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-   -   Cell Phone Monthly Pythons (https://www.mersenneforum.org/showthread.php?t=23901)

jvang 2018-12-15 14:25

Cell Phone Monthly Pythons
 
I’ll be turning 18 soon, and my parents want me to pay for my own cell phone plan, but it’s surprisingly complicated to figure out much! We're currently spending $50 per line for unlimited data, talking, and texting. Our current carrier is Verizon, and I have an iPhone SE. The cheapest plan I found that they offer for a single phone is $30, but it’s strictly for a “basic” phone, not smartphones.

I'd rather not have to switch phones, since A) it’s a nice, well-functioning phone and B) I’d get scammed in a trade-in for a phone worth several hundred dollars less than what I already have. I appreciate the other features of my phone that are a result of it being a smartphone, such as being able to surf the internet when I want/need to, or use Google Maps, or take nice pictures.

The cheapest plan I found for a smartphone is $55, which is really a lot and I don’t even need much of what it offers (besides, it’s more money for less stuff compared to the current situation). Among other gimmicky things, it gives me 5 gigabytes of data (if I’m in a position to use the internet it’s somewhere that has a WiFi connection) and unlimited talk/text, yet I don’t talk a lot or message a lot (unlimited is convenient, but I don’t think it’s necessary).

So $55 a month seems like a bit much, with no other alternatives [I]from Verizon[/I]. But perhaps going to a different carrier is an option? From what I know so far, my phone is “locked” to Verizon services. But I’m guessing that other carriers have ways to get around this? I noticed that, if I were going to trade in my phone to Verizon from another carrier versus already being with Verizon, my phone was automatically worth less. Would they be charging me for coming from another carrier?

Batalov 2018-12-15 17:08

Family plans work even if you are away from home. (interestingly, auto insurance does too.)
For ~15 years we used the $49 T-mobile plan + $5 for kid's add-on lines. Well, to be fair, it had changed over the years and even discontinued but they wouldn't terminate existing plans (how nice; it is like grandfathered New York apartment leases). They have it offered again now. Data is not unlimited but there is enough for my kids. ymmv

jvang 2018-12-15 17:18

[QUOTE=Batalov;502890]Family plans work even if you are away from home. (interestingly, auto insurance does too.)
For ~15 years we used the $49 T-mobile plan + $5 for kid's add-on lines. Well, to be fair, it had changed over the years and even discontinued but they wouldn't terminate existing plans (how nice; it is like grandfathered New York apartment leases). They have it offered again now. Data is not unlimited but there is enough for my kids. ymmv[/QUOTE]

While this seems like a good idea, my parents want me to have a separate plan, like a first step into adulthood or something like that. Paying for my third of the plan seems to not be an option.

masser 2018-12-15 17:28

[QUOTE=jvang;502894]While this seems like a good idea, my parents want me to have a separate plan, like a first step into adulthood or something like that. Paying for my third of the plan seems to not be an option.[/QUOTE]

Having your own plan might be a good way to establish a credit record. You will need that sooner than later.

Uncwilly 2018-12-15 17:57

You may want to look at Straight Talk. They run on the Verizon network. You should be able to take your phone over. The prices are good.

Xyzzy 2018-12-15 20:08

[QUOTE=jvang;502876]I’ll be turning 18 soon, and my parents want me to pay for my own cell phone plan, but it’s surprisingly complicated to figure out much![/QUOTE]Your parents are probably trying to ease you into the world of adulthood in small steps rather than throwing you out there all at once.

The adult world is a very hostile and confusing place!

:mike:

kriesel 2018-12-15 21:11

[QUOTE=jvang;502894]While this seems like a good idea, my parents want me to have a separate plan, like a first step into adulthood or something like that. Paying for my third of the plan seems to not be an option.[/QUOTE]
Learning on and making mistakes on something small is a good way to go. Gathering information and seeking advice before plunging in as you are doing seems promising. I was just looking at Wirefly the other day regarding data-only plans. There's a lot of info there about general phone plan offerings available too. [URL]https://www.wirefly.com/content/phone-plans[/URL] Watch out for analysis paralysis. Good luck. Especially if you'll be paying the bill with money you earn yourself.

(I went from a monthly and very limited plan with one provider to prepaid with another provider, Tracfone, some months back, and I expect the savings to repay the Samsung J3 smartphone cost in 6 months or so from start. It's convertible to autopay via credit card. Number portability and changeover was smooth and straightforward. Projected cost is under $20/month for my low usage. There are few monthly plans in that range, and all I recall is a Consumer Cellular limited basic phone plan for less. There is a market for selling and buying used phones; I've gotten several on ebay for example.)

jvang 2018-12-16 00:23

[QUOTE=Uncwilly;502899]You may want to look at Straight Talk. They run on the Verizon network. You should be able to take your phone over. The prices are good.[/QUOTE]

The prices are indeed very good! Their website tells me that I can keep my phone with no hassles or cost to switch. $35 per month with no contract if I wanted unlimited everything, $50 per month with no contract for completely unthrottled data (they say that they might check what you’re up to if you use more than 60 GB per month on this plan).

