No-contract carriers are becoming extremely popular as people are getting fed up with paying high wireless costs of the big contract carriers. MVNO’s (mobile virtual network operators) like StraightTalk, and others no contract carriers like Tracfone, Net10, Boost Mobile, Cricket and MetroPCS, offer much of the same quality of service since they use the same networks.
Straight Talk seems to be the one everyone is switching to since its popular $45 per month plan offers unlimited talk text and data. The big question, though is there a Straight Talk Family Plan that makes sense for families to switch to?
Is there a Straight Talk Family Plan?
Straight Talk does not offer a family plan at this time. So if you were with an ATT family contract plan and wanted a cheaper alternative, you’d have to pay the full $45 per line with ST. A $30 plan is available, but only for non-smartphones like flip phones.
For a family of 4, the average monthly wireless cost on a contract plan is around $200. If that family were to switch to StraightTalk, it would cost about $180. A savings of $20 per month ($240/year) is pretty good, but is it the best wireless deal for families?
The Advantage of Straight Talk
Straight Talk’s big advantage for families is that you can have unlimited minutes, texting and web access at a very affordable price where those features would be not affordable for every line on a contract plan with ATT, Verizon or T-Mobile.
The biggest problem Straight Talk is families with 4 or more lines on the account. At that point the savings start to dissipate and it starts to not make as much sense to move the entire family over especially if you have lines that don’t need unlimited voice,data or texts.
Looking For an Alternative to ATT’s Costly Contract Plan
This biggest reason people are moving to no-contract carriers is cost savings. People with 1 or 2 lines on a contract account with a major carrier can save hundreds and possibly a thousand of dollars per year by switching to an unlimited plan with a no contract carrier.
For Example: 2 lines on a 700 minute Att Family plan with 3GB of data each and unlimited texting will cost $160/month. That same setup with StraightTalk would cost $90/month, plus the advantage of no limits. A no-brainer for sure.
ATT’s much touted Mobile Share plan is equally bad. For the same 2 lines, it’s $90 for 6GB plus $35 for each line, totaling the same $160/month.
Whats the Best Alternative to a non-existent Straight Talk Family Plan?
For families with multiple lines on their wireless accounts, there are 2 plans that stuck out to us as having major advantages over contract plans and even StraightTalk Unlimited Plans. They are Walmart Family Mobile and T-Mobile Value Plan for Families.
Walmart Family Mobile Wireless Family Plan
Walmart’s own Family Mobile Wireless Plan runs on T-Mobile’s nation-wide network and offers huge cost advantages to families with multiple lines. To start with, it offers unlimited voice, messaging and data, comparable to StraightTalk.
The first line on the account is $45/month. But the great advantage of this plan is that for each additional line you add to the plan, it’s $35/month.
In our ongoing example, the same family with 4 lines, the total monthly cost would be $150, easily beating contract plans and even beating the StraightTalk Unlimited plan by $30 per month.
The Bad News about Walmart Family Mobile Plans
The Walmart Family plans start out with 3G data for up to 250MB and then it drops to 2G data. Yes i said 2G! And to make it worse, the 250MB limit on 3G is accumulated across all the lines on the plan, meaning collectively. So, you’ll hit it pretty fast with a family.
These data speeds are not really acceptable unless you don’t plan on using data that much or have Wifi everywhere you go. A definite bummer and a deal breaker in my opinion.
The other major problem with the Walmart Family Mobile plan is that there is would be extra data charges if you happened to roam outside of T-Mobile’s coverage area.
T-Mobile Value Plans for Families
T-Mobile’s Value plan is a contract plan. But it caught our attention because of the major cost savings for families with 4 or more lines.
Their big play is that if you bring your own phone, they offer much cheaper monthly options. Another advantage is that every additional line after the first 2 only cost $5 each and can add 2GB of data for $10 per line. There are also no data overages, so in reality, the 2GB limit is not limited at all, it’l throttled down like Straight Talk would do.
In our example of 4 lines, the first 2 lines would be unlimited talk, text, and web for $100, then each additional line is $5 plus $10 for 2GB of data and unlimited texting on all lines. The total is $130 for 4 lines with comparable service to the other plans.
The only downside to this plan is that you have to sign a 2 year commitment with a Early Termination fee of $200 per line.
The Best Wireless Plan for Families with 4 or More Lines
T-Mobile’s Value Plan for Families seems to be the diamond in the rough that many families are looking for to help save them money on wireless costs. Despite the fact that there is a 2-year contract you have to sign, the monthly cost savings for families with many lines seem to make up for it.
Their lowest cost of $130 for 4 lines easily beats Walmart Family Mobile ($150), Straight Talk Family Plan ($180) and ATT’s Family and Mobile Share Plans ($160+). Of course all of these costs are without tax added, so be sure to plan for that.
What are your thoughts? Has anyone found better and cheaper plans for families?