08 Aug Calling Together – The Family Cell Phone Plan
If you have several children or a close extended family and want an easy way to stay in touch, a family cell phone plan may be the smart choice for you. Family plans can greatly simplify the potentially daunting task of equipping your entourage family with phones. Here are a few points on the advantages of the family cell phone plan, and what potential drawbacks to watch for.
The largest advantage to the family cell phone plan is obvious: most family plans allow everyone in the family to call each other without using up any minutes. This can be a powerful advantage, especially if the family's cell phones are mostly used to keep in touch with other family members. Calls made outside the shared network must still be paid for, of course, but most family plans deliver a single bill, making bookkeeping a bit easier.
In addition, many cell phone carriers also offer affordable deals on multiple phones when signing up for a new family plan, potentially saving a great deal of money. (Of course, if your family includes several young siblings, you may want to purchase identical cell phone models, to avoid potentially disastrous domestic squabbles.)
Many of the advantages available to you will depend heavily on what carrier you decide on. For example, the family plan from Verizon Wireless offers 700 minutes per month at about $ 70 per month, with two lines included. More lines can be purchased for $ 9.99 a month. As an added bonus, Verizon Wireless also offers free phone upgrades to its customers every two years. Cingular's wireless plan is quite similar, with 550 minutes for around $ 60 a month, but features "rollover minutes" – meaning that unused minutes at the end of every month can be credited to the next month – potentially a huge bonus if you happen To come in under-budget on minutes every month.
If you are strictly looking for cheap minutes, T-Mobile's family plan currently offers 700 minutes at $ 59.99 a month, which is definitely the cheapest per minute going. Raw minutes, of course, are meaningless without proper coverage and dependability, so you will definitely want to shop around and compare cell phone plans before purchasing one.
More than likely, you've seen the commercials from various cell phone carriers, depicting the harsh and brutal world of a family plan under one of their competitors. A loving father sets, suffused with terror-sweat, looking on in pure existential horror as his chatty teenagers run up a monstrous bill. No matter how economic the plan, massive cell phone overages are a phenomenon better left to the imagination. Beyond the base economies of how much you'll be paying per month for your lines, overages and text messaging are your most likely sources of unexpected fees. When picking a family cell phone plan , look at the fine print and think carefully about how many minutes and text messages your family will need, and how they should be allotted.
Family plans (like families themselves) are not without complications and concerns, but a unified cell phone plan can offer significant advantages over a panoply of individual plans. Do your homework, carefully weigh the pros and cons, and pick a plan that works for you.
By Daniel Swensen