In the early years of cell phone service, I had a prepaid phone with just a few minutes per month that I used just for emergency calling. Then, 8 years ago, I upgraded my phone to a smart phone, which meant (at the time) that I also had to upgrade my service to a contract with a cell phone carrier. But, with that upgrade, my monthly bill went way up!
Fast forward to today. My husband also wanted a smart phone. Plus, we wanted a phone available for my boys for emergency calls (not a smart phone) since we don't have a home phone. But, adding all those extra phones meant that our cell phone bill was going to skyrocket even higher!
I started doing research on our best options for switching our cell phone service. And, I discovered lots of great prepaid options that even include data!
- Total Wireless – This carrier uses the Verizon network and is $25/month for unlimited Talk & Text or $35 for Unlimited Talk & Text + 2.5 GB of 3G data. There are additional deals for 2 or 3 lines. You can use your own phone to save money on new phones. If you switch to Total Wireless and join their Rewards program within 14 days of activating your phones, you can use referral code GLPD-674C to get enough rewards points for a FREE month of service ($50 value).
- Straight Talk Wireless – $45 for Unlimited Talk, Text & Data (up to 5GB's of high speed data). You can also bring your own device to save money on a phone.
- Virgin Mobile – $40 for Unlimited Talk & Text plus 3 GB of 3G/4G Data. Plus, you can add a line for only $25 per month with the Data Done Right plan (only available at Walmart). This plan uses the Sprint network.
- Metro PCS – Unlimited Talk & Text plus 1 GB of 4G LTE data for $30 per month (and only $25 with a family plan). Metro PCS uses the T-Mobile network.
- Boost Mobile – Get Unlimited Talk & Text plus 2 GB's of high speed data for only $30 per month when you sign up for Auto Re-Boost (which means it automatically adds funds at the end of the month).
- Republic Wireless – $10 for Call Talk & Text & Wifi Data. $7 for $0.5 GB Data (which is refunded for parts you don't use). The average charge is $14.50 per month. This is a great option for people who have lots of access to Wifi. You do have to pay a bit more upfront since you can choose between the Moto E for $129 or Moto X for $299. You'll need to check if the cellular coverage works in your area (it doesn't in mine).
You can also check for contract and prepaid deals for the major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint).
How we Saved Money on our Cell Phone Service
We ended up switching to Total Wireless since we live in a more rural area where not all carriers work very well (like T-Mobile). I knew that Verizon worked well for us, so I wanted to stay in that same network. I bought 2 basic phones for $40 each at Walmart and then switched over my (ancient) iPhone 4 to Total Wireless for a $10 activation fee. So, we now have 3 phones with the same monthly bill as previously for just 1 phone!
We've been using the service for a couple of weeks with no problems. If you are used to 4G speeds, you might have trouble going down to 3G, but my iPhone only works on 3G anyway so it's not been an adjustment.
I would be willing to try Republic Wireless, but when I checked it wasn't reliably available in my area beyond using wireless. I'd love to pay $15 a month for my phone!
What about you? Have you tried switching your cell phones to save money?