You may have heard the hype earlier this year about getting refunded for cell data that you don’t use. If you’re like me, then you probably thought it sounded to good to be true or figured it didn’t really apply to you. In fact after reading a little about the Republic Refund Plans, I was pretty convinced that it wouldn’t benefit us in the least.
After a year of having cell phones through Republic Wireless, we were loving our smartphones at just ten bucks a month each (okay, after taxes and fees it ended up being more like $11). I switched to the $25 a couple of times when I went out of town and wasn’t guaranteed to be around WiFi. Even so, since you could change plans twice a month, I always went back to my $10 plan when I got home. The bill was prorated for the days I was on the $25 plan. It was great!
I really couldn’t think of how it could get better, so I was skeptical when the new Republic Refund program was rolled out. I was glad that everyone on their old plans could stick to them for the next year. I didn’t give it a second thought since my simple plan of unlimited data on Wifi, plus calls and texts (cell or WiFi) for $10 wasn’t really affected by the change. (For more on the original Republic Wireless plans available, you can see my initial post about them.)
Giving it a Second Thought
At a family reunion this summer, my dad, who switched to Republic Wireless on my recommendation, asked if I had switched to the new Republic Refund plan yet. I thought he was going to be upset that he had left his unlimited (yet expensive) data plan to go to Republic Wireless just months before they switch everything up.
I grumbled that we were staying on the original plan as long as it was available.
I was shocked when he told me that he had already switched to the refund plan. He said he looked at his cell data usage and saw that it was no where near the 5 GB he had available on the original Republic plan. He calculated that he would save quite a bit with the refund plan, so he made the switch.
Hmmm… maybe I should give the refund plans a second thought.
How Republic Refund Works
The base rate for the unlimited talk and text plan with Republic Wireless is $10. From there, you choose how much data you want to start with. The plans come in .5 GB, 1 GB, 2 GB, 3 GB, 4 GB, 5 GB, with additional data available for purchase.
Each 1 GB costs $15 (on top of the $10 base).
The smallest plan, the .5 GB plan, costs $17.50 ($10 for the base cost and $7.50 for .5 GB of cell data).
Republic Wireless billing is different than mainstream wireless carriers. Instead of getting a bill at the end of the month, you pre-pay. The great part about pre-paying is that you never have to worry about going over on minutes or data (or whatever other companies charge you for). There are none of those dreaded surprise bills.
Now with the new Republic plans, whatever data (which you pay for at the beginning of the month) is unused is refunded to you as a credit that will come off your next bill.
How is Your Republic Refund Calculated?
The formula to calculate your refund is pretty simple. You just take the GB of unused data and multiply it by $15. To calculate that in MB, you need to know that there are 1024 MB in 1 GB.
Let’s say you paid $15 for 1 GB (1024 MB) of cell data (the $25 plan), but you only used 300 MB.
That means 1024 MB purchased – 300 MB Used = 724 MB unused
724 MB unused /1024 MB = 0.7 GB
0.7 GB X $15.00 = $10.50 refund
Your next bill would be $14.50 ($25 plan – $10.50 refund)
MB unused / 1024 MB x $15 = Republic Refund
Is it worth it?
My initial thought was, “Why would I pay $25 for 1 GB on the new plan when I could have 5 GB of cell data on the old $25 plan?”
If I was someone who actually used all 5 GB of cell data then that would be a big concern and I would stay on the original $25 until it disappears (a year after the new plan was rolled out, I believe).
However, most people use far less cell data than they were allotted. In August the average user on the new plans paid $13.82 for a month of service.
Why I switched
Normally I am around WiFi all day, which is why I’ve stuck with the $10 plan. There have been plenty of times when I’ve been out shopping and would have liked to have had data, but not bad enough to switch to the $25 per month plan.
Now I only have to pay for the data I use, which will be much less than $25.
I switched to the $17.50 plan which has .5 GB of data. If I use no cell data at all, my refund would be $7.50 and I’d be right back at the good old $10 unlimited talk and text plan that I’ve been loving for over a year.
It will be nice to have data available when I’m out shopping or on the road, but most of my data will still be on WiFi. Of course I will let you know how it goes each month in our budget report.
Use Cell Data Wisely
You’ll want to make the most of WiFi when you’ve got it, so you can use less cell data. Here’s a resource to help you optimize your apps for WiFi so that you can reduce the amount of cell data that you use.
Roaming data is much more expensive, so it is calculated differently. Each 1 MB of roaming data counts 18.3 times the normal amount of data. So if I use 10 MB of roaming data, that is the equivalent of using 183 MB of data for cell data calculation purposes. Right when I switched over to the 2.0 Republic Refund plan, I disabled roaming data.
Is Republic Wireless 2.0 right for you?
It depends. If you use lots of cell data, it might not be.
At the same time, with some of the ridiculously high cell rates out there (not to mention crazy amounts of fees tacked on), you might still be better off with Republic Wireless. Take a look at how much cell data you are currently using and see what that would cost in a Republic Refund plan.
Take into consideration any changes that you could make with your usage (like using WiFi more) that would reduce your cell data usage.
If you’re a moderate to light user of cell data, then you will likely save big with Republic Wireless 2.0. Check out the plans and see what you would pay.
If You’re New to Republic Wireless
There are some basics you should know. Republic Wireless phones use WiFi when it’s available as the default for calls, texts, and data. When WiFi isn’t available or isn’t turned on, the phone uses regular Sprint cell coverage (or roams on Verizon cell coverage). It come with unlimited calls and texts on both Sprint and Verizon at no additional cost. Because your phone needs to be able to quickly and cleanly switch from WiFi to cell coverage and vice versa, even in the middle of a call, you are required to purchase one of Republic Wireless phones. See the current phones available here.
Republic Wireless doesn’t do contracts, so you are free to jump in or out whenever you like. You can also change your plan twice a month if you realize you have different needs in a particular month.
Cutting down on monthly bills is an excellent way to free up cash in your budget to help you pay off debt or save for the future. If you feel like you’re overpaying for your cell phone, you probably are. Check out Republic Wireless and see how you’ll only pay for the data you use!
Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. Rest assured that I always share my honest opinion and only promote products and services that I really believe in.
Let's Do This Together!
We're banding together to pay off some serious debt in 2019! We want you to join in the debt-smashing fun!
When you subscribe, you'll get monthly reminders to report your progress and you'll see how we're doing as a group!
You'll also receive frugal inspiration and financial motivation in your inbox to help you along the way!
Are you ready to smash debt with us?!