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Is The Sprint Family Plan Any Good?: A Look At The Pros And Cons

Updated on November 16, 2011

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.

Typical Bill for 2 Lines
Typical Bill for 2 Lines

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.

Read Carefully

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.

Spending Limit Program Charge
Spending Limit Program Charge

"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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Important Update

From Sprint:

"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.

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    • Adroit Alien profile image

      Adroit Alien 5 years ago


      you sound like you work for Sprint.

      They did throttle when this article was written. As a consumer, I'd hope you'd advocate against ETF's. You're right, a cell phone is an option... if you are homeless or living in a cave in Afghanistan. What world do you live in? I have bought a phone at full price and now I am enjoying unlimited EVERYTHING for 50 bucks a month. Take you Sprint pride and shove it...

    • profile image

      littleoneoldone 5 years ago

      Hi. I read this article and there are a few errors.

      1. Sprint does not throttle or slow down data speeds. Sprint is the only carrier with completely unlimited data no matter how much you use. If they throttled in the past, they no longer do.

      2. Upgrades are available every 20 months. When you choose to upgrade, you receive 150.00 off the full retail price of any phone you choose+any immediate rebates being offered + any mail in rebates. in exchange for receiving a 549.99 phone for 199.99, sprint does ask for a new 2 year contract. For example, the Samsung Galaxy III 16GB full price is 549.99. Sprint takes 150.00 off for the upgrade bringing the price down to 399.99. Sprint then takes an immediate rebate off of 200.00, bringing the final upgrade price to 199.99. In order to offset these savings for buying, basically, a mini computer that makes phone calls, a 2 year contract is required. If you do not want to have the 2 year contract, after the initial contract is over, you can buy a phone at full price and not have to sign a new contract. Your choice.

      3. EVERY line is upgradable every 20 months, not only the main line; EVERY line receives the same upgrade deals.

      4. By the way, all major carriers requires contracts with an upgrade, all have ETF's that are hefty, all have activation and upgrade fees; these fees help to stay in business.

      Oh yeah, and a cell phone is an option. NOT a requirement. If you do not want to play by cell phone company rules, have a landline. You don't have to have a 2 year contract. Buy a phone at full price. You choose how you want to deal with this, but know that every company has these rules. At least Sprint has unlimited data on their phones and their plans are cheaper. I say Sprint knows what they are doing.

    • profile image

      Gstuff 5 years ago

      I would not have any sprint devices and seervice if they paid me to do so... Att is much better and better coustomer service

    • profile image

      sara 5 years ago

      well i got a rumor touch and i am with my mom and dad on a family plan does anybody know how much the internet fee is?

    • profile image

      Sweet 5 years ago

      The first bill will always be high with any cell co. $129.99+$20 data($10 per line)+$30 for taxes & surcharges(for 2 lines)total for 2 lines $185.00 a month.

    • profile image

      Jamie 6 years ago

      Just signed up for a family 1500 plan with Sprint last night , at Radio Shack. I was off contract with tmobile for a year or so, but the Sprint deal saves us about $40 / month total for 5 lines, all new android phones (3 free conquers and bout 2 $99 Photons). Was paying over $271 with tmobile - only 1 android phone - now $40 less :-) Love the phones. I work for a gov agency so I got 18% off my monthly sprint bill!!!!!! Radio Shack guys were top notch. what they said jived up 100% with what I already knew after 2 months of researching my best path - actually, they turned me on to the gov discount :-) So far so good!

    • profile image

      E Knight 6 years ago

      I have a family plan with 3 lines and have never been surprised by anything on my bill, of course I only go through the actual Sprint corporate stores or

      A couple points of clarification for the article: When talking about getting the 150 off of a new phone only applying to the primary line that was only the case for the early upgrade program. All lines are eligible for that discount after either 18 or 24 months.

      The last clarification relates to signing a new contract in order to get the discounts. The signing only adds time to the line taking advantage of the discount not the other lines.

