How to Know When It’s Time for a Family Data Plan

How to Know When It’s Time for a Family Data Plan


If you feel like you’re spending too much on your cell phone bill each month, it may be time to think about getting a family data plan. This type of plan can offer significant savings as well as convenience for those who want to use their phone without constantly worrying about the cost. Learn more about family data plan benefits and how to decide whether a family plan is right for you.

How Family Data Plans Work

Family data plan

Image via Flickr by IntelFreePress

When you sign up for a family data plan, everyone covered by the plan (usually parents and kids) shares a set amount of data. Depending on the carrier you choose, that data may include a monthly limit across all the devices covered under the plan, with the device sharing a total data “bucket” or each device being assigned a fixed data limit. Some carriers offer a family data plan that allows you to pay a flat fee per month with no data limits. For example, you can get an unlimited family data plan from a reliable provider like T-Mobile.

The number of people and devices covered under the plan will determine the overall price. Typically, the more people included in the plan, the greater your savings per person will be. Most carriers set a limit on how many people may be covered under one plan; in most cases, family data plans can include up to nine lines

No matter how many people are covered on your plan, you’ll receive just one bill at the end of the month with the total amount for everyone covered under the plan. For many families, having just one bill to keep track of is another benefit of a family data plan.

Covering Different Devices

While you can’t add unlimited people to your plan, you may be able to add more than one device per person. Family data plans were originally designed with smartphones in mind, but some of the newer plans take into account the other devices your family may be using and set the prices accordingly.

For example, in addition to covering one smartphone per person, your carrier may be able to customize your family data plan to also provide coverage for tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, connected netbooks, USB sticks, and more. Coverage for additional devices may come with different monthly fees, but if it’s added to the plan, it will be included in your data usage for the month.

Special Considerations

Most people are focused on data limits and monthly prices when choosing a data plan. But remember that there are many other factors that can make a family data plan a good or a bad fit for your family. Here are some additional considerations to take into account when choosing a plan:

  • Extra fees: Are taxes included in your quoted monthly rate? What are the fees if you exceed your data limits? Make sure to price these charges out to consider the real costs of your data plan.
  • Speed slowdowns: Some family data plans will slow down your speeds (also called “throttling”) once you hit a certain data limit. Find out what the throttle limit is before committing to a plan.
  • International travel: With some carriers, you’ll be charged extra to use your phone while traveling abroad. If international coverage is a priority for you, be sure to ask about the details when researching plans.

Unique Arrangements

When most people think of a family data plan, they think of young parents with school-aged kids or teens. However, that’s not the only setup that can benefit from a shared data family plan. Many young adults are on a plan with their older parents since the parties involved can continue to save with this arrangement. Even some friends or roommates have taken the plunge and started a family data plan together.

Family data plans are incredibly popular because of the significant savings they can provide while delivering fast, reliable data. Do your research and find a plan that’s best suited to your family’s data usage and smartphone needs.


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