Best cellphone family plans for 2021

Joe Supan

Dec 4, 2020 — 7 min read

At Allconnect, we work to present quality information with editorial integrity. While this post may contain offers from our partners, our opinions are our own. Here’s how we make money.

Cellphone companies like to promote flashy perks like free phones and streaming subscriptions for new customers, but the best way to save money on your phone bill is simply adding more lines. If you’re thinking about switching carriers, you can save hundreds of dollars each month by utilizing a cellphone family plan. 

Which cellphone carrier has the best plans for you comes down to factors like coverage, phone deals and extra perks like streaming services and cloud storage. The average price for four lines of unlimited talk, text and data comes out to $140. Here’s a look at every wireless carrier that provides discounts for adding multiple lines:

The best cellphone family plans for 2020

Best family plans overall: T-Mobile

T-Mobile provides the best balance of price and performance for family plans. The third line is free on all of T-Mobile’s plans, making it drastically cheaper than its competitors. Its Essentials plan only costs $90/mo. for three lines, compared to $135/mo. for AT&T and Verizon’s most affordable unlimited plans.

By some accounts, you’ll get the best service with T-Mobile, too. Third-party metrics generally alternate between AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile as the country’s best network. Ookla’s Speedtest and OpenSignal say AT&T is the fastest provider, Root Metrics gives the top spot to Verizon and Consumer Reports says T-Mobile is the best. Now that T-Mobile has absorbed Sprint’s network, it should only get better in the future. 

If you want extra perks like Netflix or 4G LTE mobile hotspot data, you’ll have to upgrade to T-Mobile’s Magenta or Magenta Plus plans. But these are still on par with AT&T and Verizon’s cheapest plans, which don’t include any such perks.

Learn more about T-Mobile’s plans

Cheapest family plans: Mint Mobile

Mint Mobile doesn’t actually give you a discount for adding multiple lines to your account, but it’s still the cheapest option for families. That’s just how inexpensive its unlimited data plan is. You’ll pay $30/mo. for each line of unlimited talk, text and data, and Mint also gives you access to T-Mobile’s 5G network.

There is one catch: You’ll have to pay for a year upfront to get that $30/mo. price. If you only pay for six months at a time, it’s $35/mo.; for three months it’s $40/mo. That said, you’ll get the $30/mo. price for your first three months no matter what, so you can test Mint out for a while before paying for a whole year.

Mint’s family plan allows you to add up to five lines under one account, and each line can choose their own plan. All of Mint’s plans come with unlimited talk and text, but if you don’t need a lot of data, you can pay as little as $15/mo. for 3GB. 

As a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) on T-Mobile’s network, you will get slower speeds than T-Mobile customers during times of congestion. That said, this has mostly been a non-issue for Mint customers. Consumer Reports’ readers rated Mint as “very good” for data speeds and “good” for reception, with a higher overall score than AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon.

Learn more about Mint Mobile’s plans

Each line manages their own account: Visible Wireless 

Visible says their Party Pay discount is like a family plan “without the family drama.” Like other family plans, you’ll get a better price the more lines you add. But unlike other carriers, you don’t need to pay the bill from one account. With Visible, each line gets a separate bill, making it ideal for friends, roommates or just strangers who want to save money on their phone bills. 

Visible already has one of the cheapest unlimited data plans at $40/mo., and its prices get even lower when you add multiple lines. You’ll pay $35 per line each month for two lines, $30 for three lines and $25 for four lines. That’s an average price of $33/mo. for each line — more expensive than only Mint, which requires you to pay a year upfront to get that lower price.

You won’t have to sacrifice coverage, either. Most cheap cellphone carriers are mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs. These companies piggyback off AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon’s networks, and are deprioritized in favor of the bigger carriers’ actual customers. Visible is owned directly by Verizon, so you should experience better coverage and speed than other discount carriers. 

Every Visible plan comes with unlimited talk, text and data. It also includes unlimited mobile hotspot data, although speeds are capped at a relatively low 5 Mbps. The biggest downside is extras like phone deals and streaming add-ons. Visible’s phone prices are barely discounted at all, and you won’t get any free subscriptions to sweeten the deal. 

Learn more about Visible’s plans

Best streaming perks: Verizon

Verizon has the most expensive family plans of the three major wireless carriers, but it also offers the best extras to help sweeten the deal. You’ll get some combination of Disney Plus ($7/mo.) and Apple Music ($10/mo.) with every plan. The Play More and Get More plans also throw in Hulu with ads ($6/mo.) and ESPN+ ($6/mo.). No other cellphone company includes such a broad range of streaming add-ons with its family plans. 

Unlike AT&T and T-Mobile, you can also mix and match Verizon’s unlimited plans. So if Mom needs cloud storage and a mobile hotspot, but no one else does, you don’t need to pay for every line to use it. 

Additionally, Verizon gives you the option to add a cheaper line intended for children. The Just Kids add-on provides unlimited data at download speeds up to 5 Mbps — just enough to stream Netflix in high-definition — and unlimited talk and talk to 20 parent-approved contacts. It also includes Verizon’s Smart Family app, which lets parents set data limits, block inappropriate content and track location.

Learn more about Verizon’s plans

Best phone deals: AT&T

Out of the big three carriers, AT&T has some of the more expensive plans for families. But it more than makes up for that with its outstanding deals on new phones. If you switch to AT&T from another carrier and open an unlimited line, you’ll probably be able to get one of the latest smartphones heavily discounted — if not entirely free.

Unfortunately, AT&T’s extra perks aren’t nearly as good as Verizon and T-Mobile’s. You’ll only get HBO Max ($15/mo.) if you opt for AT&T’s most expensive unlimited plan. None of the other plans include any streaming services. It’s also the only major carrier that includes “premium data” — a nice way of saying they’ll slow your non-premium data during times of congestion. 

Learn more about AT&T’s plans

Family plans by price

We chose the family plans we think are the best for every situation, but they’re not your only options. The following table shows you some more options for when you add multiple lines. All of these plans include unlimited talk, text and data, and none require you to commit longer than a month. 

How to choose the best phone plan for your family

When shopping around for your family’s cellphone plan, it’s tempting to just go with the lowest price. While savings are certainly important, you’ll also want to consider factors like coverage, phone deals and extra perks.

Before you start looking at plans, check the coverage in your area by putting your ZIP code into the maps of the three major networks:

If there’s weaker coverage on any of the three networks, you may want to rule it out. You can also take this into account with any MVNOs you might be considering. 

From there, take a look at the phone deals offered by each carrier. If you’re opening a new unlimited data line, you can likely get phones discounted heavily from your new carrier. That alone can make a switch worthwhile, even if your new carrier’s family plans are a little more expensive.

Finally, consider the extra perks like streaming subscriptions and cloud storage that are included with many unlimited plans. In Verizon’s case, these can add up to as much as $23/mo., which makes its pricier plans a lot more palatable.

We value your feedback

Was this page helpful?

We value your feedback

We’re glad! Tell us what helped most on this page.

We value your feedback

Was this page helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Your insight helps, and we’ll do our best to improve your experience.

Joe Supan

Written by:

Joe Supan

Senior Writer, Wireless & Streaming Content

Joe oversees all things wireless and streaming for Allconnect. His work has been referenced by McAfee, Fox network and more. He has utilized thousands of data points to build a library of metrics to help users n… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content

Read bio