Between traditional subscription plans on the big four carriers, prepaid services, and companies reselling those four networks, you have hundreds of options for family plans, but the two-line rates of Consumer Cellular come out on top at just $65 for two lines with 5 GB each.
This reseller of AT&T and T-Mobile (it assigns you the network it thinks suits your location better, but you can override that if you want) consistently earns some of the best customer-review scores in the business, but it also beats everybody else’s rates for two lines with 5 GB each.
Explained analyst Brad Akyuz: “The overall average figure has been skewed up by a relatively small group of heavy users.” Our cost estimates assumed that anybody using 5 GB or more a month would want to use their phone’s mobile-hotspot feature to share their LTE bandwidth at its full speed, not cut back to 3G or worse as some “unlimited” plans require.
We also assumed 1,000 voice minutes and 500 text or multimedia messages used per month, based on usage data from the wireless-industry group CTIA.
If you need four lines with 5 GB each, Consumer Cellular’s $105 rate beats everything but a Sprint discount that expires in June 2020—and the $5 monthly difference in the meantime isn’t worth trading down to Sprint’s network.
The only catch is that you have to call Consumer Cellular to get a four-line plan, since the site allows only up to two lines.And its pricing is competitive with that of AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile for the amount of data that most people actually use.It isn’t the best choice for people who frequently travel outside of the US or who want unlimited data, but it is the first carrier everyone else should look at.The only other wireless services to meet that price offer just 1 GB of data a month, and most are at least twice as expensive.But you also have to be prepared to deal with support that’s available only via phone and online, as well as the risk that you’ll see slower connections than T-Mobile’s own customers get, especially when the network is busy.T-Mobile’s network isn’t quite as widespread as Verizon’s (or, in some studies, AT&T’s), but it easily beats those two in its pricing for unlimited data, while its coverage outpaces that of its cheaper rival Sprint.T-Mobile also bests Verizon in terms of international-roaming plans, and a slightly wider variety of phones work on T-Mobile’s GSM network (that’s the standard most of the rest of the world uses) than on Verizon’s CDMA network, though the best phones are available for both.A reseller of T-Mobile’s network, Mint Mobile offers exceptional pricing to customers willing to pay for at least three months of service at a time—on that pricing term, you pay only a month for 8 GB of LTE, mobile hotspot included up to that data cap.If you pay for a year of service, the monthly cost drops to just .Unlike postpaid services, many prepaid and resold services still limit your text messages and phone calls, so the actual cost of a particular carrier may be slightly more or less if you use more or fewer minutes and texts, respectively.We also crunched these same numbers for shared-use plans for two and four lines.