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The Best Family Smartphone Plan

posted by Fox Van Allen on July 30, 2014 in Phones and Mobile, Family and Parenting, Guides & Reviews, Shopping, Money Savers :: 8 comments

If you’re paying a large cellphone bill for a large family, then you’ve no doubt noticed all the ads on TV and the Internet about the latest, greatest “family plan” offering huge discounts for families of four or more. Every carrier has a family plan, and yes – some of them are solid deals.

But as you can imagine, there’s fine print to every deal. Joining a family plan is harder than it sounds, and you might need to put up a lot of cash up front first. Here are all the details on each of the major carriers’ family plans, fine print included.

Verizon

Verizon’s most affordable family plan is called MORE Everything with Edge. It offers a family of four unlimited talk, unlimited text and 10GB of data for $160 ($15 per line x 4 + $100 data access). That price doesn’t include fees, taxes and data surcharges, which could add another $10-20 to your bill per month.

There’s a catch, however: Verizon’s Edge plans require you to surrender your two-year phone subsidies. If you’re a current Verizon customer, you can join an Edge plan with your own phone when your current contracts expire. But you’ll have to pay full price for phones from that day forward.

AT&T

AT&T’s most affordable family smartphone plan is called Mobile Share Value. Like Verizon’s plan above, it also offers unlimited talk, unlimited text and 10GB of data for $160 ($15 per line x 4 + $100 data access). Fees, taxes and data surcharges are extra.

AT&T’s Mobile Share Value plan has the same limitations that Verizon Edge plans do: You need to surrender your two-year phone subsidies. If you don’t already have AT&T compatible phones, you’ll need to buy the four at full price.

Sprint

The pricing of Sprint’s Unlimited Framily Plans is a bit complicated, as your price per line decreases as you add new ones. For a family of four, Sprint’s Framily offers unlimited talk and unlimited text, but just 1GB of high-speed data per line, for $160 total ($40 per line x 4). Larger families save more – the cost drops by $5 per line with each additional line until you hit $175 for a “framily” of seven ($25 per line x 7). Fees and taxes are extra, but there are no data overages charges. Sprint throttles your speed when you hit your max, instead.

Sprint no longer offers contracts, so the only concern with switching is obtaining the four or more Sprint-compatible phones you’d need.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile’s new family plan, available today, is called T-Mobile Simple Choice. It offers unlimited talk, unlimited text and 10GB of data (2.5GB per line) for a total of $100. With T-Mobile, the first line you activate costs $50/mo., the second $30/mo. and then $10/mo. for each line thereafter. Fees and taxes are extra, but there are no data overage charges – like Sprint, T-Mobile throttles.

T-Mobile no longer offer contracts, either. You can purchase new phones at full price, or make a down payment and have the remaining cost added to your monthly bill in equal monthly payments.

Which Family Plan is best?

If you look simply at the raw plan numbers, T-Mobile has the best deal for a family of four. Plus, T-Mobile is willing to pay your current carrier’s early termination fees, But making the switch to the carrier isn’t necessarily a slam-dunk for your family. You’ll  have to pay for new phones to join if your current phones aren't compatible with the T-Mobile network. If they aren't compatible, check the trade-in value of your phones to see if you can get enough cash to cover enough of the cost of the great low-cost Android devices currently available. 

Or maybe skip the Family Plan entirely…

Alternatively, you may decide that it’s in your family’s best interest to skip these family plans entirely. They’re cheaper mainly because you need to give up your lucrative new phone subsidies to join them. If you’re a current Verizon or AT&T customer who enjoys cutting-edge phones like the coming iPhone 6, it may be in your best interest to avoid having to pay for several $650+ devices up front.

[family on cellphones via Shutterstock]

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Discussion loading

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Republic Wireless

From Ivori Murray on July 30, 2014 :: 10:36 am

You should check out http://www.republic wireless.com We have the $5 per month plan, which includes unlimited talk, text and data over wi-fi .

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Beware Republic Wireless

From dwchinn on August 04, 2014 :: 2:15 pm

$5 plan is only wifi when you can get wifi.  no wifi, no contact with outside world.

don’t expect to talk to a live person if you have a problem.  they only do email.  if you got a problem, tuff. don’t expect a quick resolution.  they don’t care how urgent your problem is.  expect a marketing answer. employees would like to keep their job.

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No Problems So Far

From Ivori Rose on August 04, 2014 :: 2:31 pm

I have not had any issues with Republic Wireless; I have not had to call or e-mail customer service because I have not had any issues. I am also still able to make and receive calls and texts when I am not connected to Wi-Fi; I’m just not able to post on FB, Twitter and the like.

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Beware Republic Wireless

From David W Chinn on August 04, 2014 :: 2:20 pm

the $5 wifi plan is good only if wifi is available.

RW does not use voice to take care of resolutions. only email.  no matter how urgent, email is the only way.  their answer is a marketing answer. employees want to keep their job.

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AT&T Smart Phones

From Linda Ann Graham on July 30, 2014 :: 2:38 pm

AT&T also allows you to pay for smartphones by adding a monthly payment to your bill.  My granddaughter did this.  Also, AT&T is the only carrier with the new Amazon Fire smartphone.  By purchasing the phone from Amazon, it includes a year of Amazon Prime so, basically, you’re paying $99 for a year of Prime and $100 for the smartphone and can put the charge on a credit card and not have to deal with an extra charge on your phone bill.  A 2-person AT&T family plan offers 4GB as the “smallest” plan.

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Down Payments

From Scott Huber on July 30, 2014 :: 3:42 pm

Just a quick note, there is no downpayment on equipment if you take the monthly billing option on T-Mobile. All phones are 0 down unless the customer had poor credit, then there is a down payment.

Is it just me or does it sound like Linda works for ATT?

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NOT an AT&T employee.

From Linda Ann Graham on July 30, 2014 :: 3:43 pm

I do NOT work for AT&T.  I simply have had good service from AT&T and, before their merger, with Cingular.  I simply stated my personal experience.  Sorry if you haven’t been as lucky.

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Make it simple

From Lloyd on August 08, 2014 :: 11:02 am

I’ve heard the calling plans over seas are less complicated then in the U.S. I wish it was like that here.

And it does read like Linda works for AT&T.  Not saying she does and there would be nothing wrong with it if she did.

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