The Cheapest Family Cellphone Plans Out There

There are real advantages to buying a family plan (which can include friends). Here's how to pick the best one for you.

The Cheapest Family Cellphone Plans Out There Photo by Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

This post comes from partner site WhistleOut.com.

With over a half-million cellphone plan combinations out there, finding a family plan that meets everyone’s needs can be challenging.

To make it easier, we’ve searched through more than 30 carriers’ plans and come up with our top picks for family cellphone plans with two, three, four and five lines.

Benefits of family plans:

  • Buy-in-bulk discounts: Get better deals for signing up multiple phone lines at once.
  • Friends can join too: Most plans will allow you to add up to nine lines — but there’s just one bill.
  • No credit check for additional users: Only the main account must pass a credit check.

How to buy family plans

There are two ways data usage is allotted on family plans:

  • All the lines on the plan SHARE data.
  • Each line is assigned a FIXED amount of data.

On a shared-data family plan all the lines can use as much data as they like until the TOTAL of data usage for all the lines reaches the plan’s data allotment.

So, for instance, if you buy a 6GB shared data family plan with three lines, it means each of the three lines can use any amount of data until the total of data usage for all three lines reaches 6GB. When the data amount is used, all three of the lines’ data will either be slowed or stopped (depending on your carrier) until the end of the billing cycle.

On a fixed-data family plan, each of the lines is allotted a certain amount of data.

So, if you purchase a 6GB fixed-data family plan with three lines it means each of the three lines has only 2GB of data. When a user has hit the 2GB limit, the data speed on that individual line will be slowed or stopped until the end of the billing cycle. The other lines will be unaffected.

Now, moving on to our plan recommendations:

2-line family plan with average data

Boost Unlimited Family

Why we like it: Boost’s Unlimited Family with 3 GIGS offers solid coverage (runs off Sprint’s 4G LTE network) and a generous amount of data at a low price that includes all taxes, fees and surcharges.

This prepaid plan includes 30 days of unlimited nationwide talk, text and data, with a decent amount of high-speed data to be shared between the two lines. Video streams at standard definition, 480p+. If you exceed your allotment of high-speed data, your data speed will be slowed to 3G (throttled) until your next billing cycle. It also includes unlimited music streaming, which allows you to listen to Boost’s streaming partners without using any of your plan’s data.

2 lines with unlimited data

MetroPCS $50 Unlimited Plan

Why we like it: The MetroPCS Unlimited plan offers unlimited data running on T-Mobile’s strong network coverage.

This plan includes unlimited talk, text and high-speed data which, once you have used 35GB of data, may slow temporarily during times of high network traffic due to data deprioritization. Though mobile hotspot data is not included, you can add it on for an extra fee. You can stream music from services including Pandora, iHeartRadio, Apple Music and Spotify without using your 4G LTE data.

You can bring any unlocked GSM (i.e. phones from AT&T or T-Mobile) and use this service.

3-line family plan with average data

Total Wireless Shared Plan

Why we like it: Total Wireless uses Verizon’s superior 4G LTE network and offers great plans for a fraction of the price. In fact, it’s an unbeatable data deal for a trio — a shared 20GB data plan with unlimited calls and text in the U.S. for $85. Phones, though, need to be compatible with CDMA network (i.e. Sprint or Verizon purchased phones).

With this plan, there are no activation fees and no credit check. Refill your service plan every 30 days to keep your phone active, online or at a participating Walmart store. You can also enroll in Auto-Refill to automatically refill your service plan on the end date and save 5 percent on your refill.

3 lines with unlimited data

MetroPCS $50 Unlimited Plan

Why we like it: The MetroPCS Unlimited plan offers all-you-can-use gigabytes for a low price that delivers big coverage on T-Mobile’s solid network. Plus its all-in pricing includes all taxes, fees and surcharges. Say bye-bye to bill shock.

This plan includes unlimited talk, text and high-speed data which, once you have used 35GB of data, may slow temporarily during times of high network traffic due to data deprioritization. You can stream music from services including Pandora, iHeartRadio, Apple Music and Spotify without using your 4G LTE data. Though mobile hotspot data is not included, you can add it on for an extra fee. This is a limited-time offer.

You can bring any unlocked GSM (i.e. phones from AT&T or T-Mobile) and use this service.

4-line family plan with average data

Cricket Basic Group Sale

Why we like it: Small prices for big coverage. Cricket Wireless uses AT&T’s network infrastructure and offers bargain prices, especially for families, so you can still meet your budget and expect great service.

With this prepaid plan, you won’t see any surprises on your bill. Its all-in prices include taxes and surcharges. Speeds are slightly slower than Cricket parent AT&T at 8 Mbps — which is mostly unnoticeable and should not affect standard definition streaming quality. Plan includes unlimited talk, text and high-speed data. You can also add 1GB of data to your lines for $10 per month per line. All leftover data expires at the end of the monthly cycle.

You can bring any unlocked GSM device (i.e. phones from T-Mobile or AT&T) and use this service.

4 lines with unlimited data

Boost Unlimited Family

Why we like it: Everyone in your household, stream away! Boost’s Unlimited Family plan offers a great deal on unlimited data with its all-in pricing. To get this great deal, you must be a new customer, and this offer is available for a limited time only.

Sure, speeds may slow a bit during times of network congestion due to data deprioritization, but aside from the serious gamers and streamer addicts, most of us are not going to notice. We are going to notice all the fun little perks of this plan like data-free unlimited music streaming.

5-lines family plan with average data

Cricket Basic Group Save

Why we like it: In this Cricket plan, there are no sacrifices; you get top-notch coverage (from Cricket parent AT&T’s infrastructure) at a great low cost.

With this prepaid plan, you won’t see any surprises on your bill. All-in prices include taxes and surcharges. Speeds are slightly slower than Cricket parent AT&T at 8 Mbps — which is mostly unnoticeable and should not affect streaming quality. Plan includes unlimited talk, text and high-speed data. You can also add 1GB of data to your lines for $10 per month per line. All leftover data expires at the end of the monthly cycle. You can bring any unlocked GSM device (i.e. phones from T-Mobile or AT&T) and use this service.

5 lines with unlimited data

Sprint Unlimited Freedom Plan

Why we like it: This is a great deal that gives you unlimited data running off Sprint’s national network coverage.

This plan includes unlimited talk, text and high-speed data, which will slow after 23GB during times of high network traffic due to data deprioritization. It also includes 10GB of data usage for mobile hotspots and a virtual private network (VPN) — an awesome safety feature to use to protect your information while using public Wi-Fi.
You can bring any unlocked CDMA (i.e. phones from Sprint or Verizon) and use this service.

More savings tips

Here are some great ways to save on your family plan:

  • Cheap deals need a sharp eye: Some plans offer a great price yet have some elements removed to make them cheaper. For example, the coverage and speeds might only be 3G.
  • With some shared plans, you can actually set data limits per line to ensure that the primary account holder does not wake up to an empty bucket.
  • Auto pay will save you: Every carrier offers discounts (typically $5 a month) if you elect to auto-renew each month.

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