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Best family mobile plans: how each UK network compares

Family phone contracts and SIM only

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We compare each network's discounts for joining as a group or family on a SIM only or phone contract and extra features like data sharing. Last updated: 19th December 2022

Advantages and disadvantages

Taking out a family plan comes with many benefits

Thumbs up and a discount ribbon

Extra benefits as well as discounts

Managing your mobile deals on one account is much simpler than having them all on separate accounts. You can do this by having multiple plans on one mobile network.

Mobile networks like this, as they’ll get many new customers at once. So, to encourage customers to buy multiple deals, some offer discounts on every phone or SIM only plan added to the main account.

A few networks even reward their customers for setting up a family account by offering handy extra benefits, such as letting customers share data between users on one account.

There’s no single model of family sharing plan, so we’ve lined up all the networks in a side-by-side comparison to see which ones offer the best value and most convenient family plans.

Useful link: Compare each network

There are some downsides to family plans as well

Thumbs down and a contract icon

It’s harder to leave multiple contracts

The reason why networks offer family plans is because they want to keep you as a loyal customer. It’s harder to leave a network if you’ve set up multiple deals with them on your account.

You could be missing out on better value deals on another provider if you’re unable to switch from your current one, which would mean trading off lower prices for the convenience of having your deals on one account.

There are plenty of smaller providers that can offer much better individual deals that make the bigger networks’ best group deals look pricey by comparison.

We’ve combed through the family plans these networks offer to show you the advantages and disadvantages. Whether or not it’s a good deal will be up to you and what you value the most.

Useful link: Compare each network

How each network compares

1st: SMARTY have the best family plans for sheer value

SMARTY branded save 10% banner

Discounts on cheap and flexible plansRead full guide

at SMARTY.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Get 10% off every additional plan
Green plus sign Discounts on already cheap plans
Green plus sign Manage all plans under one account

What we don't like:
Red minus sign No way to add every plan at the same time
Red minus sign Plans are paid separately
Red minus sign No device contracts offered

SMARTY are a low-cost provider who piggyback off their owners Three for signal (check coverage here). Their plans are typically low cost and are all sold as 1-month deals with no contracts.

They offer great value deals for individual users, but with their 10% discount on extra plans added to your account, you can get value on top of value. You can add up to 6 extra deals, no matter if they’re new customers or not.

Each user can choose the deal that suits the amount of data they need, which isn’t something that every network lets you do. Users can then leave or change their plan when they like without affecting other users.

And if you’re worried about your kids accessing adult content, SMARTY automatically block users from accessing 18+ material while on mobile data. You can’t do advanced stuff like setting tighter restrictions or time limits, however.

The main downside is that it’s a bit hard to get started, as each user has to set up their own account (see SMARTY’s guide here). But it’s definitely worth it for the discounts on SMARTY’s cheap, flexible deals.

Useful link: Read SMARTY's full guide to their Group plans

Our ranking:

Discounts on:
Extra SIM only plans

Main plan has to be:
Full price SIM only

Max extra plans on one account:
7x extra, 8 in total

Joint 2nd: BT Mobile users on a family plan still benefit

Shared plans on BT Mobile

Every added SIM adds to the discountSee BT's Family plans

at BT.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Larger discounts for each added deal
Green plus sign Extra SIMs come on 30-day contracts
Green plus sign Phone and SIM only contracts benefit
Green plus sign Manage all your deals on one account

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Not available for new customers
Red minus sign Each user has to have the same data plan
Red minus sign Difficult to work out savings
Red minus sign No discounts on phone contracts

Much like with Virgin Mobile’s scheme, new customers can no longer benefit from BT’s family plan scheme. In fact there’s now no way to join BT Mobile at all.

You’ll only benefit if you’re already on a BT family plan. But their scheme is still excellent in our eyes. You could join on any BT plan and start adding extra SIMs at any time.

Any BT SIM only plan can be made into a Family plan. Here's our pick of the best deals currently available:

Every added SIM was discounted by around 20% (but this depended per offer and could be hard to work out exactly). Each plan is on a 30-day contract, so you could change your plan or leave it after the month’s up.

The biggest downside is that all users had to join on the same exact data plan, which isn’t realistic for many families. You could also only add SIMs, rather than phone contracts.

If you’re still on the scheme you might like the fact that BT automatically block 18+ content and have options for extra controls for under-12 users. But new customers can no longer join this scheme.

