I don’t know why unlimited calling, texting and data for smartphones is so popular these days. Or is it just advertising that makes it appear to be popular? Radio guru Clark Howard likes Straight Talk at $45/month for unlimited everything. He also mentioned a T-Mobile plan for $30/month with unlimited web and text plus 100 minutes of talk time. To me, these plans are still too expensive.
I’m either at work or at home most of the time. I have access to a landline phone and Wi-Fi at both places (free home phone service through Ooma). When I’m out and about, I make and receive some calls. I need access to the Internet but I don’t browse extensively unless I’m on Wi-Fi. I still like to use a smartphone. Unlimited would be an overkill, even with the $30/month T-Mobile plan. In addition, T-Mobile’s coverage isn’t very good where I live.
The Talk n Text 1200 plan by Page Plus is another possibility. Page Plus uses Verizon’s network, which is pretty good here. I already have a dumb phone (“feature phone”) on Page Plus using the standard “$10 for 100 minutes in 3 months” plan. The Talk n Text 1200 plan comes with 1,200 minutes, 3,000 texts, and 250 MB data per month for $30/month. I use at most 100 minutes, 50 texts, and 50MB data in a month.
What’s the best plan for a smartphone with low usage? Can I do better than $30/month?
I’m glad I found this blog post by Mr. Money Mustache: Our New $10.00 Per Month iPhone Plans. It fits my usage pattern perfectly — still using a smartphone, a little bit of talking, texting, and data, but far from needing unlimited everything.
Mr. Money Mustache uses the $10 Plan from Airvoice Wireless. I’m using a different carrier H2O Wireless (click on the Minute Plans tab). I chose H2O over Airvoice because H2O’s price for data is a little less. H2O’s Minute Plan charges 5 cents per minute, 5 cents per text, and 30 cents per MB of data. I must add minimum $10/month or $100/year; unused balance rolls over.
I got hold of a used iPhone 4 originally used on the AT&T network. H2O Wireless uses the AT&T network. I didn’t have to unlock the iPhone or jailbreak it. Then I bought a micro SIM card for H2O Wireless on eBay for $1 with free shipping ($10 if you buy it directly from H2O). I activated the SIM card on H2O’s website, ported over my existing number from Page Plus, and configured the iPhone with the MyH2O app found in the iPhone app store. An Android phone on AT&T would work too.
I turned off cellular data on the iPhone (Settings -> General -> Cellular -> Cellular Data set to off). I only turn it on when there is no Wi-Fi and when I really need to look up something on the Internet.
It’s been two months since I started using this setup. So far so good. I spent $25 total in two months. That’s $12.50/month, much better than $30/month or $45/month.
[Photo credit: Flickr user William Hook]