The best smartphone plans 2016

If you’re tired of finding yourself deluged with overage charges for data, and your cell phone bill is a millstone for your budget, take a look at these ideas for your next plan. We’ve broken these down through different variables so that you can pick the best plan for your needs.

What if you’re a light user? Sprint, Boost Mobile Data, Virgin Mobile.

That means that you make calls and texts but hardly use any data. As an individual, look at the Boost Mobile Data Boost 1GB plan. If you have a Sprint phone, you can bring yours in; otherwise, you have to buy a new one. You have access to the Spring 3G/4G LTE network. You’ll get enough data to cover email functions and some basic browsing. You pay $35 per month, and if you go over that 1GB limit, you don’t pay more, but your data does slow down. For a family that doesn’t use much data, the Virgin Mobile Wi-Fi Lovers Delight comes for $80 a month (four lines). You can only use data if you have wi-fi access, and you have to buy a new phone. You get that same Spring 3G/4G LTE service, but each user only gets 300 monthly minutes of talking time. That’s not much, but this is also the only family plan that costs less than $100 for four lines.

What if you’re a typical data user? Cricket, AT&T.

Whether you’re an individual or a family, Cricket Basic is the way to go. The individual plan allows you to bring in a phone and costs $40 per month. You get 2.5GB of data per month on the AT&T 4G LTE network. There’s no overage fee if you go over the limit, but your data does slow down. The Cricket Basic Group Save Discount allows you to have five lines for $100. You get the same 2.5GB of data per line, and you can add 1GB to one line for just $10 per month if you want to keep from having your data slow down.

What if you’re looking for a real discount? Sprint, AT&T, Cricket.

Individuals should look at the Spring $60 Unlimited plan. You can bring in a phone, and your data is unlimited. You also have access to the Sprint 4G LTE service. If you lease an iPhone for $20/month, you can save even more money over two years, although you won’t own the phone at the end of the contract. Families should look at the Cricket Pro with Group SAve Discount. You get access to the AT&T 4G LTE network with 10GB on each line – for four lines, you pay a total of $160 per month. You can add a fifth line for just $20 more per month.

But what if you like frequent upgrades? Sprint.

Then you want to look at the Sprint Family Share Pack with a 12-Month Term Lease. The family share pack costs $80 per month which includes the lease of a phone. You get 2GB of data per month, with an overage fee of 1.5 cents per MB over the 2GB on the Spring 4G LTE network. This isn’t the best financial choice for everyone, but some people like the option to get new phones more often than the upgrade window on a two-year contract allows.