Updated October 26, 2018: made a few notes, including the switch-over from Boost Mobile to UNREAL Mobile.
I use several websites to learn about the best deals for cell phone service. They aren’t the only ones, but both have proven very reliable. BestMVNO sends out weekly e-mails if you sign up for them, but I would recommend checking on a regular basis if you are looking for the best deals since some are only available for a very short time. I haven’t seen an e-mail sign-up list for PrepaidPhoneNews, but you can go to their website and search to your heart’s content.
Both sites do a good job of breaking down your options. When people ask my opinion on cell phone service, my first question is what areas do you generally need the coverage (home, work, etc.)? Next, what companies work well in those areas? This can be subjective based on one’s experiences in those areas with a particular cell phone service. I will be working on a few cell phone blog posts. I currently have service with Boost Mobile (dropped it in mid-July 2018 by switching to UNREAL Mobile;
dropping it since they are doing away with what used to be a great rewards program that was gutted back in mid-February), TracFone (Pay As You Go – aka PAYG or PAYGO, depending on the company), Tello (PAYGO) – two phones as emergency back-up which have very limited usage, but enough to keep them active if I need either one. I used to have CellNUVO before they had some issues that have since been resolved. In the past, I have used many of the major carriers and most of their subsidiaries: T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, Cricket, Boost Mobile (think that’s all of the ones I had in the past; can’t remember if I had AT&T or not). In addition, I had several MVNOs that aren’t owned by the major carriers: CellNUVO, RingPlus, Tello, Ting, Twigby, TextNow. In some cases, I had to do the contract thing and in other cases, I went with either PAYGO or prepaid.
Boost Mobile met my needs when it offered the rewards program. My plan was $35/billing cycle (unlimited talk and text with 3 GB LTE and unlimited 3G after the LTE ran out), but I auto-paid which knocked $5 off the bill, and I could earn up to $20/billing cycle in rewards credit which usually brought my bill down to $10 for what amounted to 20 hours of watching videos, doing surveys, etc.. In February, they gutted the program and made it so difficult to earn credits that it wasn’t worth it. They initially realized their mistake and made it somewhat easier to earn credits so I stuck with them, but they sent me a message they were ending the program on July 29, 2018. They would honor whatever credits I had and give me a $3 credit for the next two billing cycles in compensation. My suggestion is they need to do what Boost Mobile’s parent company did and make a deal with CellNUVO to where you earn credits on CellNUVO that can be used to pay your bill.
I migrated my Boost Mobile phone to UNREAL Mobile which uses the Sprint (they added AT&T for GSM phones) network as does Boost Mobile. For $15/billing cycle, I will get unlimited talk and text and 2 GB LTE with unlimited 2G data once the LTE runs out. My preference would have been for Boost Mobile to make a deal with CellNUVO or a different rewards program to continue offering a comparable deal.
The reason I switched cell providers as often as I have is better deals or a company decided to nickel and dime me with ever increasing fees. In the early days, I lost my number as I switched providers, but with the advent of porting out numbers, I can take it with me. That didn’t work well when RingPlus shut down due to how RingPlus handled it.
I will be keeping my two Tello numbers as $10 will easily cover me for a long time and all I have to do to keep the number active is to use the phone to make or receive one call, text, or use 1 MB of data every 6 months. I tend to get 1 – 2 texts/week at $0.01 each. If I don’t like UNREAL Mobile, I can always switch one of my Tello phones to a 30-day plan which would run about the same as UNREAL Mobile, maybe a tad bit more. I will be keeping my TracFone which is a PAYGO. I like TracFone because I have over 4,700 minutes, 11,400 texts, and 4.5 GB data that is good until I use it or early April 2020 if I don’t buy additional usage that adds to the expiration date. Typically, most things I buy with TracFone add at least 90 days to the expiration date and unlike some of its competitors, the added days lengthen the expiration date. I also get triple talk/text/data so if I buy 60 talk/text/MB data, I get 180 of each added to my account. There are some people who only use my TracFone number so that’s another reason to keep it. I could always transfer it once I get low enough on minutes, but it’s fairly reliable where I use it. It has its moments, but not enough to make me give it up while I have so much talk, text, and data remaining.
I gained a lot of talk, text, and data through a TracFone deal on Home Shopping Network (HSN). BestMVNO – https://bestmvno.com/ sent me a weekly e-mail announcing HSN was offering a new Android phone and 1500 talk/text/MB data (TTD). I checked with TracFone and they let me know it would be tripled because I had signed up with them using a triple phone. Cost was around $65 and I was normally spending around $54/year for a lot less TTD.