I love cell phones. I especially love smartphones. I have owned an iPhone and an Andriod (HTC Inspire) over the last 6+ years, and, honestly, it is hard to consider ever leaving a smartphone behind.
However, I can’t stand how much our cell phone bill is (or, rather, was). Further, I despise cell phone contracts. Sure, you get a nice phone, but at what price?
So, with our current AT&T contract set to expire in early 2014, I started researching pretty much any and every alternative I could think of. I searched online, got recommendations from friends, and even talked to some folks in stores. It would be hard to list every company and option that I researched. (Leah got sick of hearing about it, since this lasted for almost six months.) AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Ting, Cricket, T-Mobile, Boost, Straight Talk, Virgin Mobile…and quite a few more were all researched heavily.
Finally, we decided to switch to Republic Wireless. The odds are, you haven’t heard of this company, but I hope to persuade you to consider them in today’s post. The reason is really simple: our cell phone bill will now be less than $50 per month…total.
Where We Were
Previously, we were customers with AT&T and, to be honest, we were quite pleased with their service. We just didn’t like how much our bill was, and we did not like being trapped by a 2-year contract just for me to have a nice phone.
All these years, I have had a smartphone and Leah has not. She has never really wanted one, but her phones were unwieldy, especially for texting.
So, we paid for a small shared phone plan, and added a very small text plan for her. Additionally, we paid for me to have a data package. I did not pay for texting on my phone, but used Google Voice for free texting.
Still, our bill averaged about $116.00 per month. Some of you are reading that and going, “So what?” I know that’s not a huge bill, but it was far more than we wanted to pay. It just seemed crazy to pay that much, especially when only one of us was using a smartphone.
And, have I mentioned, we were in a two-year contract, which I hate?
Why Republic Wireless?
After tons of research, we decided to give Republic Wireless our business. Admittedly, this is a fairly new company, but they are well-established, and their share is growing.
The reason is very simple: they are very inexpensive and do not require a contract.
To start, you must purchase a Moto X phone through Republic Wireless. These phones run $300 each. Yes, we paid $600 for our phones,*** but I think you’ll see why very soon. By the way, I love the Moto X. As a former iPhone owner, I will even say that I like it more than the iPhone. It is extremely fast and has tons of great features. Even if you aren’t a tech person, though, it is super easy to use. [A good review of the phone can be found here.]
Now, why would we dole out that much money for phones? How about to lower our cell bill by about $70 each month!
Republic offers four plans:
- Wi-Fi only talk, text, and data for $5/month.
- Unlimited talk and text over cellular, and Wi-Fi only data for $10/month (this is Leah’s plan)
- Unlimited talk, text, and data over Wi-Fi and 3G network for $25/month (this is my plan)
- Unlimited talk, text, and data over Wi-fi and 4G network for $40/month
So, with the two we chose ($10 for Leah and $25 for me), our bill is only $35 per month, plus tax (which isn’t much at all). Our bill should not ever be over $50, and will probably not approach that anytime soon. And, remember, there is no contract. We can come or go whenever we want with no early termination fee!
Now, consider where we were at (about $116/month) and where we are (let’s say $46/month), and you can see why we were willing to pay so much for our phones. We are saving around $70 each month on our cell phone bill! It won’t take anytime for us to make up the money we spent.
Let’s do the math for a moment.
Currently, we use AT&T, and our phones cost us nothing. Our average bill, however, is about $116. So, in the course of a year, we averaged spending just shy of $1400 ($1392, to be exact) on our AT&T plan.
Now, we did have to buy our phones from Republic.*** So we have to start at $600, but if our bill is $46 each month, that’s only $540. Add in the $600 for the phones, and we are at $1140. In other words, we will save about $250 our first year, and that’s with the price of the phones added in. In the coming years, we’ll save hundreds of dollars a year over our old plan. Just compare $1392 for a year to $540. How does pocketing an extra $852 dollars sound? You could give more, support a mission effort, pay off debt, or use that money to save up for another purchase in the future; all instead of sending it to a cell phone company!
UPDATE (April 15, 2014): Republic will begin offering a Moto G phone for only $149 starting on April 17, 2014. This phone will feature the $5, $10, and $20 per month plans only, but makes a much less expensive option for purchasing the phone.
How Do They Do This?
I kept wondering the same thing. It really sounded too good to be true.
Republic Wireless utilizes Wi-Fi in a very unique way. If you are in a Wi-Fi zone, your calls, texts, and data are automatically sent through that network (provided you are logged on), which saves on the cellular network. Republic is counting on a lot of users utilizing Wi-Fi to offset their costs.
When you aren’t in a Wi-Fi zone, calls are texts (as well as 3G and/or 4G if you have those plans) are run over the Sprint network. Now, I know what you are thinking: “You had me until Sprint.” Trust me, I felt the same way at first. THEN, however, I discovered that, when you are not on a Sprint network, Republic automatically roams to Verizon’s network, for free!
It’s not a bad plan: you have Verizon as a backup!
Oh, and what happens if you start a call in a Wi-Fi spot, but then leave it? No problem. That’s why you must purchase the Moto X from Republic. It is equipped with a “Wi-Fi handoff,” so you do not drop the call when you leave a Wi-Fi zone, and the handoff really is seamless. If you enter a Wi-Fi zone, your phone stays on the cellular plan until you end your call, so the transition is seamless that way, as well.
A few weeks ago, just after getting my phone to try out (you get a 30-day trial with full refund of the phone and the service plan if you are unhappy), I drove to Southeast Missouri to help with a funeral. I took the phone with me to test the signal. From Nashville, Tennessee to Dexter, Missouri I had signal the entire trip, except for a very short stretch (about 5 miles) in Western Kentucky. In that stretch of no signal, by the way, my AT&T phone only had one bar of service. I have since taken the phone to Henderson, Tennessee and had signal the entire time, as well.
UPDATE (April 15, 2014): We have now taken our phones to the Jasper, Alabama area with no problem as well. We are well satisfied with the coverage in/around Nashville and all places we have taken the phones thus far.
We are more than pleased with the phone (the Moto X rocks), and the service is more than admirable. But the cost? And having no contract?
How could we pass that up!
I will give two negatives before ending. First, the data signal is a bit slower than I was used to before. However, it is not slow; just slower. I just wanted to let you know that, in case you literally “live” on your phone for data. I use mine a lot, but don’t go crazy with it, so it’s no big deal to me. Other than that, we are perfectly happy with the performance of Republic on the Moto X.
Second, there is very little customer service. In fact, the customer service at Republic Wireless is basically a series of forums, but it is remarkable how much information is there. You can email them, and I have done that once, with a response in less than a day. I don’t mind this way of doing things for two reasons: (1) it keeps prices very low, and (2) how often do you actually use customer service, except when you are trying to lower your bill?
If you are interested in switching to Republic, please use THIS LINK. If you use this link and stay with Republic Wireless for more than the 30 day free trial, I will get a $20 credit, and so will you!
[***Lest you think Leah and I have an extra $600 just lying around to buy gadgets and gizmos, we saved up for this purchase. We took some extra money for a few months and bought the phones. As far as money out of our regular budget, we only paid for shipping.]
QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? Please leave your thoughts below about our switch. Let us know what you think.
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