Best family SIM deals 2024: Our top picks and best networks

Dan Howdle | May 13th, 2024

Family on mobile devices

Family SIMs are a way providers encourage families to take out multiple SIMs in a single package – one for each family member within the same household. Often there's a discount on every additional SIM purchased after the first, and sometimes providers will allow data sharing (all family members share one data pool) and other benefits.

But not every provider offers family SIMs, just a few do, and how they choose to offer it in terms of discounts, features and the number of additional SIMs you can add to your plan vary from provider to provider. So let's take a look at what each provider offers and see how they stack up.

The best family SIM plan: Our picks

Different providers are geared towards different needs – they all have their own angle of approach to the matter of family SIM deals. For that reason we cannot just pick one and claim it 'the best'. Instead we're going to pick a winner in a few different categories to help you choose depending on what's important to you:

SMARTY logo

Cheapest family SIM deal

SMARTY Group Plan

SMARTY offers very low-cost SIMs before any discount is applied, so the extra 10% you'll get when you group up your family SIMs is just icing on a very cheap (but delicious) cake.

  • Up to 8 SIMs on one account
  • Manage everyone from one place
  • Get 10% off every SIM
  • Data discount for unused data

Visit SMARTY

Tesco Mobile logo

Biggest family SIM discount

Tesco Mobile Family Pack

The more SIMs you add (up to five), the more everyone saves on their monthly tariff. You could feasibly end up saving 53% on five SIMs total with Tesco Mobile.

Tesco Family Pack
  • Up to 5 SIMs on one account
  • All the family on one bill
  • Up to 53% savings in total
  • Rolling 1 month SIM only contracts
  • Unlimited data
  • Unlimited minutes and texts

Visit Tesco Mobile

Vodafone logo

Best family SIM with handsets

Vodafone Additional Plan

If you're looking to get handset (pay-monthly phone) contracts for you and your family, Vodafone is the clear winner, with a 15% discount applied to all SIMs, including handset deals.

  • Up to 9 SIMs on one account
  • 15% discount per SIM

Visit Vodafone

Vodafone logo

Best family SIM with broadband

EE Multi-line discount

As well as a pretty stellar 30% discount, getting a mobile plan, including family plans, from EE mobile will unlock a 10% discount on your broadband.

  • Up to 30% off SIM plans
  • 10% off EE Broadband

Visit EE

Family SIM providers

There's are around 25 mobile providers in the UK at the time of writing. Four of these are network providers (O2, Vodafone, Three and EE), while the rest are MVNOs, or MObile Virtual Network Operators. That's just fancy language for companies that rent network capacity from one of the network providers – sometimes called 'piggybacking'.

That also means the coverage for an MVNO that's piggybacking EE, say, is going to be exactly the same as the coverage for EE more broadly. However, just because an MVNO piggybacks a network that universally offers 5G, that doesn't always mean the MVNO offers it. For example, Utility Warehouse rents capacity from EE, but doesn't pay for 5G and so can't offer it to its customers.

Here we'll just be looking at providers that offer family SIMs, which is thankfully not the whole 25. Let's get started.

Which providers offer family SIMs?

Before we get into talking about individual providers and how we rate them, first here's a quick reference overview which providers offer family SIM plans, how many SIMs you can have maximum, and the discounts and bonuses that come attached:

Provider Tariff Discount (per additional SIM) Extras Maximum SIMs
BT Mobile Family SIM 20% off all additional SIMs None Not stated
EE Multi-line discount Up to 30% 10% off EE Broadband, data gifting Not stated
O2 O2 Family 20% Can include tablet SIMs 20
SMARTY Group plan 10% None 8
Tesco Mobile Family Pack Up to 53% None 5
Three On SMARTY brand
Virgin Mobile Family Plan £2 off all SIMs per extra SIM None 4
Vodafone Vodafone Additional Plan 15% None 9

There's quite a lot to unpack here and we'll do that in the next part where we talk about what each provider is offering and what its terms are, since as you can see they vary wildly.