Useful link: See Family SIM pricing

Our ranking:
Joint 2nd

Discounts on:
Extra SIM only plans

Main contract has to be:
Phone or SIM only

Max extra plans on one account:
4x extra, 5 in total

Joint 2nd: EE offer discounts and benefits like data sharing

Mobile phones sharing data on EE

Get 20% off any SIM only or device planHow to share data

at EE.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Simple and large discounts
Green plus sign Get money off any SIM only or device contract
Green plus sign Gift data between users on your account

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Plans are very pricey already

EE have made their family plan scheme even better by now giving you 20% off any SIM only or device plans added to your existing EE account (it used to be 10%).

With this you can move around data to different users on your account. If one person has used up their data allowance then data can be transferred to that user from a different one (full details here).

All of EE’s monthly plans can be used as family plans. Here are their best current deals:

This is great for preventing users incurring extra data charges, which can save you money on top of the 20% discount. And for every new plan the account holder gets an extra 1GB boost which can then also be shared.

Parents will be happy to know that 18+ content is blocked by default and EE offer stronger content restrictions for your child’s safety. But you’ll have to set separate blocks for WiFi, as this only applies to data.

That’s all well and good if you really want to get on EE. But they are one of the pricier networks, so consider whether these savings are really worth it in the end.

Useful link: EE’s guide to their data gifting

Our ranking:
Joint 2nd

Discounts/bonuses on:
Extra phone contracts, SIM only, iPads / tablets, Mobile WiFi

Main contract has to be:
12-month or longer SIM only or phone contract

Max extra plans on one account:
4 extra, 5 in total

Joint 3rd: O2 discount extra SIM only and usage plans by 20%

O2 Family plan

20% off your added SIM plansSee O2's Family Plan

at O2.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Big discounts on their plans
Green plus sign Applies to both SIM only and usage plans
Green plus sign Discounts on up to 20 extra plans!

What we don't like:
Red minus sign You have to manually apply the discount
Red minus sign Deals are pricey in the first place
Red minus sign Savings on phone contracts hard to calculate

If you join O2 on any 12-month SIM (or longer) only plan or fully priced phone contract you can add up to 20 extra plans to your account (subject to credit).

Any extra plans added to your account will get a 20% discount once you apply it. You can get any O2 SIM only deal or the usage part of your phone contract discounted.

When we say “usage plan” we mean the minutes, texts and data plan you get with your phone contract. The actual device itself isn’t discounted. But, applying it to 20 extra plans will get you some serious savings.

Any 12-month or longer SIM only plan from O2 can be included. Here's our pick of the best deals currently available:

O2 have a handy calculator here to help you figure out how much you could save. Just keep in mind you have to apply the discount yourself. They used to offer data gifting, but that’s no longer available on new plans.

Finally, adult content is automatically blocked for users and you can restrict whichever sorts of sites you want so that you can keep your kids safe online.

Useful link: Read Family Plan terms and conditions

Our ranking:
Joint 3rd

Discounts/bonuses on:
Extra SIM only plans, phone contracts or tablets

Main contract has to be:
An Phone contract or SIM only

Max extra plans on one account:
20 extra, 21 in total

Joint 3rd: Vodafone offer a 15% discount on extra plans

Vodafone's discounts on extra plans

15% discount on extra plansHow it works

at vodafone.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Straightforward 15% discount
Green plus sign Discount applies to usage plans, SIMs, tablets and dongles

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Deals are already expensive
Red minus sign Not every phone model gets the discount

Vodafone customers with a pay monthly plan (except 30-day plans) can add extra pay monthly deals to your account and receive a 15% discount on each one they add.

The main upside to Vodafone’s Family plans is that any contract you add gets discounted (whether a SIM only or device plan on a 12 or 24-month contract). You can add an extra 9 plans if your credit history is good.

You can add any 12-month or 24-month SIM only contracts for a discount. Here’s what we think are there best current deals:

That 15% off sounds like a lot for phone contracts, but for certain models it only discounts your usage plan (read Vodafone’s full guide here). You can also get 15% off select tablets as well.

Vodafone automatically block users from accessing 18+ content. And Vodafone Secure Net gives you extra protection against viruses and lets you limit your kids’ time on data. You get 3 months free before paying £1 a month.

It’s easy to add new plans to your account, just log in when taking your plan and the discount will be applied automatically. You can get some huge savings on Vodafone, but this depends on the device you take.

Useful links: 15% off phones | 15% off SIM only plans | 15% off tablets | 15% off dongles

Our ranking:

Discounts/bonuses on:
Extra phone contracts, SIM only, iPads / tablets, 4G dongles

Main contract has to be:
12-month or longer SIM only or phone contract

Max extra plans on one account:
9 extra, 10 in total

4th: Three offer existing customers exclusive deals

Discounts on Three for friends and family

Better value deals as a loyal Three userSee Three's savings

at three.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Better deals on SIM only, phone and tablet plans
Green plus sign Better value on already decently priced deals

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Discount doesn’t apply to every device
Red minus sign Some offers are as low as £1 off per month

Three offer some of the cheapest deals of the main four UK networks, but you can also get some even better value deals if you’re an existing Three customer to add to your account.

