Verizon introduces customizable prepaid family plans

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Verizon's new plans enable users to customize individual monthly data buckets that aren’t shared.

Verizon has launched a series of prepaid family plans as it continues to pursue a market it once all but ignored.

The new plans start at $40 for a single line with 3 GB of data for $40 a month, topping out at $80 a month for a single line of unlimited data. As many as four additional lines are available with discounts of up to $20 per line depending on the plan, so five lines of unlimited data are available for a total of $320.

Like Verizon’s postpaid plans, its new prepaid service is priced at a slight premium compared to prepaid offerings from other major wireless carriers. AT&T’s Cricket Wireless, for instance, sells unlimited plans for $55 a month for a single line with autopay, while T-Mobile’s MetroPCS offers two lines of unlimited service for $80 including taxes and fees for customers using autopay.

With Verizon’s new service, though, customers can choose a single specific plan for each member of the family, enabling them to customize individual monthly data buckets that aren’t shared.

“Now you and four members of your family can get onto one prepaid plan and say goodbye to creating separate accounts for everyone,” Ron Zanders, executive director of prepaid for Verizon, said in a release. “Combine that with the flexibility of mixing different prepaid plans to fit each member of your family and Verizon Prepaid Family Account is a really great value.”

Verizon added 19,000 prepaid customers in the second quarter after losing 17,000 customers in the first quarter as it continued to gradually regain ground in a market it had once ceded to smaller carriers. Former CFO Fran Shammo conceded last year that Verizon was “not really competitive in that (prepaid) environment” largely because the carrier feared losing lucrative postpaid customers to its prepaid business.

But the nation’s largest carrier has increasingly targeted prepaid customers over the last year. In June Verizon lowered the pricing of its prepaid plans as it bumped up the amount of data available in each plan.