We have included Three in the list here to show that even though it doesn't offer family plans under its own brand, it does via its other brand, SMARTY. We won't therefore talk about Three in the following section.

BT Mobile Family SIM

One common theme you'll find among family mobile plans is whether they tend to only apply to SIMs or to the 'airtime' portion (date, minutes, texts) of a deal if it's a SIM-plus-handset affair. BT Mobile is no different, with its 'Family SIM' deal applying to the SIMs only. We do rather like the simplicity it offers, though. 20% discount on each additional SIM you take out up to a maximum of five SIMs total.

How it works

The Family SIM Plan comes on a 12-month contract, but the additional SIMs you can add onto it can be one-month rolling contracts if you so choose. We like this feature – it adds a lot of flexibility. The advantage is the discount, obviously, as well as having all your family's SIM plans on a single bill, controlled via a single account.

One oddity is that Family SIM plans from BT Mobile cannot be taken out as a new customer. Yes, you read that correctly, you cannot dive straight in as a new customer and grab four SIMs, say. Instead you'll need to be a BT Mobile customer first, and you can only add more SIMs once you're established as such. It's likely BT Mobile won't allow you to add more SIMs until you're past the 30-day cooling off cancellation period, though BT Mobile doesn't state this to be the case explicitly.

EE Multi-line Discount

EE has chosen to omit the word 'family' from its offering, preferring to go with the rather bland 'Multi-line Discount'. As well as the 30% discount you'll get on every additional line you add, you'll also get 10% off your home broadband if you choose to switch to EE Broadband.

How it works

Any EE SIM-only plan can included in its Multi-line Discount, and unlike some other family tariffs, you can add SIMs with the discount if you're an existing EE mobile customer. Some other family plans, as you'll see as you read on, will only allow you to take on additional SIMs at a discount when you first take out a new contract, and won't allow you to simply add discounted SIMs as an existing customer. Thankfully EE does allow you to do this.

You won't get your 30% discount on the initial SIM you choose. The discount refers only to 'additional' SIMs added to the package. What's more the 30% discount applies only to SIM-only and data SIM plans. If one or more of the additional plans is bundled in with a contract handset, that discount drops to 10%.

O2's 'O2 Family' plan

O2 keeps things quite simple with its O2 Family SIM plans. For every additional SIM you add to your plan is discounted by 20%, and you can add up to 20 SIMs, the limit number of any provider. We're not sure who would need 20 SIMs, but we can see how this might potentially be useful to a business.

How it works

The 20% discount applies to 'airtime' only. Airtime is a term some providers use to refer to the data, texts and minutes part of a plan. That means that while you can get this discount even on mobile phone plans that include a new handset, the discount will not apply to the handset portion of what you pay. If, for example, your additional plan is £40 per month, but £20 of that goes towards paying off the handset, the remaining £20 you're paying for airtime would get the 20% discount, making the total discount £4 per month.

Not all tariffs and devices are eligible for this discount however, so you'll need to check with O2 that the plans you want to add on to O2 Family meet O2's criteria. O2 will be able to help you with that during the sign up and set-up process.

SMARTY Group Plan

SMARTY is a subsidiary brand of Three mobile, which perhaps explains why Three itself has no dedicated family or multi-SIM plan of its own. The 10% discount it offers applies to every SIM, including the initial one you take out for yourself. You can add up to eight SIMs total, all with the 10% discount.

How it works

That 10% discount may not seem like much compared to some others, but bear in mind SMARTY is a budget SIM provider, so its plans are already very much at the cheapest end of the scale. All you really need to do is choose the SIM you, the bill payer, want. Once your SIM is up and running you'll be able to start a 'Group' and you will become the 'Group owner'.

The Group owner can then invite other SIMs into the group via their phone numbers. Upon accepting the Group member will be informed of their new discount. The Group owner will then be responsible for all payments for all SIMs in the Group, and will have control of all members' plans.

