Keeping our monthly mobile phone bills low is a big priority for us. With multiple phone users in one house, it’s really easy for the spending to get out of control. That’s why we opted for a family mobile phone plan. It helps us easily manage the expenses of multiple devices and there are lots of perks to be had. Today I want to share how we saved money with a phone plan, so you can save too!
What is a family plan?
A family plan, also known as a shared or sharing plan, are phone contracts designed for multiple users. They offer financial savings because they usually come with significant discounts or perks, and they give the main account holder control over every phone in the plan.
We love our family plan because we save money each month, and multiple bills are consolidated into one. It’s really easy to set-up and even easier to manage so it’s just one less thing to worry about each month.
There are two main types of family plan, and they are as follows:
Discounted family plans
This is our preferred plan type, because it generally offers better savings overall. You start with one contract or SIM-only deal; this is the account holder. Then you add extra phones and SIMs to the account as and when you need, receiving a monthly discount or perk for each contract.
The more contracts you add, the more you save. Discounts could be anything up to 15% off (this is the case with BT Mobile) the new contract cost, and perks might be free data or other cool add-ons. The only real downside is that every family member has to be on the same tariff, which may not work if one of you has really specific data needs.
The second type of plan is a data-sharing plan. These offer convenience and help you avoid extra charges, but they don’t provide direct savings.
With this type of plan you simply share data between all users. You’re all on the same network with an unlimited allowance of texts and minutes, but the data can be divided up however you like. This type of plan is really handy if some family members use much more data than others.
Why buy a family plan?
Family plans are popular for a number of reasons. The primary reason is usually financial; these types of plans generally offer significant savings versus buying individual contracts.
They’re also very convenient with just one bill instead of multiple. Shared plans are easy to manage, with the lead account holder having access to a wide range of parental controls and settings.
And finally, only one adult needs to sign a contract, but everyone – those with low credit scores or under the age of 18 – can benefit from a pay monthly tariff.
Is a family plan the best choice for everyone?
Family plans can be a great deal for a lot of families, but for light users they might not make financial sense. If you’re using a low amount of minutes, texts and data, then there’s no point being on the same tariff as another family member who uses more as you’re paying for an allowance you won’t use.
For light user, it’s worth looking into pay as you go tariffs that let you buy bundles that last 30 days. This gives you lots of flexibility as there’s no contract so you are free to change whenever you like.
Networks to look into for PAYG deals include Giffgaff and 1pMobile. The comparison site TigerMobiles.com have written a lengthy guide on what look to for so that’s a good starting point.
Where to find the best plan for you
There are a lot of networks offering family and sharer plans. I’ve rounded up the networks I feel offer the most in terms of value and child-friendly features to help make it easier for you to choose. Here they are:
O2 are partnered with the NSPCC and were the first mobile network to tackle child safety. O2 and the NSPCC have worked together to create an online hub for adults, providing articles and advice for keeping your child safe online.
The O2 sharer plan allows customers to share data between family members, providing they are also on O2. You simply need one phone on the O2 Refresh tariff. Then you can add up to nine smartphones or tablets to share data with.
Tesco Mobile offers default child-friendly settings so there’s no need to set up parental controls or apply any filters. It works by automatically blocking content rated as 18+. You actually have to confirm the person who owns the device is over 18 to be able to view such content.
Tesco Mobile’s sharing plan is called Family Perks. When you add more than one contract to the account, you receive access to a range of great benefits. Perks include extra data, more minutes, money off your bill and more. Each contract on the account receives a monthly perk, so everyone benefits.
With three different safety settings to choose from, EE have drastically simplified parental controls. The settings are: No Security, providing full access to the internet, Moderate which blocks content unsuitable for under 18s and Strict, which blocks anything rated higher than PG.
The lead account holder can add up to four people to their contract. This contract provides everyone with unlimited calls and texts and a shared pool of data all on one monthly bill.
Vodafone have a website full of resources for parents, teachers and other caregivers. The content is designed to help parents teach their children how to stay safe online. In addition to these resources, Vodafone also work with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, Virtual Global Taskforce and the Home Office to protect children from inappropriate content.
The Vodafone Red+ family plan offers 15% off each additional device and allows you to share data with family members. The lead account holder can choose how much data each family member receives, and put a cap on the total family allowance.
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