If you’ve been looking for a way to get a premium unlimited data plan at an affordable price, this may be it.
In this article I’m explaining how the CircledIn platform works, what my experience was like joining a group, the positives and negatives of the service, and ultimately trying to answer the question: should you sign up?
Let’s start off this CircledIn review by talking about how exactly the platform works.
How Does CircledIn Work?
The basic concept behind CircledIn is that it pairs existing Verizon and T-Mobile account holders with single-line users looking to join a plan.
As more users join, the multi-line discount increases, bringing the cost of the service down to one of the best prices possible.
But what’s cool is CirlcedIn actually guarantees the lowest payment at all times, regardless of how many users are in the group. CricledIn is able to do this by acting as the intermediary that’s facilitating the process of having users join and leave plans.
When you sign up, you sign up through CircledIn directly, and they take care of everything.
They fulfill your order, ship you a SIM card, handle your customer service and support needs, and they will even get you with the best discounts and promotions available.
When I signed up, I got an email that they processed a $100 BYOD rebate on my behalf.
That was pretty awesome.
CircledIn works with new customers, people looking to switch carriers, existing customers on Verizon or T-Mobile, and even existing family plans on Verizon and T-Mobile.
How do you join, and what’s the experience like?
So now that you know the concept behind CircledIn, how exactly do you sign up, and what is the experience like?
The CircledIn platform gives you two options: you can create a family plan, or you can join a family plan.
Creating a Family Plan
To create a family plan, you click this plus button and submit the details of your plan.
This includes your carrier, available slots, what plan you’re on, your recurring bill date, a name for your family plan, how much you currently pay per line, and how many existing lines are on your account. Then, you agree to let CircledIn become an account manager for your plan.
And this is what lets CircledIn easily take care of everything for you.
They will handle all adding and removing of lines, applying for discounts and promotions, and collecting payments from the new account members that choose to join.
CircledIn works closely with the account holders to verify they are a good fit for the platform, to get everything set up, and then to make sure the account holder is as hands-off as possible.
What’s really cool is when you join as an account holder, CirlcedIn gives you the lowest price immediately, so you’ll instantly start saving money regardless of how many members you currently have.
The downside is that the account holder program is currently in beta. When you submit your plan information, you’ll be put on a waiting list.
I’m not sure what the timeline is for getting approved, but I’m assuming CircledIn will accelerate the approval process as the platform continues to grow.
Joining a Family Plan
Thankfully though, the option for joining a family plan is available, and it’s available for everyone—even people with existing accounts or existing family plans.
To join a plan, all you do is find one you are interested in. You can click on a plan to learn more about its specific features and offerings before you join. This includes how much priority data is included, video streaming quality, hotspot data, international features, and how many spots are available on the plan.
Below you can see more information about the family, including the family name, how long the account owner has been a community member, and any specific family rules. Family rules include things like adding smartwatch and tablet plans, how frequently you can switch plans, and if you’ll get access to certain perks. And you can also see the cancellation policy.
One thing to note is that right now plan perks are not available. You will be missing out on the Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Netflix subscriptions that are typically included with the family plans on Verizon and T-Mobile. I was told this is something CircledIn is working on though.
And finally you can see when payment is due each month.
Speaking of payment, over here on the right you can see the full price breakdown. Again, CircledIn always gives you the maximum discount on the plan, regardless of how many members are currently on the account.
You can also see they charge a $5 subscription fee per month per line.
And this is basically the business model behind CircledIn.
They build a platform that lets people create and join family plans, they act as the facilitator to handle billing and payments, adding and removing lines, and to provide customer service and support. Their platform then enables users like myself to save around 50% the premium unlimited plans from the major carriers.
In exchange for their service, CircledIn charges a $5 subscription fee to maintain the platform, hire new employees, and fund future development.
To find out exactly what the experience was like, I joined a family on Verizon’s Start Unlimited plan. This is normally $70 per month for single-line users, but CircledIn had it for just $35 per month before taxes thanks to the group savings. That’s literally 50% off.
When you go to join a plan, CircledIn will prompt you to create an account. Once you’ve signed in, you can select how many lines you’d like to add, and you’ll be given three options on how to join.
- You can get a new number
- If you’re an existing customer you can transfer ownership of your account and essentially join the family plans together
- Or you can switch carriers
What’s interesting is that if you’re an existing customer, you can actually transfer billing ownership to a new account. So it’s possible if you already have a Verizon or T-Mobile account with one, two, or three lines, you could transfer to CircledIn and potentially get a better deal on your service.
For this trial, I chose to get a new number.
I entered my device IMEI, my ICCID, and my area code. If you’re transferring your number, you’ll also be asked to include your previous account details.
Then, I reviewed my order and entered my billing information.
And now’s a good time to touch on the three key things you need to know about billing:
- When you first sign up, you’ll be charged the $5 subscription fee immediately. That fee renews on the same day each month based on the day you placed your order.
- Your plan will renew on the same day each month, but you may be signing up in the middle of a billing cycle. To make up for this, CircledIn prorates your first month of service. Your first bill will be due after your second month of service, and it will include the prorated charge for your first month, the charge for your second month, and any applicable taxes. All bills will be postpaid and due on the regular billing cycle after that.
- You are always enrolled in auto-pay. Using auto-pay helps CircledIn ensure all portions of the bill are paid on time by its members.
The final thing to note on this order page is that CircledIn actually assigns you a designated Customer Success representative. If you have a question, you can book an appointment with them at a time that is convenient for you.
I tried this out, and it was really cool! There is a section right in your account page to book an appointment. You pick if you want a 15- or 30-minute appointment. You scroll down, select a date, and pick a time that’s convenient for you, and enter a phone number that your CircledIn rep can call you at. Then, they’ll give you a call at the selected time, and you can speak to a real human and get all your questions answered.
That is straight up awesome, and probably one of the best customer support experiences I’ve ever experienced. Like, how incredible would it be if Verizon or AT&T implemented something like this??
My one concern is I’m not sure how well this system will scale as CircledIn gets more users.
Anyway, I placed my order and the NEXT DAY the SIM card showed up. That’s some fast shipping.
And the cool part was that because I had chosen to get a new number, the SIM card arrived activated. All I had to do was pop it on my phone and I was good to go.
If you choose to port your number, then CircledIn will ship you the SIM card beforehand, and once you receive the SIM card they’ll work with you to transfer your number over.
In terms of the actual phone service, it was exactly as you’d expect. The plans are the same plans Verizon and T-Mobile are offering directly, just with the group discount.
What’s great about these plans is they are the top of the line premium cell phone plans. They support literally all the features—VoLTE, Wi-Fi calling, 5G access, domestic data roaming, options for international calling and international data roaming, and, most importantly, priority network access.
Having priority network access means that anytime the network is busy, your data speeds will be prioritized over prepaid plans and plans from MVNOs. You’ll basically always be getting the fastest speeds available based on the current network conditions.
So the plans are awesome. The price is awesome. The support and experience CircledIn is providing is awesome. So what’s the catch?
The Catch with CircledIn: Potential Privacy Concerns
I think the biggest potential issue is the privacy concerns.
Now, what’s cool is that any user who joins a family plan can create their own account on the My Verizon or My T-Mobile apps to view their plan details and usage.
However, getting access to the account, even part of the account, can lead to privacy concerns for some individuals.
Verizon and T-Mobile both offer different levels of account access with their plans. Verizon offers three roles:
- Account owner
- Account manager
- Account member
When you join a Verizon plan on CircledIn, you’ll be given account member access. This means you can create your own My Verizon account with your own username and password. You can then view your specific plan details and your plan usage.
T-Mobile offers five roles:
- Primary account holder
- Full access
- Standard access
- Restricted access
- No access
I’m not exactly sure what role you’ll be given on a T-Mobile plan, but it will likely be standard access or restricted access.
Now anyone who is an account holder is probably like, okay, whoa, how much information is being shared with strangers on the internet who join my plan, and can they purchase anything that may make my bill go up?
This is a great question.
On my Verizon account I was able to see the account number, the total bill, and when the auto payment was scheduled, which is all pretty typical stuff, along with the usage for my specific line.
However, when I went into my settings to manage addresses, I was able to see the address on the account, the name associated with the account, and alternate contact phone number.
For some people that may be concerning.
So prior to joining CircledIn as a Verizon account owner, you may consider changing this information beforehand. Perhaps you use a free Google Voice number as the alternate contact number and change the name on the account.
Now that said, I am ALSO part of a Verizon family plan from someone I met on reddit, and on THAT account I do not have access to the billing address or any of the other personal information.
So maybe there is a setting Verizon account owners can use for additional privacy? I don’t know.
On the T-Mobile side of things, I got access to standard stuff like the total bill, account number, and my usage details, but I was also able to view the account holder’s address under the billing & payments section of the app.
Thankfully, T-Mobile account holders can simply enable the no access option if they’d prefer more privacy and to prevent CircledIn members from creating a My T-Mobile account at all.
For both Verizon and T-Mobile, I was not able to see any of the other lines on the account, just my own, and I always had to request Account Holder permission before making a purchase of any kind.
What’s also kind of nice is that Verizon has started using temporary port-out PINs that are different from the account PIN, so if a CircledIn member needs to leave your plan they will just get the temporary PIN.
On T-Mobile, the account PIN and port-out PIN are still the same, so if someone wants to leave they will get that information. I’m not actually sure what they can do with that information, especially since they won’t know any of the other numbers on the account, but still something to be aware of.
Finally, if you are a user who joins a family plan, you will basically be giving the account holder access to view your phone number and usage statistics like how many minutes, texts, and megabytes of data you used.
What plan would I sign up for?
So that’s what you need to know about CircledIn. Everyone is going to have different levels for what they feel comfortable sharing, and this information is just something to be mindful of if you choose to create or join a plan on CircledIn.
I personally would feel comfortable joining any family plan or being the account holder for a T-Mobile plan. I would be a little bit more hesitant to be an account holder for a Verizon plan, because as an internet personality with over 50,000 subscribers, I wouldn’t really want people knowing my address. Maybe if I changed the name on the account I’d be more okay with it.
But that’s just me. I’m pretty open to a lot of things. In fact, I’ve joined multiple family plans on Reddit. I was part of a Cricket group for 3 years, and I met someone recently who was able to give me a line on their Verizon plan.
For people more concerned about privacy and security, it’s worth paying more for your own individual account with one of the major carriers.
However, for other people, particularly individuals or people with three lines or fewer, I think CircledIn can be a great option.
As long as you feel comfortable joining a plan, you’re getting premium plans at half the price, which is an incredible value that will literally save you hundreds of dollars per year. And helping people save money is what I’m all about.
I think CricledIn has built one of the best platforms for allowing people to find and join family plans, and the fact that they are moderating the process, providing support, and even applying discounts on your behalf makes them one of the best implementations of this idea so far.
Way better than going on Reddit and trying to join a plan with a random stranger, which is what I had been doing.
So, if you feel comfortable like me, and you’re looking for a premium unlimited plan at half the price, I would consider giving them a shot.
You can learn about CircledIn on their website. The reps I’ve talked to have been super helpful at explaining how the platform works, and there is also a Q&A page with more details.