Tesco Mobile Family Pack

The Tesco Mobile Family pack works differently to all other family SIM plans in that the amount of discount you get increases the more SIMs you add and the cumulative discount then applies to all SIMs in the pack. This can be quite hard to visualise, so here's an example. You can ignore the prices here, it's just for demonstrative purposes:

Number of members Total monthly cost Monthly cost per person
1 family member £30 £30 per person
2 family members £40 £20 per person
3 family members £50 £16.67 per person
4 family members £60 £15 per person
5 family members £70 £14 per person

How it works

A Tesco Mobile Family Pack starts with the purchase of one Tesco Mobile SIM at whatever the regular price happens to be for the SIM of your choice. All SIMs in a Family Pack will get unlimited data, so that choice shouldn't be hard, and everyone will find themselves on a rolling one-month contract, offering a lot of flexibility.

The Family Pack is very much aimed at families rather than just being an unspecified group of SIMs under on bill, which is why the maximum number of SIMs is set to just five. At least one person in the Family Pack will have to be paying the regular price with no discount, and if that person ends their contract, another member of the group will have to take on the duty of paying full price.

Virgin Mobile Family Plan

The Virgin Mobile Family plan offers a set discount of £2 per SIM, with a maximum of just four SIMs you're able to add to it. That makes Virgin Mobile the stingiest of all of the providers here, since the maximum discount you can get for taking out all four Virgin Mobile plans adds up to just £8 per month. Compare that to Tesco Mobile, where you could be saving multiples of that amount.

How it works

It gets worse too. You have to be a Virgin Media Broadband customer to take advantage of the Family Plan. To take advantage, as a Virgin Media Broadband customer, you'll have take out a Virgin Mobile SIM plan, then add additional SIMs to that plan at a later date.

Virgin Media and O2 have merged, so our advice would be to get 'O2 Family' instead. You'll be on the same network and the 20% discount is actually worth the time and effort.

Vodafone Additional Plan

The Vodafone Additional Plan offers a 15% discount on all additional plans you take out from Vodafone. The discount applies to pay-monthly phone plans that include a handset, SIM-only, data SIMs, tablet plans, Mi-Fi plans and dongle plans. So pretty much everything. Vodafone also doesn't specify the 15% only applying to airtime, so that could be particularly good if you're getting a new handset or tablet rolled in. It does not, however, apply to 30-day plans. And there's the catch: You'll need full-length contract on all plans included in the discount.

How it works

Although the flexibility isn't quite there compared to some of the others, we like Vodafone's approach here. The 15% discount is universal, but in exchange Vodafone will want you to sign up for a full contract. You can have up to nine additional plans, and to do so you will need to sign up for a Vodafone plan yourself first, after which you'll be able to add additional plans.

Do be sure and check with Vodafone that your chosen plan qualifies. Almost all do, but better safe than sorry.

How to choose a Family SIM

If you've taken the time to have a thorough look at the various offerings available in the section above, you'll notice there is a lot of variation both in what's offered, and the terms under which you're offered it. For example, if you want pay-monthly contracts with handsets bundled into your family deal, then Vodafone is a good choice. For raw value, SMARTY or Tesco Mobile are the kings. And there are providers you may wish to avoid like Virgin Mobile whose paltry family SIM deals have you wondering why they bothered.

Truth is there are a number of different factors that will determine your choice. Here are the main things you should consider:

  • Discount % – You should look at how much discount each provider offers, but be aware they often apply in different ways, some don't apply to the first SIM, others do, and some stack with greater discounts on each subsequent SIM
  • Initial cost – It's all very well getting a high discount, but some providers are just outright more expensive than others from the outset. SMARTY is cheap, O2 is less so. So those discounts have to be balance against what the deals cost in the first place
  • Maximum SIMs – The maximum number of SIMS you can get in a family SIM plan varies from four (Virgin Mobile) to 20 (O2). Keep that in mind, depending on how many SIMs you want to add to the plan
  • Mobile signal – Should go without saying, but ensure that whichever provider you choose provides a good signal where you live, work and spend your time more broadly