Reduce Your Cell Phone Plan Costs Without Compromising Coverage

by Guest Contributor · 12 comments

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If you are one of the millions of Americans who has cell phone service from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint you should be able to reduce your rates by up to 30% without compromising your coverage. The suggestions below will show you easy and effortless ways to accomplish this goal.

Get Wireless Service From an MVNO, Without Switching Networks or Replacing Your Phone

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) have a very simple business model. They buy wholesale wireless service in bulk from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint, and then sell it at discounted prices under their own brand names. In return for helping consumers get lower rates they make a small profit margin for acting as middle men.

Most MVNOs do not require service contracts and allow you to bring your phone number with you. In addition, as long as you are not changing networks you typically will not need to buy a new cell phone. There are downsides to getting wireless service from MVNOs, but they are minimal. The main drawback is that most MVNOs tend to employ a skeleton staff to keep their rates as low as possible. This can lead to longer than usual hold times when you call their helplines. Also, MVNOs that use Verizon’s network do not presently have access to their 4G LTE services. However, this is likely to change in the near future.

If you presently have wireless service on AT&T’s network, Straight Talk’s unlimited plan is a great option offering unlimited talk, text, and data (3GB of 4G LTE data) for $45 a month. Page Plus Cellular is a good choice for discount Verizon service, and Simple Mobile has some very appealing options on T-Mobile’s network. If you happen to live a Sprint hotspot, Boost Mobile offers extremely reasonable unlimited plans that reduce in cost overtime to reward customers for their loyalty.

Look into Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless is another interesting MVNO to consider. Due to their unique business model, they have some of the cheapest service plans available. Unlike other MVNOs, Republic Wireless uses Wi-Fi technology to offer talk, text and data service. When Wi-Fi is not available, it will automatically switch to Sprint’s cellular network. Although there have been some complaints about calls dropping during the hand-off from Wi-Fi to cellular service, in most cases this transition should be seamless. By using free Wi-Fi service whenever it is available, Republic Wireless is able to save a small fortune, which is passed along to consumer in the form of lower rates.

Monthly service plans from Republic Wireless presently start at $5 per month. However, their $5 plan strictly offers unlimited talk, text and data service on free W-Fi networks. Their next-cheapest option is only $10 a month and provides unlimited talk and text service on Wi-Fi and cellular networks, but does not offer mobile data through cellular infrastructure. This brings us to my favorite plan of theirs, which includes unlimited talk, text, and data (5GB of 3G data) over Wi-Fi and cellular networks for just $25 per month. Additionally, they also have a nearly identical plan for $40 a month that includes 5GB of 4G LTE data.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to their service. As previously mentioned, during the switch from Wi-Fi to cellular service calls do occasionally get dropped. Also, due to the specialized software required to route calls over Wi-Fi, you have to use one of their cell phones. Presently, they offer two models, the Moto G and Moto X. Although neither of these devices is as high tech as the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S5, they are both decent smartphones. The main difference between the two is that the Moto X has double the RAM and supports 4G LTE speeds. The Moto G is only $149, and a basic version of the Moto X is $299. However, you can find pre-owned models of both of these phones for cheaper prices on eBay.

Like most MVNOs, a contract is not required for any of their plans and you can bring your phone number with you. If you decide to get service from Republic Wireless you will also have the freedom to switch your service plan up to two times a month and pay prorated charges for each time period. This is a pretty cool option that can save you money and give you extra service when you need it, without having an additional expense.

Click here to learn more at RepublicWireless.com.

Consider Prepaid Plans

If you use fewer than five hundred minutes per month, don’t send many text messages, and aren’t big on mobile Internet use prepaid plans are a great option to consider. Although most major carriers have prepaid plans, MVNOs offer nearly identical services for half the cost. Page Plus Cellular (Verizon’s network) and PlatinumTel (T-Mobile’s network) offer two of the best prepaid rates on reliable networks. Page Plus tends to be the better choice if you make a lot of phone calls, whereas PlatinumTel is a great option if you send a lot of text messages and occasionally want to get on the Internet.

Despite prepaid plans being an ideal choice for many consumers, most wireless companies rarely recommend this option. The reason for this is there is very little money to be made on prepaid plans. After all, consumers only pay for the minutes they use, as opposed to buying extra time that is wasted or is put into a rollover account that collects dust.

Think Twice Before Insuring Your Cellphone

Cell phone insurance tends to run about $7 a month ($84 annual) depending on your carrier. On surface this may seem like a reasonable deal, since most of these polices will replace your cell phone if anything happens to it, whether or not it’s your fault. However, upon closer investigation it might not be as good of a deal as it seems.

If you need to get your cell phone replaced you will have to pay a deductible which can range from $100 to $200. Typically, there are also no promises that you will get a newer or even the same phone if yours is lost or damaged. In fact, some carriers frequently hand out refurbished phones to compensate policyholders.

