If you’re thinking about switching up your cell phone plan, then it’s a great idea to have a look at the family plans available – you might be surprised at just how much you can save by bundling all your household lines into one package, which could run to hundreds of dollars a year.
A package that covers all of the devices in your household can also help you to manage your data usage, keep a handle on the monthly bills, and better keep an eye on what the younger members of the family are watching online. The majority of carriers now offer family plans, and there are so many on the market that making a choice can seem overwhelming. But carefully considering how your household uses their devices and what, exactly, you want from a plan can make choosing the right one simple.
How To Choose The Right Plan
It’s important to do some research on the family plans available to make sure you get the right one for your household. Here are the key things you need to take into account:
First of all, think about how each member of your family currently uses their device so that you can figure out your data needs, speed requirements, and your need for any other features. For example, if there are people in your household who frequently game online and stream content, then your data needs for that particular line are likely to be relatively high. If, on the other hand, you’re a small household and only use the internet lightly, you may want to consider packages that reflect this and choose a plan that doesn’t include a range of features (at a premium price) that you won’t necessarily use.
To help you make a decision, have a look at the details of these top 10 cell phone companies, where you’ll find providers offering a range of family plans, catering to large households requiring seven or more lines to those wanting a simple plan with data caps. Checking out as many online reviews from past and current customers is a great idea, too, to find out the level of service you can realistically expect.
When thinking about how much data you’ll need on your family plan, it’s usually better to err on the side of caution and slightly overestimate what you anticipate you’ll get through in a month. Opting for a plan with too little data for your needs will result in slower speeds once you’ve exceeded your monthly allotment of data, as well as additional charges, which can quickly add up.
Shared vs. Per Line
In most cases, the best way to keep the whole family happy and ensure they have the data they need is to choose a mix and match family plan, otherwise known as a per-line allotment plan. This way, each line will have its own data allowance, so you’ll only be paying for exactly what you need: for example, the adults in the household may require unlimited data on their lines, whereas a young child might only need 1GB of data a month.
A shared data plan, on the other hand, works based on a single allotment of data being assigned to your plan each month, say 10GB, and this is used by all the lines on the plan – but not necessarily equally. So, in practice, your teenager may burn through 5GB of this allowance within the first week, leaving just 5GB for all of the lines for the rest of the month. The first-come, first-served nature of these plans means that they’re not as popular as previously, and the majority of families now opt for a per line package.
Freebies and Extra
If there are a few family plan options on the table and you’re having a difficult time making a choice, then it’s a good idea to look at any extra goodies thrown in as part of the package, which could save you money. For example, some carriers offer additional lines for free or give their customers a subscription to a streaming service as part of the deal – helping you to make the most of your data allowance. Free access to Wifi hotspots, discounts for students in the family, cheap international calls, and money-back on any unused data at the end of the month are other perks that may save you some cash.
If there will be kids on the family plan, then you’ll probably want to choose one that features some level of parental control tools. As well as allowing you to filter or block content, some carriers also give parents the option to track a device’s location and limit screen time.
Watch Out for Deprioritization
Some family plans will be subject to deprioritization – which means that your connections could be slowed down when the network is particularly busy; certain contracts have a high-speed data cap and, once this limit has been reached, may experience a slowing of their data speeds at peak usage times. Check with the carrier you’re considering whether this would apply to the family plan they offer and, if so, whether the lower price that’s likely to be the silver lining is worth it.
Paying the Monthly Bill
Some family plans will allow each line to be paid for separately, which may be useful if you have older kids or adult children on the contract – these plans are often cheaper. However, if you don’t fancy the hassle of reminding everyone to pay their bill each month, then you’re best opting for a plan where the charge for all the lines is bundled into a single monthly bill.
Cost and Hidden Charges
Using the above guide will help you weigh up exactly what you need so that you can choose the most suitable plan for your family that represents the best value for money, too. It’s important to bear in mind that the cheapest plan may not be the most ideal one: if you end up going over your plan’s data allocation mid-month, you could face significantly slower speeds and additional charges. Similarly, paying slightly more for a plan that gives you access to a streaming service could be offset by the savings you’ll make on a subscription.
And finally, before signing up, check the carrier’s small print and the contract details to make sure there are no hidden charges, so you don’t get hit with any nasty surprise bills. If your plan features a discounted initial period, be sure that you know exactly what the regular monthly charges will be and how long you’ll be locked into the contract.