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Consumers can save hundreds on their cell phone bills by switching to a smaller carrier

Posted at 11:24 AM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-06 17:55:58-04

Do you want to save more money on your cell phone bill? Well there are ways to do it – if you think outside of the box and your own personal usage habits.

"Mostly, I use it for social media, checking email, weather, traffic, routing, that sort of thing,” Emily Tuzson, of Shaker Heights, said.

But because of her lifestyle, there's one thing Tuzson doesn't really need.

"I use very little data," she said.

Emily's story couldn't be any more different from Mallory McMaster’s.

"I do use a lot of data. About 10 gigabytes a month, on average,” McMaster, of Cleveland Heights, said.

"My phone is really a replacement computer. So I'm checking my email, on Twitter way too much. I'm using social media, I use it for a camera a lot. It takes amazing photos.”

Tuzson and McMaster are two different women with different needs, but they have something in common – neither has a cell phone plan with one of the big four carriers: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

"My current cell phone carrier is Speedtalk Mobile,” Tuzson said.

"Google Fi, not a lot of people know about it,” McMaster said.

Both Speedtalk Mobile and Google Fi are mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs.

"They don't actually own their network. So they actually use those major carriers' networks to offer service,” Tina Chang, the Editorial Manager of WhistleOut, said.

WhistleOut is a website that compares more than 35 cell phone carriers for you.

Chang says MVNOs are able to keep customer costs low because they're not maintaining their own cell towers or paying for large marketing campaigns.

"MVNOs would typically start around the $40 to $50 range, like per month for unlimited data plan, whereas the major networks, they tend to be around $60 to $70 and they go all the way up to $100 a month,” Chang said.

Google Fi charges $20 a month for talk and text and $10 per gigabyte of data.

"I probably save on average $50 a month from a traditional phone plan,” McMaster said.

Tuzson's bill is even lower than McMaster's.

"$18 a month for unlimited talk and text and I think two gigabytes of data,” Tuzson said.

Both plans only charge for what is being used or prepaid for, so there aren't any hidden fees popping up on your bill at the end of the month.

But keep in mind, with the savings come some negatives.

When there's network congestion, cell towers will prioritize big four customers before those on smaller carriers.

And while you can use a phone you already own for most MVNOs, if you want a new one you might have to buy it outright.

Overall, McMaster says making the change could be worth it for you.

"You don't have to. Stop giving them your money. Stop being stuck in a phone contract that you don't use all the time.”