It wasn’t long ago that I was still making monthly payments of $92 to Verizon Wireless.
That was $1,104 per year. Quite a price to pay just to text and surf the web (I’m not very attached to my phone).
I was trying to make as many extra payments on my student loans as possible, so that didn’t sit well with me. Those were a bigger priority than my cell phone.
I started looking into alternative carriers, and came across Republic Wireless. I was skeptical until a coworker of mine showed up one day, raving about it. After a week of him experiencing good service, I decided to make the switch and haven’t looked back.
What Exactly is Republic Wireless?
For those of you who aren’t familiar, Republic Wireless is an alternative cell phone carrier that has plans ranging from $5 to $55 per month.
Overall, it rewards customers for using their phones on WiFi, so it’s a great solution if you have WiFi networks available while you’re at work and at home.
For cell data, Republic Wireless is on Sprint’s network. It’s not the best (I’ve encountered my share of dead zones out in the back country when on road trips), but if you’re a casual phone user (or in a big city), it’s fine.
I’ve been a customer since January 2014 and I’ve only had a handful of issues. It’s the perfect solution for me as I work from home and have access to WiFi a good 90% of the time. I hopped on the old $25 per month plan for 3G and pay around $30 with tax.
Instead of shelling out over $1,000 per year, my phone costs have dropped to around $350. I’d say it was worth it!
Republic Wireless Plans – It Includes a Refund!
Republic Wireless has made some changes to its pricing model recently. They’re no longer offering the plans you may have been familiar with ($5 for WiFi, $10 for WiFi+Cell, $25 for 3G, and $40 for 4G).
Instead, you can choose the $5 WiFi plan, or the $10 base plan with unlimited everything over WiFi, and unlimited calls and texts over cell. From there, you can add on 4G data. It’s an extra $7.50 for 0.5GB, $15 for 1GB, $30 for 2GB, and $45 for 3GB. The chart below explains it a bit better.
If you go over the amount of data you purchased, you’ll have to buy more (which can be done instantaneously from the Republic Wireless app on your phone).
If you have unused data at the end of your billing cycle, you’ll actually get a credit for the amount you didn’t use. Republic Wireless gives this example on its site:
Being on the 0.5GB plan ($17.50 per month), and having 0.2GB of data unused at the end of the month will give you $3 back, so you’ll only pay $14.50.
I can tell you that most months, I’m below 0.5GB of data usage. It just depends on how you use your phone. If you’re worried about going over, Republic Wireless has made it easy to monitor your usage. You can check it from the app on your phone, and play around with the settings to lessen how much data you’re using.
I think offering a refund is a great incentive for people to use less cell data, and it’s a nice reward for those of us already using less (note that I’m using 91% WiFi!).
What Phones Are Available?
This is one of the biggest concerns most people have, especially if you’re an Apple lover. Republic Wireless phones use special hybrid technology to enable WiFi-to-cell handover, so only the Moto E and Moto X (both 2nd Gen) are available to purchase from the store.
However, if you look on eBay, you might be able to snag a Moto G, Moto E, or Moto X (1st Gen). If you’re not satisfied, Republic Wireless offers a money back guarantee. If you’re a new customer and buy your phone through them, you’re eligible for a 30 day refund on the phone and monthly plan.
If you buy your phone through a third party, you’re eligible for the 30 day monthly plan refund, and you can always sell your phone.
I have the 1st Gen Moto X, and it’s still going strong. I had an iPhone 4S before that, and an Android phone before that, and both OS’s have their strengths and weaknesses. I don’t have a huge preference.
If the phones are a deal breaker for you, you might want to look at other alternative carriers that let you bring your phone with you. I actually ended up giving my dad my iPhone, which he activated with Tracfone.
Pros and Cons
Even though you can net some great savings with Republic Wireless, it’s not for everyone.
Pro: There’s no contract. You must pay for the phone upfront (which can be seen as a “con”), but you’ll likely recoup your costs within a few months. Again, you can get a used one online if the $130 (Moto E) or $300 (Moto X) price tags are too high.
Con: The biggest drawback for most people is going to be data usage. If you’re concerned you’re too mobile to be connected to WiFi all the time, and don’t want to worry about data, Republic Wireless probably isn’t for you. There are a lot of settings you can tinker with to optimize your usage, but you might feel like paying extra is worth less hassle. Review how much data you’ve been using with your current provider before considering it.
Pro: There’s a very helpful community surrounding Republic Wireless. If you ever have any questions, besides opening a support ticket, you can check the forums and ask other community members for help. There’s also a comprehensive Wiki you can read through if you’re experiencing any issues or having second thoughts. From my experience, their customer service is prompt (and friendly).
Con: If you’re someone who looks forward to updating to the latest OS, you should be aware it can take Republic Wireless a little extra time to roll out updates. Since it requires special hybrid technology, Republic Wireless needs to modify the OS accordingly. For example, the latest OS for Android is Lollipop 5.1, and I’m still on KitKat (4.4). However, new phones come with 5.1, and Republic Wireless continues to fully support all its phones.
Pro: The biggest advantage is obviously the savings. Everyone who switches to Republic Wireless is looking to cut their cell phone bill, and that’s definitely possible if you’re paying more than $50 per month right now. As long as you’re near WiFi at least half the time, you should see major savings. There’s really no reason to pay $1,000 per year on your cell phone like I did!
If you’re sick of paying too much to be with one of the Big 4 carriers, and don’t mind having an Android phone, consider switching to Republic Wireless. With plans ranging from $5 to $55 per month, a 30 day money back guarantee, and having a refund available for the data you don’t use, there’s not much to lose!
How much do you pay for your cell phone service? Do you think it’s worth it? Have you had any hesitations about switching to one of the lesser known carriers?