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Are you looking for a way to easily and effectively save on your cell phone bill every month? Shared data plans just might be the answer.

With one convenient plan, multiple devices can access the same pool of data- reducing costs in comparison to individual cell phone plans. Plus, family members are able to share an account like never before.

In this guide, we'll give you all the info needed on shared data plan benefits, as well as how to choose what's best for you. Keep reading and start saving today.

What is shared data cell phone plans?

Shared data plans are an ideal way to save money on cell phone bills for families and groups who want a budget-friendly solution on one account.

Instead of multiple people having their own individual plans, one pot of data is shared among several lines – making it more affordable.

While this type of plan has plenty to offer, it's important to consider any potential advantages or disadvantages beforehand.

Advantages of shared data plans

  • Cost: Connecting all of your mobile devices to a single plan can help you save on monthly cell phone costs.
  • Family-friendly: Keep a close eye on your family's online activity with the convenience of a shared data plan – perfect for parents who want to save money, and help their children stay safe.

Disadvantages of shared data plans

  • Limited data: Data plans that seem like an endless data buffet can be deceiving. Even with an unlimited data plan, there's often a hidden limit to how much you and your family are able to enjoy. Make sure everyone in the home knows their limitations when streaming, surfing, or downloading on their device.
  • Control of data uses: Balancing who gets data and how much can be tricky - especially when it comes to sharing limited amounts among multiple users.
  • Throttling: If you maximize your data usage in your billing month, don't be surprised if your speeds take a dip until your next month kicks in.

Choosing a data plan for your family is no small feat. Make sure to think about what will be the right fit for each person, so that you can make an informed decision on if and how shared plans could benefit everyone.


How to choose the best-shared data plan

Selecting the perfect data plan doesn't have to feel like a chore. The main thing to factor in is the coverage you need and how many people will be using it. Once that's settled, make sure your budget can accommodate the cost. Now you're ready for an awesome shared data plan tailored just for you.

  • Amount of data: Choosing the right data plan for you and your family is an important decision, but don't worry - our helpful data calculator can give you a good estimate of how much data everyone needs. Many MVNOs offer unlimited data plans, but remember to check all the details as sometimes "unlimited" isn't actually limitless.
  • How many lines: Not all MVNOs have family plans, so it's important to check how many lines you need and find an option that could save you some dollars.
  • Use of data: Maximizing your data usage starts with understanding the amount of data you'll use. If streaming video, using GPS maps, and scrolling on social media sound like activities in the cards for you, then consider bumping up the amount of data that's right for you - this is because these types of activities can use a lot more data and can quickly deplete a smaller pool.
  • Budget: Finding the right cell phone plan isn't always about saving money; it's also about selecting a solution that fits your needs. Before you settle on one, make sure to consider how much data and what type of features are included with each option. Low-cost carriers offer plenty of options for all budgets.

Some MVNOs allow you to add extra data to your plan but this will come at additional costs.


How much data do you need?

There're not many low-cost carriers that offer shared data plans due to the popularity of unlimited data.

But on average most of us only use between 3-5GB of data a month. Thanks to widely accessible Wi-Fi networks, we're often not far from a free Wi-Fi network that can provide connectivity.

The amount of data you use depends on the activity. For example here are some of the most popular tasks we use our mobile data for and the data used within an hour.

  • YouTube - Around 300MB per hour
  • Social Media - Between 80MB to 840MB per hour
  • Browsing the internet - Around 60MB per hour
  • Online gaming - Starting at 3MB per hour
  • Streaming TV shows and movies - Around 250MB per hour

Streaming music and video can be the most data-draining activity. So if you're sharing data with your kids on a shared data plan, you may want to check their estimated usage. Then you can decide on what data allowance you'll need for your cell phone plan.

If you're not sure how much data you use, you can get an estimate with our data calculator tool.


Saving money with shared data usage

While you can save money compared to individual plans if you share data, there are still ways to save even more.

  • Monitor your data usage: Even with a shared plan, it's important to stay within your data limit to avoid overage charges. By monitoring the data usage of everyone on the plan you can then make adjustments as needed.
  • Use Wi-Fi whenever possible: To reduce your data usage. This can be especially helpful for activities such as streaming videos or downloading large files. By using Wi-Fi, you can save your data for when you really need it.

Recap

Shared data plans can work well if you don't use a lot of data, and plans from MVNOs like Mint Mobile offer additional features you may need, such as international calling, unlimited talk, or mobile hotspot usage.

In fact, some carriers now even offer individual data allotments on family plans, so you can adjust it for each family member.

Shared data plans can be a great way to save money on your cell phone bill, especially for families or groups with multiple lines. But they're not so good for high-data users.

If you want a family plan there're plenty of options and a range of data limits available. Low-cost carriers offer flexible ways to get a multi-line plan that can be customized to each individual's uses.

Data usage FAQs

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