Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Money Crashers: How to Save With a Cheaper Cell Phone Plan

Nearly a year ago, I read an article on Bankrate (part of its yearlong "Savings Challenge," which I still need to go through the rest of at some point to see whether any of the articles after September are actually topics worth writing about) on how to save money on cell phone service. The author said she had personally cut her family's cell phone bill by switching from their two separate plans to a two-line plan with T-Mobile, but noted that she could have saved even more by switching to a discount carrier such as Ting or Republic Wireless. I noted, in turn, that our family saves even bigger bucks than that by using an ultra-cheap prepaid plan, since we actually use our phone less than once a month and don't need a lot of minutes.

All this inspired me to write a story for Money Crashers about the many ways there are to save on cell phone service. After going into how much you can expect to pay per month with the four major carriers (spoiler alert: it's a lot), I examine the various alternatives and their costs, including:
  • Prepaid plans from the four major carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verison)
  • Budget sub-brands from the big carriers, such as Cricket (the low-cost arm of AT&T) and Boost (which runs on Sprint's network)
  • Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), which buy up blocks of minutes and data from the major carriers and resell them to their customers, usually for much less than the big four would charge
  • Wi-fi plans, under which you use wi-fi for most of your calling and surfing, switching to a network only when you're out of wi-fi range
I give a brief rundown of the options in each category, then talk about how to decide which plan is right for your personal needs. You can read it here: How to Save With a Cheaper Cell Phone Plan – Types of Service, Major Carriers & Alternatives

One thing to note is that this article was written over ten months ago and was only published today, so it's already a little bit out of date. The first comment I received on the article pointed out that I hadn't mentioned Google's new Project Fi plan - which did exist at the time I wrote the article, but was still brand-new and hadn't received much coverage in sources that talk about phone plans. At some point I may get a chance to update this article and add that info, but for now, another poster has covered the basics on this option in the comments section.
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