As I was writing about my experience losing my cell phone and looking for comparable rates for replacing it, I got thinking more about the options. In order to share the two best candidates I found, I went through the same research I had done months ago.
The more I learned about Republic Wireless, the more interested I was. I was starting to fall in love with what Republic Wireless offered. By the way, this is not a sponsored post, I’m just really, truly impressed by Republic Wireless.
I told the Mr. what I had discovered and we decided we would give it a try. After all, Republic Wireless has a 30-day money-back guarantee. In June, we bought a phone to give it a try (Moto G with 16G of memory for $179 in case you were wondering). In August we’ll get another phone so we’ll each have one.
What makes Republic Wireless awesome in general?
UPDATE: Plan details have changed since this article was published. Rest assured they are still awesome! You can find the current details here.
New Technology (Wifi + cell)
When WiFi is turned on, the phone will use WiFi as the default for calls, texting and data. When WiFi isn’t available or isn’t turned on, the phone uses regular cell coverage. Your phone automatically switches between the two. Republic’s technology makes the hand-off between WiFi and cell without dropping a call or its quality. This technology is what helps Republic keep their prices so low, and also why you are required to purchase one of the two Republic Wireless approved phones.
We budget time. We budget money. It’s nice to not have to budget calls and texts too. All plans (did I mention there’s even a $5/month plan?) include unlimited talk, text and data on WiFi. The plans above the $5 plan also have unlimited talk and text on cell.
For the plans that use 3G or 4G data, you get 5GB of data over the cell network each month before your speed is slowed down. Every six months without going over earns you a “free pass” to go over 5GB in a future month without having your speed slowed down. You start out your account with a “free pass,” so the first time you go over you aren’t punished by having your data slow down. You can read the details here.
A monthly price of $10 for unlimited talk and text is better than any dumb phone plan I know of. Even if you can’t live without data when you don’t have WiFi available, $25 a month for 3G is super competitive.
Another cool thing about their prices is that you can switch between plans twice per month. For example, we are on the $10/month plan so we have internet where WiFi is available. If we were going on a road trip and wanted the convenience of data in the car, we could switch to the $25 plan for the week that we’re out of town, then back to the $10 plan when we’re at home. Charges will be prorated for the days that you are on the $25 plan. Pretty convenient!
The big cell phone companies love locking customers into contracts. Part of their reasoning is that they give you a subsidized phone for free or cheap at the beginning of the service and you pay a little each month for it over the life of the contract. With Republic Wireless, you pay up front for the cost of the phone, ($99, $149, $179 or $299) and then your monthly payment, for however long you want to continue with the service, is just based on the service plan you choose.
Not having to sign away your cellular freedom is refreshing. Republic Wireless is confident that they have something awesome and you won’t want to leave. In fact, they even offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
What makes Republic Wireless great for us personally?
Price is a major factor for us since we are in the midst of paying off some serious law school student loan debt. Ever since we got married 9 years ago, we have had $10/month dumb phones on my parents’ cell phone plan. I was thrilled that even with all the bells and whistles of a smartphone, our monthly payment will stay at $10 per phone!
Even with the cost of the phone purchase, it’s a steal for us. We paid $179 for Mr. SixFiguresUnder’s phone. If we spread that over 24 months, the usual cell contract period for other providers, it’s $7.45/month, bringing his grand total for cell service to $17.45/month for the first 24 months and $10/month thereafter until he decides to get a replacement phone.
UPDATE: Republic Wireless now has a new smartphone, the Moto E which is priced at $99. If you divide the price of the Moto E over a 24 month period (like other cell phone companies do), it would be an additional $4.13 per month. On the $10 plan, it would be like paying $14.13 for the first 2 years, then $10/month thereafter. Of course, you do have to buy the phone upfront, but I just wanted to show you that Republic is still cheaper than companies with “free phone” gimmicks.
Neither of us has ever had texting on our phones before. I sent my first text a few weeks ago! Texting seems like an easy way to keep in contact with family and friends. Mr. SixFiguresUnder gets texts from his clients, associates, and his Boy Scouts pretty frequently, so now he can actually reply! I love that there isn’t a limit on texts.
There are some pretty fun benefits of a smartphone, like keeping your calendar handy, listening to audio books, keeping your budget handy, earning money with cash-back apps, and a million other things that you veteran smartphone users could clue me in on. I’m sure it will be handy to have a camera so readily available, though I’m sure we’ll still use our DSLR for most of our photos, since we’re pretty much in love. Our dumb phones were on their last legs anyway. Mine was over 6 years old!
