How could I claim to be truly frugal without Republic? I know a lot of other frugality and early retirement blogs have written on this subject. However, having used Republic’s service since the Moto X came out (mid November of 2013), I know exactly what it’s like to have a Republic phone, and frankly, none of the reviews I’ve read (including Mr. Money Mustache’s review) tells everything I wish I would’ve known before switching. To give you a little background, I had a Samsung Galaxy SII and M had an iPhone 5, both with Virgin Mobile’s 300 mins/month + unlimited text & data, paying $35/month and $30/month, respectively. There are no additional costs with Virgin, so we were actually paying $65/month straight up.
What’s Republic Wireless?
Simply put, it’s a cell phone service company. I noticed that when people ask me the “what” or “why” questions about Republic, it’s easy to start by answering the “how”. However, I’ve learned that such response only leads to confusion. So, I’ll leave the “how” for later. Like Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon or any other carrier, you buy a phone from them, transfer your number, and boom. That’s it. You’ll always be able to make unlimited phone calls and text messages no matter which plan you’re on (except for the cheapest $5/month plan), no questions asked.
$5/month: In my opinion, this plan is useless. It gives you unlimited everything, PROVIDED that you have wi-fi connection. When you don’t have access to a wi-fi connection, all you’re holding in your hands is a miniature wi-fi tablet. Republic claims that this plan is for serious cost cutters. But honestly, how many people would be ok with not being able to call or receive calls or messages when they’re driving, or when they’re somewhere with no wi-fi connection?
M & I are both on the $10/month plan, which gives you unlimited calls and texts REGARDLESS your connection to wi-fi. Let that settle in for a minute. You can literally be on the road, making phone calls for hours, paying only $10/month. This plan doesn’t come with 3G/4G, so the only time you’ll have access to internet is when you have wi-fi connection. I think this plan strikes a perfect balance between savings and utility.
$25/month plan: Unlimited talk + text + 3G, REGARDLESS wi-fi connection. Remember what I said about Virgin Mobile? I used to pay $35/month for a similar plan, except Virgin only gave me 300 minutes a month… That’s not even 300 calling-minutes, that was both calling and receiving. I’m not a big talker on the phone, but I used to exhaust my minutes by the third week of each month. I think this plan is perfect for those who feel like they can’t fathom not having internet access 24/7.
$40/month plan: This is awesome, but it’s overkill for most people. It gives you unlimited talk + text + 4G. I mean, if you CAN’T live without 4G speed, then I guess it’s for you. It’s still cheaper than what other carriers charge for similar plans. This blog was created to promote frugal-ness. So, I’ll leave it at that for this plan.
How Do They Do It?
Wi-fi. Republic uses Sprint Network to provide cellular service to its customers. When you’re out there with no wi-fi, you’re on Sprint’s network. Republic claims that they save a ton of money because most people have ready access to wi-fi anywhere they go these days (which is true, in my experience). When people have wi-fi connection, phones don’t use up Sprint’s cell signal, resulting in very small use of Sprint’s services. Don’t be confused, YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE WI-FI! Republic would probably prefer that you do (because that would mean more money for them). For the layperson’s purposes, what it costs Republic to use Sprint’s network is not important. All I know is I’m paying about $25/month for two awesome android phones with around the clock unlimited talk & text.
Savings: Before you judge me for seemingly penny-pinching, take a moment to understand the nature of your phone bill. We used to pay $65/month for both phones. That’s a lot less than what many people pay for only one phone. Since we switched, we’ve been paying around $25/month for both phones (after tax, the $10/month plan ends up being more like $12.50/month*2 phones = $25/month). That’s a difference of $40/month. The standard contract for the major carriers is 2 years, so let’s use that as our measuring stick. $40*24 months= $960. That’s $960 in cold cash someone’s putting in your pocket for no reason! Obviously, if you’re spending more than $35/month for your cell phone (which you probably do), your savings in that time span would be a lot higher…probably upwards of thousands of dollars. In sum, we’re getting a hell lot more talking time (unlimited, to be precise) and frankly, the Moto X is an upgrade for both of us.
Peace of Mind: This is a bit interrelated with the savings. When your phone bill is lower than your dinner bill, no matter how much or how little you make, it never feels like you’re breaking the bank. Sometimes, I don’t even notice I’m paying for phone service. No joke.
Safety: This is something we didn’t consider before switching. It’s more like a collateral benefit, and it only applies to the $10/month plan (no 3G/4G data). We realized that the only time we don’t have access to wi-fi connection is when we’re driving. It’s hard to find a place with no wi-fi connection these days. The good news is, we have no business using the internet while we’re driving. So, I found myself not playing around with my phone while I’m driving, which, I think, counts for something. On that note, it’s worth noting that if you do find yourself in need of cellular data, Republic allows you to move up and down the plan-ladder twice a month, directly from your phone. If you move up (we did so for 2 days when we traveled to KCMO a few weeks ago) and back down, you are charged at a pro-rata basis.
Up Front Cost: $299. That’s what you have to shell out for a Republic Wireless Moto X. But think about this. You’re not getting locked into the dreaded 2-year contract, you’re getting one of the best phones out there, you’re still getting this phone at about $100 discount AND if you use my referral code (http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/29Sswz), they’ll give you a $19 referral credit! Full disclosure, they give me $19 too 🙂 Trust me, if you’re spending more than $50/month on your phone service right now, those $300 bucks will be back in your pocket in no time.
Choice of Phones: While I can’t complain about how AWESOME the Moto X is, it’s never a bad thing to have a line up to choose from.
Phone Number Transfer: This is something that bothered me a lot. Republic claimed it is able to carry over “most” phone numbers. That wasn’t the case for either of us. I had a Indiana number and M had a Northwest Arkansas number. Neither were allowed to be transferred to Republic! While I was willing to ditch my 6-year-old phone number in the name of savings, M had a lot harder time to make that decision. I thought we were going to be assigned a phone number based on the zip code of the shipping address. However, instead of “479”, they gave us both “501” (Little Rock) numbers. We can transfer MOST numbers, huh Republic?
Other than that, I’m all about Republic Wireless. I think the business model is genius and it has already added value to our in a lot of different ways.
How much are you paying for your phone every month? Would you dare to switch?!