Author Topic: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?  (Read 19129 times)

Offline theBINKYhunter

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My wife and I are evaluating our budget every way we can. Work currently pays for my phone but that will most likely be changing very soon. We both have smart phones and the bill for my wife's phone alone is ~$90/month. When we add my phone the plan will most likely go up to ~$140/month (Verizon).

When we really look at it we don't need smart phones. They are really nice and convenient for sure, but do I need to be able to check Facebook during the day or buy something off Amazon while I'm out and about? In reality most of the stuff that we use our phones for can wait until we are home and can use the WiFi or computer. The biggest utility I'll miss will be Google Maps but again that can be mitigated with planning beforehand.

We're looking at going back to 'dumb phones' and even considering going prepaid. At home we could use Skype over WiFi with our old phones (we have enough lying around) to talk to people or even look into something like Magic Jack or a similar VoIP offering. I realize we'll be going back to the 'stone age' by most people's standards but then we're not like most people in that we prep and plan, right?

If you've done something similar what have you done? What carriers do you use? If you've gone prepaid what do you use for a phone in your home that doesn't get metered by minutes? What other suggestions might you have for reducing cell phone bills?

Offline skas

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2015, 09:07:29 AM »
Maybe check out ting https://ting.com/?lpn=dancarlin (not my referral link....just a big fan of DC)?  We've considered switching, but the coverage map isn't the best for us.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2015, 09:23:25 AM »
Interesting idea. Coverage is good for my area. Biggest drawbacks I see are losing our numbers, it appears that you need their SIM card and from what I read you don't get to keep your existing number.

Offline archer

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2015, 09:28:44 AM »
switch to pre-paid phones, i have a verizon pre-paid with unlimited min/data for $55/month. i expect your smart phone would also work on a pre-paid plan. and you can keep your #s

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2015, 09:36:59 AM »
Definitely get away from the big two and buy a phone outright. Any of the alternate carriers will be a better deal. Definitely look at coverage maps. Most use either the TMobile network or the AT&T network and buy their time from them. Cricket, Ting, maybe even TracPhone (which has a few android phones you can use wifi on or prepay for only the data you want). 

If you plan on using your old smart phones, be sure to contact your carrier now and get them to unlock them. AT&T will do it if you explain you'll be traveling internationally and will need to use a local SIMM card. I've never tried with verizon.

And no, you don't have to lose your number. You just have to start your new service before canceling your old service. They can transfer without a SIMM card. It's a change in federal law that allows you to retain your number.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2015, 10:26:30 AM »
Walmart pre paid phones are cheapest and they have smart phones $50 a month - straight talk .. but you have to buy the phone .. you can get a basic smart phone for that plan for $80 .. It's probably 3 gig a month of data or something like that

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2015, 10:41:53 AM »
Go read here for reviews of the best, super low cost cell phone plans, you should be able to get one for 10 a month unlimited talk and text, from what I have read. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/?s=cell+phone+plan

And, yes, this is where you need to start cutting. As soon as my youngest is off her dads plan, she alsosays she realy doesnt need a smart phone and will be looking to one of these
« Last Edit: December 16, 2015, 10:51:11 AM by mountainmoma »

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2015, 10:45:42 AM »
You can get a TracPhone for $10 at walgreens, buy a 60 minute card for $20, and it expires in 90 days from activation. If you buy future minutes online they can be as cheap as 120 minutes for $20 when on sale. That's about $8 a month. And you can text, too, but for that, I'd really recommend their $40 android. Texting on a dumb phone is a royal pain in the behind.

Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2015, 10:58:20 AM »
My wife and I are using these guys:

http://www.selectelwireless.com/wireless-plans/

They use Verizon's network (and require a Verizon-branded phone, so your existing phones will probably work).  They have a very cheap "yearly plan" at $75 for 2000 minutes plus 2000 text messages (no data).  Even if you use up that many minutes in half a year, it's still cheap.  There are other plans too, if you're more talkative or need data.

Neat trick with Google Maps: you can save map data on your device for (I think) 30 days, for offline use with only GPS enabled.  Free.  We used it on a recent road trip, and it was pretty cool.