Coverage in the boonies
The drawback I shared previously was that neither Ting nor Republic Wireless had service in our area of the boonies. Both use the Sprint network with free automatic roaming on Verizon’s network if you are out of Sprint coverage. According to their maps, we are right on the edge of the roaming area and the no-coverage area. Hooray for the free trial (money-back guarantee)! We were happy to see that the phone does work at our house!!
We live in a basement, so with my dumb phone, I had to go outside to make or receive a call, which is a little annoying in the winter. Since Republic Wireless works on WiFi, then I can still use my phone at home and even in the basement! I have lots of friends who don’t have any cell reception at their homes since we’re all in the hills. With Republic Wireless, they could use their phone at home on WiFi for talking, texting, and data.
Do you want to try Republic Wireless too?
Take a look at the specs on the Moto G, Moto X and Moto E, the three phones available for Republic Wireless. For us first-tme smart phoners, the Moto G was plenty fancy. If they would have had the Moto E when we signed up (it just came out in October 2014), we probably would have chosen that one, as it’s only $99! The Moto X is pretty sweet too, it’s just a bit fancier than either of us needs. Keep in mind that you can probably sell your old phone on ebay or craigslist (unless it’s a total dinosaur like our dumb phones) to offset the cost of a new Republic Wireless phone.
I can’t think of very many people who wouldn’t save money with Republic Wireless. Even if you have to cancel your other cell phone contract early with a penalty, you will probably recoup your losses quickly. If you’re a regular reader, you know how Mr. SixFiguresUnder feels about sunk costs.
When you signed up for your cell phone contract, you committed to make a certain payment (your early termination penalty) plus monthly payments. In most cases, whether you keep using your current service or not, you’re on the hook for the early termination amount, either as a penalty or wrapped up in the continuing monthly contract. That cost can’t be recovered, spent again, or wasted – it’s already gone, so it shouldn’t be a factor in your decision to keep or switch your plan. The deciding factors should be the future costs and benefits of each plan.
There you have it! For us Republic Wireless takes the cake for the most frugal phone.
- How about you? Are you happy with your cell phone plan? Would Republic Wireless be a good fit for you? What other plans are you using or have you considered?
Note: This post includes an affiliate link. You can trust that I won’t recommend something unless I think it’s fabulous. For more info see my disclosure policy.
Linked to Thrifty Thursday
My husband and I are really intrigued about making the switch to Republic Wireless but are wondering, are there any extra fees/taxes? Is your bill literally $20/month for 2 phones? For instance, with AT&T our plan is technically $89/month but once you add in all the taxes and fees, we pay $115/month. I’m just wondering, for budgeting purposes, if the cost already includes all the taxes and fees or if I would need to add those into the $20 for 2 phones. Thanks in advance!
Hi Adrienne! I totally know what you mean about what some companies do with taxes. Republic Wireless only charges a mandatory tax that varies by state (I believe). In California (where everything is expensive), our bill is something like $10.89 per month (varies slightly depending on the number of days in the month, but always less than $11 per phone). They don’t nickel and dime you with seventeen different taxes like other cell companies do. 🙂
Do you know how to get information on how this would affect internet usage? Ive heard companies either will (or are) charge if you go over an allotted amount every month. We do a lot of streaming and if this were to also work off of our wifi I’m curious as to how that would be impacted. I’d hate to try saving money on a cell phone plan only to find out we are making up for it in overage fees with our internet provider!
Hi Janae! You will be just fine. I watch our data usage like a hawk. We live in the boonies and are very limited on internet providers. Right now we only get 20 GB of bandwidth each month (and it costs $60!). We are planning to get a (hopefully) better plan in April. With that little bandwidth for our home internet, we don’t do any streaming at all (and have to be careful not to over-do it on facebook and pinterest).
That being said, we still have plenty of bandwidth to use our phones. The actual phone (talk and text) uses very little internet bandwidth compared to something like streaming video. If something puts you over your limit, it won’t be the phone, it will be streaming video. You should be able to get a data usage history from your internet company to see where your usage falls on their scale of what is allowable within your plan without incurring overage charges.
Hope that helps!
