How I Pay $10 per Month for My Cell Phone

How I Pay $10 per Month for My Cell Phone

Photo courtesy of Kevin Lütolf

Just over a year ago, I switched my cell phone service over to Republic Wireless. It was a new company, and they were trying out some pretty cool new things. Not the least of which was a cell phone plan that cost me $20 per month with no long-term contract.

I loved the price but for a while I didn’t love the actual service. I was using an older phone and there were a lot of problems with it. I was almost ready to switch to another carrier.

But I kept hearing that their new phones were light-years better, so a few months ago I decided to upgrade and give Republic Wireless another shot.

Talk about a good decision!

I now have the best cell phone I’ve ever owned and I only pay $10 per month for unlimited talk, text and data. So today I want to tell you a little bit more about Republic Wireless, in case you’re interested in saving tons of money on your cell phone bill too.

Why is Republic Wireless so cheap?

Republic Wireless does things a little differently. Basically, they specially program their phones to use wi-fi whenever possible. If you make a phone call, it will first try to make it through a wi-fi connection. Same with texts and data. And since wi-fi is free, it’s much cheaper to provide service this way.

Of course wi-fi isn’t always around, or isn’t always high quality. When that’s the case the phone automatically switches to Sprint’s cell network, which means that you have the best of both worlds.

Even if you start a call on wi-fi and lose that connection while you’re still on the call (maybe you’re heading out of the house), your phone will automatically switch to cell coverage so the call can continue uninterrupted.

So essentially, it’s cheap because it uses wi-fi first, but you still have the same cellular capabilities as any other phone.

The really cool part: the plans

Republic Wireless offers four different plans depending on what you need. Here’s how they work:

  • $5 per month – Unlimited talk, text and data over wi-fi only. No cell coverage.
  • $10 per month – Unlimited talk and text over wi-fi AND cell. Unlimited data over wi-fi only.
  • $25 per month – Unlimited talk, text and data over wi-fi AND cell. 3G data coverage.
  • $40 per month – Unlimited talk, text and data over wi-fi AND cell. 4G data coverage.

Other than taxes, there are never any other fees. And each plan is month-to-month, meaning there’s no contract locking you in and you can cancel whenever you want.

And now get this because this is awesome: you can actually switch between plans up to twice per month, whenever you want, at no extra charge.

For an example of how cool this little feature is, I’m currently on the $10 per month plan just to see if I can survive not having data for the short periods of time when I don’t have access to wi-fi. So far it’s going pretty well.

But I’m heading to a conference in a couple of days and while I’m on the road I want 3G data coverage too. So I’m switching to the bigger plan just before I leave, and then I’ll simply switch back when I get home. I’ll get the coverage I need for only the length of time I need it, which is not only incredibly convenient but will save me a little money.

Pretty cool!

What phones can you use?

There’s good and bad news on the phones, and depending on your personal preferences this could be a deal-breaker or might be exciting.

Republic Wireless has to specially program their phones in order to make them run primarily off wi-fi, so your options are limited. In fact, as of right now you actually only have two choices (and neither of them is an iPhone).

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that the phones are really good.

You have your choice between the Moto X (the deluxe version) and the Moto G (the slightly less deluxe version). I’m no techie and I’m not going to pretend to be, so if you want a detailed review of the phones you can go here.

I’ll just say this: I got the Moto X a few months ago and it is hands-down the best cell phone I’ve ever owned. It’s just awesome. Easy to use. Fast. A big screen that lets me type without hating it. I love it. And from what I understand the Moto G is basically the exact same thing, just with fewer bells and whistles.

Now, the last thing to know about the phones is that you have to buy them outright. Because there’s no long-term contract with Republic Wireless, they choose to let you buy the phone yourself rather than wrapping it into the price of your contract and calling it “free”. But still, while that saves you a lot of money over the long-term, it does mean that there’s an extra up-front cost.

Right now the Moto X starts at $299 and the Moto G starts at $149.

A no-brainer

I’ve been with Republic Wireless for over a year now and I held off on recommending it for a long time because the service with that older phone just wasn’t good enough. Even at the low price, I didn’t feel good about it.

But after several months of using it with my new phone, at this point it just feels like a no-brainer. The phone is great, the service is excellent, and the price is unbeatable.

In fact, this is exactly the kind of thing that can make a HUGE impact on your budget because it’s a one-time effort that will save you big money month after month. Depending on your current cell phone bill, it might even save you thousands of dollars per year.

They even have a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can see how it works for you and send it back if you don’t like it.

But if you like it (and I’m guessing you will), you can sit back and bask in the savings.

Click here to check it out.

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  • Mrs. PoP September 15, 2014

    iPhone users should check out Ting. We have 2 iPhones on Ting and though it’s not “unlimited”, with our usage buckets our bill comes out to $43 most months – for 2 iPhones! Months where we use a ton more it’s a little higher, but still soooo much lower than our old Verizon bills. Amazing customer service and huge range of phones without being forced to rely on Wifi which is a non-starter for us.

    • Matt Becker September 15, 2014

      Thanks for the additional resource! I’ve heard about Ting, but never having used it before I don’t know much about it. Sounds like a great alternative, especially for people who don’t want to give up their iPhone. I will say that you’re never “forced to rely on WiFi” with Republic Wireless. It’s the default option, but it’s only $25 per month to have unlimited access to 3G as well, and at $10 per month your calls and texts will use cell coverage whenever WiFi isn’t an option. So it’s not like it’s WiFi or bust.

      • Pretired Nick September 15, 2014

        I actually had to give up Ting, although I loved almost everything about it because the coverage SUCKED. I think other people have had better luck, but around here (Seattle area) it was terrible.

