If you're like most people, your phone bill is way too expensive. For years, we had AT&T but we switched to Cricket Wireless a few years ago and saved a TON of money. One of us recently switched to Mint Mobile to try it out and have loved that as well.
Make sure you don't miss my Mint Mobile review! Both Mint and Cricket offer compelling products at a fraction of the prices of the major carriers.
Let's be honest, living without a cell phone seems nearly impossible for most people, so finding a cheaper alternative is your best bet.
It’s hard to imagine a time without cell phones. For many people it’s the first thing they see in the morning and the last thing they see at night.
We aren't here to curb your cell phone addiction, but rather help you pay less for your phone bill.
Today I'll focus on how to save money on your cell phone bill.
Because cell phones have become an essential device in everyday life, one would think there would be tons of options when it comes to cellular service. But in reality, there are just a handful of large carriers.
As phone screens get larger, so do the monthly prices cell phone companies charge us. In an effort to reduce our monthly bills we searched until we found the cheapest phone plans. This was back in the fall of 2014, and in the years since we made the switch, we’ve each saved over $1,500!
The savings add up quickly and compound over time!
Cricket Wireless At A Glance
Why we jumped to Cricket from AT&T
We chose to switch from one of the large carriers to one that was more affordable.
Ultimately, for our needs, Cricket Wireless was the best deal. You can easily port over your existing cell number, and all you have to do is just make sure your phone is unlocked and compatible with their network.
They likely won't buy out your existing contract so you might need to get creative if you are locked in with your carrier.
When we made the jump, there weren’t any physical Cricket Wireless locations near us, so everything was done online. They mailed out a SIM card within a week and we were set. We do think it’s worth noting that Cricket is owned by AT&T, but their pricing and flexibility would lead you to believe they are unrelated.
The low-cost phone carriers like Cricket have a variety of plans available.
Cricket, in particular, has plans ranging from $25 (no data) to $60 (unlimited data) and everything in between. Their monthly prices also include all taxes and fees! No more hidden fees in the fine print that show up on your bill. But you should take into account a $25 activation fee.
We opted for a plan in the middle of their range since we don’t need unlimited high speed data with WIFI access at home and work.
Cricket Wireless Reception
One thing a lot of our friends have asked us is if we have noticed worse reception or coverage.
The good news is that we have not, and we actually think we have fewer dropped calls now. The one time we felt we had worse service was on a trip to a remote part of Vermont. Some of our friends with AT&T still managed to get 1 bar of service in the middle of nowhere. If you live out in a forest it’s probably worth looking into before making the switch, but the 99% of you that live in a city or suburb will be more than fine.
We never had a problem with service and were pleasantly surprised that we felt we got the same product for less!
What’s The Catch?
The biggest thing to know is that there isn’t an option to buy a new phone at a discounted price. At least for the ‘latest and greatest' models of iPhones and Samsung phones. You also can’t pay for a new phone on a monthly basis without running that chance of paying interest.
When we get new phones we pay the full price of the phone outright, which is not cheap. But when you run the numbers, paying for the phone outright is the optimal choice anyway.
However, we recommend that you do not upgrade your phone every year and wait until it is absolutely necessary. Believe it or not, an iPhone can last years! We just don’t recommend upgrading the operating system very often since that can slow you down. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it!
Contrary to all of the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy commercials, you do not need to upgrade to the latest phone every year. We promise that the people on the other end of the line (or text thread) cannot tell whether you are texting or calling on an iPhone 4s or iPhone X. If you are the kind of person who needs the latest and greatest phone regularly, please read our article on lifestyle creep.
With that said, there are many cheaper alternatives to iPhones. We know plenty of people that are happy with many types of phones (Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC). Remember, a phone is just a tool used to communicate, stay organized, and take photos. It’s not your identity and it is not who you are. If your phone defines who you are, then personal finance is probably the least of your worries!
Once you build your net worth you can splurge on a phone.
Bring Your Own Phone
When we first switched, we simply unlocked our phones and kept our existing iPhones. You can use this tool to see if your current phone will work on their network!
How Much Can You Save Each Year?
Cricket Wireless is not the only low-cost cell phone company on the market. Cricket is simply one of our favorites, has great coverage where we live, and has only gotten better over time. In fact, a few months ago we got a text message from Cricket saying that they were increasing the data on their data plans at no additional cost!
So how much can this actually save you? Look at the example below.
Note: The information in the table below is accurate as of 03/2018; Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile do not offer a 5GB plan.
These are not the cheapest plans available, simply the cheapest equivalents plans (equal amounts of data). For our plans, we signed up for Cricket's auto-pay to save an additional $5 each month, which is a no-brainer. Who wants junk mail, anyway? Not me.
We saved $540 a year. With no noticeable change in service or quality.
By choosing the Cricket Wireless plan with automatic payments from the example above you’d save $540 each year ($420 vs $960)! That’s half a grand you can save each year or use to pay down your high interest debt like credit cards! Or use it for your family's Christmas celebration.
If your current plan is even more expensive, or you’d be switching multiple lines for your family, you’d be saving even more. Multiple lines will make the savings add up quickly.
We used this information to convince our friends and family to switch to Cricket Wireless almost 4 years ago. Needless to say, they still thank us when they get their phone bill. We encourage you to do the same!
Ready to Switch? Click here to read our step-by-step guide!
Francisco Maldonado, MD is a personal finance expert who was raised in poverty by a single mother and had to learn everything about personal finance on his own. In addition to running his personal finance site, The Finance Twins, with his twin brother, his site has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, US News, The Simple Dollar and other top publications. Francisco is a physician who borrowed over $200,000 to pay for his medical training and understands debt payoff strategies and frugal living. He received his M.D. from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, the most selective medical school in the country, and a Bachelors degree in physiology from the University of Minnesota. He is currently a radiology resident at Northwestern University. You can contact Francisco here or via Instagram @thefinancetwins.