5 On Your Side

5 On Your Side breaks down ways to save on your cellphone bill

Posted February 2, 2020 10:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 2, 2020 11:25 p.m. EST

— Want to pay less for your cellphone plan?

Whether it's just you or you and the family, there are options.

Consider switching carriers, but don’t switch to just any carrier.

Consumer Reports says smaller ones, known as MVNOs — or mobile virtual network operators — offer less expensive options.

They don't need to build and maintain cell towers themselves. They lease excess wireless capacity from the big four carriers, so you're using the same towers.

Consumers also see savings because they're not paying for services they don’t need, like extra data, HD streaming and hot-spot tethering.

How much can you really save?

Compare the plans:

AT&T

With AT&T, unlimited talk, text and data could cost $70 a month.

You could use the same network with Straight Talk mobile and pay $44 a month.

That's a yearly savings of $312.

Verizon

Verizon offers an unlimited plan for $65 a month.

You could use the Verizon network with Visible, which offers an unlimited deal for $40 a month with some phone restrictions.

That's a $300 yearly difference.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile offers a deal of $60 a month for an unlimited plan.

You can use their network with TextNow for just $40 a month, saving $240 a year.

Consumer Reports says not to worry about the hassle of making the switch.

The most recent survey shows customers are usually happy with their new choice.

Consumer Cellular, Google Fi and Ting are the carriers that topped Consumer Reports’ most recent surveys.

One downside to using smaller carriers, though, is that they’re first to have data speed slowed down if the bigger company’s network is congested.

While many small providers allow you to purchase a new phone with monthly installments, not all do, so be prepared to pay in full, up front.

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