Is The Sprint Family Plan Any Good?: A Look At The Pros And Cons
If you are in the market for a cell phone and have a good credit, you may have looked into signing up for a family plan. I'm on the Sprint family plan and I can tell you first hand what it's like and what you can expect. Signing up for a 2 year contract can be a big responsibility and if you're not ready, you could end up regretting it in a hurry. Let's say you're like me and you want to sign up for a family plan. How is Sprint's family plan? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Are there any hidden charges? What is the final cost? How would I rate Sprint's service overall? Sprint's family plan have been a popular choice for many people wanting to save. How big is the saving?
Family plans are not limited to family. You can open them with friends. Be careful. If you agree to split the bill with other party members, make sure they're people you can trust to pay on time. Let's take a look at my journey so far.
Signing On The Dotted Line (UPDATE BELOW)
I decided to cancel my account with Tmobile and go with Sprint. After looking at my options, I decided to open up a family plan. At the time, my account could only qualify for 2 lines which was enough for me and my girlfriend. After signing my contract, I awaited the huge first bill. As some of you may know, the first bill is always the largest. It includes activation fees which came to $35 per line($70 total). I signed a contract for Sprint's Everything Data Share 1500 plan. The details were simple and straightforward. We had 1500 minutes to share, unlimited mobile anytime minutes, unlimited nights and weekends(nights start at 7pm), voice-mail, unlimited text, and unlimited data. All of this came to $129.99 before paying Uncle Sam and other surcharges. After all of the fees, my bill came to $155.23 per month. I'll go over this later. Let's look at what I get for my money.
Anytime Minutes Explained
First and foremost, I want to explain their 1500 anytime minutes. These minutes count towards landlines. I've been on Sprint for about a year and have never used more than 100 of this 1500 minutes. In fact, me and my girlfriend combine have never used more than 100 anytime minutes. Why is that? Even if you are a heavy talker, I've noticed that most of my phone calls are to people with cell phones. These minutes are not metered on this plan. Unlike other carriers which offer “Mobile to Mobile” among their own carriers, Sprint's Mobile anytime minutes includes all carriers. That's right. You can chat with a Verizon or AT&T customer for as long as you want.
Unlimited Data Explained
Sprint's data package is pretty straightforward. You get unlimited data. This includes texting, email, and web browsing. I've done some homework and found out that they throttle their data after you've reached 5GB per month. This means that if you use more than 5GB in your month, they will still offer you data but at a slower speed. I consider myself a heavy data user and the most I've ever used in a month was a bit over 3GB. I believe they implemented this in order to relieve congestion from heavy users. While I understand why they have this rule, I don't exactly agree with it. If I pay for unlimited data, I expect to get unlimited data. Not unlimited but throttled data. However, this will probably not affect 95% of users. The only other way I can see people consistently breaking the 5GB cap is if they were tethering their smart phones to their computers.
Are You A Sprint Premier Customer?
In order to add more line to your plan, you have to pay an additional $20 per line. This was not the case for me until recently. I was not able to add any additional lines to my plan. I assumed my credit wasn't good enough then but that might have changed once I qualified as a “Sprint Premier” customer. What exactly is Sprint Premier? Sprint Premier is a promotion that Sprint launched in order to give VIP customers added “benefits”. In order to qualify for Sprint Premier membership, you must either be a Sprint customer for 10 years or have paid 6 consecutive bills on time. The bills have to be at least $69.99 per month for an individual line or $99 on a shared family plan. What are some of the benefits of Sprint Premier? Besides an early upgrade, not much. They tout that you get all these special perks but these “unique perks” are nothing to brag about. They will often send a bunch of spam mail saying how special I am? Yahoo! Mail already does that. And they've even promise to make my member 3 inches bigger. Can Sprint promise me that? I don't think so!
Note: Since this article, Sprint has cancelled its Sprint Premier program! YAY!
More Lines = Less!
All jokes aside, if you wish to open a family plan with Sprint, you can save a lot of money if you split the bill. If you add 3 additional line for a total of 5 lines, the bill would come out to $155 + 3($20) = $215. Divide that by 5 people and you get $43. $43 per person for 1500 share land-line minutes and unlimited data is a pretty sweet deal. Most individual plans cost upwards of $75. That's almost half off of what you would normally pay. Is 1500 minutes enough for 5 people? If we do basic math that would be 300 minutes each person but we're still missing the most important part. These are considered land-line minutes. There is no metering for mobile to mobile. Considering how many people use cell phones, you shouldn't even have to worry about it. In fact, I've never gone over 300 total minutes a month. This include all the free minutes I get. Okay, so the Sprint family plan can be a good deal if you have enough people willing to join you. What are some of the drawbacks?
Understand Your Contract
Sprint is not perfect and you better make sure you know what you're getting into before you sign that 2 year contract. It's imperative that you understand their early termination fees. It is $200 per line to cancel your contract. If you have 5 total lines on your contract, that is $1,000 to cancel your contract. That's a lot of money. This may or may not be a problem. If you are sure you will finish your contract, then be all means. If you are experiencing trying times, be careful what you sign. I found out the hard way. I was facing some financial difficulties and thought it would be best to terminate my contract. It was then when I discovered that I had to pay a cancellation fee for 2 lines. I decided to stay on Sprint but this simple mistake could've gone past anyone. It was also now when I found out Sprint Premier wasn't such a hot deal after all.
