Clark Howard: Budget phone plans save on talk, text

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHowardIf you’re not obsessed with smartphones, there are some new cheaper options for unlimited talk and text service that could lower your cell phone bill by a substantial amount.

We’re at a stage in the wireless industry where the price points are spreading out by huge amounts. AT&T and Verizon, for example, are imposing high costs on data plans for their smartphone customers. It’s not uncommon for someone to spend $2,000 a year on their cell plan with these carriers.

At the other extreme, folks who just want simple feature phones that don’t do web surfing are finding some real deals in the marketplace.

Metro PCS has a new no-contract plan that’s $25/month for unlimited calling and unlimited texting. That’s $300 annually, including all taxes and regulatory fees.

There are only three phones you can use on the plan, priced at $39, $49 and $59 (plus a $10 activation fee). This offer is only available through June 30, though you can remain on the plan as long as you abide by the terms. Visit MetroPCS.com for more details.

Why such a deal? The Metro PCS network is strained for data but has capacity for calling and texting.

Boost Mobile has lowered prices on its unlimited talk and text plans. You start out paying $45/month, but your bill drops $5 for every six months you’re a customer. The lowest bill you can have from Boost is $30. Visit Boost Mobile.com for more details.

Then there are players like StraightTalk.com and PagePlusCellular.com, which both offer fairly generous amounts of calling and texting minutes (with some data) for $30/month. Between $25 and $30 is the new sweet spot if you don’t want an Android or iPhone and you just want simple calling and texting.

-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs

Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. Listen to his radio show live 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.

7 comments Add your comment

John

May 3rd, 2012
7:59 am

I switched from Verizon to Virgin Mobile. VM has unlimited text, talk, AND data on an android (may slow down if you can reach 2GB) for $35 a month.

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mystery poster

May 3rd, 2012
9:39 am

I switched from Verizon to Metro PCS. Unlimited talk, text, web and 1G of streaming for $45. I told them that they were poised to do to the big 3 cellphone providers what Honda and Toyota did to the big 3 car manufacturers in the 80s.

Greg

May 3rd, 2012
4:55 pm

Republic Wireless, currently in beta, charges 19.00 per month with no contract and unlimited minutes and data usage. It uses wifi when you’re at home to place calls and sprint when there is no open wifi signal. They use an LG optimus phone which isn’t the newest Android smartphone but it gets the job done. I have been very happy with the service.

mystery poster

May 4th, 2012
1:52 pm

@Greg:
I’m glad to hear that. Clark wrote about them awhile ago, and at the time they were full and weren’t accepting any new customers. I just got a “reservation” for this summer as new spots open up. I figure I don’t have anything to lose, I can just go back to Metro PCS if it’s not for me.

Nichole

May 7th, 2012
4:01 pm

I’ve had Boost for almost two years. I had no problems with their BlackBerry, but I changed to a Samsung Android last year. Great coverage from New York to Vegas. $45 for unlimited talk/text/web – love it. You can get HTC and other phones enabled for Boost, as well. Absolutely no reason to pay for a contract.

Sid

May 9th, 2012
8:52 am

My Tracfone works out to be about $7 a month…Just keep it in my pocket when on the road….I use Magic Jack at home….Unlimited nationwide caliing for $20 a year.