  • Pretired Nick September 15, 2014

    Good stuff! I still need to update this old piece about trying to lower my cell phone bill: http://pretired.org/saving-money/latest-quest-reduce-my-cell-phone-bill/
    My main critique of this approach after having looked very closely at it is that you should figure in the cost of the phone to the math. If you assume the phone lasts two years, then $300/24=$12.50/month. That, plus your $10 rate is more like $22.50/month. Add in the taxes and you’re probably getting close to my unlimited Cricket plan of $35/month (which includes all taxes and fees). (I haven’t written about my switch to Cricket yet.)
    Plus, I’m using my old AT&T phone for no extra charge, so I consider that free. I think the $25-$30 level is where everything is going and it sounds like you’re essentially in that range as well. The advantage over Cricket over Republic? Mainly that I don’t need a special Republic-only phone. That basically locks you into Republic so if you did have to switch, you’d have to try to unload that phone or eat the cost.
    Glad it’s working out for you! Paying $80+ to phone companies is completely crazy these days!

    • Matt Becker September 15, 2014

      Good point about including the cost of the phone. I did that here when I looked at the cost savings over 30 years, but you’re absolutely right that it should be factored into the comparison. Of course, you can also get the $150 phone which, from what I understand, is still pretty awesome, and that would drop the monthly figure to $16.25, plus taxes. And you’re also right about needing a new phone if you wanted to switch out, but even in that case the monthly savings could pretty easily overcome that. In any case, all of these discount providers are MUCH better than the traditional carriers, and I’m interested in hearing more about Cricket. Not one I know anything about to be honest.

  • Ben @ The Wealth Gospel September 15, 2014

    I’ve loved Republic Wireless. I switched last December right after they introduced the Moto X. Such a better phone than what I had before (iWhat?). And I’m loving the $10/mo. plan!

    • Matt Becker September 17, 2014

      Yeah the Moto X is pretty awesome. And from what I hear, the Moto G is pretty much just as good. I’ve always been a little cheap when it comes to the actual phone, so it’s pretty nice having something good for a change!

  • Mr. Frugalwoods September 16, 2014

    I love the idea of Republic, but the Sprint coverage in the areas that I frequent is awful. Right now my office pays my bill so I don’t need to care, but in the next couple of years I’ll be looking to some sort of cheap solution. Maybe by then there will be a company reselling Verizon? It’s basically the only service I can get in the boonies of New England.

    • Matt Becker September 17, 2014

      I was pretty worried about the Sprint coverage as well, but I’ll be honest that it’s really been pretty good for me. Where in New England are you? Until just a few months ago I lived in Boston, so the area is near and dear to my heart!

      • Mr. Frugalwoods September 17, 2014

        I’m in Cambridge, but I spend a lot of time in southern Vermont, Northern NH, and rural Maine. In the boonies, it seems like Verizon reigns supreme unless you are on an interstate.

        • Matt Becker September 18, 2014

          Oh cool! I’m jealous of all the fall weather you’re getting right now!

  • Done by Forty September 16, 2014

    I’ve been paying between $5 and $10 per month on PTel’s pay as you go, but the phone I bought way back (and LG P999) is a little wonky. Not terrible or anything, but it’s old enough now that certain apps just aren’t compatible and every once in a while, it’ll freeze up.

    I’ve been thinking of switching to Republic Wireless, but the one thing I really like the option of having is simply using data when I’m out and about. I rarely actually use this option, but I figure if I need to look up a map or something on the spot, I could.

    • Matt Becker September 17, 2014

      That sounds like the old phone I had with Republic Wireless. They were all first-world problems, but they annoyed me to the point that I was almost ready to give up on Republic Wireless altogether. The new phones are light years better though!

      On the last point, you can have unlimited 3G data for just $25 per month. That’s significantly more than what you’re paying now, but still pretty cheap. Also, I signed up for the $10 plan, without 3G, just to see how much I missed it. I haven’t really yet, and the really nice thing is that when I’m heading out of town (like I am today for FinCon), I can simply switch plans to have the 3G while I’m away. And then I can just switch back when I get home. I think that’s pretty awesome.

  • Kayla @ Red Debted Stepchild September 17, 2014

    I wish Republic Wireless was available here. It technically is, but the service outside the city limits in my rural area sucks and unluckily, lots of people (friends and family) live in the country here, otherwise I’d switch.

    • Matt Becker September 18, 2014

      Definitely not worth it if you can’t get coverage. Hopefully Sprint can up their game.

  • Helena May 6, 2015

    This company sounds amazing! I was wondering if there could be a way to buy a used.refurbished Moto X or G. I am a single mom etc etc.

  • Kathy April 19, 2016

    How much are the taxes for the $10 plan?

    What are the fees for switching temporarily to a data plan?

    • Matt Becker April 20, 2016

      I believe the taxes vary state-to-state but it shouldn’t be more than a few dollars. And there are no fees for switching plans. Now they even give you a refund for unused data, so there’s very little risk involved.

  • Kim July 7, 2016

    Hello Matt,

    Is it absolutely necessary to buy the republic cellphone. Can I use the old Nokia phones with republic?

    • Matt Becker July 7, 2016

      Good question Kim. For now there are only certain phones you can bring to Republic Wireless without buying one directly from them. That list is here and unfortunately doesn’t appear to include any Nokia phones. They are rapidly adding capability though so you may have more options in the near future. I obviously don’t know that for sure though.

    • Alice August 7, 2018

      This was posted in 2014– how much has the phones changed since then? Price? and Plans?

      • Matt Becker August 9, 2018

        The phones and plans have definitely changed since then, though I’m still using them and it’s still cheap. You can get current information at republicwireless.com.

  • Robert Brown November 22, 2017

    I’m interested in purchasing Phone services

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