If you’re looking for a way to save money on your cellphone bill, you’ve likely heard of Net10. This prepaid Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), works differently than when you sign up for service with one carrier.
You get the benefit of being on the strongest network in the area, ensuring that you always (or almost always) have good coverage.
It comes with its pros and cons, though. Since an MVNO isn’t a dedicated provider if you’re ever in a crowded area, the people with the Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon plans get ‘first dibs’ on the cell tower reception and all MVNO users get what’s left, which may mean dropped calls or difficulty connecting.
But how do you save money?
For starters, Net10 doesn’t have a contract, ever. That’s one of the best ways to save money. When you sign up with one of the ‘big names’ in the cellphone industry, you sign a contract, usually for 2 years.
If you want to break out of the contract, you usually have to pay an early cancelation fee. Most people stick with the provider and pay the inflated monthly fees rather than paying the cancelation fee, though.
The monthly plans are where you really save money. With plans as low as $20, it’s hard to go wrong with Net10. Before you jump at the chance of a $20 plan, though, know what’s involved.
Net10 doesn’t offer any unlimited data plans. Even though they say they do, it’s unlimited until you meet the ‘cap.’ For example, the $20 monthly plan has unlimited high-speed internet until you use up the 2GB cap. It then goes to 2G, which as you probably know, is a lot slower.
Keep your Phone
If you keep your current phone, assuming it’s unlocked or Net10 compatible. You don’t have to pay for a new phone, pay for porting your number, or pay any other costs. If you love your phone but don’t love the size of your cellphone bill, this could be a good option.
Sign up for AutoPay
If you sign up for autopay, Net10 gives you a small discount, knocking the already low prices even lower. Autopay is nice because not only do you get the discount, but you don’t have to worry about missing your due date and paying late fees, or worse yet, losing service.
Net10 saves you money in many ways, but there are some ways you may not save as much as you think.
Low Data Caps
If you use more than the 10GB of data, you may be better off getting service from a traditional provider. Net10’s plans head into the $50 – $65 range once you go over those limits, which is close to (and sometimes more) than what you’d pay with a standard provider.
Buying a Phone
If you don’t have an unlocked or compatible phone to bring to Net10, you may be on the hook to buy one from them and they aren’t cheap. You could be looking at $500 – $800 for the phone. You can pay for some phones monthly, but not all and they don’t offer any ‘forever lease’ plans like other cellphone providers do that allow you to turn your phone in and upgrade every 18 months to 2 years.
Buying Extra Data
If you go over your data caps, you may need to buy more. While it’s only $5 – $10 depending on how much data you need, it’s still more money on top of the plan you already paid for. If you do this consecutively, it may cost more to have Net10 than another provider. It solely depends on your use.
Is Net10 Worth It?
If you’re an occasional cellphone user and don’t use your phone to watch movies or play video games, for example, Net10 may be well worth it. You’ll save money on your monthly plan and if you have a phone to bring over, you don’t even need to spend money on a phone. You can put the money you save away for a rainy day.
If you use a lot of data, though, it may not save you as much money as you think. Look at your usage and compare the plans to what you pay now. You may find better deals by becoming a new customer at one of the other major providers if you’re a heavy user.