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Family Finances

Best Cell-Phone Plans for Every Type of User

From bargain hunters to data gobblers, here are our top picks.

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The picks below are part of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance’s annual Best List, a roundup of the best values in all the areas we cover – from funds, stocks and ETFs to credit cards and bank accounts to cars, college, kid stuff, phone plans, travel and health. Discover all our Best List picks here.

Prices do not include device payments, and data speed is 4G LTE except where otherwise noted.

Families

With the T-Mobile One plan, a family of four pays $160 a month (you must make automatic payments to qualify for that price). The plan provides unlimited calling, texting and data in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Video streams in standard definition, but that shouldn’t bother most people who view video on a phone, says Maggie Reardon, author of the CNET.com column Ask Maggie. The plan also comes with unlimited text­ing and data at up to 2G speed in more than 140 destinations.

Bargain Hunters

With US Mobile, choose your prepaid plan’s quantity of voice minutes, text messages and data à la carte. Prices start at $9 monthly for 100 calling minutes, 100 text messages and 100 megabytes of data. The service runs on T-Mobile’s network.

Data Gobblers

The Sprint Unlimited Freedom plan comes with unlimited calling, texting and data at a price of $60 for one line, $100 for two lines or $160 for four lines (you must make automatic payments for those prices). Video streaming is limited to standard definition, and music streaming is restricted to 500 kilobits per second, but you can upgrade to higher-quality streaming for $20 per line. You can sign up free for unlimited talk, texting and 1GB of full-speed data in Canada, Mexico and some Latin American countries. Plus, get free texting and data at up to 2G speed in 149 destinations.

Average Users

If you’re a moderate data user, consider the Cricket Wireless Basic prepaid plan, with unlimited talking and texting and 2.5GB of data (slowed to a maximum 2G speed if you surpass the limit) for just $35 monthly if you make automatic payments. Cricket operates on the AT&T network.

Take Our Quiz: Bargain or Trap?