I found this post a few months back and after alot of research (thanks for posting a review) into this company and I cant wait to switch from T mobile in a few months. $10 a month is better than my current plan for $140 month, I cringe every-time i get the bill. Has anyone in Florida tried republic wireless yet?
Switching will put a lot of money back in your pocket!! Hooray!
Just ordered my Moto E. Can’t wait for it to get here! 🙂 I’m looking forward to a much lower bill!! If all goes well and I like my phone, hubby will be getting one too. Thank you for the informative review!
That’s exciting Mona! We’re definitely not looking back. We love the $10/month plan and really love Republic Wireless. I hope you do too!
I made the switch from Virgin Mobile on their smartphone plan to RW’s $10 a month plan a year ago with my Moto X, and I am so incredibly happy! I get perfect coverage, a great phone, and it’s quality is far superior to other providers. I switched to the $25 a month plan in March and the data is surprisingly fast too. Plus, all of their phones have the latest operating systems so that’s a huge plus for techies like me. The cameras are also great! To anyone planning to make the switch, I highly recommend it. My family has all the different phones (E, G, X) and I plan to get the new Moto X in January.
That’s awesome Veronica! Thanks for sharing your experience with Republic Wireless. That’s nice to hear that you’ve tried out all of the Republic phones. 🙂
Hi…My concern with Republic Wireless is …I too live out in the country. Verizon phones work the best. However, I also work as an Independent Insurance Agent driving all over the place. My fear would be No Phone service…or perhaps asking clients for “their” Wifi passwords to operate my Phone??? Please explain….
Republic Wireless uses the Sprint network and roams on Verizon. Roaming is free for talk and text, but if you have a data plan ($25 or $40 plan), the data is much more limited when you are roaming. If you have the $10 plan, you can use data via WiFi and you’ll have talk and text if you are somewhere that has Sprint or Verizon coverage (or WiFi).
Are you concerned with having data or talk/text when you visit clients in their homes? As long as you are in a spot with either Sprint or Verizon coverage, you will be fine for normal phone use. Between the two, you’ll have pretty wide coverage. If you have neither (like if you live in a basement where you can’t get any signal, like us), you can use WiFi.
If you need data when you visit clients, it will depend on your plan. You will have to have the $25 or $40 plan to have data without WiFi.
I hope that answers you questions Deborah! 🙂
The monthly bill price is very tempting but the cost of the phone scares me a bit! I use a no-contract phone from Target ($50 for the phone, plus tax) that costs $30 a month for 1500 minutes, 1500 texts, and 30 gb of data. Thanks for sharing this, I’ll have to discuss with the Husby.
Just this month, Republic Wireless came out with a smartphone the Moto E that costs $99! I need to update this post to include that!
What helped us make comparisons and decide was pricing each plan over a year, including the phone purchase. For example, your current plan would be:
$30 x 12 months = $360 per year service cost
$360 (service cost) + $50 (phone cost) = $410 cost over a year
For Republic Wireless at the $10 plan it would be
$10 x 12 months = $120 per year service cost
$120 (service cost) + $99 (phone cost) = $219 (for Moto E) cost over a year
$120 (service cost) + $149 (phone cost) = $269 (for Moto G) cost over a year
When we looked at it like that, the initial out-of-pocket phone expense didn’t seem like as big of a deal.
We have been looking for an affordable way to switch to smartphones, and this may be it! We would also choose the $10/month plan, but wondering how much the total bill would be with taxes and fees included (we want to know exactly how much to budget). 😉 Thanks!
Hi Haley! The tax on the $10 plan is less than $1 (and there aren’t fees), so total comes out to be less than $11 each month! Budget $11 per phone and you’ll be fine! Pretty amazing! 🙂
Tax is based on your location.
Check this map: http://taxfoundation.org/blog/monday-map-state-local-taxes-fees-wireless-service
I am on Virgin Mobile’s PayLo plan which I purchased from Walmart. This plan required me to buy a Kyocera Kona non-smartphone for 20 dollars and then start my unlimited minutes or unlimited text plans for 20 dollars a month. At the moment I thought this was a fair deal and I was getting decent cell signal.
But that phone was an emergency purchase, bought in financially tight situation. Now that I have an unlimited Internet data plan from my ISP, it makes sense to make use of that Wi-fi. So saving up a little and getting a very decently priced and good spec phone like the Moto-G and using RW’s 10 dollar plan should get me unlimited minutes AND text even if using the cellular network. This way, I’ll be upgrading (finally!) to a smartphone with the latest Android 4.4 firmware and spending half the amount on mobile that I’m spending now! Plus toss in that 30 day return policy and that should allow me to experiment if the coverage is OK (the coverage map on the website seems to give the all clear sign)….this actually sounds TOO good to be true!
