HOUSTON – When was the last time you shopped around for cell phone service? Most Americans don't, and that means many of us are paying more than we have to. If you look beyond the big four wireless carriers, you will find you can pay far less for the same service.
WhistleOut can help you compare about 350 cell phone plans across 40 different providers for free. All you need to know is approximately how many gigabytes of data you use each month, how many minutes you talk on your cell and about how many texts you send. You can find all of this information on your cell phone bill.
KPRC 2 Consumer Reporter Amy Davis asked WhistleOut to find a cheaper plan for Houstonian Jenny Litchie. She is a Sprint customer on an unlimited data plan for $55 a month.
Here is what WhistleOut found for her:
1-year phone plan (not including taxes and fees) :
- She pays: $660 ($55/month)
- Mint Mobile 8GB plan: $375 ($31.25/month)
- Simple Mobile 5GB plan: $240 ($20/month)
- FreeUP 6GB plan: $360 ($30/month)
- Ultra Mobile 6GB plan: $348 ($29/month)
While Litchie currently has an unlimited plan, she uses less than 4GB each month. Litchie could switch to any of the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) that WhistleOut found for her and save $420 over a year.
Advantages of MVNOs
MVNOs charge much less than the four big carriers because they have much less overhead. They rent space off of the networks of the big carriers. Most are prepaid services and they exist only online. There are no storefronts.
Disadvantages of MVNOs
When big networks are congested, like at a music festival or football game, those big carriers may slow down the data speeds of MVNO's to prioritize their own customers.
Compare plans. Even if you stick with one of the big four carriers, Tina Chang of WhistleOut says switching carriers will get you more benefits than loyalty ever will because the best perks are for new customers.
"And the minute that you switch, after you wait a few months, you're counted as a new customer on your old carrier," she explained.
Biggest Waste of Money
Chang says where a lot of people overpay are those who lease their phones. In Litchie's case, it is costing her $240 a year. She still won't own the phone at the end of the year. Chang said Litchie should get the pay off amount for her phone, pay it and keep it, instead of trading up for the next model.
If you are the type that always wants the latest phone, Chang says switching companies will get you the best new phone deals every time.