by Thomas Holbrook II, Tech Guru
Full Disclosure: Some of the services mentioned are exclusive to Walmart, a retail giant. While I am a Walmart Associate (who does not work in the Connection Center), I recognize that such offerings don’t always fit the needs of consumers. Research plays a vital role in finding what’s best, and so does honesty on my end.
The fall semester is well under way, and that means most financial aid situations are resolved. Some students qualify for a refund, but may still need to stretch their budget.
One way to do that is switching to a different cell phone provider. Finding the right one is half the battle.
FreedomPop is one provider that operates off of Sprint’s Network. Customers can buy their phones or use their own compatible device.
Bear in mind that one gets what they pay for as they only provide 500 MB of data and 200 minutes via Voice Over IP (VOIP) according to Time.
Their premium plan prices are actually hard to find, and may frustrate new users.
A La Carte
If skimping isn’t suitable, there are other ways of saving on that monthly bill. Ting and Virgin Mobile offer custom plans where customers can set the amount of minutes, texts, and data. By fine tuning what’s needed, bills may be as low as under seven dollars a month.
These services also operate off of Sprint’s network. With Ting, existing devices can be brought over, but not all of them, so checking with them beforehand may be a good idea.
As for Virgin Mobile, their custom plans are only available at Walmart.
The Whole Buffet
Limitations may not suit everybody, especially those who talk and text a lot. If WiFi is readily available, then Republic Wireless may be ideal. They operate through existing WiFi connections, and their cheapest plan is five dollars a month.
The cheapest plan may actually be pointless as one can easily get a Google Voice number instead. Higher tier plans use Sprint as a backup network, and may be a better idea for most consumers.
While most college campuses have WiFi, heavy usage may interfere with call quality. The only other caveat is the need to purchase one of their phones, which will cost at least $100 after taxes.
If the issue of WiFi and buying a new phone is not a problem, then the affiliate program may help put money back in the subscriber’s pocket. As long as college campus is in Sprint’s coverage area, it may be good choice for would be entrepreneurs.
There’s also other choices for referrals.
Boost Mobile is also a provider that operates on the Sprint Network. They have a buyback and referral program, which may help reduce monthly costs. They currently have competitive rates for talk, text, and data, but the phone has to be outright purchased.
There’s also Solavei, which operates off of T-Mobile’s network. They don’t have the best deals around as Boost Mobile beats their prices on the lowest tier (500 MB priced at $40 compared to 1 GB at $35), but their affiliate program may help reduce costs.
They rely on a third party if a new phone is needed. Otherwise, an existing phone that takes a SIM card can be used so long as it’s unlocked.
For better prices, Walmart Family Mobile may be a better fit. For only talk and text, it’s currently $25 after taxes. Throw in data and you pay under $40 until this October.
It’s important to note that 2.5 GB of high speed data is available. Once that threshold is reached, access is slowed down for the remainder of the billing cycle.
Family Mobile operates on T-Mobile’s network and is a good fit for those who are in the appropriate coverage area.
If better network coverage is needed on the other hand, Cricket Wireless is available. They are owned by AT&T, which has among the best coverage throughout the U.S. Their prices are competitive too.
There’s also Straight Talk, which has a variety of phones available. They have recently expanded their offerings to accessories and SIM cards for unlocked phones and tablets.
It’s a service provided by TracFone in partnership with Walmart. For $30, one can have unlimited text, 1500 minutes, and 100 MB of data. For unlimited talk, text, and data, it’s $45. There’s a word of caution on data, however.
After 3 GB of high speed data is accessed, speeds are slowed for the remainder of the 30 day plan. If attempts are made to tether the phone to a computer, the subscriber risks having their account permanently suspended as doing so is against their terms of service.
If a phone’s package says the phone is CDMA, it will either use Sprint or Verizon towers. Most GSM phones operate off of AT&T’s or T-Mobile’s depending on the phone.
For those wanting to deal with AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon directly, they also offer no contract plans that are constantly changing in price. The important part is researching what’s needed and what’s budgeted.
The good news is that phone service doesn’t have to be expensive.