Can Unlimited Plans be Affordable? The Search for Affordable Cell Phone Service

by on Jul 11 2013 - 39 Comments

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community #cbias. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and their client.

I used to have an unlimited talk, text, and data plan with Sprint that cost me $146 a month for two people. Over the past month I have been trying out the new Walmart Family Mobile unlimited plan that costs just $40 a month. I liked the plan so much that I cancelled our Sprint plan and both my wife and I started the Walmart Family Mobile unlimited plan.

If you would like to see my first post about my initial thoughts about the plan and the LG L9 phone, check it out here.

Features I enjoy about the plan

There are many great features to the Walmart Family Mobile unlimited plan:

  • Obviously price is one of th most important factors for me when it comes to cell phone plans. At the same time, I would not want a plan that does not have unlimited data. With unlimited talk, text, and data, I don’t have to worry about overuse charges.
  • Another feature I really like about the plan is the phone itself: the LG Optimus L9 phone. It’s a big upgrade from my HTC Evo that I had with Sprint. It works smoothly and is affordable.

    LG Optimus L9

  • An additional feature is that the plan is month-to-month. No contracts. If I start hating the plan for one reason or another I can easily switch back to a contract plan. I’m not sure why I would, though, because who wants to be locked into a contract plan and pay more?

  • Another feature I like about Walmart Family Mobile is the online account management and information that is available for members. The website is very straight-forward and helps you manage your plan easily.

Walmart Family Mobile Usage

Now I want to talk about one of the negatives of the plan: data throttling.

Is Data Throttling an Issue with this Plan?

Someone on my first post commented about the potential data throttling with the Walmart Family Mobile plan. I think it’s important to address this (potential) issue.

You get 1GB of data each month on the Walmart Family Mobile. Once it is used up you only get 2G connection until the month resets. You can purchase an additional data add-on if you want. A better strategy is to simply connect to the WiFi network whenever you can. For example, I connected to my home WiFi right away so that every time I’m at home my phone automatically connects to the WiFi network instead of churning through data. This is a minor inconvenience, in my opinion, for the much lower rates that are available.

You can view your data usage by logging into your account on the home page:

Walmart Family Mobile Data

You can also turn on and off your prepaid extras packs easily:

Walmart Family Mobile Extras Packs

An important thing to remember about this plan is that you will not be charged involuntarily for data usage. A lot of plans with other companies have ceilings for data usage; if you go over the limit you are charged for that additional data automatically. With Walmart Family Mobile you can choose if you want to pay for additional data.

Connecting to WiFi at home, work, and other places you frequent can help you avoid ever having to deal with data throttling. I use my phone more than anyone else I know, yet I have used less than 20% of my data and I’m already halfway through the month.

Final Thoughts

The pros of the Walmart Family Mobile unlimited plan far outweigh the cons. The price can’t be beat, and the plan is extremely easy to manage. After all, I liked the plan so much that both my wife and I ditched our old plans for it!

I’ll leave you with a few more pictures I took when I went to Walmart to activate my phone:

Walmart Family Mobile Section

The new Walmart Family Mobile section at Walmart

Purchasing my Phone

Purchasing and activation is painless in the store – we had a great employee who helped me activate my phone, a week later purchase my wife’s phone and active, as well as transfer my number over when I decided to ditch my old plan.

For more pictures check out my Google+ album about my experience.

If you are interested in looking into alternatives to your current plan for you or your family, considering reading more about the unlimited plans that Walmart Family Mobile has to offer. #FamilyMobileSaves

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How much do you pay for cell phone service? Is it contract or no contract? Do you wish you paid less or are you happy with what you currently pay?
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39 comments
Terri Satterlee
Terri Satterlee

Thanks for sharing your experience and the benefits of this plan!  I've been taking a closer look at Walmart Family Mobile, after realizing just how much my family could save by switching and learning of your positive experience makes me much more comfortable!  Great point about using WI FI at home :)

Roger@lifelaidout
Roger@lifelaidout

Very nice review DC! I used AT&T for a couple of years and now have a family plan with Verizon. I never really looked into discount phone plans, but it makes so much sense to cut down there since $80-100 a month adds up pretty quickly. 

