How to save buckets of money on your cell phone plan

If you are looking to trim your recurring expenses, one of the first places you should be looking is your cell phone bill.  Traditional “postpaid” cell phone plans used to be the only option if you wanted decent service.  Today there are many companies (Cricket, Page Plus, Straight talk, etc) which offer very aggressive pricing with “prepaid” plans and piggyback on the same cellular networks you’ve been using for decades.  I’m going to use Verizon Wireless as a baseline comparison simply because, in my opinion, they offer the best coverage.

One of the big reasons that I hear from people not wanting to leave Verizon is that they want Verizon coverage.  They often don’t realize that these smaller cellular companies, often referred to as MVNO’s (mobile virtual network operators) are simply reselling service on the major cell carriers.  In fact, they often will give you the choice of carrier (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, etc) depending on which works best in your area.  Let’s take a look at Verizon wireless pricing as well as pricing from a couple MVNO’s for a quick comparison.  Keep in mind there are MANY others out there, so do your own research.  The ones below are just a couple I happen to like.

Traditional Verizon Wireless

Looking at Verizon today, their basic unlimited plan is $80 /month.  This price does not include monthly taxes/fees which can be substantial.  It also does not include the ridiculous $30 activation fee or the cost of your phone, either. 

If you add a 2nd line, the cost is $70 per line per month (again, not including taxes/fees).  Three lines is $55 per line, and four is $46 per line.  As you can see, the price gets much cheaper (borderline reasonable) when you get to that 4th line and beyond.    Once again please remember, this pricing does not include added fees/taxes (or the insane $30 activation fee).  I should also note that a downside to getting multiple people on your plan is that it makes it difficult to jump ship should you decide to switch to a different carrier in the future.  I had a friend who for years was stuck on Sprint because he did not want to deal with the hassle of moving his entire family to Verizon.

Verizon Wireless Pros:

  • Easy

Verizon Wireless Cons:

  • Very Expensive
  • Hidden Fees
  • Ludicrous $30 activation fee

Page Plus Wireless

One of the more established prepaid MVNO’s is Page Plus.  Their most expensive plan is $50 / month (with auto pay) which includes unlimited talk, text, & data.  In my past experience the fees are built into the price but this may have changed.  If you are the only person on your plan, you will be saving AT LEAST $360 per year.

Most people I know don’t use nearly enough data to justify the high cost of an unlimited data plan.  If you are good about connecting to Wifi when available, you could most likely get by with something like the $27/month Page Plus plan which includes unlimited talk/text and 3GB 4G data.  After your 4G is used up, it simply slows down to 2G speeds.  If you are on a single/individual plan you are looking at saving at least $600 /year.  If you have 4 people on a Verizon plan, the switch would save you approximately $960 /year.

Page Plus Pros:

  • Good Pricing
  • One of the more established MVNO’s
  • Uses Verizon Network

Page Plus Cons:

  • Mediocre Support

Red Pocket Wireless

If you want to get really aggressive about saving, you can look to some of the lesser-known MVNO’s such as Red Pocket wireless who offer a choice of networks (Verizon, ATT, T-mobile, etc).  They sell a 360day plan on eBay which includes 5GB 4G data for only $240.  Same with most others, when the first 5GB is used up it drops back to slower speeds.  Easy math on this one, it comes out to just $20 / month.  This is the plan which Mrs. Miser is currently on (though I got it on sale for $200).  We are saving over $500 / year compared to her previous plan.

Red Pocket Pros:

  • Very Good Pricing
  • Choice of networks (Verizon, ATT, etc…)

Red Pocket Cons:

  • Newer company
  • Not all features may be supported such as visual voicemail

Google Fi

Google actually offers their own cellular service as well, called “Google Fi”.  This service actually switches your phone between different cellular providers (currently Sprint, T-Mobile, & US Cellular).  If Sprint has the strongest signal, it will use Sprint.  If your Sprint signal is weak, it might switch to US Cellular or T-Mobile.  The base monthly fee is $20 which includes unlimited international text/voice, and you pay only for what data you use.  If you use zero data, your bill is $20 (before fees).  Data is billed at a rate of $10 / GB.  Data used beyond 6GB is no extra cost. Additional lines are just $15 / month.  There is some potential for some great savings here, especially if you can get multiple people on AND your data needs are low.  Google Fi can be an EXCELLENT option for the right person, but I strongly suggest doing your research first.  If you do decide to sign up for Google Fi, please use my referral link:

Google Fi Pros:

  • Good Pricing
  • Excellent support – best out there IMO.
  • Free roaming, including international

Google Fi Cons:

  • Does not use Verizon network
  • Only certain phones are supported
  • Poor iPhone support

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