Offline The Spartan Dad

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2015, 11:38:23 AM »
I have Verizon and spent a lot of time researching this when I was trying to cut our bill. My wife and I have two smartphones also and your bill sounds way too high. Do you own your phones or are you still paying them off each month? If you own them, call Verizon and request a discount. They do not apply this automatically... you have to contact them. Our 2 smartphones with unlimited talk/text and 2 or 4GB of data for $80/month with Verizon. I do have a 20% discount through work for my line so maybe $90 without.

With running data off the Wi-Fi 99% of the time, we actually opted for the smallest amount of data possible because we use barely any. Recognizing this, Verizon just keeps raising our data cap for free to buy loyalty since it costs them nothing. Again though, I have to call every so often to see what they can do... it's never freely offered.

For prepaid or at least monthly non-unlimited:
I really like US Cellular and tried to switch us over a couple years ago. They are dirt cheap and have excellent customer service. Unfortunately, no one but Verizon works out at my house. I was hesitant to try US Cellular at first, being a firm believer in unlimited minutes. Verizon has a tool where you can analyze your monthly minute use over the past year. I realized that even if I assumed our single max minutes usage month was the new normal, we would still save a ton of money switching off the unlimited plan. There was no charge when I canceled within 10 days after realizing there was no coverage here.

« Last Edit: December 16, 2015, 11:47:08 AM by The Spartan Dad »

Offline r_w

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2015, 11:46:29 AM »
prepaid, pick the one that has coverage where you need it.  We get tracphone with unlimited texts for our kids.  Phone was $4 on amazon.

If you need maps, buy a GPS--several to choose from at $100, probably way cheaper right after Christmas.

We haven't used a home phone in years.  Didn't even have one at this house until we got DSL and had to have the phone--it is only hooked to a fax machine. We use our cell phones for everything including work, only once did we ever come close to running out of minutes--and that was a month with several emergencies.  Skype or Facebook or FaceTime for VoIP. 

$150 a month should get you a good shared data plan and two new iPhones or galaxies from any of the big guys.  Half of that is the payment for the new phones. 

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2015, 11:52:22 AM »
Great info guys, thanks. I'll look into several of the suggestions and see what is available.

Offline longshadow

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2015, 01:00:34 PM »
tBh go to the Airvoice Wireless website and check out the $20 Unlim. Airtime/Texts/100mb data plan for your wife.   Ask your friends if they have any older At&t or unlocked TMO cellphones. 

UNlocked cellphones with 4-7 radios are what I prefer.  You can buy simcards cheaply ($1) via Fleabay. 

I use Ultimatemobiledeals.com to purchase my refill pins & FWIW I have not had any problems with either Ultimatemobiledeals or Airvoice wireless (who are US based and use the At&t network in addition to having GOOD US based CS-reps).   I believe that At&t ToGo also offers the same prepaid plan FWIW.

I have saved mucho dollars doing the above... Good luck!

Offline Zef_66

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2015, 01:12:30 PM »
My wife and I use straightalk. While it may not be the rock bottom cheapest route to go, it is definitely one of the cheaper avenues to keep your smart phone. We spend about $90/mo total for both of us and get unlimited talk, texting, and more data than either of us use.

Offline TerryFrench

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2015, 07:30:19 PM »
Ting works great and I was able to port all our numbers. Even the one that were with Sprint. Basically Sprint to Sprint doesn't want to port, possibly same for T-Mobile to T-Mobile. The solution was getting one O2 wireless sim card for less than $10, port my number to O2, then make some phone calls and texts (otherwise O2 is confused), then port from O2 to Ting.

3 cell phones (4 really, but one is not getting much use): last month about $50, and usually between 40 and 55 per month. I smile each tim I get the bill versus the old bills. If you are a big data user, not that good, otherwise that's great. Check it out. (no code from me, it's just advice, but if you ask for my code, I get $25 discount and same for you I believe).

