Cut the Cost of Your Wireless Bill

Cut the Cost of Your Wireless Bill
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Tribune News Service
By Ashlyn Brooks From Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Chances are, you have a cellphone plan with one of the three wireless U.S. giants: AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon.

These carriers are attractive to many customers for their extensive network coverage, high-speed data connectivity and broad array of services. Along with offering a range of individual and family plans, they provide international roaming options, stores nationwide where customers can get in-person assistance, and perks such as access to Netflix, Disney+, or other streaming services with certain plans.

But the benefits come at a premium price. AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon primarily offer plans that provide unlimited data, calls, and text messages ranging from about $60–90 per month for a single line of service and more for a family plan.

If you’re looking for a less costly alternative, consider mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). These operators piggyback on the networks of larger carriers, so they can offer similar coverage and data speeds. Because they don’t take on the costs of operating and maintaining a network, they can charge less for their plans. For example, Mint Mobile, an MVNO that runs on T-Mobile’s network, offers a plan with unlimited calls, text messages and high-speed data for as little as $30 per month.

Light users can take advantage of plans that provide tiered data for a cut-rate price. Consumer Cellular, for example, has a plan with unlimited calls and texting and 5GB of data for $25 a month. To see how much data you typically use monthly, review your recent cell phone bills.

Affordability is a plus with MVNOs, but they come with some trade-offs. Although these providers use the same networks as the major carriers, the smaller outfits tend to have lower priority during peak usage hours, when the bigger carriers put their own customers first. MVNO customers might experience slower data speeds during those periods. That’s an important consideration if you need reliable access to high-speed data.

That said, developments in 5G and 4G data speeds mean that MVNO customers may still be able to watch videos, download apps or files to their devices, and perform other activities without issues, despite reduced data speeds.

Some MVNOs don’t offer roaming coverage, which allows you to connect to a competing provider’s network when you go outside your own carrier’s service area. If you regularly travel internationally or to remote areas in the United States and need access to the cellular network while you’re there, you may want to stick with a larger carrier. Or choose one of the MVNOs that offer roaming options, such as Google Fi or Mint Mobile.

Typically, MVNOs sell a limited selection of compatible phones, and any discounts they provide on their devices may not be as deep as the ones from major carriers, which often offer attractive deals on new phones when you sign up for a plan.

However, if you want a device that an MVNO you’re considering doesn’t offer, you may be able to purchase it directly from the manufacturer or a third-party retailer. And you can often save money by buying a used or refurbished phone.

(Ashlyn Brooks is a contributing writer at Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine. For more on this and similar money topics, visit ©2024 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
The Epoch Times copyright © 2024. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.
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