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The Best Cellphone Plans of 2015

MONEY found the right plan, at the right price, for every type of cellphone user.

Getting hit with data overage charges? Is your family’s cellphone bill busting your budget? Now you can land a better, cheaper smartphone plan. After studying more than 70 plans from 10 different wireless carriers, we picked the best plans for every kind of user.

  • Best For Light Users

    Ryan Snook

    Best for families:
    Virgin Mobile Wi-Fi Lovers Delight

    Individual Plan: Boost Mobile Data Boost 1GB Family Plan: Virgin Mobile Wi-Fi Lovers Delight
    Monthly service bill $35 $80 ($20 each for four plans)
    Two-year cost with phones $1, 390 $3, 920
    Can you bring a phone? Sprint only No
    Data 1GB Wi-Fi only
    Data overage? Speed slows Not applicable
    Network Sprint 3G/4G LTE
    Why it wins Don’t need the bells and whistles of a data-driven plan? This is our pick for bare-bones functions like talk and text, as well as data to cover basic email needs. If you have a data-heavy month, your speeds will be reduced, but you won’t be charged extra. Virgin Mobile is the only carrier here offering sub-$100 service for four lines. Downsides: Each user has only 300 monthly talk minutes (all other plans are unlimited), cellular data isn’t included, and you can’t get an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S6. But customer satisfaction ratings are high.
    You should also know … An iPhone 6 is $100 cheaper than at other carriers. The two-year cost includes a $500 Samsung Galaxy S5 for each user.
    Runner-up The MetroPCS /Month plan offers similar options and features for less per month, but iPhones aren’t available. Want an iPhone and just a wee bit of cellular data? T-Mobile Simple Choice offers the iPhone 6 and 1GB per line for 0 a month.
    Methodology: For all plans we added up the cost of two years of service and a 16BG iPhone 6 for each user (or a Samsung Galaxy S6 if the iPhone wasn’t offered). We looked at both 2-year service contracts and non-contract plans. Family plans are priced for four lines. Winners were chosen on the basis of price, plan features, and ratings for network quality, and customer satisfaction.
  • Best for Typical Users

    Ryan Snook

    Best for families:
    Cricket Basic with Group Save Discount

    Individual Plan: Cricket Basic Family Plan: Cricket Basic With Group Save Discount
    $40 $100
    $1, 610 $5, 000
    Yes
    2.5GB 2.5GB on each line
    AT&T 4G LTE AT&T 4G LTE
    Cricket uses AT&T’s network, so you get Big Four coverage for only a month. That amount drops to if you enroll in an autopay program. Though the carrier doesn’t offer the iPhone 6, it does have an iPhone 5c, along with other smart and basic phones. The price includes taxes and fees. By offering big discounts when you add other lines, Cricket is also a good deal for the entire family. If you’re worried that 2.5GB isn’t meeting your data needs, you can add 1GB to a line for only $10 per month. As with the individual plan, taxes and fees are included, and an iPhone 6 isn’t offered.
    Get a Galaxy S6 for $0 down with a phone payment plan. Sign up for four lines, and service for a fifth phone comes free.
    For $5 less a month, get the iPhone 6 with Boost Mobile’s $35 Data Boost Up plan. ­Video streaming, however, can be limited to a slow 3G. Sprint’s Family Share Pack lets you share 8GB of data for $130 a month.
  • Best for Bargain Hunters

    Ryan Snook

    Best for families:
    Cricket Pro with Group Save Discount

    Individual Plan: Sprint Unlimited Family Plan: Cricket Pro With Group Save Discount
    $60 $160
    $2, 090 $6, 440
    Unlimited 10GB...
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