One of the most asked question I receive is “how do I save money on my cell phone bill?” I receive this question about once or twice a day. I don’t mind it at all considering this is a personal finance blog. When I started this blog, I wanted to provide people with information to help them fight debt, save money, make money, and grow their wealth. There are a lot of things there, but many people want to know how to save money. I get it. I’ve been on a mission to save money once I started paying down my debt. That mission never ends.
Over the years, I’ve had the luxury of trying out new and existing cell phone services to see which ones are good, bad, and just plain terrible. That luxury has been provided to me by owning an unlocked phone. I bought a Nexus 4 from Amazon some time ago and it was unlocked. This allows me to go from place to place without having to buy a new phone. I also have an unlocked Moto G with 4G LTE capability for even more testing.
I’ve never been paid or asked to try out these services. I’ve done it on my own to see which services are good and then I report back. I’ve listed 8 services below that I think are good and that can save you some serious money. There are two which don’t allow you to bring your own phone, but they are still good and cheap. Even with buying a phone, you will still save money. When I talk about savings, I’m talking about what you would save moving away from one of the big carriers like AT&T or Verizon.
The most important distinction about these services is they have no contracts. You can pay for the service until you want to move on and there are no termination fees. That’s what I like best about no-contract plans. Early termination fees are strictly just a money grab, but people still pay them. One thing I will note is you need to make sure you don’t have to pay a termination fee if/when you want to switch to one of these low-cost carriers. And one last note, make sure you check the coverage in your area. These plans are only as good as the networks they are on. If you want to see all their coverage maps, check out my cell phone providers page. It’s just a reminder. Without further ado, here we go!
8 Low-Cost Carriers to Save You Money
The following carriers can save you up to 90% off your current cell phone bill if you’re with a big carrier. Yes, 90%! They are in no particular order, but I would recommend you check them out to see if they could help you cut some costs out of your monthly budget. Remember to never be scared of change. That’s exactly how you save the most money!
This is probably a favorite on my list and one of the services I recommend to many people. The reason? It’s not like any other service out there. They have developed a hybrid calling network, which uses WiFi and the Sprint network. You have to buy your phone from them as it is heavily customized to work with their system. You can get service starting at just $5 per month! Yes, just $5. Most people would use their $25 per month package, but they have options for you. I wrote an in-depth review of Republic Wireless and I suggest you check it out.
Straight Talk was the first no-contract carrier I tried out after breaking away from Verizon. Their most popular plan is $45 per month with access to 4G and 2.5GB of high speed data per month. They provide you with access to the biggest networks in the US, like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. You can also bring your own phone. I reviewed their service after I used them and it’s one of my most popular posts on this site.
I’m currently on Cricket Wireless as I write this. It’s a great network and I can’t complain about it at all. My wife and I pay $90 per month for two phones and 5GB of 4G data. It runs on the AT&T network as they are actually owned by AT&T now. Their system is easy to use and I was able to bring my own phone (Moto G) with no issues. I was setup quickly and have been very happy with the service. They have some new promos right now where you can pay $35 per month after a $5 auto-pay credit. They are a pre-paid service, so you have to pay for the month you’re about to use.
Ting also provides a system that is very different than what most are used to. Ting provides mobile service and only charges you for what you use. They charge separately for everything. You get charged for each device you have on the network ($6 each) and then all of the other items. This means you only pay for what you truly use. They separate minutes, texts, and data. The more you use, the more you pay. They state the average customer bill is just $24 a month. That’s pretty good. You can bring your own phone or buy one from them. They offer services through GSM and CDMA networks. I believe it’s the T-Mobile (GSM) and Sprint (CDMA) networks.
Virgin Mobile is a low-cost carrier running on the Sprint network. They don’t allow you to bring your own phone, so you have to buy from them. Their phones are well priced, so you don’t have to worry too much about that. Their plans start at $20 for texts and minutes, but you only get data on WiFi. Their most popular plans are $35 and $45 per month. With the $45 plan, you get unlimited talk and text with 1GB of high-speed data. If you don’t talk much, then I would recommend the $35 plan, which provides unlimited texts and 300 minutes of talk with 2.5GB of high-speed data. You can read my full Virgin Mobile review to get more info.
If you want to give back and have mobile service, then Giv Mobile is where it’s at. They offer no-contract plans starting at $20 per month. They go all the way up to $60 per month. Their best option is their $40 per month plan which offers unlimited talk and text with 2GB of high-speed data. They run off the nationwide T-Mobile network, so if you want to bring your own phone, then you will need to have a GSM capable phone. The twist that Giv Mobile provides is they donate 8% of your monthly plan fee to a charity of your choice. It’s a cool concept and that’s why Giv is on this list. They save you money and allow you to support a charity! Check out my Giv Mobile review for more information.
Before I used Cricket Wireless, I was on Walmart Family Mobile. They use the T-Mobile network and you can bring your own phone. For a plan with data, you will pay $34.98 per month plus taxes and some fees. I was paying about $38 and some change each month, which wasn’t too bad. I moved away from them when we moved into our new home. T-Mobile didn’t have good coverage here, so I needed to switch. It worked fine for the several months I was on it though. Some people have problems with their customer support and it does leave a lot to be desired. Some blame Walmart for the bad coverage, but that’s all on T-Mobile. If you have good T-Mobile coverage where you are, then this could be a contender. Check out my Walmart Family Mobile review for all the details.
Last, but not least, is Boost Mobile. They run on the Sprint network and allow you to bring your own phone to save even more. They are aggressively marketing their service these days. They are even offering free 4G LTE phones when you switch to them. You can get 2GB of 4G data and unlimited talk and text for only $30 per month, but you have to use a 4G phone. That’s pretty good. You do have to sign up for their auto-pay, but it could be worth it to save so much. Their regular plans start at $35 per month and go up to $55. They even have daily plans for those who don’t use their phone much. Take some time to read more with my Boost Mobile review.
I’ve Been Cable Free for 5 Years and Still Watch TV
While in debt, I cut cable and haven’t looked back. It’s easier than you think especially with new services out on the market. One of my favorites is Sling TV, which allows you to watch live TV on the internet. It’s awesome. Check out my Sling TV review.