Comparing costs: Which is the best cell phone plan for your family?

Cell Phone (KSN File Photo)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (WATE) – From reading work emails, to texting with friends and checking in on her three kids, Angie Noye said she constantly uses her cell phone.

“I never realized how nice it would be to just send my kids a text,” Noye said.

More people around the world have smartphones than ever before. With that comes a long list of carriers and pricey plans.

“Initially we wanted to save some money because our cell phone bill had gotten outrageous,” Noye said.

Noye said her family was shelling out nearly $200 a month for an AT&T family plan with four smartphones, and they’re not alone.

“Cell phone companies have more complaints than any other category of business nationwide at the bureau. We had 33,000 last year,” said Better Business Bureau President and CEO Jerry Tipton.

Common complaints were service, contract, and costs. So, what are the best plans out there? We checked for a family of four.

“The Wirecutter” gives Verizon the highest praise for a fast and reliable network, but you’ll pay a little more. Verizon offers a 12GB Sharable Data Plan with unlimited talk and text for $160 a month. Sprint is also $160 a month for a 10GB data plan.

U.S. Cellular offers 15GB of data for about $150 a month.

For a family of four, AT&T is around $145 a month for 15GB of data. “Our most popular plans are our Mobile Share Value Plans,” said AT&T Area Retail Sales Manager Lisa Pritchett.

AT&T says it is beginning an unlimited talk, text and data plan on Tuesday for customers who already have wireless and either DirecTV or Uverse TV service, however the cost for a family of four would increase to $180.

Finally, T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan is the least expensive at $130 a month. However, the data is not shared. That means the main phone line gets 10GB of data and the other three lines only get 2GB of data a month. The data can be increased for an additional monthly charge.

“I have to say, probably, data was king. My husband and I are on our phones a lot. We get a lot of emails from work. We have to do a lot of research on our phones from work,” said Noye.

Data is what cell phone companies said is the main driver.

“What we see people come in and specifically mention is email and social media. Those seems to be two really popular ways that people want to stay connected on their phones,” said U.S. Cellular Store Manager Erica Moore.

In the end, the Noyes switched to T-Moible. Noye said she gets spottier coverage, but she also said the carrier has its perks.

“We doubled our data when we switched our plan and we reduced our bill,” she said.

That ended up being a perfect, money-saving solution for the family.

According to the Better Business Bureau, prepaid cell phone plans get the least amount of complaints from consumers.

“Believe it or not, some of the prepaid plans have better ratings than the big boys,” said Tipton.


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