Why would you go to a big company and pay more for less when you could pay less for more from Straight Talk or something? What do bigger companies offer that someplace with better prices doesn’t? The only downside that I see is that I can’t do a trade in, and I didn’t look very closely for that service.

chalsall 2018-12-16 01:52

[QUOTE=jvang;502940]The only downside that I see is that I can’t do a trade in, and I didn’t look very closely for that service.[/QUOTE]

It's all a little complicated. Which is exactly how the providers like it.

Some telephony providers will offer a "free" high-priced phone as part of a contract (sometimes with a "trade in"). What they don't mention is this usually requires a contract of somewhere between one to three years.

Quite possibly the most important lesson your parents are trying to teach you is there is no such thing as a free lunch. Take this to heart.

Tangentially, look up what "unlocked phone" means.

Often it is less expensive (over the expected usage period) to purchase the kit you want to use outright, regardless of your chosen service provider....

xilman 2018-12-16 07:32

[QUOTE=chalsall;502947]Tangentially, look up what "unlocked phone" means.

Often it is less expensive (over the expected usage period) to purchase the kit you want to use outright, regardless of your chosen service provider....[/QUOTE]I have no expertise at all in the subject of US cell phone provision (you reading this sm88?) and not much more regarding UK mobile phone providers. What little I have found out, and exploited, is that it is always cheaper to buy outright the lowest price phone with the required functionality and to purchase a pay-as-you-go SIM. I also know that it is easy to unlock a phone. I've unlocked all my locked kit.

No idea whether this is relevant --- re-read my first sentence.

VictordeHolland 2018-12-16 09:29

Do you really need the unlimited data? Or can you use WIFI at home/university/work?

I don't know how providers do business in the USA, but $50 for unlimited doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

I may not be a heavy smartphone/tablet user but I use 4GB over WIFI and only 1GB over mobile network each month. I've set my phone to backup photo/video and update apps when connected to WIFI and to prefer WIFI connection over mobile network when both are connected.

I pay €13/month for a 2GB data plan + unlimited voice/text. If I used 90% of my data bundle I get a text message stating so. I can then (optionally) buy extra data for that month (1/3/5/10GB for €7,50/15/20/30). I've needed it once this year when I was on holiday in Denmark/Sweden and I wanted to backup my photo's over a mobile connection, a well spend €20 if you asks me.

jvang 2018-12-16 14:49

[QUOTE=VictordeHolland;502969]Do you really need the unlimited data? Or can you use WIFI at home/university/work?

I don't know how providers do business in the USA, but $50 for unlimited doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

I may not be a heavy smartphone/tablet user but I use 4GB over WIFI and only 1GB over mobile network each month. I've set my phone to backup photo/video and update apps when connected to WIFI and to prefer WIFI connection over mobile network when both are connected.

I pay €13/month for a 2GB data plan + unlimited voice/text. If I used 90% of my data bundle I get a text message stating so. I can then (optionally) buy extra data for that month (1/3/5/10GB for €7,50/15/20/30). I've needed it once this year when I was on holiday in Denmark/Sweden and I wanted to backup my photo's over a mobile connection, a well spend €20 if you asks me.[/QUOTE]

I shouldn’t need the unlimited data, but the 2 gigabyte plan (plus unlimited to ice/text) through Straight Talk is $35, which is much better than Verizon, but clearly much more expensive than in other countries. I think that there are a couple factors leading to high service contract prices around here. First off, cell towers have to cover much more area per person than in other countries, and I’d assume they have to build extra for rural areas. Secondly, since internet access isn’t even available to some rural areas (our best option is DSL, and we’re lucky), people use their phone data for everything, which probably overloads the towers. Both could affect the prices, although perhaps US service providers are just getting away with really high prices :max:

All I’ve looked at is Straight Talk and Verizon. When I told my dad about the lower price, he immediately took me to Wal-Mart so we could both get new SIM cards for the TracFone service (it seems that they’re the parent company of Straight Talk or something?). The $50 SIM card replacement kit came with a month of the $45 plan, which I guess is nice. No contract, so I can switch to different plans or providers whenever I want. It was pretty straightforward; remove old SIM card, put in the new one, go to their website, fill out their online forms, and bam, my phone was activated within 5 minutes.

Straight Talk also has a points reward system, letting you get a month of free service and whatnot. By using my dad's referral code (he did his phone before I did), we both got some points. If I find a better/cheaper plan while snooping around on the internet then I’ll switch over, otherwise I suppose this works :smile:

jvang 2018-12-16 14:56

There are several online services offering to unlock my phone, charging around $20-30. I’ll have to look into whether it’s worth the trouble.

