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Virgin Mobile First with No-contract Data Sharing Plan

No-contract phone plans have been getting more and more affordable. Now, for the first time ever, Virgin Mobile will let you share your no-contract data with your friends and family; just make sure they won't hog all the bandwidth.

The new pricing will be available Jan 17 exclusively from Walmart and starts at $65 per month for two lines and 4GB of data, moving up to $90 per month for three lines and 8GB of data, and $115 for 12GB split between four lines. Solo plans will also receive an upgrade with two new tiers of service: $35 for 300 minutes of talk and $45 for unlimited talk. Both plans feature unlimited texting, and unlimited data with the caveat that just 2.5GB of it will be high-speed.

MORE: Best Family Data Plan - AT&T v. Verizon v. Sprint v. T-Mobile

Unfortunately, the catches don’t stop there. Virgin Mobile’s Unlimited and Data Share plan will only be available on four phones in the beginning, the $100 HTC Desire 510, the $80 LG Tribute, the $150 LG Volt and the $130 Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. Even worse, each new activation requires a $20 starter kit, although that lets you stream unlimited music from sites such as Pandora without affecting your data cap.

On the bright side, every multi-line plan comes with a free mobile hotspot app for sharing your data with a nearby tablet or laptop. If you are looking for a wider selection of compatible phones, wait until the end of February when Virgin plans to introduce additional models.

Even with all the caveats, Virgin’s new plan compares favorably to no-contract plans from the likes of T-Mobile and Verizon which cost $50 for 1GB of data or $60 for 1GB of data respectively. AT&T has a less expensive no-contract plan at $25 per month for 1GB of data, and the next tier up offers 3GB of data for $40 a month.

Just remember that Virgin Mobile is one of Sprint’s prepaid brands, and that network consistently has the slowest data speeds out of the largest four carriers.

Sam Rutherford is a Staff Writer at Tom’s Guide. Follow him @SamRutherford on Twitter, and Tom’s Guide on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.