Saving money in Dayton: Cell phone bills

Last year I had to switch from a pretty amazing family plan with corporate underwriting to a solo plan with Verizon. My cell bill went from about $70 a month to $110 a month. That’s almost $500 a year that could have bought a new pair of skates and gloves for this hack hockey player.

With the one year anniversary coming up- I decided to do some comparison shopping. I have an iPhone 5- btw, which can run any network with the appropriate SIM card. I’m happy enough with it- and don’t feel the need to upgrade.

Calling Verizon and just suggesting I switch to Sprint or T-mobile got an instant offer of a “valued customer” cut to $60 a month before taxes- or about $70 a month in real world. However, despite having 2 gb of data in the plan- to share it with my iPad or laptop was going to add $20 more a month- no matter what- so I was only looking at a $20 discount.

For the record- I had unlimited calls, texts and a 2 gb data cap- and paid extra to be able to hotspot it from my phone.

Sprint- who I used to love- had me talking to a call center in some other country- and started out right away with trying to sell me a new phone. I didn’t feel like they “got me.”

T-Mobile was incredibly helpful. Yes- I know they don’t have LTE here yet- next fall, but, they don’t include a contract either. Pay first month and a month in advance, and unlimited everything- and to get 4.5 gb to use as a hotspot- $68 pre tax or $78 with taxes.They offer discounts for military, veterans, AAA members- ask and see what they can hook you up with. I got 15% off for being a veteran.

Now we’re talking. They send a SIM card- and you are in business. One warning- don’t request the SIM card until you are out of penalty phase for your current provider- for me, that’s Dec 21. TMobile expects instant activation- and Verizon will ding me $120 for terminating before the drop dead date. If I want a phone- “with approved credit” – it’s $149 right now for a 16gb iPhone 5S and $22 a month for 2 years. No interest, no contract. I can easily sell my current 32GB iPhone 5 for at least $350 so it may be a decent option- but, as I said- I’m OK with the 5 for now.

T-Mobile and Sprint are really shaking up the field right now- with unlimited data and fixed length phone financing- instead of the pay in perpetuity for a phone that’s subsidized.

It doesn’t really matter what company you have now- try calling and see. First question is always- “when do I not face an early termination fee”- and then threaten to switch on that date. If could save you some serious cashola.

Another option is the Republic Wireless phone. It’s an earlier version of Android, and you have to buy the phone upfront- but the bill for a “smart phone” is $10- 25 or 40 a month depending on what you pick. Their secret is that most of the time- your voice and data are over a wifi hotspot, but that when you aren’t in wifi range- they use Sprint’s towers. PizzaBill has had one for about a year and seems pretty happy.

And, btw, if you break your cell phone, or drop it in water or any such other #FAIL, check out my friend and fellow veteran Jim Kreinbrink’s shop in Cross Pointe Center- Cell Phone Repair– he can fix phones, tablets, netbooks, laptops and game systems. (937) 435-2771 175 E. Alex Bell Rd., Ste 240, Dayton, OH

This is the first post in a planned series of “how to save money in Dayton Ohio” as an added value to my readers. If you have ideas- feel free to add them in comments- or contact me. Maybe I’ll need to come up with an official “Esrati Reader Discount Card” which will get you discounts at establishments around town :-)

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london coe
london coe

This is a fantastic idea. Would you do a post “how to save money while dating your city in Dayton Ohio”? Cost effective ways to fall in love with the city. A cheaper phone bill helps put some date cash in your pocket, add some great advice about how to go fiscal on that spare cash… just an idea of a future post. 


Us AARP geezers get a sweet deal through Consumer Cellular.

John Ise
John Ise

Good post.  I’m going to share with co-workers down here in Miami (Daytonians, it’s a sunny 78 degrees outside here!).  But to get my IPhone 5, I had to get into a 2-year contract with AT&T so feel stuck.  Does your strategy work only with cell phone plans that are beyond the contract term or purchased without contract?


On cell phones–I am a very happy Ting user and it is very similar to Republic Wireless.
For a future article, how about residential internet service providers.  I have ATT  and dislike them.  I have had Time Warner in the past and disliked them.  Speeds are always much slower than advertised.  I have read horror stories about Dish and DirectTV.  What is a Dayton guy to do?

Dave C.
Dave C.

“How to Save Money in Dayton” is a great idea! One of the big advantages of this area is that it is a fairly inexpensive place to live. You would be emphasizing one of the best things about living in the Dayton area.
Maybe post the ” Cheap [email protected]@rd’s Weekly Pick ” highlighting the best buy in Dayton for that week….?


I likely take the cake here for cheapo cell phones.
I bought my phone at Kroger’s for around $60 a couple of years ago. It’s a Samsung. It has a little camera. It doesn’t have internet capabilities, but it make and receives phone calls, and it can send and receive texts.  Bare bones phone. That’s all I need. iWireless is the name of the company. Internet access and data plans are available if you want to pay more, but I don’t. I’m online at home and at work. That’s enough for me.
I earn free cell phone minutes every time I shop at Kroger, which is at least once a week and to the tune of $100-$125. You get 20 free minutes for every so much money you spend, I can’t remember exactly how much. Feed two teenage boys like I do, and those free minutes add up quickly, and they don’t expire.
I don’t use my phone that often. I only really carry it for emergencies and so my kids can reach me if they absolutely have to. I would happily live on nothing but the free minutes if Kroger would let me. Unfortunately, the deal requires me to purchase at least $20 worth of airline every THREE MONTHS to keep the phone alive. This is what I do.
So my little unimpressive cell phone winds up costing me a whopping $21.45 (including tax) x 4 = $85.80/year.


That’s “airtime.”


I’ve been with Page Plus Cellular for about 4-5 years now and it’s been a great value.  $80/yr nets up to 2,000 minutes, texts are 8¢/ea from that balance. Works anywhere Verizon does with any Verizon phone (+ some Sprint ones), though you have to be on a monthly plan for smartphones (still cheaper than major carriers). My mom has it too and it only costs her $10 every 120 days ($30/yr) for an emergencies-only phone. We update phones every couple years with hand-me-downs when dad’s work re-ups their contract. Customer service has always been fast and no-nonsense, though I heard they got bought by a Mexican mobile tycoon recently that’s definitely not known for its service. I would recommend to a savvy customer, but with the caveat of YMMV in light of the acquisition.


Walmart has a plan with unlimited talk, text and data (2.5GB @ 3G) for 40$+tax.

Auston Hensley

I’ve had T-Mobile for about six months now and my verdict is generally good. I’m surprised you aren’t picking up LTE with the iPhone 5 – I have the exact same phone and have been getting it since about July or so in pretty much the entire metro area. (Oddly enough, while LTE is in Dayton it isn’t in Cincinnati. But the speed test app doesn’t lie.)
My only gripes about T-Mobile are (1) their reception inside buildings and (2) reception in outlying areas. There’s a couple egregious and inexcusable dead spots along Route 4 in Huber Heights and also in Beavercreek along Indian Ripple Road (not far from the Greene). That all said, I saved about $30 a month by switching from Cincinnati Bell (which I had switched to, from Verizon several years ago in the name of cost savings, too).