I get lots of questions from readers about how to get the best deals on your cell phone packages.
While I’ve answered those questions directly, I’ve always hedged on posting about this topic since I’m far from an expert. But then I thought — hey, I bet some of YOU are experts.
So, I’m opening up the question to all of my very savvy readers:
How do you cut the cost of your cell phone bills? What are your cellular money-saving strategies.
And for those curious about what we do, here’s the skinny:
I have my iPhone4 in an AT&T plan with my dad and stepmom, who also live in Kansas City. If you can get a family plan with parents, siblings, etc., it’s a huge money-saver. Since they have AT&T for their other devices (they have cable and home phone), our cell phone package is quite competitive.
For the longest time, I saved money by not having a smart phone and not having texting – it just didn’t seem necessary. But as the blog grew, being able to be online-away-from-home had increasing value. So last year, my hubby got me the iPhone4 for my birthday. (Best present ever.)
Now, because I use the phone so much for work, I’ve got a pretty suped-up package: I have enough data to enable me to make my phone into hot spot. This is a great feature for me – especially since I try not to use too much public wifi after some hacking issues I had earlier this year.
I also have free texting, but with it comes unlimited calls to other cell phones. And we have a set number of minutes – which I tend to use a greater percentage of than my folks (whoops!), but it somehow works out. For all this, I pay $60/month (part of which is a write-off) – which I understand is pretty “good”.
My husband, on the other hand, has his phone and plan thru Virgin Mobile. If you’re looking for a cheap plan – check out Virgin! He’s been very happy.
With Virgin, you buy your phone outright (and yes, they do have the iPhone 4 or 4s, although poor Frankie has a cruddy ‘Droid — cruddy because it’s dying and it’s not even two years old) and then you sign up for one of three packages:
- $35 – 300 minutes + unlimited text & data
- $45 – 1200 minutes + unlimited text & data
- $55 – Unlimited minutes + unlimited text & data
These are all month-to-month — there is no contractual obligation with Virgin Mobile.
If you buy your phone from Virgin, there is FREE shipping – and phones often go on sale. So look for that. You can also buy your phone from Best Buy — and possibly other retail outlets as well.
One thing to keep in mind: The coverage with Virgin isn’t quite as robust as with AT&T, Sprint or Verizon. My husband has never had a dropped call in Kansas City – but when we drove to Colorado earlier this year, he had ZERO reception for 60% of the ride (whereas I was without for only a few minutes at a time on AT&T).
In other words – check their coverage map before you dive-in. If you’re covered, you’re golden! If not, pick another plan.
As far as phones for kids, mine are thankfully still too young (although they do ask for one all.the.time -grrr). When they do need a phone (is “need” the right word? probably not!), it will no doubt be a pre-paid one, much to their chagrin.
Okay, so now that you know all the ins & outs of our cell phone savings, I’d love to hear from you: How do you cut the cost of your cell phone bills? Tell us all your money-saving strategies for your cellular phones.