    • N.Potter profile image

      N.Potter 6 years ago

      Just want to chime in and let people know going to a corporate Sprint store has always seemed to lead to the best experience. The employees seem to take more time explaining all the details about the bill, the phones, and are usually pretty knowledgable when it comes to the network. No offense to Radioshack but the employees main focus there is to just sell, sell, sell. I know at corporate stores they have to make sure the customer is "Very Satisfied" before they leave because of a satisfaction call the customer receives after the visit. They will transfer contacts, buy your old phones back, and help you set up Facebook or Gmail if need be. I know they might not have the best prices on the phones themselves, but after having several bad customer service experiences, I'm willing to pay a bit more for a phone when I save more per month because of a discount the sales rep knows about and can apply! Also, Sprint is the only carrier with unlimited data now! :)

    • profile image

      nicolai 6 years ago

      hey Samantha sorry to hear what happen to you but I had them charge me for stuff I never used n I went in complaining into there store n they did not like tba cause new customers were looking at me n asked why before I could tell them they took that crap off my bill be assertive with people stand up for yourself n you could cancel too you have a probation period where if you don't like there service you could always cancel hope that time hasn't past for you yet

    • profile image

      Pam 6 years ago

      So far everything looks like it'll be the same for us... the only difference were the taxes and surchages but that's also because we were prorated for the first half month and that was included. However I think we'll only have a few cents difference more... because we got the iphones and were forced to get the 10.00 premium data for both lines (iphone requires it). But thanks to the 15% military discount of 19.50 we end up at 130.49 instead of 129.99 (for those without premium data) or instead of 149.99 (for those with premium data/iphones).

    • Adroit Alien profile image

      Adroit Alien 6 years ago

      Sorry to hear that Samantha :(

      $185 is higher than I'm paying right now. I'm so glad I didn't activate any new phones. Maybe if you call customer service and do some complaining, they might help you out, or even let you off the contract. If you have an Android Smart phone, figure out a way to ALWAYS roam. This costs Sprint $$$ and they might even cancel your contract. If you can get that to work, be sure to DOWNLOAD lots of data. I'm talking GB. I've read that if you do this for 3 straight months, you can get out of your contract. They'll hate you. I've never tried it but good luck to you.

    • profile image

      samanthac4 6 years ago

      I am so sad that I did not read this before buying. The lady at the radioshack told me it would be about $250 the first month (2 lines activation fees the $129.99 all data 1500 min share plan) which it was. $254 to be exact. Then this month the bill is $242! They charged me the $129.99 the unspecified taxes of $25, $20 for 2 smartphones, another $36 activation fee, $5 for family locator that was said to be free, $10 for a horoscope??? Neither of us have anything for horoscopes on our phone... this is insane. I called and I still have to pay this and she said the bill next month will be $185 after tax. That's still an extra $50 dollars more every month. I only went with sprint BECAUSE they said the bill would be "about $130 each month for both lines." I was good with $65 a person... this is bullshit and I agreed to this bullshit under false pretenses. Mind you the person with the other line doesn't even want to pay now cuz they feel they've been scammed. $500 for two months of service? Then almost $200 a month thereafter? I can't afford that alone so if he does bail on me I will owe $650 between the bill and the 2 $200 termination fees... fml! So anyone lucky enough to read this before hand DON'T GET SPRINT!

    • profile image

      Pam 6 years ago

      Thanks for the basic phone bill. We just got on it and I'm trying to figure out how much our first bill will be. I'm just going to add the activation fees ontop of that 155.xx. I also wanted to mention... if you are part of the military you get a discount that brings that bill back to 129.99/mth instead of 149.99 (that includes that two 10.00 data charges).

    • profile image

      teri 6 years ago

      $10 charge is for you the maximize the usage of your smartphone. but they've got samsung replenish the only smartphone that doesn't need the $10 charge

    • Adroit Alien profile image

      Adroit Alien 6 years ago

      Thanks N.Potter for the update. Some more updates... Sprint now adds a $10 surcharge on activation of any "smartphone." Basically, if you are looking to get any phone with internet or email, expect to pay more. Finally they stopped charging that RIDICULOUS $5 fee! I've been paying my bills online now and I wouldn't have noticed. Thanks again!

    • N.Potter profile image

      N.Potter 6 years ago

      Just an update, the Sprint corporate stores do not charge a 5$ fee anymore.

      The 25% accessory discount is on 2 or more accessories in the store at any time, not just once a year.

      The early upgrade is really awesome especially now with phone technology updating every other day. However, there are tiered Premier plans for customers. Premier Gold members that have been with Sprint for 10 years or longer or customers on certain higher rate plans get to keep the annual upgrade for the main line. Premier Silver customers still get...a nice title to make them feel fancy.

      Also, the early termination fee is only 200/line, even with smart phones and it is prorated.