Who doesn’t like to save money?
Yes, some of us are loyal to cell phone companies or think it’s too much of a hassle to change carriers. However, does saving $600 or more a year make you rethink your loyalty?
Your first step
The first thing you need to look at is how much data you use per month. Data is what you use to check your email, watch a YouTube video, watch streaming TV; anything you do online with your phone. That’s really where your money goes in a plan. I’m not aware of any plan today that doesn’t have unlimited talk and text. So, those are just gimmes. It’s the data that matters.
Go online to your account and, hopefully, you can check your last 12 months data usage on your statements. If you still get paper bills and have saved them, do a look back of the previous 12 months and to learn how much data you’ve used, also. If your year’s total data usage comes to 3GB or less, then you do not need to be paying for a plan that has unlimited data. You should consider switching.
A caveat to switching is that, if you are still paying for a phone, you cannot change carriers until you have it paid off. And it must be compatible with the new company. You can check that online or call the company. If your phone is unlocked (that means they can be freely transferred between networks and it will accept any SIM card) you do not need to check for compatibility.
Also, check the company’s coverage map to determine what kind of signal you will get, if any. You don’t want to have to stand out in your driveway to make a call.
Carriers change plans/prices frequently and, if you haven’t looked for a while, it might be time to check other companies.
AT&T’s Prepaid Plan comes with 5GB of data, fraud call blocking and spam alerts, rollover data (unused data rolls over to next month) for $30 plus fees and taxes. AT&T can save you even more, if you prepay $300 for 12 months. That comes out to $25 plus and they up the data to 8GB with this plan.
Let’s talk about that Magenta company, T-Mobile. If you are a veteran, you are eligible for Magenta Military. They offer unlimited talk, text and unlimited data. Included is 5GB of mobile hot spot data. A mobile hot spot is where you use your phone to allow another phone or tablet to access the internet. They also give you 5GB of data in Mexico and Canada. In addition, you get free Netflix and one hour of in-flight Wi-Fi. All this at $55 for one line but cheaper when you add lines. Taxes and fees are included.
Not a veteran, no problem. There’s Tello for you at $14 per month with 2GB data and unlimited talk and text. I did check their map and most of Citrus County is in their coverage area.
There are other cell phone companies where you can find inexpensive rates. To name a few; Visible, Cricket Wireless, Metro, Redpocket, U.S. Mobile, Consumer Cellular, H2O Wireless, Republic Wireless and Ultra Mobile offer very good rates. And even Yahoo has entered the cellular market with Yahoo Mobile for $39.99.
Your new company will send you a new SIM card (subscriber identity module) with directions to install it. Or you can pick it up at their local store. The SIM is what determines which carrier your phone can use to call, text and stores data about your account. You will not be able to use the current SIM card, if you change carriers.
Lastly, don’t worry that you will have to get a new number. You can “port” (transfer) your current number to the new carrier. Contact your cell company to ask about the process. The porting wait can be 10 minutes (never happened to me) to 24 hours for that to happen. So, be patient.
Warning! Do not disconnect your number from the old carrier before you port it and do not close your account. Otherwise, it will be very hard to get that number back.
Mari-Elain Ebitz was the first editor of the Greenbelt Gazette, which serves Sugarmill Woods, and is a past member of the College of Central Florida College Board of Trustees. She also does web design, specializing in not-for-profit organizations. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.