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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