One day, I decided to read their spam mail instead of tossing it into the garbage. When I read more carefully, their early upgrade began to look like the trash where it had belong. You get $150 off a phone after a year instead of 2 years. The catch? You have to renew your contract. Renew my contract for another 2 years? So lets say I bite and I renewed my contract. That's another chance for them to bite $400 off of me if I decide I want out. Here's the sweetest part of the deal. If I decide to take the $150 credit, it will only go towards the main line. All of the other lines don't get any credit. Wow! What an amazing deal Sprint! Lets say I have a full 5 lines on my account. Take a $150 credit and be stuck another 2 years with the possibility of a total early termination fee of $1,000? Boy, that's a tough one... My brother just recently canceled his contract. They forced him to use his phone to complete his month. When I terminated my contract with Tmobile, they stopped my serviced immediately and charged me a partial bill.
Note: Since the publishing of this article, Sprint no longer offers the early upgrade credit. More reasons to hate Sprint.
Sprint Ploys...Ahem, I mean Perks!
Their other perks are jokes. “Just Because” is where they send you special offers for trips, and tickets to shows and sporting event... Just because. Awww. Really? You mean you are offering me a ticket to go see Justin Bieber for how much? What a deal! Another perk is their “Accessory Discounts”. A once a year discount on accessories at participating Sprint stores. I bought all my accessories the week I got my phone but thanks. That was quite a gesture. Then there's the “First to Know/First to Buy” perk. I'll be the first to know about upcoming phones and the first to buy! It's called Google. Cnet. While they send me snail mail flyers about their Evo 4G, I've already known about it for months. Get with the program Sprint! How about their “Courtesy Plan Check”. I love this one. They “looked” over my plan, assessed that I've used a total of 400 total minutes and said, “Guess what, your current plan is a perfect fit!” This is starting to get annoying. Their last perk is an “Anniversary Reward”. Every year, you get a free gift from Sprint. What could it be? A free ring tone or free minutes? Wow, you shouldn't have Sprint. Really... I haven't gotten my gift yet but I'm not expecting anything spectacular. These perks are nothing and it's insulting for them to label it as such. It undermines our intelligence.
"Can I pay my bill?" Sure that will be $5, sir :)
Theres a few other things I hate about Sprint. I've never seen this before in my life until I became a Sprint customer. You have to pay $5 in order to pay your bills at the Sprint store or Radioshack. Let me repeat that. I have to pay $5 in order to pay my bill. I expect this at a check cashing place or a liquor store but not the official Sprint store! Imagine walking into the checkout at Stop & Shop and they charged you to buy your food. I don't care what their excuse is. This is insane and this business practice should be banned. I have to pay my bill online in order to hop over this hurdle. Speaking of paying online, they've implemented what they call a “Spending Limit Program Charge” on my account. It's a $5 surcharge on my bill. Why? I have no idea. And I can't get rid of this leech unless I sign up for recurring payments with my credit card or bank account. You mean I have to give Sprint the authority to take money out of my bank every month in order for them to waive this ridiculous fee? I've been scammed before. I'll be blunt. I don't like people other than myself having access to my account. And no, I won't do it. I've paid my bills on time every month and I still have this charge? What? They don't trust me? Well, the feeling's mutual.
Note: Since the publishing of this article, Sprint no longer charges the $5 fee. They still suck.
Despite all the cons, I have to give them credit. Their service is great. I use to have connection issues with Tmobile in my area but Sprint's coverage have been excellent. I was a bit ticked off that they only allowed me 2 lines. I was going to get my family in on it and maybe we could've saved some money back then. Now everyone has their own contracts and it's too costly to cancel theirs in order to team up. The savings for a family plan with 2 lines is marginal. The savings increase as you add more lines. Right now, if I split the bill with my girlfriend, we would pay about $77.50 each. In comparison, my brother paid $80 on his individual account. If we had 5 lines, it would've been $43 each. You can see how good this is for larger families. All in all, Sprint's family plan can be very cheap. My friend is on Tmobile's family plan and it's very confusing. $15 extra for calling, texting, and 200MB of data? $35 for unlimited? Sprint has definitely appealed to the masses with their Everything Plans. It's simple to understand and fairly inexpensive with many lines. However, marketing tactics like Sprint Premier and hidden fees are thing that will make you go “Hmmmmmmm...” To be fair, all carriers have their skeletons. Sprint does have some nice smart phones that can appeal to everyone. In order for me to recommend a service, I have to be honest. Take what you want out of this. Thanks.
"devices with robust operating systems bringing the full function of mobile applications and programs to life including Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm, and the Instinct family of devices"
When Sprint released their 4G phone and added an extra $10 fee on these phones, people thought it was tax on their WiMax 4G network. Sprint said that was not the case and have confirmed it. As of now. All new smartphone and new line activation will add an extra $10 fee. So a 5 line Sprint family plan will cost $50 on top of the total. Sorry, after these changes, I can't recommend them. It is just too expensive.