Ever since Republic Wireless went out of Beta in November of 2013, they have been without question the best cell phone plan available. If you had Republic Wireless you knew you were getting the best deal in the industry. Ever since then there has been news story after news story about other phone companies dropping their prices.
Other cell phone companies publicized price drop after price drop, but none of them ever dropped low enough to really became competitive with Republic Wireless. So while RW users knew they were already getting the best deal, it kind of seemed like we were missing out on the fun of the price drops from all the other companies. It may not be logical since I was already paying much less to begin with, but if somebody else is saving money then I want in on that action.
Incredibly, now even RW is dropping their prices. The new plan doesn’t have the beautiful simplicity of the old plans, but the savings are big so going through one additional step is worth it. New RW customers will automatically be signed up for the new plan, but old customers can either change to the new plan or keep their old plan for a while.
How it works
Under the new plan, you only pay for the data you use. The base plan is $10 for unlimited calling and texting over either wifi or cellular networks, and then you pay $7.50 per 1/2 GB of cellular data. (All the data you use on a wifi network is still free of course).
You select how much data you want. We will look at how much you should buy further down, but I think the most common choices would be $7.50 for 1/2 GB or $15 for 1GB. Even if you go with $10 for the base plan plus $15 for 1 GB of data, you are still saving a bunch of money versus any other phone carrier.
If you use up your data, then your phone stops being able to access cellular data. At this point you can do one of two things. You can either go without cellular data until the next monthly period begins or you can buy another 1/2 GB for $7.50 right from your phone.
Here is the exciting part. Whatever data is left over you don’t use gets refunded to your account so you get a credit on next months bills.
How much data should you buy?
If you are an RW customer, you can check your data usage right in the RW app, like I did on the screenshot above. I looked at the last several months and saw the most cell data I had used was 855 MB, which is .855 GB. Since this was well below 1GB, I decided paying $15 for 1GB of data was perfect for me. Whatever I don’t use gets refunded, so buying extra is not a problem.
My wife on the other hand uses about 1.2 GB per month. However, I decided that she could easily cut down on the amount she uses so $15 for 1GB should be enough for her, too. See below for my plan to reduce her data.
If you aren’t a RW customer, look for data usage under your phone’s setting app, and that should let you know how much data you are going to need a month.
How to reduce your data and increase your refund
Now let’s talk about a few easy ways to use less data so you can get a big fat refund. The RW app will tell you which apps are using the most data. Let’s look at my wife’s phone which looks like this:
You can see that 2 of the top 3 data users on my wife’s phone are Audible and Amazon Music. These two apps are a great opportunity to move cellular data to wifi data, which is free. With Audible and Amazon Music, you can listen to audio by either streaming it on demand or by downloading it to your phone.
Downloading is the option you want. Download all the audio books and music you want while you are on wifi. Then the audio is already saved on your phone so you can listen to it whenever you want without using any more data.
If you stream the audio (which my wife did) then the audio is sent to your phone right as you are using it. If you aren’t on wifi, that means you are using cell data to pull that sound into your phone, and you are killing your RW data refund.
In the case of my wife, streaming caused her to use up 867 MB of data that she could have downloaded for free over wifi. That 867MB would have amounted to a $13 refund from RW had we been using this plan at the time. My wife now knows to download not stream.
So what kind of apps stream when they could download? Look for any apps that involve listening to audio. Audio books, podcast apps, and music apps are likely candidates. Some music apps such as Pandora, Spotify, or Stitcher stream music instead of letting you listen to it. That is fine if you are on wifi, but if you want to listen to music on the go you might want to check out Amazon Music which lets you download songs to your phone and take them anywhere, which will help you use less data.
Do you really need all your apps all the time?
There are some apps you might need wherever you go, but I’ll bet there are some apps that you could get by just fine by only using them on wifi. In the two cell phone screen shots above, notice the little blue slider to the right of all of the apps? With that slider you can turn off cellular data for all the various apps which will allow you to use the app over wifi just like normal, but will not let the app use cellular data while you are on the go.
My wife and I went through this list of apps and turned off cellular data for the apps we could use on wifi only. The first thing we did is turn off data for those streaming apps that were mentioned above. This isn’t a permanent decision. If I need an app I turned off to use cellular data, turning it back on takes just a couple seconds.
So what apps do you really need cellular data from? That will vary person by person. In my case, I decided I needed cellular data for navigation apps such as google maps, any travel related apps, email, and web browsing so I can do web searches wherever I go. Since I occasionally drive for Uber, I needed to leave that one on. Most of the other apps I turned off.
I have both facebook and twitter on my phone. I only check facebook every couple of days, so I turned that one off. I don’t need to get notifications that my cousin Stephanie wants me to play Candy Crush while I am out and about. That can wait until I am on home wifi. My wife on the other hand uses facebook to communicate all the time, so she went ahead and left hers on. I use twitter to read all the news headlines I want to see, so I went ahead and left that one on so I can have it wherever I go.
Even with as many apps as I left on, this should make a big cut in my cellular data and give me a nice big refund.
If you aren’t already with RW, you really should be. No contract Moto X from Republic Wireless. Plans starting as low as $5/month