For someone shopping for the best family cell phone plan, the choices can be mind boggling. It’s easy to choose a plan you think will work for your family and then get many unexpected add-on charges on your monthly bill for things like extra minutes, roaming charges, internet usage messaging, pictures and videos.
When choosing a cell phone plan, it’s important to calculate how many minutes you’ll use and how much data you will need (pictures, video, internet). Check several of your previous cell phone bills to get an idea of who in your family uses what. If you have a teen at home, chances are you’ll need a plan with cheap data rates. And while Dad may want a basic phone, Mom may use her tablet regularly while the kids depend on Twitter or Facebook to keep track of their friends.
Most people falsely assume that contract plans are cheaper than no-contract plans. This week’s Frugal Family shows you no-contract family cell phone plans that allow you the freedom to talk, message, text, upload pictures and video at a monthly price that won’t have unexpected surprise charges on the monthly bill.
The best plans are “unlimited” no-contract plans. No credit checks are needed. The only drawback to a no-contract plan is you have to pay for a phone and won’t get a free one offered in many contract plans. To offset that, most no-contract carriers offer smart phones, Androids, etc. at prices starting under $100.
1) Walmart’s No-Contract Family Mobile Plan. Powered by T-Mobile. The plan gives users unlimited talk, text and web for $45 a month for the first phone. Each additional line costs $35 a month, up to 5 lines. No credit card is required. Service is billed monthly. You may purchase special packs for ringtones, games and music if you need or want them without having it as a regular paid feature that all family members may use. A one-time starter/activation kit is required for $25. myfamilymobile.com
2) Metro PCS. All cell phone plans include unlimited talk, text and web with nationwide coverage and no annual contract. Check this plan out: $40 per month per line, 4GLTE. Android phones available for this plan. Metro PCS gives much better coverage than it did a few years ago and I think it's the best plan of all. metropcs.com/metro/
3) Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk Plans. Powered by Sprint. $45 per month for 1200 anytime minutes, unlimited data (2G and 4G where available) and messaging. IPhones, Blackberry and Android phones available for this plan. virginmobileusa.com/cell-phone-plans/
4) Boost Mobile Powered by Sprint. Monthly unlimited talk, text, web, email and 411 starting at $50 per month. Features shrinking payments plan: For every 6 on-time payments, Boost will reduce your monthly payment by $5 up to $15 per month. Referral Program: Earn $25 per referral. $5 month international talk and text add-on available. Androids, Blackberry plans available. For more information go to boostmobile.com/shop/plans/monthly-unlimited/
5) Straight Talk Unlimited Talk, Text, Data and 411. Powered by TracFone Wireless. 30-day plan at $45 per line. No activation, reactivation, cancellation, daily access or overage charges. No credit card required. Android powered phones allow access to over 450,000 applications. For more information, go to StraightTalk.com.