Sara and I have suspected that we could save a lot of money on our cell phones for a long time. Basically, we just had Verizon since time began, and we never really looked around or anything. We are also pretty minimal cell phone users as these things go (super old phones, don’t use a ton of minutes, no texting, no web, no nothing), so we sort of figured we might be getting ripped off. At the very least, we knew we could get a small discount through our jobs, so at the very least we could be saving 10% – 15% or so, but we thought maybe we could do better with a pre-paid phone or a smaller carrier, like Cricket. But we were lazy, so we never got around to doing anything about it.
However, the other day, Sara was going through her consumer reports and found that they had rated actual cell phone companies, and the top of the list was a company we had never heard of before, Consumer Cellular. We decided to check them out, and they turned out to be phenomenal. So we officially made the switch, and we are no longer Verizon customers.
Consumer Cellular is saving us about THIRTY DOLLARS PER MONTH. That’s $360 a year we will save, by basically just paying for what we actually use on the phone. In fact, that price includes a texting plan, which we never had before, so we actually have more functionality. And another thing about Consumer Cellular: you can change your plan retroactively for the month. So, if at the end of the month you find that you used more minutes than your plan allows, you don’t pay ridiculous per-minute charges on the extra minutes, you just adjust your plan to the next one up. More amazingly, if you find you didn’t use all your minutes, you can adjust your plan down to a lower plan and pay the lower rate. When have you ever heard such a thing from a cell phone company??
There is one funny thing about the company…it’s for old people! (This is why Sara and I fit right in.) You never really realize how advertising pictures are exclusively young people, until you get a brochure full of pictures of old people. This should have been the first sign. Then there’s the fact that they offer a “large button” phone, and the fact that their FAQ page specifically talks about how to use the phone on a cruise ship. There’s a checkbox for the AARP discount when you order. Even as you’re reading through the text on the webpage, you feel like it is meant for old people.
Shane: “Wow, this really is for old people. Everything is just spelled out so clearly, so there can be no confusion.”
Sara: “Yeah, but why is that for old people? Shouldn’t everything be like that?”
The fact is, it should be, but it’s not. Most cell phone plans are byzantine at best, with times when calls are free and times when they aren’t. Roaming. Overage charges. Contracts. Service fees. Early termination fees. Can you imagine a company that’s actually laying everything on the table, just trying to make an honest buck instead of trying to trick you somehow?
There are a few downsides, but they don’t really matter to us personally. So one would have to decide if this place is right for them or not. First off, they have a very limited phone selection. The free phones that Sara and I got are probably a step backwards from the very old phones that we used to have (except that this one is smaller, lighter, and the battery lasts longer than my old phone, so I guess it’s not all bad). So if you’re into the latest smart phone, they’re probably not for you. (They do have a few other choices, including smart phones, but nothing like what you’d get with a Verizon. I also understand you can use any AT&T phone on their network, and I’ve heard of at least one person using an iPhone.) They don’t have an unlimited data plan, which doesn’t matter to us, because we don’t have smart phones. There is no free nights and weekends or mobile to mobile minutes. However, the plans are cheap enough and we don’t use so many minutes, that we can still pay a lot less even paying for these extra minutes (I guess there’s a reason even the big companies offer them for free). Consumer Cellular is on the AT&T network, which might be a plus or a minus, depending on how you look at it (and how much you like the AT&T network).
So, Consumer Cellular. Check it out. We kept our old phone number, and the transition was hassle free. If you’re going to sign up, let me know: I can get us each a $10 credit as a referral fee!