Book CoverAs opposed to buying cell phone insurance through your carrier, another option is to get your phone insured independently. SquareTrade is presently the most popular non-carrier phone insurer in the US. Their plans presently cost $99 for two years of coverage and have only a $75 deductible. However, it’s worth noting that SquareTrade does not cover lost or stolen phones.

Personally, I would suggest skipping this expense altogether. If you take good care of your phone it is likely it will last you years. In the event that something does happen to it, you could always buy a similar refurnished model for a fraction of its cost.

If you decide to pass on cell phone insurance, what you can do for extra piece of mind is buy your wireless devices with a credit card. In most cases this will extend its original manufacturer warranty by one year. American Express, Discover, Visa, and MasterCard all offer extended warranty protection as a perk on most of their credit cards. Among these four, American Express has the most lenient policy, which also extends coverage to refurbished cell phones.

This is a guest post from Richard Syrop, author of Effortless Savings: A Step-by-Step Guidebook to Saving Money Without Sacrifice. It’s a great read with practical advice that will save you money.

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Several of my friends signed up and they are able to eat at home more because the instructions are easy to follow, making everything convenient. The deal also comes with grocery shopping lists, which saves them so much time. Check it out yourself by clicking here and you too may be able to save more and become healthier at the same time.

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current Verizon FiOS promotion codes and promos to see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ read the comments below or add one }

  • I switched from T-Mobile to MetroPCS and I have never been happier. My husband and I were paying close to $180 a month and now we are paying $62. The tech suggested we get the insurance for at least 2-3 months. He said if anything was going to happen to the phones, it would be in the first 2-3 months. No difference in service and our bill is unbelievably cheap. They don’t charge any late fee either and no taxes. If you don’t pay the bill by the due date, they shut off the service. You pay the bill and service is restored. I haven’t paid the bill late, but I know other people who have. Before, we were paying extra charges like crazy and now we aren’t. We are going to cancel the insurance on the phone and we will save an extra $12 a month, so our bill will be $50. It doesn’t get any better than that. Very happy. MetroPCS and T-Mobile merge and Metro is actually a whole lot cheaper.

  • Brenda Ross says:

    Most AT&T and T-Mobile phones are compatible with both networks. This allows for greater freedom to try out different prepaid plans on different networks.

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! I am thinking much more seriously now about dropping my cell phone insurance!

    • Richard Syrop says:

      Hi Brenda,

      Great point about AT&T and T-Mobile phones. I am also glad to hear you are considering canceling your cell phone insurance. These policies are particularly a poor value through carriers.

      Since compatibility is a hot topic, below is a list of popular MVNO’s and the phones that their service plans are compatible with. Hopefully this is helpful.

      Page Plus Cellular: Compatible with any non-prepaid Verizon cell phone
      Straight Talk: Compatible with any AT&T, T-Mobile, or unlocked GSM phone
      Cricket Wireless: Compatible with any AT&T or unlocked GSM cell phone
      Red Pocket Mobile: Compatible with any AT&T or unlocked GSM cell phone
      Simple Mobile: Compatible with any T-Mobile or unlocked GSM cell phone
      Metro PCS: Compatible with any T-Mobile or unlocked GSM cell phone
      PlatinumTel: Compatible with any T-Mobile or unlocked GSM cell phone
      Boost Mobile: Compatible with a limited number of approved Sprint phones
      Virgin Mobile: Compatible with a limited number of approved Sprint phones
      Ting: Compatible with a limited number of approved Sprint phones
      Republic Wireless: Only compatible with Republic Wireless cell phones

  • I switched mine and my mother’s plan to Ting wireless (uses the Sprint network) and it’s been the same as we had it before. I pay about $50 a month for the two phones, where before I was paying $127 with a 25% company discount. I have an HTC and my mom has an iPhone 4S which we brought over from Sprint without issues. We also brought over our phone numbers. The transition was seamless and the coverage is the same. I haven’t noticed any difference and I’ve had my Ting plan for almost three months now. I will never go back to a major carrier. It’s just too much money.

    • Richard Syrop says:

      Hi Aldo,
      I am glad to hear you are saving so much money with Ting! It is truly amazing how much money can be saved while getting identical service!

    • David Ning says:

      Wow $77 is awesome Aldo! And with no sacrifices to boot!

      Well, I take that back. Technically you need to spend some time thinking about how you are going to use that $77 a month!

  • I would do this but I’m so attached to my iPhone. 😛

    • Richard Syrop says:

      Hi Cat,
      If you unlock your iPhone you should have no problem using it with most MVNO’s. I have an iPhone 4s that I bought from AT&T and now use with Straight Talk. Many Sprint MVNO’s require you to buy one of their devices, but otherwise you should not encounter this problem.

    • David Ning says:

      You can definitely still use your iPhone with the prepaid plans, btu make sure you pair the right version of the phone with the right carriers. If you are using AT&T right now, then go with the prepaid plans that uses the AT&T network because the phone will be compatible. Ditto with Sprint and Verizon.

      As to Republic Wireless, you will have to use their phones. But then again, $5 is tough to beat!

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