As long as you’re on a pay monthly plan with Three, you can find select phone deals with up to £3 monthly discount vs the regular price on 24-month contracts. Not astounding but it can make a difference.

Or you can take one of their exclusive SIM only plans for existing Three users. They usually discount their unlimited data plan by about £5 a month, while other deals offer £2 or only £1 a month off the usual cost.

Existing Three customers can add extra plans for small discounts. Here are what we rate as their best SIM only plans:

You’re free to add extra plans when you first sign up or later on. It’s nice to get discounts on top of already cheap prices, but the lack of a simple discount makes it more complicated than it needs to be.

If you’re worried about your children’s safety online then you won’t like that Three only block 18+ content, with no extra options to give you peace of mind. This is something the other main networks do offer.

Useful link: Three’s parental controls and online safety features

Our ranking:

Discounts/bonuses on:
Extra phone contracts, SIM only, iPads / tablets, Mobile WiFi

Main contract has to be:
Any length SIM only contract or phone contract

Max extra plans on one account:
4 extra, 5 in total

5th: Tesco Mobile have a few Family Perks to choose

Tesco Mobile Family Perks

Take a Perk that suits youSee available Perks

at tescomobile.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Every Tesco Mobile customer can get them
Green plus sign You get to choose the Perk you want

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Rules for perk sizes are overcomplicated
Red minus sign Savings are actually quite low

Tesco Mobile’s Family Perks give you little extras for adding new plans onto your account. These range from small discounts on your plan to extra data and minutes.

The perks aren’t exactly eye opening. But you can save up to £2 off every deal you add to your account, and earn extra Clubcard points that you can then use to get money off your Tesco shopping or Mobile bill.

Here are what we believe are the best value SIM only deals currently on Tesco Mobile:

But you also have the choice of 1GB bonus data or 500 extra minutes which you could use with a smaller data deal in order to get money off that way.

You also get the flexibility to change the perk you get each month, which most users will appreciate. If you find your current perk isn’t giving you much, you can change it later as you want.

Tesco also let you restrict the content that users on your account can view on data. That’s great if you’re taking a plan for your kids. We wouldn’t usually expect a smaller network to offer this, but there you go.

Useful links: Family Perks FAQs | Terms and conditions

Our ranking:

Discounts/bonuses on:
Extra phone contracts, SIM only plans

Main contract has to be:
Phone or SIM only

Max extra plans on one account:
4x extra, 5 in total

6th: Sky Mobile let you gift your unused data

Sharer plans on Sky Mobile

Share your banked up data with othersRead Sky's full guide

at sky.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign The data you paid for doesn’t go to waste
Green plus sign Share data with up to 4 users

What we don't like:
Red minus sign No straight up discounts

One of the best features on Sky Mobile is that you can keep any data that you’ve not used each month. In our opinion, Sky have one of the best data rollover plans in the UK.

Any data you don’t use up in one month will go into your “Piggybank” where it’ll be stored for up to 3 years! You can withdraw this data whenever you like in 1GB increments.

These are what we see as the best SIM only deals currently available from Sky Mobile:

This benefit is even better if you’re in a group rather than just using it alone. The account holder can gift data from the shared Piggybank to other users on the account (as long as there’s at least 1GB left).

While it’s not a proper data sharing feature as you can only share unused data, not your monthly allowance, it’s still a great way of stopping users from going over and incurring extra data charges.

Finally, while Sky Mobile block 18+ content over data by default, there are no time-limiting or stricter control options for smaller children like you get on some other networks. That’s another disadvantage.

Useful link: Sky Mobile’s guide to staying safe online

Last: All other UK Mobile providers!

giffgaff logoiD logoPlusnet logoTalkmobile logoVOXI logoVirgin logoBT logoLebara logo

These networks don’t offer family plans

You won’t find data sharing/ family plans on any of these networks: giffgaff, iD Mobile, Plusnet Mobile, Talkmobile, Virgin Mobile or VOXI.

One thing to note is that these networks tend to offer lower cost deals than the bigger providers. And a good amount of them do let you manage multiple plans on one account, so they’re decent choices for families.

Virgin Mobile actually removed their scheme while the other networks have just never offered one. Their scheme used to be one of our favourites, but now they find themselves at the bottom.

And if you’re worried about online security, all of these networks at least block 18+ content automatically so you can have some peace of mind about what your kids are doing online.

If SIM only deals are all you’re looking for, you can use our comparison tool below to find the best sorts of deals you can get on multiple SIMs:

Useful link: Compare SIM only deals

Networks ranked by other features