OutlierModel
OutlierModel

I'm with a discount carrier in Canada - Wind Mobile.  I pay $33 each month (including taxes) for unlimited voice, text and data and free voicemail.  And there is no contract!  When I was with Telus, I paid over $70 a month for services and I did not have unlimited anything.

Suburban Finance
Suburban Finance

Cell phone plans are a lot more expensive in Canada than they are in the states, but i have a pretty good deal with my work.

StudentDebtSurvivor
StudentDebtSurvivor

With so many places having wi-fi these days, it's actually not that hard to cut down on your data plan usage. I'm currently in a contract with Verizon, but might consider something like this when I come off the contract. I get a partial stipend through work so that pays for part of my plan, but I also have a family plan which obviously they don't cover.

Beachbudget
Beachbudget

I pay about 95 for mine and it had a two year contract I think but I'm past that now. But it's an iPhone and I love it and wouldn't have a problem doing another contract. Do I wish I was a bit less? Maybe, but I still don't have any complaints since it's my only phone and part of it is a write off as a freelancer. 

BorrowedCents
BorrowedCents

Right now we are paying around $140 at T mobile down from $190. It is under contract which works the same way as their most recent non contract plans. We should be paying around $110 but we are paying for a phone in installments because wifey dropped hers in the toilet...lol...But it is still way cheaper than what we used to pay. I like their new plans of financing the equipment and getting low monthly cost versus their old plans of discounted equipment but higher monthly costs.

JourneytoSaving
JourneytoSaving

Nice review DC. I also connect to wifi whenever possible. The phone looks nice, but my last phone was an android and after about a year it started acting up/being slow, which is why I switched to the iPhone. I've had it for a year and a half without issues. I pay $90 with Verizon, which is not fun. Maybe I will see if I can find reviews from my area; T-mobile may have improved...

HassleFreeSaver
HassleFreeSaver

I had no idea Walmart offered a plan like this. My husband and I are lucky in that our employers pay the majority of our smartphone bills (mine pays 100% and his pays about 50%), so we have a relatively low monthly payment. However, this plan is much lower and a great alternative when/if our employers cut the benefit. Great information DC, thank you!

Ca$hFunny
Ca$hFunny

As I mentioned before, Cara switched to Family Mobile a few months ago and is enjoying it.  The prices are great and the service is okay.  It's nice to not have to pay $70 a person anymore.

TacklingOurDebt
TacklingOurDebt

Awesome review of what they offer for cell phones. Currently my husband and I use an android cell phone on a pay as you go plan, which only costs us $100 a year. Save us so much.

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde

Yeah I'm pretty sure we're going to do this. I'll show the hubs your opinions about the data throttling since that is what he was most worried about.

DebtRoundUp
DebtRoundUp

Thanks for the review DC.  I have been looking into this for some time.  I have been testing out providers left and right and this is my next one.  Great review.

SenseofCents
SenseofCents

Love this post! We are definitely thinking about switching to something cheaper. Lately our phone bill has been around $200 per month.

Jen @ The Happy Homeowner
Jen @ The Happy Homeowner

Wow, that's an incredible price/list of features! I'm with Verizon (have been for over a decade), and I recently upped my options to unlimited use. I'm now paying $100/month, and I really need to find a different option!!

Brian @ Luke1428
Brian @ Luke1428

This was really timely DC! My contract with Sprint is up and I'm looking at upgrading my phone (still don't have a smartphone yet) and changing carriers. I don't care to shop at Wal-mart but I think I will be checking out this plan. Thanks!

Matt @ Mom and Dad Money
Matt @ Mom and Dad Money

Another great option as we look to switch from Verizon. I'll have to do some research into T-Mobile's coverage where I live, but this pricing is even better than Straight Talk's, which is the other one I've been seriously considering. I'll have to get better about using Wi-Fi too.

