"Family plans" claim to offer increased savings, consolidated tariffs, and a greater level of control for keeping tabs on what people are using their phones for.
But are family plans worth it?
Simply put, if you need more than two lines... there’s a good chance you can save with a family plan.
And when it comes to options currently available in the UK, we consider the BT Perfect All Rounder Plan to be one of the best family mobile deals available.
It offers a generous data allotment, a fair price, free access to BT Wi-Fi hotspots, and the extra lines are month-to-month for added flexibility.
But there’s plenty of other options as well.
If you’re looking to dig a little deeper into choosing the perfect family plan for your needs, we’ve rounded up 4 leading picks to cover the various ways people use their phones.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020
1. BT Mobile Max Plan
Best Family Plan for Heavy Data Use
Through BT, you can get 40GB of high-speed data each month and unlimited UK texting and calling on 4 lines for £124 -- a savings of £36 per month over individual lines and accounts.
Each line gets 40GB of data -- it isn't shared. And you can set spend limits and caps on both UK data and roaming usage to ensure there's no suprises at the end of the month.
On top of that, you'll enjoy free access to more than 5-million UK Wi-Fi hotspots to help you make the most of your data.
The main line requires a 12 month commitment, but each line after is on a rolling monthly contract. This means you can add or drop people as needed without worrying about cancellation fees.
The only downside is that all plans must be the same. So if you need a huge data pool, but the partner, kids, or friends don't, you might see a lot of data go unused each month.
BT Mobile Max Plan
2. Tesco's Family Perks Plan
Best Family Mobile Plan for Controlling Usage
While not a family plan in the convention sense, Tesco's Mobile's unique approach gives you flexible perks -- such as extra data, monthly discounts, or more minutes -- that you can apply to each line on your account every month.
The feature is compatible with all of their pay monthly plans.
You'll get one perk per line for as long as they are active. Better still, you can choose different plans for each line. For example, you can give you and your partner higher plans, while limited the kids' usage or give a friend a lower-tier plan until you know they'll be able to pay their share each month.
For added control over billing, data on each line is capped based on the monthly allotment on your tariff. This means no worries about costly overages. If you have a kid that talks a lot or you love to stream music while on the go, you can use your perk to help account for your own preferences.
As an example of the plan in action, you can pick up 2 of their 6GB plans, each with 5000 minutes and 5000 texts for the adults, and 2 lighter 2GB plans each with 500 minutes and 5000 texts for the kids, all for £45 per month.
If you choose the £2 discount perk for each line, that would bring your total to £37 per month.
Tesco Family Perks Plan
3. BT Mobile Essentials Plan
Best Basic Family Mobile Plan
Offering 4 lines with 5GB of data per line and unlimited calling and texting in the UK for £45.80 per month, the BT Mobile Essentials Plan is probably a bit more data than the average person might need.
But the price (only £11.45 per line) is great for what you get. Better still, it provides a little extra breathing room so you can use your phone without worry or let splurge a bit with the streaming or gaming here and there.
The first line requires a 12-month commitment. However, each additional line is on a 30-day term to provide added flexibility should you need to remove a person from the plan.
BT Mobile subscribers also enjoy free access to more than 5 million UK Wi-Fi hotspots.
While you might be able to find separate prepaid lines at a lower price, the convenience of a single bill and account-wide controls makes the slight difference well worth the cost of the family plan in our opinion.
BT Mobile Essentials Plan
5. BT Mobile Perfect All Rounder Plan
Best Couples (Two-Person) Mobile Plan
While the 4 line rates on many family plans are quite nice, the discounts for two-line plans are limited.
BT Mobile's Perfect All Rounder Plan offers a decent data allotment (6GB per line) and unlimited UK calling and texting for only £35.60 per month.
The first line requires a 12 month commitment. However, the second line is on a rolling monthly term to provide added flexibility.
There's also free access to more than 5 million UK Wi-Fi hotspots to help you keep your data usage down while on the go or out with friends.
BT Mobile Perfect All Rounder Plan
How We Picked
When answering the question, “What’s the best mobile plan for families?” , we considered the following primary criteria:
With discounts for every line added, the savings on most family plans add up quickly -- especially if you’re using a major network.
While there is probably cheaper plans available than some of our picks, we scoured the plans on offer to make picks we felt found the sweet spot between savings and features.
Managing multiple tariffs for multiple lines can be a headache. If you’re using more than 2 or 3 lines, it’s easy for one to go unnoticed or mix up the plans and features on each line.
Family plans with a consolidated tariff make it easy to keep track of both what you owe and what the people on your plan are using each month.
Reduced credit requirements
Getting a new phone plan is expensive enough without considering the deposits for services or new phones.
Family plans are based on the credit ratings of the main account holder instead of the people using each phone.
This makes them ideal in situations where either credit ratings aren’t stellar for everyone involved or they’re simply not old enough to actually sign a contract.
Credit requirements vary by provide and will still increase based on the number of lines or model of phones you request. However, family plans consolidate credit checks to reduce the impact on our credit rating and increase the chance of approval if everyone doesn’t have sparkling credit.
With individual plans, you’d need to log in to each account or call up customer service and verify each account to make any changes to features or plans. With family plans, everything is available with one login or account verification. You can even add authorised people to your plan to allow them to make changes.
Better still, you can often track usage, set limits, and change other features across the whole account. This makes it easy to highlight any potential issues -- such as kids using all your data or talking until 3am -- and apply controls to fix them without impacting the settings for other people on the plan.
Using these principles as the foundation of our picks, we dug through the seemingly endless plan options available from networks both big and small to create a list of picks to suit a variety of preferences.
While most plans are labelled “family” plans, they’re actually group plans in essence. Most networks won’t require any sort of true relation between people. As long as they get their money each month, the requirements are often quite slack.