Ting use 2 networks: Sprint (CDMA) and T-Mobile (GSM). Your Verizon phones will not work on that likely and will need to get some other phones. Pick the network that works best for you, same price. also you can have more than 1 network on the same account. (3 phones on Sprint, 1 on T-Mobile for us) with Ting. Sprint has LTE (works for me), and T-Mobile too (also works where I am). So no speed problems.
My last bill in WA state (taxes and fees do vary for every zip code).


Thanks for continuing to be a part of Ting!
Here are a few details for your Ting bill, which was for Nov 08 through Dec 07, 2015...

-------------------------------------------------------------------
Plan Data Usage M              389 Mb                        $12.00
Plan SMS Usage M               192 messages                   $5.00
Plan Minutes Usage S           91 minutes                     $3.00
Line Fee                       xxxx/...           $6.00 Nov 08 - Dec 07
Line Fee                       xxxx              $6.00 Nov 08 - Dec 07
Line Fee                       xxxx/...           $6.00 Nov 08 - Dec 07
Line Fee                       xxxx...           $6.00 Nov 08 - Dec 07
-------------------------------------------------------------------

And here were the taxes we collected for Uncle Sam...
-------------------------------------------------------------------
E911 (Wireless)                                               $3.80
FCC Regulatory Fee (Wireless)                                 $0.06
Utility Users Tax                                             $0.93
Sales Tax                                                     $1.47
Fed USF Cellular                                              $0.56
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Total comes to:                                              $50.82

Offline Cedar

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2015, 08:10:24 PM »
Verison, unlimited text and phone, 3G data. $35 a month.

Cedar

Offline cheryl1

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2015, 08:28:57 PM »
AT&T family plan, 5 smart phones, 12G of data, my share is $30 a month.

Offline TerryFrench

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2015, 10:28:23 PM »
To be clear, my bill above is for the 4 smartphones together. Nothing unlimited, you pay just what you use (all lines together).
so not $30 x 5 = $150, but $50 for 4 lines. I think the original thread started wants to reduce his/her bills drastically (always a good idea  :) )

It's worth plugging your last bill(s) number on their rates page https://ting.com/rates to compare apples to apples. If you use a lot of data, you are likely better on some unlimited plan. But at some point, if one wants to save money, the "unlimited" plans have a real price, and changing the consumption habits - without giving up the modern smartphone life - are likely worth it.
ting has articles on how to minimize data usage (to lower the bills). Basically use wifi as much as possible and configure the smartphones to not do downloads on cell data plan, only on wifi (for apps, music, videos...). If you mostly use cell data for email, messaging apps, maps, things like that, usage is very low.

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2015, 10:41:36 PM »

Neat trick with Google Maps: you can save map data on your device for (I think) 30 days, for offline use with only GPS enabled.  Free.  We used it on a recent road trip, and it was pretty cool.

I use the android app OSMAnd also called open street maps. It is all offline maps. Free for 10 downloads. If you buy the pro version you get unlimited downloads. It is not quite as pretty as Google maps but it is pretty good and you can purchase topographic add-ons for the maps.

Jerseyboy

Offline Beetle

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2015, 06:12:20 PM »
Ditch the phone save the money.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #20 on: December 22, 2015, 08:14:03 PM »
Ditch the phone save the money.

Sorry man, not going to happen. I'm not addicted to the phone, but my wife and I will always have one in case some time of contact is needed.

I did call Verizon today and managed to get the bill down by another $20. $10 of that is only for a year but that's better than nothing and every little bit helps right now. I'm still looking into these other options that have been suggested. My phone will work on Ting so I'm seriously considering that... I need to check my wife's phone's IMIE number.

Offline Beetle

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #21 on: December 22, 2015, 09:08:54 PM »
I think I'm the only one left without a phone.

Offline The Spartan Dad

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #22 on: December 23, 2015, 03:33:18 AM »
Ditch the phone save the money.
I think I'm the only one left without a phone.

Do you use a landline? We've never had one but do get free home phone service through Goggle Voice (cell required) and VOIP via the internet. I looked into a landline recently out of curiosity and the cheapest price I could find was still more than my smart phone line with unlimited talk anywhere in the country. Adding free long distance to the landline made it almost as much as my entire family's cell plan.

