When my fiance and I got together, he put me on his cell phone plan.  I got a dumb phone.  Because I didn’t need the data.  I needed my cell phone to make calls and text message.  If it could take the occasional crappy cell phone picture, that was great.

Everything was fine until I started noticing our bills getting bigger and bigger.  I looked at what we were getting charged for, and the major culprit wasn’t extra messages or minutes.  It was data.

Data.  On  my dumb phone.  I called every month to get the charges removed.  I was always met with a fight.  I had to explain that I didn’t use the internet on my phone.  Ever.  Every time I called.  I was not a happy camper.

We get smart phones.
So when our 2-year contract was up, we switched to another company.  And we got smart phones.  Part of our decision was based on the fact that it’s really hard to find a dumb phone anymore.  The other part was that we would be paying the same amount every month to have data as we were getting charged to not have data and pay mystery overage charges with our other carrier:  $150/month.

I wasn’t really happy with the number, but I fell in love with being able to check my email on my cell  phone.  Other things I fell in love with:  Twitter, Pinterest and Good Reads at my fingertips.  Our customer service was exceptional with the new carrier, but I still found myself finding ways to shave dollars off our bill.

I monitored our data every month, adjusting it according to how much we used.  Really it was more like how much he used.  I refused to use my phone unless I had a wireless connection, which meant I wasn’t contributing to our data allotment.  So our bill would be ten dollars more or less each month, depending on how much I thought we’d need.

It was a bit cumbersome.  And not worth the extra $10 a month.  I have kids.  I was going to school full-time.  I write.  I’m going back to the workplace soon.  On the rare occasion I have a free night, I like to hang out with friends.  I have a life.  And ten dollars was not worth the time I spent pondering our monthly bill.

Republic Wireless contacts me.
About a month ago, I was contacted by Republic Wireless.  They offer an unlimited everything plan for either $19 or $29 a month.  Everything.  That includes minutes, texts, and that previously troublesome data.  It’s a no contract plan.  Color me skeptical.  I had looked into no contract plans before and found their coverage to be spotty at best.  A cheap plan wasn’t going to do me any good if I couldn’t get it to work in my living room or the school parking lot.

They sent me a phone and gave me some free service so I could check it out for myself.  And I love it.  It’s everything a cell phone should be.  I have all my fancy smart phone stuff that I’ve become so addicted to.  I have coverage.  Literally everywhere I’ve tried it.  If you are able to get an internet connection, the phone runs on that for data, calls, everything.  Then if there’s not a wireless connection available, it defers to Sprint network coverage.  So as long as you’re in an area where Sprint works well, you’re not going to get any more dropped calls than usual.  I even had a phone conversation where I was moving and I lost my wireless connection; it switched to the cell network like nothing had even happened mid conversation.

Did I mention it’s only $19 or $29 a month?  Seriously.  If we both had the phone that’s over $100 savings PER MONTH from even my old dumb phone plan.  That’s at least $1,200/year.  Why have I been paying so much for so long?  What else could I have been spending that money on or saving it for?

My fiance brought up the fact that you have to buy the cell phone first.  Which is true.  You have to pay $199 up front for the $19/month plan or $79 up front for the $29/month plan. But we figured out the math, and after the second month’s service, we would have already made up the costs by switching from the major network, which may have given us free phones, but is charging $150 over and over again each month for service.

PLUS I’m super excited that it can make international calls without having to add a fancy charge.  If you’ve got a Wi-Fi signal, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, the call can be made.  Without any extra fees.  You can’t make a traditional call using a cell phone tower if you’re going international, but most places that have a cell signal have Wi-Fi nowadays anyways.  We’re going on a honeymoon somewhere outside of the US sometime next year and that will be a really nice feature to have.

Oh, and Canada doesn’t count as outside of the US for these purposes; if you’re in Canada it works on wireless AND cell service, too.

I’m in the process now of seeing if we could cancel my line with the carrier we have without incurring any cancellation fees.  We’ll have to keep at least one line with them until our contract expires for sure.  But I think we could get that bill down at least $50-$60/month if my line went to Republic.

If you want to try it out, they’ve given me you can view all the plans here. They’ve updated since the writing of this post, and you can now get your service for only $5/month. It’s crazy.

Related Post

40 thoughts on “Reducing my Cell Phone Bill

    1. femmefrugality

      To me, a smart phone is a smart phone. It does everything my current one does so it doesn’t matter to me! I’ve had an awesome experience with the service, too. 🙂

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      What, exactly, does “not a fancy cell phone” mean, please? I currently own a dumb phone myself so I’m not familiar with smart phones, other than occasionally looking at what my friends have. Please elaborate. Thanks.

      Reply
    3. femmefrugality

      Absolutely! It’s a smartphone: the Motorola Defy XT. The model is a few years old, but everything works for me. I can get all the apps I want for a Droid. It has a 5MP camera. I get updated every time I get an email or tweet or any other social app I have. I guess “not fancy” to me means it doesn’t have voice recognition or answer a call when I wave my hand in front of it (I have to *gasp!* actually touch the screen!) Is there anything specific you’re looking for in a smartphone that I could try to answer about it?