However, if you’re considering being the main account holder, you are liable for anyone on your account. If you sign up a roommate, partner, or co-worker on your plan and they don’t pay up when the tariff comes due, you’ll have to cover the difference.
Moreso, if you sign up for a plan with a two-year commitment, you’re betting on relations staying good for the entire term. And since it’s all one bill and one tariff, that means that if you don’t cover the difference should someone flake, everyone on the plan might lose service and it might impact your credit score .
So while you can put friends on your family plan, always consider if you should before committing.
Most networks aren’t picky about people living at the same address. Or if the people on their family plans are actually family. They just want the tariff paid on time and in full.
There should be no problems with keeping your kids on your plan while they’re away at school as long as they’re in the same country.
However, be sure to check coverage at the school as well. Keeping them on your plan doesn’t do anyone any good if they can’t actually get a signal or are roaming when they use their phone.
This also applies to plans with calling zones or separate rates for local or “in-zone” calling -- if your kid racks up a hefty fees calling out of area, savings from the family plan discount will vanish quickly.
Yes and no. This answer is a bit more complicated.
Can you use a family plan to register a few lines and use them for your business? Probably… as long as you have real people to register the phones to.
However, the moment you have issues with service or questions, you could run into trouble. Like your Internet provider, most mobile phone companies price business and residential services differently. They also configure accounts slightly differently.
As such, most also have clauses in their Terms of Service stating that they do not allow dedicated business use on residential plans and vice versa.
So if you call in complaining of service issues, you could find yourself forced to upgrade to a business package. Even if they allow you to keep your plan, if you’re violating terms of service, you likely cannot hold your phone service provider liable for losses due to their service.
In most cases, while business plans are often more expensive, they’re our recommendation for any serious business use.
A family plan might work for a small business with a couple employees or an independent contractor, but most business plans offer greater flexibility and guarantees for larger businesses which family plans cannot bring to the table.
This will depend on the network.
Most networks offer discounts starting at only 2 lines. However, the sweet spot is often closer to 4 lines.
Upper limits vary, with most networks offering support for 6 to 8 lines.
Keep in mind, this may or may not include data-only lines for tablets. So if you have a large family, or a lot of gadgets, be sure to check before signing anything.
Ultimately, this comes down to your needs and the level of control you’d like.
In most cases, shared data plans are cheaper.
But unless the network also supports limiting data use per line, this means that your kids or friend can blow through all your data, leaving you stuck until the next tariff cycle or -- worse still -- paying overages every month.
Separate data lines often cost a little more, but if one person uses more data than everyone else, they see the impact while everyone else enjoys that fact that they were frugal with their streaming, social media, or downloads and budgeted ahead.
In short, shared plans offer more data for less money, but separate lines offer the greatest amount of control.
In most cases, shared plans are billed just like individual plans -- except every line is on one tariff. This means you don’t have to open four envelopes and make four payments every month for four lines.
Most networks still provide of a comprehensive breakdown of how each line was used each month, just the total charges are rolled into one sum.
If you’re sharing the plan with friends or a partner, it’s up to you to do the footwork on collecting their part of the total due. The only thing the network cares about is who’s name is on the account, not who is using the phones.
As with billing, if your name is on the account, you are liable for all the lines. This means if someone wants to leave, you have a few options, but you’re still on the hook.
- Find someone else to assume the line
- Keep paying the tariff
- Pay the early termination fee for the line
- Transfer them to their own plan
While transferring them to their own plan sounds like an obvious fix, it isn’t as simple as it appears…
First off, the network must allow this. While most will allow you to do this, they often require that the person transferring to their own plan meet any credit requirements and pay a deposit accordingly.
But more importantly, it requires the consent of the person you’re transferring. If a friend is moving away or a kid is moving out, that’s probably not a big deal. But if you’re needing to split up plans due to a relationship ending or friendships falling out, things get more dicey and delicate.
If you can’t find someone to take over the line or you can’t transfer it out, you might be able to recoup some of the fees by selling your used phone. If it’s a recent flagship model, you might break even. But we’d still bet on having to pay out of pocket for a portion of the fees.
In most cases, networks charge early termination fees per line. This means that instead of paying a single cancellation charge to end your family plan early, you’ll need to pay one for each line on the account.
That number can get scary mighty quickly…
For this reason, we highly recommend researching options before signing anything. If you’re not extremely sure that the arrangement will work for the term of the contract, go with a prepaid plan or simply pay more for individual lines.
By the time you factor in early termination fees on 4 lines, you probably won’t save anything over 4 separate plans anyhow. You might even end up paying more...
Most family plans work exactly like individual plans in terms of upgrades. Typically, if there are any discounts involved, they’re attached to a term commitment.
Keep in mind, however, that if you’re planning to perform multiple device upgrades using a network-based financing option, that you might run into limits based on the credit checks they performed when you started the plan.
Still Not Sure?
Family plans are a popular way to both simplify billing for multiple lines and save money over the cost of individual lines.
But they come with some risk. Should relationships sour, or better deals arise, you might find yourself locked into a contract for at 2 years on a line you no longer need.
More to the point, you might save even more money by picking up individual plans through a smaller network -- especially if you don’t need a huge amount of data or already own your own phones.
If you’re curious how the our best family plan picks stack up to other options, be sure to check out our plan comparison tool .
It makes it easy to pick and choose the exact features you’re looking for in a plan and get a quick snapshot of what the various networks in your area offer. Better still, you don’t have to read page after page of lists or bounce between tabs.
We make researching options easy so you can get more out of your mobile phone with less hassle.
Not sold on the family plan concept? Or simply looking to check out all of your options before committing? We
also have guides on the
best prepaid plans
and best postpaid plans around!
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