Offline Beetle

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #23 on: December 23, 2015, 06:44:32 PM »
Yup a landline. Sorry I should have said 'no cell phone'. We have a private phone company that charges us by the 1/4 mile and we are 25 miles away so our base landline fee is 50 a month and a hundo with internet. Cell phones don't work at the house, I think because of the terrain. We did get upgraded from dial up internet a few years ago, but internet is still way slow (guess we are to far away for anything more than a meg.) I still don't see a real need for a cell though, as a joke my friend let me send a text about a month ago so I could say I've done it.lol

Offline erik_in_tx

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #24 on: December 24, 2015, 01:19:02 AM »
You don't specify what model of smartphones you have. Check to see if they have the ability to use a GSM sim card. If so you may be able to use them on AT&T, T-Mobile, etc. Many newer smartphones are "world" phones and have both CDMA (Verizon/Sprint) as well as GSM (AT&T, T-Mobile, most of the world) radios. Also, if your phones are LTE speed capable they should already be unlocked as Verizon had to agree to unlock all LTE-capable phones to get their LTE license from the FCC.

You'll need to do some research on your specific model of phone, but if it has a SIM card slot check out cricketwireless (dot) com

AT&T bought Cricket Wireless so you will get all the AT&T network of towers and even LTE data speeds but you don't have customer support options of stores in every mall or a 24/7 800 number. My son and I have 2 smartphone lines auto-billing on a credit card. With a multi-line discount/auto-pay discount we're paying $35/line or $70/month and each get unlimited talk, unlimited text, 2.5GB of LTE speed data and then unlimited 3G data if you go over the 2.5GB of LTE data. No overages ever and you don't get cut off if you exceed your LTE data allotment. Your phone always works and you always know exactly how much the bill will be, in our case a flat $70.00 every month.

Oh, and you CAN port your number in to Cricket Wireless if you wish.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #25 on: December 25, 2015, 05:59:12 PM »
I think I'm the only one left without a phone.

No, I dont have one either. Too expensive. But, if I start being away from teh house more, I can see one of the plans that is $10/month as being fine

Offline Beetle

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #26 on: December 26, 2015, 05:41:06 PM »
No, I dont have one either. Too expensive. But, if I start being away from teh house more, I can see one of the plans that is $10/month as being fine
  All right some else who can live without one.

Offline Marinesg1012

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #27 on: December 26, 2015, 09:14:26 PM »
I dont have a phone, my wife keeps here though, just by getting rid of mine that saved us 50 or so a month. I tried the prepaid phones but I am out of the country a lot and if you dont buy new cards every 90 days you have to reactivate the whole thing.

Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2016, 02:42:30 PM »
So this is really old and nearing zombie status but i wanted to thank everyone for their input. I just ordered a Ting SIM card and will be switching my line over. My wife's current phone won't transfer over to Ting and she's still under contract with Verizon. I'll try it out and see how well it works for a few months and if it's good we'll get her a new phone and switch her over.

Offline desilou

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Re: Options for reducing the cell phone bill as drastically as possible?
« Reply #29 on: October 24, 2016, 06:25:58 PM »
Check out https://ringplus.net/.  They use the Sprint network so you need a CDMA capable phone.

The have low cost and free plans.  The low cost plans (they call them Mad Plans) are directly routed through Sprint.

The Free plans (they call them Free Plans, ironic isn't it) are routed through RingPlus servers.  When you call a number, you don't hear it ringing the other side, you listen to an advertisement until the called party picks up.  That's how they make money providing the "free" plan.  You will need to put money in the account to set it up but if you don't go over the allotted allocations for voice, SMS, MMS or data you shouldn't be charged.

They are always running different promotions for both plans so check their website often.

You will have to purchase a SIM card from them to put in the cell phone to work on their network.  Not sure if you can use a Sprint SIM if it will work on their "network" since they use Sprint's towers.

Another good website for information to look into 2nd tier MVNO's (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) is https://bestmvno.com/.  They provide information on the various MVNOs that run on the big 4 carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint).