Have you ever wondered how to save money on your cell phone bill? I have been on a quest to lower as many bills as I can. My mobile service was one that I thought I’d done a pretty good job of keeping reasonable – until I discovered the world of MVNO’s. An MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) has an agreement with the owner of the network (think T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, & Verizon) to buy bulk access, the MVNO then offers service to their customers at a lower cost than the customer can get from the provider network.
I chose to switch from T-Mobile to Mint SIM. Prior to the switch, I had an unlimited talk, text, & data plan that was throttled at 2GB. The plan also included free audio streaming from specified services that did not count against my data (great for my Pandora addiction). I was paying a little over $55 month for service. I sometimes surpassed the 2GB/month with T-Mobile and knew that I would definitely need more than that since I would no longer have the free streaming. I chose the prepaid 5GB/month with Mint SIM. Since my research found lots of happy customers, I opted to prepay for a year. After finding a 20% code at Retail Me Not, I paid $251.68 for the year ($20.97/month) – a savings of $35 a month! I have been on the plan for almost five months so basically the rest of the year is free.
Here’s how it works: you select your service on their website, they send you a SIM card, once you receive it, you put the card in your phone and activate service on their website. The website has a pretty solid set of instructional videos.
There are a few caveats that you should consider before switching:
- If you want to keep your number, don’t cancel your old service. Mint SIM will port your number on setup which will cancel your old service.
- Mint SIM runs on the T-Mobile network, so if T-Mobile service is lousy in your area you might want to look for an MVNO that runs on your preferred network.
- You need to have an unlocked GSM phone (AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM – Sprint & Verizon are CDMA) that uses a SIM card.
- Mint SIM does not sell phones, so when you need a replacement you will have to buy it outright somewhere else. I plan to buy my next phone directly from Apple.
- It’s not highly technical, but if you are really uncomfortable with technology, you might want to pass. I suggested my mother stay with T-Mobile because she frequently visits the T-Mobile store for help with her phone.
- Keep in mind that you are prepaying for service. If the company were to go out of business, you might be out the money you prepaid. I’m in a money saving community with lots of members that use the service. Between their recommendations and the fact that I would come out ahead after 4.5 months, I was not too concerned with this.
Frankly, the only difference I’ve noticed is that my phone now says Mint at the top instead of T-Mobile. I am so glad I made the switch. Now I can put that money in a savings account to pay for my next phone upgrade, which is so much more fun than monthly service.
Have you used an MVNO? What has your experience been?