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What's The Best Family Plan for Cell Phones: Verizon Vs. T-Mobile Vs. AT&T Vs. Sprint

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Nothing can be more confusing than choosing a wireless plan for the family. Hopefully, this simple guide can help customers choose which plan is the best for them.

Choosing cell phone plans don't have to be complicated, but America's four biggest carriers have decided to place a burden upon their would-be customers to make it nearly impossible to decide when it comes to purchasing the family plan that is best for them.

In recent times, the big four have decided to simplify their customers' choices and become more transparent about additional charges, such as overage fees and smartphone payments. Still, navigating the websites of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile continue to be a long-drawn-out process for many, so we decided to make it a little bit simpler for you.

Two things are important to consider when choosing a family plan - how much data you need and if you are willing to tether your family to a certain provider with a two-year contract.

First, let's look at data. A family that doesn't really have that much need for 4G LTE data every month, aside from the regular emailing, social networking, and occasional browsing, will naturally need much less data than a family who loves to stream Netflix over 4G.

Knowing how much data you need allows you to avoid wasting unused data or paying hefty overage fees for Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, which all charge somewhere in the area of $15 per 1GB. T-Mobile doesn't have overage charges, but it will scale you back to 3G speeds or slower.

What it does, however, is it will roll over your unused data for the next month, and all that rollover will be usable for the entire year. AT&T also recently announced its own rollover program, but unused data for the month can only be used next month before it expires.

Now, on to that contract. T-Mobile doesn't have one; it shook up the entire mobile industry when it announced it was getting rid of the two-year contract. As a result, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T began offering their contract-less plans as well but not without eliminating their plans with the two-year contract. And that's a good thing, if you want to have plenty of choices.

Without a contract, you'll have to pay for your devices upfront. Depending on the device, you can pay in installments of somewhere around $20 to $30. On the contract, you get a nice discount, but if you choose to unsubscribe and switch to another carrier for whatever reason or want to upgrade to a new device, you'll have to an early-termination fee of $350 for Verizon and $325 for AT&T.

Also consider that Verizon and AT&T both say they have the best coverage in the country, which may be true in some parts of the country. However, T-Mobile has a growing network in metropolitan areas and is working in expanding to rural places, so make sure to check the provider's coverage before subscribing to a carrier.

Verizon

Each line you get on Verizon's More Everything plan, which includes calls and SMS, costs $40, but you'll have to pay separate for the 4G LTE data based on how much you will use. Verizon, as well as AT&T and Sprint, distributes data across all users from the same data pool, which means you will have to monitor your usage to make sure everyone is using his fair share of data.

Verizon also offers a no-contract plan, called Edge, which charges $10 less for calls and SMS but has the same prices for data. For families with four or more subscribes, the cost for each line is only $15. However, you will have to pay for the full price of each device you get on this plan.

AT&T

Just like Verizon, AT&T charges $40 per month on its Mobile Share Value plan with a two-year contract and charges separately based on how much 4G LTE data is used. On the no-contract plan, the pricing gets a little more complicated. For each line you subscribe to, AT&T charges $25 for calls and SMS and accordingly for the data. However, for plans that subscribe to 10GB and up, AT&T will only charge $15 per line.

Sprint

For now until Dec. 31, 2015, Sprint has a current promo that is targeted mainly at large families, or families who have a huge need for data. The new Family Share Pack promo offers unlimited calls and SMS, 20GB of data, and an additional 2GB of data for every line added. This promo applies no matter how many lines you have. For instance, if there are 10 in the family, each user has his share from the same pool of 20GB data and receives another extra 2GB. That's a total of 40GB of data for 10 lines for only $100.

If you're using Sprint Easy Pay, you'll need to pay $15 for every phone you bring into the network and $40 under the standard two-year contract. So, for example, a plan of four lines with 20GB of shared data will be charged an additional $60 for data access on Sprint Easy Pay and $160 on subsidized phones.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile's Simple Choice Plan costs $50 for unlimited calls and SMS and 1GB of 4G LTE data each month for the first line, $30 for the second line, and an additional $10 for each succeeding line thereafter. For those who need more than 1GB of data each month, T-Mobile also offers 3GB, 5GB, and unlimited data for each line.