Thanks for this extremely patient and clear review of the service and your experiences.
I think that would be a great move Nicholas. We were pretty excited to upgrade to a smartphone and have texting as well. We thought it was too good to be true too, but we were willing to give it a try because of the money-back guarantee. We haven’t been sorry!
Mike Schmidt says
I disagree with this article. Compared to the big carriers, you can save money with republic. But it is not frugal. Factoring in the cost of the phones, it is still too expensive. I have run the numbers several times and still cannot save any money with them. We have 5 lines including 3 iPhones (purchased used) and 2 Samsung Galaxies (rooted and ROMed). We average less than $75/month.
You can’t bring your own phone to Republic because on Republic phones have the technology that enables the phone to go between WiFi and cell seamlessly. You can resell your current phones to cover or offset the cost of buying a phone with Republic.
It’s not the only frugal option I found when I was looking for a smartphone as cheap as my $10/month dumb phone, but for us it worked the best because of the unlimited-ness of the plans.
How do you manage such an inexpensive bill using so many smart phones?
My husband and I both have the $10/month plan with Republic Wireless. That gives us unlimited talk and text (on cell and WiFi) and data on WiFi. So it’s two smartphones for $20/month.
This is fantastic! I’ve been looking to switch since my Ting service stopped working in my house. I just had a baby and I can’t run outside everytime my phone rings and leave her with my 4 and 2 year old until I’m off the phone.
Was switching hard? I’m worried about getting the info right so I can keep my number. Also, how is the call quality on WiFi? Are there any delays?
I’m so happy you tried this out for us readers. I hope you get your phone bill paid for a long time by everyone using the referral link.
Hi Pamela! I’ve been with Republic for a little over six months now, and the WIFI calling is fantastic! Most calls, it usually sounds BETTER than your average cell call (and no delays or anything).
Congrats on your new little one! I totally know what you mean about having to go outside. Cell reception in the basement here pretty much doesn’t happen, which is why I’m thrilled that Republic uses WiFi at home.
Switching was easy. They will automatically assign you a number according to the zip code of your address, then you can easily port your old number to your new phone. You can transfer the number over whenever you want, but you need to do it before cancelling the old phone that is currently assigned the number. To be sure you can check their number transfer tool.
You can’t tell the difference between when you’re on WiFi and when you’re on cell. My husband and I tried to see if we could recognize when it switched over (I was driving out of a WiFi area) and I couldn’t tell where it switched. The call quality never changed.
You said you budget for everything. I have to ask…what do you use for your financial budget?
Do you mean what software do I use for budgeting? I use YNAB. You can read about why we switched form Mint to YNAB, how we budget every penny, how we maximize out debt repayment at the end of the month, and how we live on last month’s income.
Awesome! I guessed that! I use YNAB too, and love it. Thanks for the reply!
We recently discovered a similar set-up with Consumer Cellular and it is making SUCH a difference in our monthly budget! I’m so happy to hear there’s another company out there doing something like this, because it means we’ll see lower cell bills all the way around. Woo-hoo for saving money!
That’s great Lisa!
You’re post couldn’t have been more timely! My husband’s phone has been acting up. We currently use Straight Talk (no contract) so this is a good opportunity to try another service. I really like the 30 day guarantee. Not only do we live out in the boonies, but my husband is also a trucker. These 30 days will be a good test to see if the phone is a good fit. In the past we have used Sprint, which worked great at our house, but my hubby complained of very poor service in many parts of the country. I always love to help another blogger out and used your referral link. Thanks again for a well written review.
Thanks Lucy! I was excited about the money-back guarantee too. That’s great that Sprint works well at your place. Hopefully your husband will get good coverage on the road too, since RW uses the Sprint network and roams on Verizon he should have the best of both worlds.
Kathryn K. says
Just curious how the phone has worked for you when you’re not at home on WiFi?
The phone works great! It’s just like you’d expect from a cell phone. Most of our phone use has been off of WiFi. Since my husband has had the phone with him at work and he calls me on his drive home. We live in the boonies in the hills, so there are some areas that don’t have reception, but that’s how other cell phones are too. In some areas the geography just prevents cell coverage for any provider.
