Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cell savings

I want to break up with you, but I can't.

Don't get me wrong, there are problems in every relationship, and relationships take work. But for me it all boils down to one serious problem - compatibility. I have needs that you can't meet, and you have needs that are draining me. So I really want to leave you.... AT&T.

But I can't.

We're not iPhone devotees, so that's not the issue. The issue is when we upgraded our flip phones to  Galaxy III minis, you hooked us in with a contract. If we break this contract, even halfway through like we are now, we will have to pay $225 PER PHONE. Even though the new plan to which we would switch would save us a bunch over the remaining life of the contract, we just can't afford the up front cost of switching.

And who would we go to, if we left AT&T? RePublic Wireless! RePublic Wireless has been getting top marks in service and affordability lately - their business model is based on routing all services through wifi whenever it's available, and Sprint cell network if you're not in a hot spot. That allows them to keep their monthly charges REALLY low. How low? If you're in a wifi saturated environment, how does $5 a month sound? If you may wander away from wifi occasionally, the $10 a month plan allows unlimited talk and text through cell, and unlimited talk, text and data through wifi. The $25 a month is unlimited data, talk and text through both cell and wifi, though if you go over 5GB of data via cell, you will get throttled down.

The Moto E - not bad for an entry level phone.
I don't have RePublic Wireless, obviously, but my parents do, and they love it. It works, if they need more services for a short time they can change their plan up to twice a month, and the cost is minimal. There is a small hitch - it only works with their own phones, which you have to buy up front.

The Moto lines they offer start at $99 for a Moto E, $149 for a Moto G, $299 and $399 for different generations of Moto X. However, their discontinued beta phone, the Defy XT, is available on eBay for $20 - $25, and can be reactivated with a new account - just know that the old phones had issues when you would leave wifi areas and go into cell coverage. I understand there were a lot of dropped calls - still, it's a well made, solid, dust and moisture resistant smart phone, so if you want to get started cheap (or allow a youngster to have their own phone) it could be a nice starter model.

Currently our cell bill for two smart phones and one voice-over-internet "landline" is about $170 a month though AT&T, and I'm told that it's not an unusual amount to pay. If we could afford the switch right now, cancellation costs would be around $450 to break up with AT&T, plus at least $198 for new Moto Es and maybe a $20 Defy XT for the kids to use at home through wifi only. The first months bill is rolled into the starting costs too, so add another $25 (two $10 plans and one $5 plan) to that total. That's $693 up front.

Ouch. But considering the carrying cost of staying with AT&T through the rest of our contract is $170 a month for 12 months, that comes to $2040. Even with $693 up front, and another $300 - 660 for monthly fees for 12 months (depending on which plan we choose), we would save between $687 and $1047 over the next year. Really makes me wish we had an extra $700 just sitting around right now! Since our Galaxy phones are only a year old, we could offset some of our costs by selling them, too.

Unfortunately, the cost of switching plans is too high for us to manage now, even though it would save us a bunch. However, at the end of our contract next January, I'm pushing to make the switch. Then the switching cost will be only the cost of the new phones and plans - maybe $250 - and we can still sell the Galaxys for probably $75 each - that will reduce the switching cost to $100.

So, if your contract is ending soon, or if you're thinking about a new cell plan, check RePublic out. Big savings await you!


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