Our two year Sprint contract is up, which means they cut off the 10% discount I’d negotiated. Time flies so quickly!
#2 does not have a cellphone. Unimaginable, I know. She kicks it old school with a landline, which is something I no longer have.
Also, my mom expressed interest in maybe getting a cell for Christmas.
So I looked into cheaper replacements.
One of the first places to look anytime you are trying to decide what to buy is consumer search. Here is what they say about cell phone plans. At the time of this writing, they give high marks to t-mobile for best cellphone plan ($30/month and up) and Verizon ($40 and up) for best quality. I travel, so their top regional cell plan, U.S. cellular is not going to to cut it.
My mother is an occasional user, so either adding her on my existing plan as another user or giving her a pre-paid plan is going to work best. Here’s consumer search on prepaid plans. For her infrequent needs, either t-mobile or tracphone would be the best prepaid options, and what needs to be compared to adding on an additional line to my current service.
Prepaid plans are kind of weird, because you must buy minutes in advance and the minutes expire, some after 30 days, some after 90 for minimum purchases… and the more you buy, the more time you have before they expire. Apparently there are also tricks you can use with some plans in which you buy a card, activate it, then activate the next card right before the first expires, thus doubling your minutes. Something like that. We don’t want my mom to have to game anything.
T-mobile’s $100 for 1000 minutes for 1 year plan looks like a good option for her. We would also have to buy a phone. The cheapest option is $30, but it gets very bad reviews. The first phones with decent reviews are around $50.
If we switched to T-mobile, adding her would be another $5 plus tax (so ~6/month, $60/year).
Adding her to the Sprint plan would be another $10 plus tax (so ~$12/month, $120/year) and they would give us a free phone if we signed up for a 2 year plan… but this would have problems that it would be a gift we would give every year, as prices went up our costs would go up, if she lost the phone we would have to deal with it etc. When I put it like that it seems selfish. But she would also have less autonomy with how to use the phone should she want to.
Decision for her: T-mobile one year pre-paid plan with the Samsung t139 Prepaid phone. We had to order by phone because the online form wouldn’t ship directly to her.
The T-mobile plan would cost $10/month less for us, but the cost of texts would double (so $2/month instead of $1/month) and free night calls start at 9pm instead of 7pm (this would increase the probability of going over minutes). The plan: Call up Sprint, talk about the T-mobile plan, and ask for a discount for sticking with them.
However, poking around the internet, I discovered that my employer offers a 23% discount on Sprint plans. That’s better than the 10% negotiated before, or the $10 I was going to ask for when I was going to call up and tell them I was thinking about switching. Now Sprint is $6.10 less expensive than T-Mobile. And I can make all those changes on the internet and get a new phone. Whew. That was a lot of effort. But what else is a person going to do on vacation?
Decision for us: Sprint with 23% employee discount and two new phones with a two year contract.