Cutting Cell Phone Costs: Carriers That Won't Break the Bank

October 30, 2014

When looking for a cell phone plan, we all know about the Big Four, or major carrries: Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and  AT&T. However, there are other options on the market that offer similar, if not equal service for less. I have focused on three types of cell phone service that you may want to look into depending on where you live, how often you use your phone, how important your choice of phone is, and a few other variables.

Pre-Paid Plans  

Ten years ago, prepaid plans were marketed to those who, for whatever reason, were not able to sign a contract with one of the big carriers. Times have changed. With a prepaid plan, you’re still getting good service at a fraction of the cost of a contract plan.  Who doesn’t appreciate the flexibility of not being under a two-year contract?

The savings can be substantial. When you buy a phone under contract, the reason you can get that new iPhone for $200 or less is because the carrier is recovering the cost of the phone throughout your two year contract by adding it to your monthly rate. That’s one of the reasons cell phone bills are so high.  Not the case with a prepaid. You pay for the phone upfront at full cost, and your monthly bill is lower than a contract plan in most cases.

A few great prepaid carriers:

  • Boost Mobile
  • Cricket
  • MetroPCS
  • Page Plus
  • Virgin Mobile

Wifi Options

Want to cut your cell phone bill substantially? Consider making calls using your home or office wifi network instead of your cellular network.  It’s as simple as installing one of a variety of apps available to Android and iPhone users.  While inexpensive, something to keep in mind with a service like this is the chance you will have to think ahead before leaving the house or office, because you probably won’t always be within a wifi signal’s reach. However, that applied to everyone 20 years ago and we all managed to survive.

There are many products to choose from, here are a few of the more popular options:

  • Google Voice
  • Fring
  • Skype
  • Tango
  • Talkatone

MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator)

Typically offering no-contract cellular phone service at a very reasonable price, MVNOs are an option you may want to consider. When you use a phone from an MVNO, you’re using the network of one of the Big Four. For example, Republic Wireless, a popular MVNO, uses the Sprint Network.

The reason MVNOs are great is because they are about half the cost of the major carriers. They do have their quirks though.  Some MVNOs don’t provide great cellular service everywhere, or outstanding customer service that you may be used to with your current carrier. Other MVNOs have a short list of phones they will let you use. People love them despite their drawbacks because they do provide a very cost-effective route if you are tired of contracts or dealing with the big cell phone carriers.

A caveat: If you are switching to one of these carriers, make sure the phone is unlocked. Read about how to do that here.

A few worth mentioning are:

  • GoPhone
  • Republic Wireless
  • Straight Talk Wireless
  • Ting
  • Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk

The cost of a cell phone plan can make or break your monthly budget. If your current plan is leaving you digging for coins in your couch every month, consider looking into a less traditional plan that will offer what you need at a price you like.