      Reply
  1. Alexa

    I have a Net 10. I don’t have fancy phone but it works just fine for me. It’s $45/month for unlimited everything or $25/month for 750 talk/text/data minutes which usually suits me just fine. There are so many great alternatives to those $100/mo smart phone plans.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality

      This is a great the way to go…there’s the wireless, but when it defers to Sprint network I’ve found the service area to be great in Pittsburgh. If you do sign up, use that link in the post so you guys can get a free month! When our contract expires we’ll be getting rid of the big company all together.

      Reply
  2. Budget and the Beach

    I’ve never heard of it before…interesting! I’m still a little leary to give up my iPhone though. I would hate to spend the money up front for the service and not like it as much. hmmm, food for thought though…

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality

      Yeah, they don’t have iPhones. 🙁 They told me they would be able to if Apple ever switches the iPhone to an open specification, so we’ll see…maybe int he future. Do you know anyone in your area who has Sprint? Because you get coverage anywhere you can access wi-fi, but then if you can’t it defers to the Sprint network. So if you know someone who already uses that network, you could ask them about the coverage in your area. It would be exactly the same. Plus more bc of the wifi.

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    I have heard that there are going to be a couple of new phone options late summer early fall that are more high-end than the current one phone they offer.

    Reply
  4. Pretired Nick

    I’ve been on the same quest: A reasonably priced smartphone set-up that allows me to use WiFi most of the time. Still haven’t decided which way I’ll go long-term.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality

      The good news with someone like Republic Wireless is there’s no contract so if you hate it after a few months, there’s nothing to keep you from dropping them. Don’t think you’d hate it, though. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Thomas | Your Daily Finance

    Now I have some options! I was thinking Straight Talk or Walmart phone services(whatever its called) and now RW. The biggest concern I had about a cheaper plan is dropping calls are simply not being able to get them in the first place. Sounds like you are not having this problem. As I mention on Pretired.org we feel that the cost we are paying VZ is just not worth it be are a little scared to make the switch. Maybe I will just have to spend the extra money and test one of these services while paying for VZ.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality

      This one is a bit cheaper and the coverage area is fantastic as long as Sprint works well in your area. Plus there’s wifi which has made my phone work in places it wouldn’t even with a bigger carrier. I was skeptical of the exact same thing; major reason I’ve gone with big companies so long.

      Reply
  6. Matt Becker

    I’ve heard a lot of people talking about republic wireless now. I have to check out sprint’s coverage in Boston, but it’s definitely interesting. I was honestly worried about dropping calls when switching from wifi to non wifi, but it doesn’t sound like that’s been an issue for people. Do you have any trouble using data when you’re not on wifi?

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality

      Absolutely not! It runs on 3G when it’s not on WiFi. So no issues that I’ve had. I haven’t had a problem switching either. I purposefully walked out of my wifi’s reach during one call just to test it. 🙂

      Reply
    1. femmefrugality

      It operates on Sprint network, which I’ve found to be great for when I don’t have Wifi in Pittsburgh. If you’re wary, I’d ask some friends in your area who have Sprint how happy they are with their service. I had the exact same reservations; it’s what’s taken me so long to switch! But I’ve run into no problems.

      Reply
  7. Ms. S

    Gosh, if I didn’t have friends with such spotty Sprint service, I’d look into this. My sister just switched from sprint because she was tired of the dropped calls. Great info though.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality

      I’m so glad you knew about the network service before you gave it a try! The three major networks definitely don’t universally work EVERYwhere. I used to live near Yellowstone; when I moved there my AT&T didn’t work at all….2 weeks later I got GREAT service; the CEO of AT&T had some type of vacation home in the area and bought out all the local towers. At least that’s the story I heard. Moral of the story: get the CEO of Sprint to vacation near you regularly and solve your sister’s problems. :p

      Reply
  8. Pingback: November 24 2012 Favorite Blog Posts | Modest Money

  9. Pingback: I Want A Cheaper iPhone Plan | Monica on Money

  10. Pingback: Don’t Worry About What Others Have or What They Think | Money Rebound

  11. julia @ howmuchcost.org

    I’m so checking this out. THANKS! My husband and I had AT&T and were paying $150 a month. We then switched to T-Mobile and are paying $110 a month. However this sounds better! I’m checking it out. Thanks for the link. If we go with it. I’ll definitely use you link. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Pingback: Why Paying for a Cell Phone Upgrade Plan is Just Plain Silly | Femme Frugality

  13. Laura

    Thanks for the tip on Republic Wireless – just noticed that they will soon start offering the Moto X for just $299 with NO CONTRACT … it’s $599 unsubsidized with no contract at AT&T, Verizon and T-Mo. They also say they have solved the handover between Wi-Fi and cellular so no dropped calls when moving out of Wi-Fi coverage – it automatically keeps the call going on cellular. They are also offering the Motorola DEFY for $99 – but its old technology in terms of smartphones so I would definitely wait and get the Moto X.

    Reply
    1. femmefrugality Post author

      They also have a special going on that if you have the DEFY and want to get the Moto X you get some money off the purchase of your new phone! Thanks for sharing this! I’m pretty excited to have a new post about it when the new phone gets released.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *