Visible Launches Party Pay

The Verizon flanker brand, Visible, just launched what it calls Party Pay. With Party Pay, groups of up to four people can get discounts on their service while still maintaining their own, separate billing.

Previously, Visible offered only one plan. For $40 per month, subscribers could get unlimited minutes, texts, and data over Verizon’s network. Visible has a few limitations: hotspot speeds are throttled, a limited set of devices are compatible, and subscribers have low priority during periods of network congestion. Still, at $40 per month, Visible was offering a good price for an unlimited plan that ran over Verizon’s network. Today, Visible’s pricing got a lot better. With Party Pay, subscribers now pay a per-line rate determined by how many people are in their party:

  • 1 person: $40 per month
  • 2 people: $35 per month
  • 3 people: $30 per month
  • 4 people: $25 per month

Party pay is not a traditional family plan. Visible doesn’t require that users be family members or even know each other in real life:1

If you’re already active on Visible, get a party link from a loved/liked/iffy-about one, or an internet stranger. Click the link, and ask to join the party.

If you want to, it’s possible to treat Party Pay like a family plan—though it might take a bit of work. Here’s what a Visible employee on Reddit suggests:

How can I pay for everyone in my party (like a family plan)?

Easiest way to do this is just adding the same payment info to all the accounts you want to pay for and turn on Autopay.

Parties don’t have a manager. Anyone in a party that is not full can invite others, approve requests from people wanting to join, or choose to leave a party. It is not possible to kick another member out of a party.

If a subscriber leaves a party, Visible’s rates for those still in the party will adjust accordingly. Here are excerpts from Visible’s FAQ explaining the process:

If one of my party members miss a payment or leaves the party, what happens?
When someone misses a payment or lapses service, pauses service without billing, cancels their account, ports out and leaves Visible, they are removed from the party. When that happens the party membership changes and Visible monthly service amount changes based on the number of members in the party.

If one of my party members leaves the party, what happens?
They are removed from the party. When that happens Visible monthly service amount changes for the remaining members based on the number of members still in the party at the time the next bill is created [or something to this effect].

At $25 per person for an unlimited plan over Verizon’s network, Visible’s Party Play is hard to beat in price. That said, it may not be for everyone. A fair number of subscribers have reported issues with aspects of Visible’s service (see my full review).

With the introduction of Party Play, Visible made a few other changes. New customers now get their first month of service for $25 regardless of their party size. Additionally, the Visible referral program is being phased out. Existing subscribers will keep their bill credits for past referrals, but Visible won’t continue to give referral codes to new customers.

Feel free to leave invitation links for your party in the comments (but check if another commenter has open spaces in their party first).

Why Are Family Plans Cheaper?

Wireless carriers often offer service with a lower price per line for customers on multi-line plans. For example, here’s how Verizon prices its Start Unlimited Plan:1

  • 1 line – $70 per line
  • 2 lines – $60 per line
  • 3 lines – $45 per line
  • 4 lines – $35 per line
  • 5 lines – $30 per line

The cost per line with five users is less than half of the cost per line with only one user. I can think of a few reasonable-seeming explanations for why carriers price their plans this way.

Reduced logistical costs

There may be higher overhead costs per subscriber on single-line plans than on multi-line plans. For example, carriers incur costs when sending bills and processing payments. Even if a multi-line plan has five lines, there is only one bill that needs to be paid each month. Similarly, support costs per line may be lower for multi-line plans. Offering support to an account with five lines probably does not take 5x the effort it takes to offer support to an account with only one line.

Different price sensitivity

Multi-line plans tend to be purchased by families. People may be more price-sensitive when shopping for family plans. Maybe people are often willing to pay top-dollar for an individual (single-line) plan but unwilling to pay top-dollar for service for a whole family.

Looking at it another way, shopping around for deals makes more sense as the price of a service increases. The total cost of a family plan tends to be higher than the total cost of a single-line plan.

Inconsistent use

Not everyone uses their phones in the same way. When my family shared a plan, my sister and I used a fair amount of data. My brother used a little bit of data. My parents barely used any data. On the flip side, I barely used minutes; many of my family members talked on their phones regularly.

When buying a single-line plan, it’s often easy for people to find a plan that’s well-matched to how they use their phone. When family plans require all subscribers to be on the same plan, some people will be forced into plans that are mismatched with their levels of use. I expect it’s common for families to put everyone on an unlimited plan because one or two family members use a lot of data. As a result, lots of light data users end up on multi-line, unlimited plans. In contrast, light data users purchasing single-line plans rarely end up on unlimited plans.

I expect the average person on a single-line, unlimited plan from Verizon uses more data than the average person on a multi-line, unlimited plan from Verizon. Subscribers that use Verizon’s network more heavily contribute more to Verizon’s expenses. As a result, Verizon charges single-line users a higher rate per line.

If everyone in your family uses their phones in about the same way, consider yourself lucky. Your family may be able to get an unusually good deal on wireless service.