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Best Family Phone Plans: What to Look for

a family of four sitting on a couch and using their cell phones

When it comes to the best family phone plans, there are many factors (and people) to consider. For example, how many lines do you need? What’s the right amount of data? Would you like phone deals to go with that plan? What about perks like streaming services — Netflix or Disney+, anyone? 

What is a Family Plan?

A family cell phone plan works the same as a regular plan for a single line, but you get coverage for multiple lines, not just one. As the plan holder, you’re able to choose how many lines you want and what kind of features you prefer to be included. By packaging this kind of mobile plan together, you end up saving money because you pay a lower cost for having multiple lines signed up at once.

Some carriers might charge an activation fee for the first line, then reduce the price for every line you add from there. Other carriers might charge you the same fee for all users but it’s a better price per line because you’re buying in bulk. Typically, the more lines you add, the lower the per-line price on these plans.

Fun fact: There’s really no such thing as a family plan. For the sake of simplicity, we can keep calling these multi-line plans “family” phone plans, but the truth is you don’t need to be related to take advantage of them! You can qualify for the best phone plans for two or more no matter if you're related or not.

Best Family Cell Phone Plans

Here’s a quick fire round of some of the best plans for families to consider, based on what you value in a plan:

Best Family Plans for Perks

Looking for perks like streaming subscriptions and more? T-Mobile includes some perks in your plan, while Verizon offers a selection of perk options you can add to your plan at a reduced rate. 

The only question is how much premium data you need and whether you want hotspot data, too.

Here are some plan options to consider:

Best Family Plans for Travel

If one or more of your family members are jetsetters, it’s important to look for plans that won’t hold you back. The plans on this list include unlimited talk, text, and data (albeit slow data) in Mexico and Canada as a minimum.

  • T-Mobile Go5G Plus. Highlights include unlimited GoGo Inflight Wi-Fi, unlimited texting in 210+ countries, and some high-speed data in 210+ countries 
  • Verizon Unlimited Ultimate. Key things to note include unlimited texting from the U.S. to over 200 countries, and talk, text, and a good allowance of high-speed data in 200+ countries.
  • AT&T Unlimited Premium PL. Main travel perks are unlimited texting to 200+ countries, as well as unlimited talk, text, and high-speed data in 15+ Latin American countries.

One caveat: It’s worth thinking about whether everyone needs travel options, or not. Not all carriers offer mix-and-match plans, where you can have different plans on different lines, but still get multi-line discounts. 

Best Cell Plans for Families on a Budget

Looking for lower plan costs? Your best bet is to check out the entry-level plans from these carriers. These are the best value plans from top carriers. These offer no frills, just plain data at a great price.

The only thing to remember is that these plans only include deprioritized data. That means that when networks are busy, your data might slow down. These plans include no or slow hotspot data, as well.

If you want the option to add some peaks like streaming subscriptions or some hotspot data, but still want a budget plan, here’s one to consider:

Best Unlimited Data Plans for Families

For data-hungry families who have family members that love to stream videos, play games, or upload lots of content to social media, you might be looking at one of the premium unlimited data plans from top carriers. These also include a generous allowance of hotspot data, too. Here are some options to consider:

A quick note: while some MVNOs like Mint Mobile and Cricket offer cheaper unlimited data plans, this data will slow down after you use a certain amount. If you want to get truly unlimited high-speed data, make sure the plan includes true premium data that won't be slowed down or throttled.

Best Family Plan for Phone Upgrades

For the tech fanatics who always need the latest device, you’ll want to look for a family plan that is upgrade-friendly. 

Beyond that, the best phone promotions are typically available to customers on the most premium cell phone plans. That includes:

What to Look for In Family Mobile Plans

No matter who’s on your family plan, it’s important to understand everyone’s cell phone habits, including where they use their devices, how much cellular data they typically consume, and whether they need unlimited talk and text.

Now let’s take a closer look at things to consider when trying to find the best family cell phone plan for you and yours.

Cancellation Fees

Understanding the terms of a phone plan is an important factor in picking the right one for your family. The good news is that if you’re looking for a no-contract, cancel-anytime, multi-line phone plan, these kinds of plans do exist. However, if you’re also looking for a great phone deal on the latest Apple iPhone or Android device from Samsung or Google with that plan, you may need to be prepared to stick with it for a while.

That’s because many of the best phone deals are only eligible with certain plans. Even when these plans don’t require annual contracts, the phone deals are applied over 24 or 36 months depending on the carrier. In other words, if you want to change plans or switch carriers before your phone deal has been fully applied, you’ll need to pay the balance of your new phone—which may feel a lot like a cancellation fee after all.

Data Plans

One of the most important parts of choosing the perfect family plan is selecting the right amount and type of data. Should you go with unlimited data or will a capped data plan suffice? Before you start comparing plans from top carriers, take a look at the data usage from your previous billing cycle statement to see how much data each person typically uses in any given month. 

Do some family members watch high-definition streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney for hours on end? Is there a serious gamer in your midst? What about scrolling social media and posting photos? 

All of these activities require a great deal of premium 5G data, a.k.a. high-speed data which you’ll find with an unlimited plan. If you’re looking to save with add-ons like streaming services, that’s another reason to consider an unlimited plan as these plans are more likely to include this kind of perk.

However, if your family doesn’t consume a lot of cellular data either because they don’t engage in these types of activities or because they’re disciplined about only doing so while using Wi-Fi, you may be a candidate for a family phone plan that doesn’t include unlimited data and instead offers a pay-by-the-gig capped data plan. 

Just make sure you keep an eye on your usage to avoid exceeding your cap, especially if the plan you choose charges significant overage fees for going over your data limits. 

Network Coverage 

When comparing the different multi-line family phone plans from carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, you need to figure out how good their coverage is where you and your family use your cell phones. Whether it’s 5G coverage or 4G LTE, dependable coverage where you live, work, and play is a must-have for any phone plan. 

While you can look at coverage maps from wireless providers to identify weak coverage areas, coverage maps tend to be less reliable when it comes to predicting the best mobile network in your area. That's because coverage can vary so much from one neighborhood to another—and even from one room to the next. 

How great your coverage is depends on how close you are to your carrier’s cell phone towers. While there's no perfect way to assess mobile network coverage, asking your neighbors about their service is a good place to start. 

Another idea? The next time you invite friends over, ask them to try making a call on their phone or connecting to the internet to see how well their service works in your home.

Unlimited Talk and Text

Family phone plans with unlimited talk and text can save you money in the end because you won’t have to worry about overage fees. Note that if you or your family talk or text with people outside of the United States, you might start incurring extra fees depending on the plan you choose. In this case, the best family cell phone plan for you will be one that includes unlimited talk and text not only in the United States but in Canada and Mexico as well.

The Bottom Line

Researching your plan options can be overwhelming. That’s where Navi’s free, unbiased Plan Finder can help. In a matter of seconds, it lets you compare phone plan deals from top carriers based on your preferences, including the number of lines you want, whether you want premium data or not, and if you’d like add-on perks like streaming services and hotspot data.

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