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    I Changed My Phone Plan And Saved Almost $50 A Month — Here's How You Can Too

    Would you say no to an extra $50 a month?

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    In 2017 I did something big: I broke off my 13-year relationship with Verizon for her significantly more affordable little sister.

    HBO / Via Giphy / giphy.com

    I got my first phone — a super-tiny, super-thick model (hello, 2004!) — on a Verizon contract and stuck with it through college and beyond. Then, in 2017, I did some googling and realized that paying $75 a month for a phone was ridiculous.

    The big three US carriers — Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile (merged with Sprint) — tend to lock people into pricey, one-size-fits-all contract plans (typically with unlimited everything). And breaking free can be a nightmare. I had to wait until my two-year contract was up to avoid paying a penalty and then had to go into a Verizon store and literally convince them to switch me from a contract plan to Verizon Prepaid.

    By switching to Verizon Prepaid, I cut my monthly bill from $75.94 to $26.41 — about a third of the cost — and started saving almost $50 every month.

    TLC / Via Giphy / giphy.com

    The salesperson told me it was a bad idea: My service would suck, customer service was worse, and I’d have to buy my phone outright, yadda yadda yadda. And while he made some fair (and true) points, I have been using Verizon Prepaid for almost four years, have saved nearly $1,500 to date, and have no plans to ever go back.

    If you're on a contract, chances are you’re leasing your phone from your phone company and paying it off monthly. In the prepaid world, you’ll find some phone purchase or leasing options, but you’ll get the best deals if you already have an unlocked and paid-for phone. When I made the move from a contract plan to Verizon Prepaid, I had to first pay off what I owed on the phone I had been “leasing” from Verizon.

    Prepaid phone plans are noticeably less expensive, but there are some caveats: Some don't support 5G, and your data speeds may take a hit.

    Roadshow Films / Via Giphy / giphy.com

    While the three main US carriers all operate on 5G, some of these prepaid phone plans are still using 4G LTE. (If that’s a deal breaker, pay extra attention to the “services included” under each company to see which support 5G.)

    In addition, many of these prepaid services — also known as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) — don’t own the wireless network their customers use. Instead, they lease access from the big three and then sell that service for less. But since bandwidth is finite, MVNO users will sometimes have slower data speeds. That isn't always the case, but I've found that sometimes my phone is slower than the phone of someone who’s a true-blue regular Verizon customer.

    Just a couple of things to keep in mind as you begin your journey to phone plan freedom (it’s totally worth it, FYI).

    So if you wanna save some cash, it may be worth looking into a new phone plan! Here are some of the best and most affordable options out there:

    Including some with free international calls, mobile hotspot, 5G capabilities, and unlimited everything.

    1. Mint Mobile

    Comparison of Mint phone plans ranging from $15 to $30 per month
    Mint Mobile / Via mintmobile.com

    Okay, for starters, Ryan Reynolds (yes, THAT Ryan) is one of the owners of Mint Mobile. But that aside, Mint is straight-up affordable — like, $15-a-month affordable. With Mint, rather than paying monthly, you’re billed in one fell swoop up front. So while their three-month newbie plan is $15 a month, you’ll need to pay for at least three months up front ($45). After the three-month intro offer, you’ll have to pay for a year of service if you want to keep the lowest rate. They also have options if you can only commit to another three or six months, but you'll end up paying a bit more.

    Lowest cost per month: $15 (but you have to pay for at least three months up front)

    Services included: Unlimited talk/text, nationwide coverage, uses 5G or 4G LTE (whichever is strongest)

    2. Metro by T-Mobile

    A few of Metro's most affordable phone plans ranging from $30 to $40 per month
    Metro / Via metrobyt-mobile.com

    If T-Mobile's 5G network has been working for you (but you’re sick of paying $60-plus a month), give Metro a peek. Their most affordable plan has 2GB of data for $30 a month, or you can get 10GB of data for $40 a month. Where Metro really shines is in their family packages, which save you money based on how many lines you add. That means you and your partner or pal can get that 10GB plan for $35 a month each, while a family of five would pay $32 per month per person.

    Lowest cost per month: $30

    Services included: Unlimited talk/text, 5G coverage on the T-Mobile network

    3. Tello

    One BYO phone plan option at Tello for $6 a month
    Tello / Via tello.com

    If you use a ton of data but barely talk on the phone or want unlimited text and don’t care much about data, this DIY phone plan is the answer. At Tello, you literally build your own plan from the ground up — so if you’re a minimalist (or are trying to cut back on phone usage), you could sign up for 500MB of data, 100 minutes, and free text for $6 a month. That might not be realistic for most, but add 4GB of data to the 100 minutes and free text and you’re still paying only $16 a month.

    Bonus: This plan is great for people who travel internationally a lot or whose phone usage varies from month to month, because you can upgrade or downgrade your plan anytime at no charge.

