Best shared family data plans: Verizon vs AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint

Deciding which phone service plan is good for your expanding family to take advantage of together used not be for the faint of heart. The plans used to be convoluted and changing constantly. Thankfully, pricing for shared data plans got much, much simpler after the major US carriers ditched the venerable two-year contract, and it is now much clearer to figure out which one offers the best deals.

So, without further ado, here are the shared data plan charges for the proverbial family of four per month on the US majors. These all include unlimited talk and texts, often in the near and far abroad as well. We haven't considered plans with less than a 6 GB bucket, because... come on, you still want to be called the head of the family, right? 

As you can see, Sprint's unlimited plan can't be beat, if you are in a region with good coverage, as recent Nielsen data showed that its 4G network performs fastest on average, plus you can save 50% on most Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile rate plans when you bring your number to Sprint. Verizon is a pretty good value, too, with the current 2 GB extra per line promo, considering the power of its network coverage. T-Mobile's 10 GB each for $140 at the moment is a great offering for the carrier's speed/coverage combo, while AT&T is arguably the worst offender, unless you are also a DirecTV customer, and can hook your family up on its unlimited plan.

Plans6 GB12 GB 18 GB 20 GB 25 GB 30 GB 40 GB 50 GB 6080 GB100 GB
Monthly charge$60$80$100$120$175$225$300$375$450$600$750
Cost (4 people)$140$160$180$200$255$305$380$425$530$680$830

Perks: Each 12 GB and above shared plan now comes with 2 GB monthly bonus per device, so the 12 GB plan actually has 20 GB of data to share, for instance.

Overages: $15 per GB

Plans15 GB20 GB25 GB30 GB40 GB50 GB
Monthly charge$100$140$175$225$300$375
Cost for family of 4$160$200$235$285$360$435

Perks: Unused data gets rolled over each month. Unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico. If you are a DirecTV subscriber, you can sign up for a $60/month unlimited plan that may get throttled after the first 22 GB.

: $15 per GB

Plans4*2 GB4*6 GB4*10 GBUnlimited
Monthly charge for a family of four$100$140 ($120 for a limited time)$180 ($140 for a limited time)$220 

Perks: Unused data gets rolled over each month (up to 20 GB, on the 6 GB and 10 GB plans only). Unlimited talk and text to Canada and Mexico. Free Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now streaming with BingeOn. Free tune streaming with Music Freedom.

Plans12 GB24 GB40 GBUnlimited
Monthly charge$60$80$100$75 for first line
Cost for 4 lines$140$160$180$150 (limited time)

Perks: Nascar Mobile sports, Sprint TV video streaming, and free international texting and data (at 2G speeds) in most countries.


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