My wife and I are signed for family plan with her brother and his wife. I'd like to upgrade my phone but I'm worried since my brother in law and his wife miss the payments or they don't pay the full monthly amounts.

We never missed a single payment, but they are constantly paying fees from being late. I tried to split but I couldn't find anything cheaper than the plan we have currently with him.

My question is, should I just ignore it and just pay my own deal or should I split even I end up paying more. Is there any danger to me and my wife? The plan owner is my brother-in-law.

Can this affect my credit score or affect in any way if they stop paying totally?

  • The salesperson for Sprint insisted that their "framily" plan doesn't have any such risks and tried to get me to sign up with some other random customers who were in the store at the time. I don't know whether they can be trusted though.
    – Random832
    Mar 19, 2015 at 21:51
  • @Random832 - hm, that is interested indeed. But I would still be worried in this scenario.
    – Grasper
    Mar 20, 2015 at 12:16

3 Answers 3


The big risk is not financial but losing your phone service (and numbers, if you care about that) if they end up with some crazy bill they're unable to pay. Your number is potentially held hostage against porting to another carrier when the account it's on has a balance due even if the charges are unrelated to that line. I think you'll find you can save a lot of money by switching to non-contract service. Various MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) have rates around $30-50/month for unlimited voice and text; some even have decent amounts of data in this price range. AIO used to have a plan that's $40/month with unlimited voice and text, 250MB high-speed data, and unlimited low-speed data, but I don't know if anything equivalent is available now that they've merged and changed their name. Shop around though. You can definitely get a better deal than contracts.


If your brother in law is the account owner, he is the one at risk. But, if he isn't paying on time, you might find your service turned off and be stuck.

In my opinion, the potential bad feelings aren't worth whatever the savings might be.


I performed customer service, technical support, and various managerial and backend tasks for a major U.S. cellular provider for nearly a decade. Here's what I can come up with, just from memory.

The bottom line here is: If trust is even remotely an issue, get out of this sooner rather than later. There's probably twenty things I'm forgetting that can burn you when you least expect it, and paying slightly more to have the lines under the appropriate social security numbers is likely worth your peace of mind.

  • The account holder is the one at risk of financial repercussions, up to and including credit score impacts. This is whomever's Social Security number is placed on the account.

  • If the bills go unpaid, all the lines will be suspended until the account becomes solvent. If it remains past due for too long, the lines could be destroyed, and the phone numbers disappear in to the ether.

  • It can be extremely difficult to recover lost phone numbers.

  • If, at a later point in time, you wish to separate your line(s) from the main account and have them placed under your credentials, you will need the cooperation of the original account holder. They may be required to sign paperwork and fax it, or deliver it to a retail location to have it faxed.

  • If you aren't the account holder, you should have the account holder call in and enquire as to the company's policies for authorizing you to make changes to the account. It's probable that the company will refuse to give you even basic support, including technical assistance, without this being done.

  • The best value for add-on packages, such as text messaging or data, are often in group deals. But this may not work for everyone. Find out what everyone needs, then find out what it'll cost, then find out what costs everyone's willing to tolerate.

  • In group packages, the costs often aren't proportionate to the usage cases. Often the primary line will pay an extra "group toll" and the secondary lines will receive a discount. Some financial acrobatics may be necessary to decide who pays what.

  • As an annex to the previous point, all the lines charge to one bill, and excessive usage on a line - even a secondary - will need to be paid by the account holder.

  • Overage usage can cost hundreds - even thousands of dollars - in extreme cases. Consider whose going to be responsible if someone uses their Android in Dominican and racks up a few hundred in data overage.


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