Best Family Cell Phone Plans

Cell Phones, Utilities
Best Family Cell Phone Plans

Finding the right cell phone plan for your family is key to keeping costs down. We scoped out the best family cell phone plans in several categories. Prices don’t include phones, taxes, fees or other charges, such as insurance.

Best family plans for average users

These are the best plans for a family of four. We only considered plans that offer enough data to cover average users, each of whom typically go through 2 to 5 gigabytes per month.

cricket-wireless-logo-small-transparent
  • Plan name: Cricket Basic with Group Save
  • Price (monthly, four lines): $100
  • Plan at a glance: 4 GB of data per line, plus unlimited minutes and text messages
  • Why we like it: It’s the least expensive option for a family of four. And you can add a fifth line, with another 4GB of data, for no additional cost.
ATT-logo-e1454363046363
  • Plan name: AT&T Unlimited Choice
  • Price (monthly, four lines): $165; $155 with $10 autopay discount
  • Plan at a glance: Unlimited data, minutes and text messages
  • Why we like it: It’s an affordable, entry-level unlimited plan on a top-notch network

THINGS TO KNOW:

  • Cricket: This prepaid carrier is owned by AT&T and uses AT&T’s network. Customers may be able to bring their own phone, or they can buy a new one at retail price. New customers may have to pay a $25 in-store activation fee.
  • AT&T: Video streams in standard definition. You can save $10 per month if you opt for automatic payments.

HOW OTHERS COMPARE:

Unlimited for $180; $160 with autopay discount
Unlimited for $190; $180 with autopay discount
Unlimited for $160

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Best family plans for two people

These options are a great fit for two average users. Those who need more than a few gigabytes may want to explore an unlimited plan.

republic_wireless
  • Plan name: Republic Wireless 2 GB
  • Price (monthly, two lines): $60
  • Plan at a glance: Unlimited talk and text; 2 GB of data per line
  • Why we like it: It’s a cheap, no-frills plan with just enough data for two people
boostmobile-small2
  • Plan name: Boost Mobile 3 GB
  • Price (monthly, two lines): $60
  • Plan at a glance: Unlimited talk and text; 3 GB of data per line
  • Why we like it: Each line gets its own data package, for a total of 6 GB, plus unlimited music streaming from select services

THINGS TO KNOW:

  • Republic: Republic defaults to Wi-Fi for all calls, texts and data. If Wi-Fi isn’t available, the carrier falls back on the cellular networks of Sprint and T-Mobile. The network you use depends on the phone you buy. Given Republic’s hybrid approach, most customers will need to buy a new phone via Republic. Some unlocked AT&T and T-Mobile phones can be activated with the carrier.
  • Boost: Sprint owns Boost Mobile, and the two carriers share the same network.

HOW OTHERS COMPARE:

Two lines with unlimited talk and text and 6 GB of shared data for $100 per month
Two lines with unlimited talk, text and unlimited high-speed data for $110 per month; $100 with autopay discount
Two lines with unlimited talk and text and 4 GB of shared data for $90 per month
Two lines with unlimited talk and text and 4 GB of data per line for $70 per month

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Best family plans with unlimited data

Unlimited plans are an increasingly affordable option for families, especially if your total usage exceeds 10 GB per month.

ATT-logo-e1454363046363
  • Plan name: AT&T Unlimited Choice
  • Price (monthly, four lines): $165; $155 with autopay discount
  • Why we like it: It’s an affordable, entry-level unlimited plan on a top-notch network
boostmobile-small2
  • Plan name: Boost Unlimited
  • Plan price (monthly, four lines): $140; $135 with autopay discount
  • Why we like it: It’s at least $20 cheaper than other unlimited plans, and it includes mobile hot spot data

THINGS TO KNOW:

  • AT&T: Video streams in standard definition. Data speeds are capped at 3 megabits per second. Average LTE speeds in the United States are around 10 Mbps and can be much higher depending on your area and coverage quality. High-speed mobile hot spot data is not included.
  • Boost: Mobile hot spot usage is capped at 8 GB per line. You’ll have to pay full retail price to buy a new phone, or you can bring your own if it’s compatible. Boost is owned by Sprint and uses Sprint’s network.

HOW OTHERS COMPARE:

Unlimited for $180; $160 with autopay discount
Unlimited for $190; $180 with autopay discount
Unlimited for $160

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» MORE: Best unlimited data plans

Best prepaid family plans

Want a family plan without the taxes, fees and multiyear commitment? These prepaid plans offer just that. Going prepaid will save you on monthly costs, but it does cost more at the beginning because you must pay full retail price for each phone upfront.

cricket-wireless-logo-small-transparent
  • Plan name: Cricket Wireless Basic (with Group Save discount)
  • Price (monthly, four lines): $100
  • At a glance: Unlimited talk and text; 4 GB of data per line
  • Why we like it: It’s an inexpensive, no-surprises plan with a reasonable amount of data
boostmobile-small2
  • Plan name: Boost Unlimited
  • Plan price (monthly, four lines): $140; $135 with autopay discount
  • Why we like it: It’s at least $20 cheaper than other unlimited plans, and it includes mobile hot spot data

THINGS TO KNOW:

  • Cricket: Cricket operates on AT&T’s network, but it caps its Long Term Evolution data speed at 8 Mbps. You’ll likely notice the difference only when trying to stream high-definition videos or do other things that need a lot of bandwidth.
  • Boost: Mobile hot spot usage is capped at 8 GB per line. You’ll have to pay full retail price to buy a new phone, or you can bring your own if it’s compatible. Boost is owned by Sprint and uses Sprint’s network.

HOW OTHERS COMPARE:

Smart plan: four lines with unlimited talk and text and 8GB of data per line for $140 per month
Unlimited for $160
Four lines with unlimited talk and text for $65. Data is an additional $10 per GB.

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» MORE: Best prepaid cell phone plans

Best family cell phone plans: summary

CarrierPlanBest forMonthly price (4 lines)Get started
Cricket Wireless Basic (4 GB data per line)Average users and people who want a prepaid option$100
Get started at Cricket Wireless' site
AT&T Unlimited ChoiceAverage users and people who want unlimited data$165; $155 with $10 autopay discount
Get started at AT&T's site
Boost UnlimitedUnlimited data and people who want a prepaid option$140; $135 with $5 autopay discount
Get started at Boost Mobile's site
Republic Wireless 2 GBTwo people$60 (for two lines)
Get started at Republic Wireless' site
Boost Mobile 3 GBTwo people$60 (for two lines)
Get started at Boost Mobile's site

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Kelsey Sheehy is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: ksheehy@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @KelseyLSheehy. Stephen Layton of NerdWallet contributed to this report.

Updated June 2, 2017


METHODOLOGY

We evaluated more than 200 cell phone plans offered by the following carriers: AT&T, Boost Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Cricket, GreatCall, Google’s Project Fi, MetroPCS, Net10, Republic Wireless, Sprint, Straight Talk, T-Mobile, TracFone, Verizon Wireless and Virgin Mobile. To determine the best plans, we looked at the monthly plan price before taxes and fees, the price per gigabyte and features such as unlimited video streaming or rollover data. We considered only national carriers, which ruled out regional providers like U.S. Cellular. For family plans, we looked at plans with at least 6 GB of data and calculated pricing for a family of four.