We’ve all been there – running out of mobile data at the most inconvenient moment. It usually happens when you absolutely must check Twitter, read your emails, or watch the latest episode of your favourite Netflix show on the bus ride home from work. Surely there’s something you can do about it that doesn’t include outrageous excess data charges?
While there are phone plans out there that don’t charge for extra data, they tend to slow your speeds down so much that it’s like extracting teeth. No, you need a better solution than that – those cat videos demand it. With some people’s plan allowances coming up short, and others having data to burn, the solution seems obvious, why not pool all those resources together and get the ultimate bang for your family buck?
Data-share plans: at a glance
We’ve outlined all the data sharing and pooling features from the major telcos below, but here’s a quick table showing plans from Optus, Telstra and Vodafone that provide data-sharing options. This table may include featured products from referral partners.
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What are family mobile plans?
Family mobile plans, otherwise known as ‘family data sharing plans,’ are all about data sharing and allow a household to pool separate mobile phone plans together on one bill, and share the collective data. Customers who sign up for multiple postpaid mobile plans with the one billing account can combine all their data inclusions together.
Think of family data sharing like a mixed lolly bag – there’s something for everyone. This means that if one of the parents doesn’t tend to use much data at all, then one of the kids can use the leftover data from their parents to go towards watching YouTube or uploading to Snapchat.
Are family mobile plans a good idea?
Data sharing is the ultimate solution to mobile woes for the family unit, but some cooperation will be needed. Overall, some ground rules will need to be laid out and communication set to make sure every member of the scheme is happy and left satisfied with their data inclusions. All families have different data needs, with some people in the house using more than others.
With family data sharing, you can combine all the mobile plans registered to your home on the same bill and make the most of everyone’s total data. This is ideal for families whose data usage needs change frequently, or for parents who want to give their kids access to greater download quotas.
What are the best providers for family mobile plans?
If you’ve dreamed of data sharing, now it can be a reality. The big telcos in Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all offer family plans, with ALDI also offering a family data plan. However, costs and inclusions will vary between each provider. For a bit more insight into each brand’s offering, check out the plans below.
Telstra Family Mobile Plans
If you’re a Telstra customer, you can now share data across 10 eligible plans as part of the telco’s Upfront SIM-only plans, with plans ranging from $55 per month to $115. These plans are offered on a month-to-month basis and can be paired with a new device, but require you to pay upfront each month via AutoPay.
Data can be shared across both mobile and data-only only plans (including mobile broadband), provided they all belong to the same account holder. You can add or remove plans any time via the My Telstra app.
Vodafone Family Mobile Plans
Vodafone allows you to bundle your plans under a single account, which can be used to pool and share data. Customers can bundle a maximum of 10 services in total: up to five voice plans (including Infinite postpaid plans, with the exception of the unlimited Ultra+ plan), plus tablet and mobile broadband services.
It’s worth noting that data on an ‘unlimited’ Infinite or Red Plus plan can’t be shared with other plan types, although included fast data can be shared between Infinite and Plus plans. This means that you could have two Infinite plans bundled together, with your Max Speed data automatically combining into one pool to share; however, any non-unlimited data plans won’t be able to access this pool or use its data. Likewise, Infinite plans can’t share data from non-Infinite plans, including older standard Red plans, plus mobile broadband and tablet plans. Vodafone’s unlimited fast data Ultra+ plan is not eligible for data sharing across any plans whatsoever.
- You can enjoy Vodafone’s data sharing on both mobile phone plans and mobile broadband SIM plans.
- There are no extra costs involved in data sharing, but from time-to-time Vodafone does offer some benefits.
- Vodafone may offer bundling discounts on each plan, or offer bonus data, but these offers are sporadic.
The main benefit lies in having one, easy-to-manage bill with Vodafone. If you have family members on current plans with Vodafone, you’ll need to transfer ownership to a single account holder in order to bundle your services. You can transfer ownership online, over the phone, or at any Vodafone store. So if you’ve got multiple devices spread across the whole family, it makes sense to pay them all off at once.
Optus Family Mobile Plans
The first provider to enable family data sharing was Optus, which offers the benefit on all of its postpaid ‘Choice’ plans. What’s more is that all of these mobile plans already come with unlimited talk and text, making it an even better deal. Keep in mind that postpaid Optus plans offer unlimited, throttled 1.5Mbps data once you surpass your monthly allowance – this feature cannot be shared. Alternatively, you can opt for the Optus Plus Family Plan, which allows four SIMs to share 200GB of data for $149 per month.
There are no extra costs for the privilege of pooling your data with other plans. You’re also not restricted to only bundling phone plans, as you’re also able to bundle mobile broadband.
ALDI Family Mobile Plans
The supermarket juggernaut has offered postpaid mobile options for years now, with the Family Plan also available, which allows four users to share the $80 plan. With unlimited standard calls and SMS to 15 countries and local numbers, you can set data limits for each individual user, and utilise the dashboard to recharge or keep an eye on how much data you’ve currently used in the month.
Are family mobile plans worth it?
The big three telcos are all competing in terms of data sharing and who offers the best overall value. As it stands, there is no obvious cost benefit to stitching plans together to then share the data around. The only major pros of data sharing are:
- You get one easy bill for the whole family.
- Being able to share data, which may prevent some members of the family from going over their caps.
- Vodafone is the only provider offering plan discounts and data bonuses for pooling data, but these benefits are not permanent.
Currently, the main incentive for family mobile plans is the convenience, as well as potentially using previously unused data to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. However, whether family plans will suit your household will come down to your individual needs and how your household uses data. If you have a data-heavy household, you may find that you’d prefer to hoard your data to ensure you get the most value out of it, but if you aren’t using much of your data, sharing the love around with those under the same roof can ensure they aren’t paying additional data fees, which will surely put you in the good books down the line.