We’re still contemplating the switch to RW but haven’t made the leap. My wife and I each have pay-as-you-go plans on PlatinumTel, which uses Tmobile networks. It’s 5¢/minute for voice calls, 2¢ for texts, and 10¢/MB for data. We have a landline and wifi at home. I don’t have a smartphone, and I spend an average of $5 per month on my plan. My wife has an older iPhone, and she spends closer to $10 per month on hers.
Now, most of the time she keeps cellular data turned off (since we usually have access to wifi) but there are times and places where having cellular data is handy, like at the grocery store when you want to use one of those shopping apps. Or if you’re out and need to look up an address or phone number from your email account.
This would of course not be an issue with the RW $25 plan, but that’s still a lot more than we currently spend. I wish they had an unlimited talk/text with pay-as-you-go data. I realize you can switch plans twice a month, but it would be nice if they had an option for people who needed data in smaller bursts, but more frequently than twice a month. I don’t there’s a way to just pay for extra data on the $10 plan if you’ve already used up your two switches per month–unless I’ve missed something.
Anyway, thanks for the great review! I’m still trying to figure out whether making the switch would be an improvement in our case, but it looks like it worked out great for your family’s needs!
Hi Dave! That’s nice that you have flexible plans and with your usage they turn out to be so cheap! If you feel like you really have to budget your usage to keep the costs down (or if budgeting usage is stressful), then Republic might be a good fit. My husband and I talk a lot on his commute home from work, so it’s nice to have as much talk time as we want.
It would be cool if RW had a pay-as-you go data option, but I don’t foresee that, since they are already so much cheaper than most plans.
Siobhan - BeFree Project says
Great post. I definitely need to find another cell phone carrier. I’m currently with TMobile and I pay $204 per month because we’re paying for 2 iPhones. Once the phones are paid off our bill will be around $120 per month, but that still seems like a lot. I will definitely start researching other options for service since we’re not in a contract.
That’s nice that you’re not in a contract. It’s worth doing some research because $120 per month for 2 phones is still a lot (at least in my opinion)!
Mike B. says
This is something tempting to move my parents to, but a smartphone would freak them out. I see Ting has feature phones, though, and nearly as cheap….
I am actually amazing how many older people I see getting into technology! It’s kind of embarrassing when someone twice my age has more gadget experience than me!
This might be a good option for seniors – makes a smartphone really easy to use, especially for the visually-impaired:
That’s a great idea Jessica!
I’m so happy to hear Republic Wireless worked out for you! My boyfriend will probably be making the switch over soon. He’s on Virgin Mobile with a dumb phone and paying $35 a month. Might as well upgrade and get the extra features. I can’t believe you guys went so long without texting!
I’m going to be texting like a teenager! 🙂 j/k
sarah @ little bus on the prairie says
We pay a ridiculous amount for both our smart phones through sprint ($170 per month) but we also have no wifi and don’t pay for internet. We have their unlimited data plan (where they don’t slow you down no matter how much you use) and it is our sole source of internet out here. We use the hotspot to tether our desktop computer to it too and get 4G signal where we are (surprisingly). We use it for Netflix streaming and everything.
If we could find a similar option that allowed us the same options for less we would switch in a heartbeat!
Wow that is painfully expensive Sarah!! Having unlimited high speed internet through your phone is a sweet set-up though, just pricey. What sort of internet options do you have where you are? I imagine it would be much cheaper to get internet at home and get cheaper phones.
Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie says
We have options once we’re in a house, just not specifically for the bus. Anything we’d want to run requires us to dig a big trench and pay them to run it out to us, which would be expensive for a set-up that’s not even permanent :/
Yeah, that sounds complicated! I’d wait until you’re permanent too!
I’ve been interested in switching providers for some time now, and my contract is up in August!!! I was wondering if you were able to keep your old number, or if there is an option to do that? I have had the same number for almost 10 years, so I would really hate to have to switch it.
In most cases you can keep your old number. If you go to their site, look under “Is Republic right for me” and click on “number transfer.” Your phone will come with a number that’s in your area code, but then you can change the number to your old number.
I am so glad you love Republic Wireless. I do too! My husband and I also have the 16GB Moto G and the $10 a month plans. I just changed my plan to add 3G data for the weekend (I am heading out of town). It is such an awesome company and a great phone plan!
It is so convenient to switch between plans like that!