Family mobile plans - what can I get?

ByKim Staples
Family using phones

Organising family life can be hectic, but one way you can make things a little easier is by taking out a family mobile plan - a special kind of shared plan that links all your family’s phones up into a single ecosystem.

It's a great way to help you keep on top of the kids' mobiles bills, avoid bill shock from teens who use too much data, share allowances across the whole family, and - most importantly - save money.

They're not just for families either: shared plans also work for groups of friends, housemates, couples, or just one person who wants a cheap SIM plan for their tablet.

Here's what you can get from the UK's main mobile networks.

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BT Mobile

BT Mobile

Family SIM

How many phones?: Up to five, including one main account holder.

How it works: You have one, 12-month SIM-only plan which belongs to the main account holder. Onto that, you can then add up to four 30-day plans. They're all paid for on a single bill, and you can change the allowance on the 30-day SIMs whenever you want - they automatically roll over to the next month 'til you change or cancel them.

Why it's good: It's amazing value. Additional SIMs with the same allowance can cost half the price of the main account holder's, and each extra one you add gets a little bit cheaper. On top of that, BT broadband customers get an extra £5 off each month. 

As a bonus, it also means you can pay for your whole family's mobile plans - as well as your broadband, home phone, and even TV - on a single bill.

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EE

EE

Shared Plans

How many phones?: Up to five.

How it works: All your family's phone plans are linked to a single account called a Shared Plan. Everyone on the Shared Plan gets unlimited minutes and texts, along with a big bank of data to share between the lot of you - which can be anything from 1GB to 50GB. Whenever one of you uses mobile internet, you'll use up a little of that shared allowance.

Why it's good: It's better value than getting five separate plans. And because a bunch of you are sharing the data tariff, it's more flexible - if one person has a particularly data-heavy month, they can avoid splashing out on an add-on by just taking it out of the shared pool.

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O2

O2

Sharer Plans

How many phones?: Up to 10, including at least one 'lead device'.

How it works: You start off with one main 'lead device'. Onto that, you can connect up to nine other pay-monthly phones or tablets, which all share the lead device's data allowance. Tariffs range from 1GB to 20GB, but if you want even more than that, you can add another lead device.

Why it's good: It's a bit more flexible than most shared data plans: you can connect up to a whopping ten phones, and even have multiple lead devices. That way, Mum and Dad can have control.

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TalkTalk Mobile

TalkTalk Mobile

Family Calls

How many phones?: Up to five per household, only two of which can be handset contracts.

How it works: Family Calls is a handy feature that you get with all TalkTalk Mobile plans. All the SIMs connected to your household get free, unlimited phone calls to each other - as well as to your landline phone.

Why it's good: Your family can always contact each other, even if they've run out of minutes and texts. And because it's just a feature you get automatically, you haven't got to go through the hassle of calling up and getting all your plans connected.

However, the downside is that you can only get TalkTalk Mobile if you have TalkTalk broadband too.

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Vodafone

Vodafone

Vodafone has two kinds of shared or family plans: Red+ Plans, and Vodafone Family.

Red+ Plans

How many phones?: Up to 10.

How it works: With Red+ Plans, you can group together up to 10 phone plans on a single data allowance. Everyone gets unlimited calls and texts, but when you use mobile internet, it'll use up some of the shared allowance. Each phone you add to the plan will be a little cheaper.

One person is the 'leader', and they're able to choose how much data is in the pool, and how much of that data each SIM is allowed to use - perfect for younger kids who don't know how much data they're using. Leaders can manage the accounts online, with the app, or even by text.

Why it's good: You can connect a lot of phones, and it's ideal for making sure the kids don't overspend on data. It also works out decent value, since you get a little discount on each phone you add.

 

Vodafone Family

How many phones?: Either four or six.

How it works: There's no data sharing on this one, but it does mean free phone calls. For a small fee each month, a group of either four or six phones can call each other at no extra cost.

Why it's good: The main draw of this one is that you can always contact your family, even if you've run out of minutes or credit.

It may not be as good value as a Red+ Plan, but with Vodafone Family, there's more freedom and independence for everyone involved. You don't even need to be family, or living in the same household - you could set it up for a group of friends or workmates if you wanted.

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