    Lowest cost per month: $6 for a super-minimal plan with data; $10–$40 for a plan that’s more realistic

    Services included: Mobile hotspot capabilities, runs on 4G LTE

    4. Visible

    Visible Party Pay phone plan ranging from $25 to $35 a month
    Visible / Via visible.com

    Visible keeps things sleek and easy with one plan, no contract, and unlimited everything (data, too). Their base plan is $40 a month, but that’ll drop to as low as $25 a month if you sign up for Party Pay, which is basically a family plan where everyone has their own account and bill. For every person who joins your “party,” everyone gets an additional $5 off. Party Pay is capped at four people, so the lowest you can get your bill to is $25 a month. No complaints here!

    Lowest cost per month: $25 (if you get three friends to join your party)

    Services included: Unlimited data, unlimited talk/test, mobile hotspot capabilities, 5G coverage on the Verizon network

    5. Boost Mobile

    Comparison of Boost Mobile phone plans ranging from $10 to $35 per month
    Boost Mobile / Via boostmobile.com

    Boost has a ton of plan options (it’s a little overwhelming, tbh), including one that clocks in at $10 a month for 1GB of data and unlimited talk and text. If you need more data, the same plan with another gigabyte (2GB total) is $15 a month. Both plans are for people who already have a phone, so if that’s not you, the most affordable plan is $25 for 5GB and unlimited talk and text. For that option, you'll need to buy a new phone outright from Boost (leasing isn't an option), then pick a plan and activate your phone online.

    Lowest cost per month: $10 (but you’ll need to bring your own phone)

    Services included: Unlimited talk/text, mobile hotspot capabilities, runs on 4G LTE

    6. US Mobile

    An example of a fully customizable US Mobile phone plan for $19 a month
    US Mobile / Via usmobile.com

    At US Mobile, you can get unlimited data, talk, and text for $20 a month, but only if you go the family plan route with at least two other people. While the unlimited plan may be the best deal, the real standout feature at US Mobile is your ability to build your own plan. If you barely talk on the phone, you can build a plan with 150 monthly minutes, unlimited text, and a whopping 2GB of data for $19 — although cheaper plans (like just $5) are available.

    With US Mobile, keep in mind that there are additional taxes and fees — including a $2 service fee and a Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge (a fee that carriers charge to recoup federal and local regulatory costs) of $1–$5 per line.

    Lowest cost per month: $5 plus fees for a truly bare-bones plan (or $19 for 150 minutes, unlimited text, and 2GB of data)

    Services included: 4G LTE and 5G coverage on the two largest cellular networks

    7. Verizon Prepaid

    A comparison of a $70 contract plan vs a $35 prepaid plan
    Verizon / Via anrdoezrs.net

    Verizon Prepaid is all about loyalty, so they’ll reward you for sticking around. Their cheapest phone plan with data is $40 a month, but that drops to $35 when you set up auto-pay, $30 after you’ve been with Verizon Prepaid for three months, and finally $25 after nine months of continued service. Plus, you can bring along your own phone to avoid the dreaded "phone mortgage."

    Lowest cost per month: $35 initially (for a plan with data after setting up auto-pay); down to $25 after nine months

    Services included: Unlimited talk/text, mobile hotspot capabilities, 5G coverage on the Verizon network

    8. Altice Mobile

    A few of Altice Mobile's phone plans, ranging from $14 to $45 a month
    Altice Mobile / Via alticemobile.com

    This phone plan makes a lot of sense if you already (or plan to) get your cable from Optimum or Suddenlink. Just being a subscriber to one of these two companies automatically drops your monthly phone bill by $10. That means you can get unlimited talk and text and 1GB for $14 (or $24 if you don’t subscribe to Optimum or Suddenlink).

    Lowest cost per month: $14 (or $24 if you don’t subscribe to Optimum or Suddenlink)

    Services included: Unlimited talk/text, 5G coverage on AT&T and T-Mobile's networks

    9. Black Wireless

    Different Black Wireless phone plans including one that is just $10 a month
    Black Wireless / Via blackwireless.com

    You can get a really basic plan at Black Wireless for $10 a month (500 talk and text units, 100MB of data), but I’m guessing most people would opt for the unlimited-everything plan (yes, that includes data) for $20 a month. In both cases, if you pay for multiple months up front, you can drop your monthly price significantly ($10 down to $7.50, and $20 down to $15, per month if you pay 12 months up front).

    One thing to note about the unlimited-everything plan: Once you’ve used 1GB of data, your loading times will increase.

    Lowest cost per month: $7.50 (for a minimal plan and a 12-month prepaid commitment)

    Services included: Free international calling to anywhere in the world, 4G LTE coverage

    Looking for more ways to save? Check out our other personal finance posts.