On a slightly different note, T-Mobile has a military service discount that is great for family plans. A 4 person plan with unlimited everything would be $25 per person, and with more people on the plan it gets even cheaper. Worth a look if you’ve got a shared plan!

chalsall 2018-12-16 15:46

[QUOTE=jvang;502983]Straight Talk also has a points reward system, letting you get a month of free service and whatnot.[/QUOTE]

Again, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

"Loyalty points" have to be paid from somewhere. Since these are publicly traded companies, they are paid by the consumer, not the shareholders.

If you can figure out how other customers pay for your "free" service, all the power to you....

LaurV 2018-12-17 02:11

[QUOTE=masser;502895]Having your own plan might be a good way to establish a credit record. You will need that sooner than later.[/QUOTE]
+1

jvang 2018-12-17 14:26

[QUOTE=masser;502895]Having your own plan might be a good way to establish a credit record. You will need that sooner than later.[/QUOTE]

Is it possible to have a credit record without a credit card? My mom (and I occasionally) listens to a well-known podcast by Dave Ramsey. One of his main ideas for becoming wealthy is to avoid the use of credit cards and other forms of debt, with the exception of your house (but you’re supposed to get a 15 year mortgage to pay it off faster). And he's shown that you can get a house without a FICO score or whatever most companies use to determine your eligibility. I don’t know much about this whole thing myself (haven’t bought a house or anything), so maybe someone can clear this up? :unsure:

[QUOTE=chalsall;502987]Again, there's no such thing as a free lunch.

"Loyalty points" have to be paid from somewhere. Since these are publicly traded companies, they are paid by the consumer, not the shareholders.

If you can figure out how other customers pay for your "free" service, all the power to you....[/QUOTE]

I treat it as paying for x months of service and getting x+1 months for the same price. They could just charge less for each month, but that would reduce the money they get from irregular customers. I don’t mind getting extra stuff! :whee:

CRGreathouse 2018-12-17 16:25

[QUOTE=jvang;503121]Is it possible to have a credit record without a credit card?[/QUOTE]

Yes -- but to build up a credit record quickly you will need to use a credit card.

David Ramsey's methods are solid though mathematically suboptimal. If you have a phobia of credit cards you can certainly avoid their use. If you can't trust yourself to use them responsibly you certainly should not use them.

If you plan on using credit cards any way other than paying off the full balance every month you should think long and hard about what you are doing and if it is worthwhile.

Batalov 2018-12-17 19:00

The usual first steps are a co-signer credit card, a store card (e.g. Newegg store card, or some tire store card - the tire shops love to make these up), then the real one.

Another great thing is to buy a car with a co-signer parent - especially if/when dealers have the 'graduate' deals. I did that for my daughter and built her credit score up to 700s right away and saved $1,500 in the process because of the deal... :rolleyes:

kriesel 2018-12-17 20:30

[QUOTE=jvang;502983]When I told my dad about the lower price, he immediately took me to Wal-Mart so we could both get new SIM cards for the TracFone service (it seems that they’re the parent company of Straight Talk or something?). :smile:[/QUOTE]Ha, now we see the reason behind it; dad gets the tech-savvy kid to do the research to find the savings strategy. :smile: A cell phone sales guy in a discount store with industry background told me about half the prepaid plans on the US market were from the Tracfone parent company.
Glad you found something you're satisfied with. Re credit history, one approach to that is establishing a reliable payment history on a monthly bill, like utilities; electric, phone,...
Re credit cards, they generally have awful interest rates, and some have fees, but some are no-fee and offer cashback or gas discounts or other in effect rebates. Absolutely pay off the balance on time in full every month without fail, and they can be better financially than paying cash or by debit card.

jvang 2018-12-19 01:36

[QUOTE=CRGreathouse;503139]David Ramsey's methods are solid though mathematically suboptimal.[/QUOTE]

From what I can tell, his general plan is A) get out of debt as quickly as possible, B) avoid debt, and C) invest a bunch of money in all sorts of things. Seems pretty straightforward; what would you do to become wealthy in a mathematically optimal way? Given your past responses on economics/money, I assume that you know what you’re talking about :jvang:

jvang 2019-02-11 02:21

Found a new, cheaper phone plan for my dad through PureTalk USA. It's $20 per month, no contract, with unlimited talk/text and unlimited low speed data (basic web browsing and emails). Pretty neat if you aren't consuming a bunch of media on your phone :whee:

henryzz 2019-02-11 15:39

Doesn't Whatsapp supplant the need for unlimited calls/txts? Surely you will have wifi the majority of the time for internet.

jvang 2019-02-11 22:23

[QUOTE=henryzz;508257]Doesn't Whatsapp supplant the need for unlimited calls/txts? Surely you will have wifi the majority of the time for internet.[/QUOTE]

And iMessage for iOS devices. That's probably why there aren't many limited calling/texting plans, since you can use Skype, Discord, social media, etc. for that sort of thing, although it may be less convenient. And IIRC some companies bundle phone plans and internet access together at a slight discount (probably mistaken, it's likely something else that is bundled with internet :ermm:)


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