How I Saved $924 a Year on my Phone Bill

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I’ve owned a cellphone for about 18 years now, and I can happily say my monthly bill is the lowest it’s ever been.

That’s a recent change — a few months ago it was the highest it’d ever been. I was paying about $94 per month after taxes. Now I’m paying less than $17 per month, also after taxes.

And even though I’ve switched to a lesser-known provider, I have no complaints about the service. In fact, I can’t really tell the difference.

Where did the savings come from?

I’m guessing you’re having the same thought I had when I saw the price tag on my current plan: There’s gotta be a catch, some big sacrifice.

And it’s true, I did give up some perks that I’ll spell out right now.

My final monthly bill from T-Mobile was for $93.96. For that price, I had:

  • Access to two lines — one of which I wasn’t using
  • Unlimited calls on the T-Mobile network
  • Unlimited texting
  • Unlimited data
  • Voicemail-to-text (automatic transcription) service

Then I switched to Mint Mobile, which is a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO — meaning a phone service company that doesn’t own the network it uses, instead paying one of the big carriers to use theirs. Mint Mobile uses T-Mobile’s network.

I decided to give it three months, and if I wasn’t impressed, I’d switch back.

I paid for the three months upfront. The total was $52.65, which breaks down to $17.55 per month. There were no other costs, since I brought over my current device, an iPhone 11 Pro that I intend to keep another year or two.

For that price, I got:

  • Access to one line
  • Unlimited calls on the T-Mobile network
  • Unlimited texting
  • 4GB data per month
  • Voicemail-to-text service

So there were a couple of downgrades, but in practical terms, I didn’t lose anything.

What did I really give up?

I wasn’t making use of the unlimited data when I had it, thanks in large part to the fact that I work from home and did so before the coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the time, my phone can connect to my home Wi-Fi, so I don’t need to pay for a ton of data. I’m not even using half of the 4GB per month I get now.

I also wasn’t using my other line on T-Mobile, so I happily ditched that. From what I can tell, I could easily add a second line if I ever needed to and pay the same rate.

So the only remaining question was whether I would sacrifice any quality in terms of phone coverage and signal if I ditched T-Mobile. The answer to that turned out to be no.

Mint makes use of T-Mobile’s network, so I wasn’t worried about suddenly not having a signal in places I used to. And indeed, I haven’t encountered any new problem areas. I haven’t had a single dropped call or audio issue that I can recall.

I was worried that I might experience poor performance or speeds if T-Mobile wanted to prioritize its own customers over Mint’s by slowing down data for Mint customers, a practice known as “throttling.”

But so far that has been a nonissue, too. I was able to send video clips from the top of a mountain deep in the wilderness on a Saturday morning just as quickly and effectively as I had on T-Mobile.

To my utter surprise, everything seemed to check out: I wasn’t losing anything I needed or dealing with any new hassle, and I was saving significant money.

So when my three-month Mint Mobile trial ended recently, I renewed for a full year and paid in advance. My price for a full year of service: $203.03, after tax. That means the monthly rate works out to about $16.92 now, an even better deal than I got for the trial period.

Just a bit more math to drive it all home: I’m saving $77 per month, or $924 per year, compared with my old plan.

How I made the switch

I heard about Mint Mobile through WhistleOut, a Money Talks News partner that helps people save on phones and phone plans.

I initially scoffed at the idea of a $15 per month (pre-tax) phone plan, but after seeing it mentioned a few times, I finally looked into the details. It seemed worth a shot.

I was able to sign up on Mint Mobile’s website, pay and swap over my service in just a few minutes.

Because I owned my phone outright and it was unlocked and compatible with the network Mint uses, I was able to use an eSIM card, which is a virtual SIM card and make the switch super fast, instead of waiting for Mint to mail me a physical SIM card to stick in my phone.

I didn’t have to talk to anyone on the phone or in person to swap over to Mint, although I did later call T-Mobile to confirm they were going to cancel my service and that I didn’t have an outstanding balance.

If you need more data

I realize not everyone can use Wi-Fi instead of data all the time, and not everyone happens to already be on the T-Mobile network for a smooth transition. That doesn’t mean you can’t save money the same way I did.

My 4GB plan is the cheapest Mint Mobile has to offer at $15 per month before tax, but the company also currently offers 10GB, 15GB and unlimited data plans for $20, $25 and $30 per month, respectively.

Mint’s also not the only game in town. There are other MVNOs that use Verizon’s and AT&T’s networks if you want to ensure you have the same exact coverage.

If any of this sounds appealing to you, check out WhistleOut and see how much you can save by making a switch.

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