You see ads for cell phone companies all the time, but when is the last time you seriously considered switching? It seems like a hassle, but what if you could save hundreds of dollars a year by making a change?
Consumer Reports says there are cheaper options out there. They’re smaller carriers known as MVNOs or mobile virtual network operators and they lease ‘excess wireless capacity’ from the big four carriers — which means they use some of the same towers.
Small carriers are able to offer consumers cheaper plans mainly because they don't need to build and maintain cell towers themselves.
“The smaller carriers usually give you a smaller bill. Consumers really see the value in these kinds of companies because they’re not paying for services that they don’t need,” said tech reporter Bree Fowler.
That can include things like extra data, HD streaming or hotspot tethering. So how much can you really save? You could pay $70 a month with AT&T for unlimited talk, text and data. Or you could stay on the same network with Straight Talk mobile, and only pay $44 a month for an annual savings of $312.
Verizon offers an unlimited deal for $65 a month or you could use the Verizon network with Visible, which offers an unlimited deal for $40 a month with some phone restrictions for a $300 difference.
You could pay $60 a month for an unlimited deal on T-Mobile or you could use their network with TextNow and pay just $40 a month that’s $240 less each year.
Worried about making the switch? Consumer Report’s most recent member survey on cell phone service providers show people who made a switch over the past few years are usually happy with their new choice.
Consumer Cellular, Google Fi and Ting topped the most recent survey as well as the two prior ones. One downside to choosing most smaller carriers is that if a big carrier has network congestion, it slows down the data speed of the smaller guys on its network first.