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4 lines for $100: Which carrier offers the most bang for your hundred bucks?

Now that Verizon has joined the 4-for-$100 club, let's see how it compares with Cricket and MetroPCS.

verizon-4-lines-for-100

Verizon's prepaid family plan is now just $100 for four lines, but each one is limited to 3GB of high-speed data.

Verizon

Late last week, Verizon rolled out a rather surprising new option: Four lines of prepaid service for $100. That's an unusually competitive move on the part of the Big Four carrier, one that brings it closer to the multi-line discounts offered by AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

It also directly lines up with MVNOs Cricket Wireless and MetroPCS: Both carriers also have family-friendly 4-line plans for $100 per month. As a longtime Cricket subscriber myself and a perennial fan of saving money on cell service, I wanted to see how Verizon's bundle compared. So let's take a look at what $100 buys you from these three carriers.

(Quick note: Some of these plans require signing up for auto-pay.)

Cricket Wireless

  • Network: AT&T (GSM)
  • Taxes and fees included: Yes
  • Voice and text: Unlimited
  • Data: Unlimited LTE
  • Speed cap: 3Mbps
  • Mobile hotspot included: No (available for $10/month)
  • Video streaming: 480p (HD option available)
  • International calls/texts: Unlimited calls and texts to/from Mexico

MetroPCS

  • Network: T-Mobile (GSM)
  • Taxes and fees included: Yes
  • Voice and text: Unlimited
  • Data: Unlimited LTE
  • Speed cap: No
  • Mobile hotspot included: No
  • Video streaming: 480p (HD option available)
  • International calls/texts: Extra charge

Verizon

  • Network: Verizon (CDMA)
  • Taxes and fees included: No
  • Voice and text: Unlimited
  • Data: Unlimited (3GB LTE)
  • Speed cap: No
  • Mobile hotspot included: Yes
  • Video streaming: 480p
  • International calls/texts: Unlimited calls to Canada/Mexico; unlimited texting to 200+ countries

The verdict

Four unlimited lines for $100 -- that's a pretty sweet deal, even if it means accepting a few minor limitations. The big "gotcha" in Verizon's plan: Each line gets just 3GB of high-speed data. Cricket and MetroPCS have no such restriction, though the former limits the speed of that high-speed data to 3Mbps.

However, Verizon offers mobile hotspot, something that's not included with the Cricket or MetroPCS plans. You also get to call Canada and Mexico and text internationally.

Perhaps the biggest draw is Verizon's network coverage, which is widely regarded as the best of the Big Four. If that's more important to you than heaps of high-speed data, this plan may indeed appeal to the cash-conscious family.

What's more, if someone needs more than 3GB, you can bump up to 7GB for an extra $10 per month. And each additional 7GB line adds just $5 each. Of course, at that point you might want to look at T-Mobile's 4-line prepaid plan, which affords 10GB per line, mobile hotspot and international extras -- all for $120.

So. Many. Choices! But that's the beauty of the prepaid option: You can shop around and jump ship whenever you find a better deal somewhere else.

Editors' note: This post was originally published on July 31. It has been updated with corrections to Cricket's data and speed information.