Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Save Some Money ($25) on Your Wireless Bill

Okay.  I've been searching each and every major phone carrier trying to see which one is not out to completely rob me blind.  I had narrowed down my choice to a single carrier based on service in my area, plan services/features, and cost.  Without naming any names, I almost went with a company that has a large "T" in their name, and they deal with most "mobile" devices.  Unlimited talk, text and 4G web with hotspot (even though the speed gets throttled down after certain usage based on your plan) was pretty fairly priced for a family plan.  I went through their site, picked some modest smartphones that were on sale, chose my plan options, and was ready to checkout.  While trying to complete the checkout process, they required a hefty deposit to start service.  I could secure phone service for several months just for what they wanted for a deposit.  So back to square one.

I was watching one of my favorite YouTube personalities who had in fact had their show sponsored by an online service that appeared to offer very affordable wireless service.  I wanted to check into it because I never heard of them before, but had a preconceived notion that I wouldn't try it because they weren't a major carrier and didn't want the headache.  Come to find out that they use one of the major carriers services.  Then comes the part where I had already dealt with that carrier before and didn't like them, but I tried to keep an open mind.

Here's a photo of how the plans work, and I'll explain more below:
As you can see, the left hand side breaks it down into Minutes, Texts, and Data.  The different levels are across the top and the prices line up under what you selected.  So this plan shows 500 mins. ($9) + 100 texts ($3) and 500 Mb ($13) which as you can see comes up to $31+ surcharges ($32.50 altogether in NC).  The first thing that came to mind is what if I go over my choice, do I have to pay per unit thereafter, does my service stop, or is there an overage fee of some sort.  After further investigation, they just move whatever section you went over in to the next level up for that month and then make up the difference.  On the other hand if you didn't use enough in one area to meet the level you chose, they would move you down a level and credit your account.

For example, this picture shows 500 minutes picked for the current month. if I used 600 minutes, they would move just my minutes up to the 1000 minute level for that month and charge the difference.  If I had only used 90 minutes though, they would have dropped me down to the 100 minute level and issue a credit towards they next month.  Each section works the same way.  

You can also set alerts for yourself, so that when you get close to one of the thresholds, you are prepared for the extra charges for going over, OR, you can set the service to stop that feature altogether to control your costs.  You do get control of that, which was another selling point for me.

So, I liked how each section was separated from the others and not bundled.  I also think the way they handle the overages and under-usage costs/credits.  And being able to go online and check your dashboard in nearly real time to see where you stand for the month was a plus.  The selling point for me though was the cost of the first month.  

You can purchase new and used phones directly on the site, and for the most part they are reasonable.  There were only 2 or 3 phones that are considered "top-end" that I felt were a little pricey, but maybe that's just my broke viewpoint.  You can use a phone that you already have as long as it is a Sprint phone.  You can't use Boost, or any of the PTT (Push To Talk) phones.  If you aren't sure you can enter the phone ESN/MEID numbers on the site and it will let you know.

I already had an old Nexus S 4G so I gave it a go.  Worst case scenario is I get to use a phone for a month and it costs me a little over $30.  Or so I thought.  It took about 15-20 minutes to enter my information and get things going. (The Nexus S 4G and the Galaxy Nexus both require a few extra programming steps on your side, but they give you a step by step walk-through that ANYONE can follow.  You do need the MSL number which is emailed to you after you confirm activation.)  So I followed through, and saw there is no activation fee, and since I used the link from the YouTube personality, I reduced my first bill an additional $25.  So my first bill was $6 and change, since I already had a phone.  It is a prepaid service, but for $6, I'll give it a fair try.  

One thing to note about the link that I used to save the $25.  It isn't just for service credit.  It also can be used for device purchase too.  So it can be used to purchase a phone, a mobile hotspot, or applied to your service plan.

Since I mentioned the mobile hotspot above, if you use a smartphone with a mobile hotspot feature, there is NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE to use it with this service. But it does count towards you data usage.  Most carriers offer this feature for about $15-$45 last time I checked, and that's in addition to your data charges.

I've been tinkering with the new service for a few hours as of this post and it is working just fine.  I'll try to do a follow up around the end of April (2013) and disclose anything I missed, liked, or didn't like.

If you're in the process of looking for service and want to give this a try, I can pass the same $25 discount on to you to use towards your service or purchase.  I was glad to get a discount, and I figure other people might as well.  

I honestly feel that I may have found a decent service.  I hope that someone else out there traveling the "Interwebs" can find the same sense of use.  If anyone else out there tries this or currently has this please let us know below.  If you used this and didn't like it, please make it known below and why you didn't like it.  I'm always open to other peoples point of view.

As always, remember to do something for someone other than yourself and, Pay It Forward.