FrugalRules
FrugalRules

We're with VZ and pay about $130 per month. I hate being under contract and something just sticks with me about going with Wal-Mart, though that is likely just me being irrational. ;) We have 2GB of data and rarely ever get close to it because we're on Wifi nearly all the time.

RFIndependence
RFIndependence

1gb isn't much but at least they don't cut your service when you get over it. Here they just cut you off, and their data count is dubious. I get free minutes on my internet modem which is a sim card so when I get offline I plug the sim into a phone and can call for free, then I have another no contract phone to receive calls. A bit complicated but it's free!

Holly at ClubThrifty
Holly at ClubThrifty

Sounds like a good plan! I'm really happy with my plan from Republic Wireless at the moment - unlimited everything for $20/month. 

YourDailyFin
YourDailyFin

I have been with Verizon for almost 10 years.  They wifey and I pay close to $200 per month for our phone plans and that is with her 15% employee discount.  We have heard about Straight Talk and MetroPCS but never thought about going with WalMart.  The $40 is for one line or two? The only thing we would have to pay for right now if we switched would be new phones since we have issues with our towers and VZ says we can leave without early termination fees.  from 200 to 80 would sure be nice little savings every month. 

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Suburban Finance Hopefully prices start going down everywhere!  I swear it has to be inevitable...then again people just keep doing more and more on their phones so the data usage will keep increasing.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Beachbudget Yeah it's tough with the iPhone you have to go with the plan that allows it.  Thankfully I'm not a fan of Apple and I love LG products : )

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@JourneytoSaving Thanks, and it is pretty nice how you can get wifi just about anywhere.  Ironically my work has no public wifi....but I still don't even get close to the 1gb data limit.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@HassleFreeSaverYes I only get a 15 or 20% discount and my wife gets NO employer discount so we were paying almost $160 a month before switching.  It would definitely be nice to have my employer cover 100 or 50% of the cost, but because they don't I think this is the best option.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@BudgetBlonde Yeah I was concerned as well, but when I checked more than halfway through the month I was pleased.  And that was with no wifi connection at work.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@The Happy Homeowner Yikes $100/month is a lot but I know many who pay around that.  I would at least give this plan a try and if you don't like it just sell the phone on ebay and start over at another company (that's the nice thing about no contracts...end whenever you want).

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Luke_1428 I'm not HUGE on Walmart either, so I was a bit hesitant about this plan.  It worked out well, though, and now my wife has the plan too!

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Matt @ Mom and Dad Money I think there is some map where you can check the 4G coverage for T-Mobile.  Unfortunately I do not remember the link : /

As long as you have wifi set up in places you are going to be the most (at home, at work, etc.) you should be fine data-wise.  My work does not have free wifi for personal use so I don't have it, yet the data is still fine because when I'm at home it uses none.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@FrugalRulesTo be completely honest, I rarely shop at Walmart.  Participating in this shop has helped "get me in the doors" and give them a chance.  It definitely may turn some people off that this is serviced by Walmart, but overall if they can offer the best price while partnering with a great company like T-Mobile, I can't complain.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@RFIndependence
Hey, you can't argue with free!  There are so many places with free WiFi here that even if I was approaching 1 GB before the month rolled over I could easily just connect when I'm out and about.  At home I essentially use zero data because it auto-connects to the WiFi as soon as I get within range.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@Holly at ClubThriftyGreg had commented on my first post that you had a great plan through Republic Wireless.   I had to admit that I had never heard of Republic!  It sounds like a great option as well, though, and I'm glad it's working out for you.

DC @ Young Adult Money
DC @ Young Adult Money moderator

@YourDailyFin$40 per line, then if you add additional it's cheaper for each additional line.  My wife and I have two separate $40 plans, though, because then we each get 1GB versus having only 1GB between the two of us.  I would recommend it, at least until the major carriers start slashing prices.  They can't compete with these low price plans forever, especially now that they are very comparable.