Choosing a wireless plan can be downright daunting. Why? Because try as they might, the Big Four often have a hard time distinguishing themselves from their competition. The public is often left wondering, “Which provider offers which package again?” We’re here to shed some light on the situation so that you can choose a plan that works for your family. Below are the latest family plans from the Big Four: AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon.
AT&T currently offers Mobile Share Advantage. Available for up to 10 phones, tablets, or other devices, the plan has a number of benefits. This includes no overage fees (though data speeds will be reduced to the equivalent of 2G once your cap is reached), free rollover data, unlimited talk and text, and unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico on data plans over 10GB. The Mobile Share Advantage plan by AT&T starts at $80 for a 10GB plan, and goes up to $135 for a 30GB plan. Once a data plan is selected, each phone line that is added costs an additional $20 per month (additional devices, like tablets or laptops, carry an additional fee as well).
Real World Price: With the 25GB data plan selected and four phone lines added, the monthly fee will be $190 plus applicable taxes, regulatory charges, and various other minor fees. In total, the actual cost will be over $200 per month.
Unlike AT&T, which offers a multitude of plans, T-Mobile offers just one plan – and it’s appropriately titled T-Mobile ONE. With T-Mobile’s ONE plan, the monthly rate varies depending on how many lines you need (the more lines there are, the cheaper the rate). If you require four lines, for example, the monthly fee will be $160, or $40 per line. However, this monthly charge includes taxes and fees, which means the advertised price is the price you pay. For many people, this transparency in pricing is attractive. The ONE plan has a lot to offer too, including unlimited talk and text, cash back on unused data (up to $10 per month), talk and texting to Canada and Mexico, the nation’s fastest 4G network, and Ultimate Streaming. Needless to say, there are a lot of reasons to make the switch.
Real World Price: For four phone lines with unlimited data for all, customers will pay $160 per month. Tablet and wearable lines can be added for an additional fee. Customers can also opt for T-Mobile ONE Plus for an extra $15 per line.
Sprint’s family plans are rather simple. Users pay a monthly fee for data (to be shared among the account holders), and then pay an additional access fee for phones, tablets, and other devices. Data plans are available for as low as $45 per month (for 6GB), though can go as high as $100 per month (for 40GB). Each non-discounted handset that is added incurs a $20 access fee. By comparison, discounted handsets incur a $45 access fee. This is because the phone discount is being subsidized by Sprint; they recoup this cost with higher monthly fees. Tablets and other devices can be added for an additional $10 per month. As with AT&T, there are no overage charges, though service speeds will be reduced to that of a 2G network once the cap has been reached.
Real World Price: With the 24GB data plan selected and four phone lines added, the actual cost will be $160 per month, assuming each phone is non-discounted. If all four phones are discounted, the monthly fee will rise to $260, owing to the higher access fee for each.
Though AT&T and Sprint may pride themselves on providing options (and T-Mobile prides itself on having just one option), Verizon might just have the competition beat when it comes to variety. In fact, Verizon offers so many different family plans, it can be hard to choose. Verizon offers plans starting at just $35 per month, though they admit that these lower-cost plans are best for individuals or couples. Their family plans start at $80 per month, and include 12GB of shared data plus 2GB of additional data per line. As with competitors’ plans, unlimited talk and text, free rollover data (which Verizon calls Carryover Data), free calling to and from Mexico and Canada, and zero overage fees are included within the package. As with AT&T and Sprint, access fees apply: $20 per month for smartphones, $10 per month for tablets, and $5 per month for connected devices (such as smart watches).
Real World Price: With the 24GB data plan selected and four phone lines added, the cost will be $190 per month. This package includes 2GB of data per line in addition to the 24GB of shared data.
~ Jessica Oaks