How To Save $1,000 A Year On Your Cell-Phone Plan

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Cell phone bills. We can’t stand them, right? Many of us (myself included) overpay every month for their cellphone service. Good news is, you don’t have to overpay.

Most Americans use major cellphone carries for as their service provider. T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, Verizon, etc. However, there are so many more options out there that will not only save you money, but give you the save service!

For instance, Google Fi is one of a number of MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) that leases excess wireless capacity from the big four carriers—Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint—then offers cheaper service by not paying for retail store space and huge marketing campaigns.

A company called Mint Mobile has service as low as $15 per month. They also have plans where you can pay upfront for a full year of service. For instance, $300 for a full year of service will get you unlimited talk and text per month and 12GB of data!

There are some downsides to using MVNOs however. Where MVNOs use major network towers for service, if a network gets congested with a lot of cell traffic and data usage, the companies will slow the service of MVNO users before their own customers. Also, many MVNO companies do not allow monthly installments in regards to purchasing a new device, so keep that in mind too and be ready to pay upfront for your new phone.

It is still worth switching over to a new plan for most people. Back in 2017, Consumer Reports conducted a survey that found that most people who made the switch saved an average of $20 or more, per month on their new service plan.

Making the switch is actually quite easy. With most of these MVNO companies, one can sign up and move their service over in less than 30-minutes.

If you want to use your same phone with these networks, that is possible. Some older phones will not carrier over however, but if your phone was made after 2017, you should be okay. If you are still making payments on a phone through your carrier, you will need to pay the phone off prior to switching it over to a new carrier.

You will want to make sure that your phone is ‘unlocked’ when switching services. Most phones that are purchased from a carrier such as Verizon, US Cellular, T-Mobile etc, are ‘locked’. A ‘locked’ phone is a phone that is loaded with software from the carrier in question. So if you purchase a phone through T-mobile for instance, it will be loaded with software that allows that phone to only be used on the T-Mobile network. There are numerous ways to ‘unlock’ a phone and most carries will assist in this process.

If you are purchasing a phone privately, make sure that you purchase an ‘unlocked’ phone, so you are able to switch carriers with ease.

Can you port your original number over to a new carrier? The answer is yes, in most circumstances you can simply keep your own number when transferring carriers.

Here are some MVNO companies and what they offer in regards to plans, just to help you on your journey to finding a cheaper cellphone solution! 

(The following is via Consumer Reports)

Mint Mobile
Mint Mobile offers a great deal if you’re willing to pay $300 up front: You get unlimited talk and text and 12 GB of LTE data a month, for what works out to $25 a month. You’re able to use your phone as a mobile hotspot. If you do go over your data limit in a month, your data speed gets throttled to 2G speeds, or you can buy an additional 1 GB for $10 or 3GB for $20. Mint Mobile runs on the T-Mobile network.

For $40 a month, you get unlimited talk, text, and LTE data. After 23GB of data, your speed may get throttled to ease network congestion—but it’s hard to zip through 23GB of data in a month unless you’re streaming Netflix to your phone nonstop. You can also use your phone as a mobile hotspot. TextNow runs on the T-Mobile and Sprint networks.

This new Verizon spinoff offers unlimited talk, text, and data on Verizon’s network for $40 a month. Data speeds are usually capped at 5 megabits per second, which is not blazing fast but is just enough to stream Netflix in high-definition. However, if you sign up right now, that data speed cap will be lifted for the lifetime of the account. No word on when this deal will end, but it’s worth jumping on while it lasts, considering Verizon’s big footprint and fast data speeds.

Through July 31, new customers can receive 20GB of data, with no hotspot restrictions, for $20 per month. That’s an incredible deal. The catch? At the end of 2019, the plan reverts to Ting’s regular price: $10 per gigabyte (as in $200 a month for those 20 gigabytes). On the bright side, you have plenty of time to look for yet another phone plan. Ting runs on the Sprint and T-Mobile networks.

Here are some great option for family plans too! 

Metro by T-Mobile
For families with kids who love to stream YouTube and Spotify, this carrier offers four lines with unlimited data for $120 a month and runs (as you may have guessed) on the T-Mobile network. It also throws in a free Amazon Prime membership. However, it allows for streaming video only at 480p, which looks decent enough on a phone screen, but not stellar.

Cricket offers four lines with unlimited data for just $100 a month but caps speeds at 3 megabits per second; fast enough for streaming music and podcasts but not blazing fast if you have a kid playing Fortnite on his phone. It further caps speeds specifically for video streaming at 1.5 megabits per second, good enough for standard-definition video at 480p but not for HD. It runs on the AT&T Network.

International Travelers

Google Fi
If you spend significant time outside the U.S., Google Fi is your best option. “We travel a lot internationally, and the included coverage is pretty amazing,” says marketing executive Kelley Gudahl, based in New York City. Available in more than 200 countries, Google Fi provides unlimited text messages and charges $0.20 per minute for calls made outside the U.S. and just $10 per GB of data. That said, if you’re comfortable switching out SIM cards, you’ll save more money by simply buying a cheap prepaid plan when you arrive at your destination.