Verizon More Everything (Two-Year Contract)

Lines

Calls & SMS

4G LTE Data

Total Cost

2

$80

$40 w/2GB

$120

$60 w/4GB

$140

$70 w/ 6GB

$150

3

$120

$50 w/ 3GB

$170

$70 w/ 6GB

$190

$85 w/ 8GB

$205

4

$160

$60 w/ 4GB

$220

$85 w/ 8gB

$245

$110 w/ 12GB

$270

5

$200

$70 w/ 6GB

$270

$100 w/ 10GB

$300

$120 w/ 14GB

$329


Verizon Family More Edge (No Contract)

Lines

Calls & SMS

4G LTE Data

Total Cost

2

$60

$40 w/2GB

$100

$60 w/4GB

$120

$70 w/ 6GB

$130

3

$90

$50 w/ 3GB

$140

$70 w/ 6GB

$160

$85 w/ 8GB

$170

4

$60

$60 w/ 4GB

$120

$85 w/ 8gB

$145

$110 w/ 12GB

$170

5

$75

$70 w/ 6GB

$145

$100 w/ 10GB

$175

$120 w/ 14GB

$195


AT&T Mobile Share Value (Two-Year Contract)

Lines

Calls & SMS

4G LTE Data

Total Cost

2

$80

$40 w/ 2GB

$120

$70 w/ 4GB

$150

$80 w/ 6GB

$160

3

$120

$70 w/ 4GB

$190

$80 w/ 6GB

$200

$100 w/ 10GB

$220

4

$160

$70 w/ 4GB

$230

$100 w/ 10GB

$260

$130 w/ 15GB

$290

5

$200

$80 w/ 6GB

$280

$100 w/ 10GB

$300

$130 w/ 15GB

$330


AT&T Mobile Share Value (No Contract)

Lines

Calls & SMS

Calls & SMS (with 10GB data and up)

4G LTE Data

Total Cost

2

$50

NA

$40 w/ 2GB

$90

$70 w/ 4GB

$120

$80 w/ 6GB

$130

3

$75

$45

$70 w/ 4GB

$145

$80 w/ 6GB

$155

$100 w/ 10GB

$145

4

$100

$60

$70 w/ 4GB

$170

$100 w/ 10GB

$160

$130 w/ 15GB

$190

5

$125

$75

$80 w/ 6GB

$205

$100 w/ 10GB

$175

$130 w/ 15GB

$205


Sprint Family Share Pack (No Contract)

Lines

Calls & SMS

4G LTE Data

Total Cost

2

$80

$25 w/ 2GB

$105

$40 w/ 4GB

$120

$70 w/ 8GB

$150

3

$120

$40 w/ 4GB

$160

$70 w/ 8GB

$190

$80 w/ 12GB

$200

4

$160

$40 w/ 4GB

$200

$70 w/ 8GB

$230

$80 w/ 12GB

$240

5

$200

$70 w/ 8GB

$270

$80 w/ 12GB

$280

$90 w/ 16GB

$290


Sprint Family Share Pack $100 Promo (Sprint Easy Pay and Two-Year Contract)

Lines

Calls & SMS

4G LTE Data

Total Cost

Sprint Easy Pay

Standard Contract ($40 per line)

Sprint Easy Pay

Standard Contract

2

$50

$80

$25 w/ 2GB

$75

$105

$50

$40 w/ 4GB

$90

$120

$50

$70 w/ 8GB

$120

$150

$50

$80 w/ 12GB

$130

$160

$50

$90 w/ 16GB

$140

$170

$30

$100 w/ 20GB

$130

$180

3

$75

$120

$25 w/ 2GB

$100

$145

$75

$40 w/ 4GB

$115

$160

$75

$70 w/ 8GB

$145

$190

$75

$80 w/ 12GB

$155

$200

$75

$90 w/ 16GB

$165

$210

$45

$100 w/ 20GB

$145

$220

4

$100

$160

$25 w/ 2GB

$125

$185

$100

$40 w/ 4GB

$140

$200

$100

$70 w/ 8GB

$170

$230

$100

$80 w/ 12GB

$180

$240

$100

$90 w/ 16GB

$190

$250

$60

$100 w/ 20GB

$160

$260

5

$75

$200

$100 w/ 20GB

$175

$300


T-Mobile Simple Choice Plan

Lines

Calls, SMS & 1GB Data Each Line ($50 + $30 + $10 + $10 + $10)

Calls, SMS & 3GB Data Each Line ($60 + $40 + $20 + $20 + $20)

Calls, SMS & 5GB Data Each Line ($70 + $50 + $30 + $30 + $30)

Calls, SMS & Unlimited Data Each Line ($80 + $60 + $40 + $40 + $40)

2

$80

$100

$120

$140

3

$90

$120

$150

$180

4

$100

$140

$180

$220

5

$110

$160

$210

$260

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