You may have heard me say that I think cellular phone service is outrageously priced in America. After 5 years of living in Europe, where we spent maybe $30 a month on cell phone service, I was shocked when we came back to America. Even getting ridiculously good plans on Ting and Republic Wireless (their motto: Spend Less With Us And More On You!) , we were paying about $150 per month for six lines of service. This was within my comfort zone for price, but I knew we could do better.
Then, last year, Virgin Mobile did its “Buy a new device and get a year of service for free” deal. One girl needed a new phone desperately, and two more were headed that direction. (Blasted Apple, forever upgrading. Their hand-me-down iPhones were almost obsolete.) That carried us through for a year, and expired today. I built a spreadsheet and started researching the cheapest way to get service with a decent amount of data. Three girls have become spoiled on Virgin Mobile’s unlimited data, and frankly child #4 is the biggest data user of the bunch. My husband and I use very little data, and we were quite happy on Republic Wireless, but we needed a different option for the kids.
Then, T-Mobile announced its military discount program, and it sounded perfect for our situation. It’s a plan that is really maximized for larger families. The first line is $55 per month, which is much more than we’d been paying for any single line before, but subsequent lines get cheap fast. The second line is just $25 per month, and every line thereafter is just $10 per month. That’s $120 for all six of us, and includes unlimited data!
This seemed like an excellent deal, but – of course – I had to investigate all the other options. I checked out Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T, and for our needs, the T-Mobile offer remained the best choice. I needed to get this project completed before today, when the free Virgin Mobile offer expired. (It was going to $50 per month per person!) I reached out to a friend already on T-Mobile, and had them submit our information into the T-Mobile “refer-a-friend” database, which will supposedly give us each a $50 prepaid MasterCard in a month or two. (We’ll see how that goes.)
Then, Sunday morning, I heard rumor (thank you, Facebook) that Costco was offering some promos if you got your T-Mobile service through them. I drove to our nearest Costco and had a nice chat with the sales representative, who explained that I could get a $50 gift card for each new line that we brought our own device. Whoohoo – it just keeps getting better. I dragged my dear husband to Costco (they really want the military member to sign up) and we moved the whole lot of us to T-Mobile.
I haven’t gotten a bill yet, so obviously I can’t say for sure whether it’s actually going to be $120 per month, but the sales rep said that was 100% accurate, and word on the street is that it actually works. Amazing.
If you don’t have 3-4 people on your account, or you don’t use a lot of data, the T-Mobile deal may not be the best option for you. We were paying about $40/per month for two low-data users on Republic Wireless, and the girls were coming in around $100 per month for the four of them on Ting (with moderate data usage.) But if you use a lot of data and/or have a larger family, this T-Mobile offer is the bomb. You absolutely don’t have to do it at Costco – you can do it online or at a regular T-Mobile store – and still get the great monthly deal plus whatever phone or other specials they are offering.
Let me know if you’re planning to switch, and I’ll put in a referral code for you. Another $50 gift card would be icing on the cake, wouldn’t it?