network congestion.

Do MVNOs Have The Same Coverage?

You may be wondering if you'll have the same coverage with an MVNO that you would with a major carrier. The answer is yes, MVNOs offer the exact same coverage. Since they don't have to maintain their own networks, these smaller companies can pass the savings on to you.

Ting Mobile Set 5 GB Plan

If you're looking for an affordable MVNO plan with not too much data, be sure to check out Ting Mobile's Set 5 GB Plan. For $25 / month, Ting customers enjoy 5 GB of high-speed data and unlimited minutes and message. Ting allows users to add monthly data to their plan as needed, ensuring they'll never need to worry about running out of data. Plus, any unused data each month will rollover.

This is a no-contract plan that doesn't charge for overages. Ting users have access to both the 5G and 4G LTE networks, all powered by Sprint and T-Mobile. Data from you monthly allotment can be used toward mobile hotspot, and this plan includes international roaming after 3 months.

When switching to Ting Mobile, you can bring your current device, or switch to one from Ting's excellent selection of the newest cell phones.

Mint Mobile 4 GB Prepaid Plan

Mint Mobile's 4 GB Prepaid Plan is a great option for people who need an affordable plan with all the essentials. For just $15 / month, you'll receive 4 GB of data, plus unlimited minutes and messages.

This is a 3-month plan, but you can adjust your data amount from 4 GB to unlimited data at any time. New Mint Mobile customers are free to bring their own unlocked devices when they switch, or purchase a new phone directly from Mint Mobile.

Mint Mobile's data network consists of 4G LTE and 5G, depending on which is faster in your area. Additionally, you'll enjoy free international calling to Canada and Mexico, and you can use your monthly data allotment for mobile hotspot.

Mint also offers great features for families! You're able to view monthly data usage through their website, and you can add additional data as needed. Check out Mint's website for more details on Mint's family perks.

Tello Mobile 2 GB Plan

If you're looking for a family plan without too much data, and an even lower price, check out Tello Mobile's 2 GB Plan! For $14 / month, you and your family will enjoy unlimited minutes and messages, plus 2 GB of high-speed data through their 4G LTE network.

This is a no-contract plan that doesn't charge for overages. Mobile hotspot is included as part of this plan, but you'll probably want a larger data allotment if you plan on using hotspot on a regular basis. You can customize your plan with Tello Mobile at any time, making sure that you're always paying for exactly what you need.

The Best Cell Phone Family Plan

So, what is the best cell phone family plan? Our pick is the Verizon Prepaid Plan with 5 GB of data. Every line gets unlimited minutes, unlimited messages, and plenty of cellular data every month. Even better, you don't get charged overages on this plan. You can keep using cellular data beyond your 5 GB monthly allotment, but the speeds are throttled down to 600 kbps.

The Best Cell Phone Family Plan In 2020

The 5 GB Verizon Prepaid Plan

Each line gets unlimited minutes, unlimited messages, 5 GB of cellular data, mobile hotspot, unlimited calling to Mexico and Canada, and unlimited texting to more than 100 countries.

Up to 10 lines. No contracts. No overage charges.

It Runs In The Family

We hope this article helped you find a great new cell phone plan. Make sure to share this article on social media to tell your friends, family, and followers about the best cell phone family plans. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave us a comment down below!


Colin Boyd

I'm Colin, the Creative Coordinator for Payette Forward.

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