Picking the best family cell phone plan could become a pressing concern over the next few months, as phone makers roll out new devices and tie in some of the best cell phone deals to a long-term commitment to one of their various plans. Is the plan tied into that offer really the best one for you and your family?
We’ve done the research that can help you figure that out. But even if you’re not in the market for a new phone, tracking down the best family cell phone plan can be a great way to save money on your cell phone bill, as you might just find a plan that charges you less than what you’re paying now. At the very least, you can find a plan that delivers more value in the form of perks and benefits.
The best family cell phone plans at a glance
1. Best overall family plan: T-Mobile (opens in new tab)
2. Best for coverage and speeds: Verizon (opens in new tab)
3. Best plan for bargain hunters: Mint (opens in new tab)
4. Best family plan for streaming: AT&T (opens in new tab)
We’ve studied all the different options from carriers big and small and can point your toward the best family cell phone plan based on your needs. Unlimited data is usually the way to go for families, so that you’re not having to keep an eye on who’s gobbling up all the data in your plan. Because carriers offer different perks and benefits with their best unlimited data plans, you’ll want to consider how much you’re willing to speed, if you need hotspot data and a number of other different factors.
Families of four can expect to pay between $120 to $220 a month for four lines from the major wireless carriers, with some discount services offering even lower prices. If that seems like a wide range, that’s because benefits can increase on higher-priced plans. Here’s a closer look at the best family cell phone plans depending on your needs.
The best family cell phone plans
Best family cell phone plan value
Best family cell phone plan for coverage and speeds
Best family cell phone plan for bargain hunters
Best family plan for Comcast customers
AT&T’s best family cell phone plan
Cheapest family plan on AT&T’s network
Verizon’s cheapest family plan
How to pick the best family cell phone plans
Picking the right cell phone plan comes down to balancing the costs of multiple lines of data with the perks each carrier offers. If you do a lot of video streaming, for example, you’ll want to pick a plan that not only throws in a streaming service as a perk (Netflix with T-Mobile, multiple streaming services with Verizon) but also doesn’t slow your data if you consume a lot of data in a given month.
Because the thing about unlimited data is that, with the exception of one plan, it’s not truly unlimited. AT&T’s Unlimited Extra customers will enjoy a 50GB cap, just like three of Verizon’s four unlimited plans. T-Mobile has doubled the cap on its Magenta plan to 100GB, while the more expensive Magenta Max plan does away with caps entirely for a truly unlimited plan; AT&T followed Magenta Max’s lead with its Unlimited Elite plan.
The lowest-priced plans at Verizon (Welcome Unlimited) and AT&T (Unlimited Starter) allow your data speeds to be slowed whenever there’s network congestion. That’s also a risk you run when you get your service from MVNOs like Mint and Cricket, which can see their traffic deprioritized in favor of other customers on their parent networks (T-Mobile and AT&T, respectively).
We’ve focused on unlimited plans, as only AT&T is the only major carrier that continues to offer a tiered data option (a 4GB in this case). If you want tiered data, you’d want to turn to service like Mint, which offers plans with different data allocations.