Can you imagine a world without phones and wireless service? Just because it’s essential, you don’t need to overpay for it.
While the answer to that is obvious to everyone, we bet most people could do just fine without the monthly added costs of their phone bills.
Just like everything else in life, the secrets of getting more value for your money and cutting your phone bill in half consist of a series of good decisions backed up by thorough research.
Similar to mortgages, it turns out that the vast majority is paying a much higher price for wireless as well. The similarities go further once we think of the life long savings when choosing to refinance or, in this case, to switch for the better.
In This Post:
1). Switch to an MVNO
Alternative carriers or MVNOs are changing the game when it comes to affordable pricing for the same service and coverage one gets at the big four – Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.
MVNO is short for Mobile Virtual Network Operator.
They still operate on major cell towers, just in a different, more affordable kind of way, and the numbers add up to some pretty nice looking savings, month over month.
Clark.com recently compared unlimited plans from the Big 4 wireless providers and noticed that the price for a single line of service ranges from $60 to $95 per month, usually before taxes and fees. Meanwhile, MVNOs like Metro, Cricket and Boost Mobile are offering cheap unlimited plans starting in the $50/month range.
Once the facts sink in, you’re left with another legit question: which MVNO is right for me?
If your data craving is strong, then your best bet is to go for bigger MVNOs. Names like Boost Mobile, Metro (formerly known as MetroPCS) are great for unlimited users that don’t want to stress over overcharges.
If unlimited data is not a must on your checklist, smaller carriers, like Ting, Mint Mobile, Republic Wireless or Tello Mobile that runs on Sprint and is on the top list of money saving champions, according to CNET. Here is just one example of how unlimited talk & text + 1GB/month can fare with some of these carriers:
- Tello – 1 GB of data with unlimited minutes for $14/month
- Ting – 1GB, 1000 sms, 1000 minutes for $45/month
- Freedompop 1GB of data with unlimited minutes for $22.99/month
- Twigby:1 GB of data with unlimited minutes for $25/month
- Republic wireless:1GB of data with unlimited minutes for $20/month
Do you know how much minutes, texts and data do you actually need? Look at your last 6 months statistics and go from there.
2). Stay Flexible
If your consumption varies, look for customizable plan options instead of traditional predefined packs.
Stick to prepaid plans where customers have the freedom to move back and forth each month with data allotments and minute combinations and are not tied to any specific amount every month as with a non-prepaid traditional plan.
Remember that unlimited isn’t for everyone.
Some carriers, like the above mentioned Tello, even have a build your own plan tool and offer pure freedom when it comes to choosing the plan combo right for you. Customers have the option to choose talk & text data only plans, or add data up to 10 GB/month – which is still 5 times the average data consumption in the US. Other, like Mint Mobile (a T-Mobile MVNO), start their plans at a minimum of 2 GB and go up from there.
3). Steer clear of contracts and long term commitments – when it comes to your phone, you can 🙂
Money savvy people are not usually comfortable with 2 year contracts that can easily double the cost of your phone bill.
Don’t compromise on the cost and quality of your cell phone service for a phone upgrade.
While most budget-friendly MVNOs keep things easy & upfront, some have a bulk buying approach to wireless and require customers to pay for service either 3, 6 or 12 months in advance for a lower price (Mint Mobile).
Ting, Republic Wireless and Tello have a no contract policy, but their not the on the same page when it comes to extra fees. While Tello has made a no extra fee pledge and their customers can even upgrade or downgrade your plans with no extra cost, others require fees for adding an extra line.
4). Are you different, just like everybody else? Look for the benefits that best fit your lifestyle
Freebies tilt the scale when choosing a new carrier and it’s a sure fire way to get more bang for your buck.
Budget minded customers usually love lists. Make sure that your pro and con list checks off benefits like unlimited 2G data, free hotspot – this is a game changer – , visual voicemail, some international calls (to Canada, Mexico, China, etc).
5). Do your research
Whether it’s about buying a new phone, switching carrier and getting a sweet deal, always do your homework first.
A good promotion lies in the details and it’s not great anymore if you’re getting a decent price for starters and after 3 month you’re paying the regular price that exceeds your budget. Use online comparison sites like Whistleout or review sites as Tom’s Guide for a comprehensive view on pricing, advantages and drawbacks.
Check the facts and know what you’re paying for. For instance, a lot of alternative phone service providers offer primarily voip service, like Republic Wireless. That is not the case with Tello, which provides actual cell phone service on the Sprint network so you don’t have to worry about constant Wifi access to ensure the quality of our calls.
Another bullet-proof approach to validating your choice is to read the reviews and see what customers are saying about the service, before you sign up. Look for reviews of customer support experiences and main issues people face, as well as the overall customer satisfaction levels. Check the star rating and overall scoring on sites like TrustPilot and compare the info.
Start slow and keep it smart from the beginning. Go for a smaller plan, a second phone or a talk & text only phone plan for your kids, to test the service first and then proceed to a bigger one.
The best part is that most MVNOs let you bring your own phone, so remember to check compatibility of your device and choose accordingly. For example, some alternative carriers only work on one major network and thus you have to make sure your phone is a match. Take Tello for example, it works on only Sprint, so you’d need a Sprint compatible, unlocked, CDMA phone. Whereas others, like Best Mobile work on all the 4 big networks.
Either way, you still need to pay attention to the technology used by your device, GSM or CDMA. It’s much easier to swap phones on GSM networks, because GSM carriers put customer information on a removable SIM card. That’s not the case with CDMA, but you can read more about it here.
You can always buy a phone from your prefered MVNO and take advantage of the lower prices or special promos that make them so appealing. Even more, check the refurbished phone section for sensational findings when it comes to extra savings. This way, you can afford the phone brands you love and purchase them at a bargain price.