As I've gotten older, it takes me longer to make changes that otherwise would be a “no-brainer”. And, this even goes for things that I know will save me money – like my cell phone bill.
I wanted to share about my (almost) 5 months of experience with their service and how it's gone (the good and the bad). If you are looking for a technical review of Republic Wireless, this isn't it.
Change can be hard
Especially, if you kinda like your existing setup. Before Republic Wireless I had been with AT&T since 2009 and owned an iPhone since about the same time. The setup was good – and I had never really experienced any real issues with either.
But, the monthly cell phone bill was ugly. For 3 lines, we were paying about $210-220/month on average.
I think many of us are okay with paying about $70 (or more) for their cell phone bill. It's one of those expenses that has been (as I like to say) “normalized”. We all get used to paying it – and so we just keep it in our budgets and never really do anything about it.
Change is easier when you know you can save money
In late August, I talked to Charlie a little more about his experience with Republic Wireless. He'd been with them since March and had a lot of good things to say about them.
So, I finally made the switch.[caption id="attachment_5375" align="alignright" width="200"] My Moto G cell phone[/caption]
And, let me just say – the whole process went very smooth. I purchased their “middle-of-the-road” phone, the Moto G, and selected their $25/month cell phone plan which includes unlimited talk, text and data on the 3G network.
Republic Wireless sent the phone in under a week in their friendly packaging and I activated it using their very simple setup instructions within minutes.
This may sound blasphemous, but I actually grew to like my new phone better than my iPhone. It syncs so nicely with my Google account, allows me to type by swiping letters (instead of taping each individually) and “blinks” when a new message/phone call is received.
When the first bill came, the total ended up being $29.38 (with taxes/fees). That was about a $40 savings from what we were paying for my line at AT&T. Note: I'm now giving their $10/month cell phone plan a try and so far, so good.
The good and the bad
With everything – comes the good and the bad. Things aren't perfect with my Moto G or Republic Wireless service, but I've been happy enough with the service that the good outweighs any negatives.
[For those of you who are not familiar with Republic, they offer affordable cell phone plans because they piggy-back off of WiFi whenever it is available and utilize the Sprint network when there is no WiFi. Sometimes this can lead to a few “hiccups”.][caption id="attachment_6373" align="aligncenter" width="592"] Republic Wireless Plans (update 5/25/16)[/caption]
Let's start with the good about Republic:
- Excellent customer service and easy setup
- Unlimited talk, text and data* (the asterisk is they do limit you to 2G of data when you roam)
- Low cost and you can switch plans 2x per month (they have a $5, $10, $25 and $40 monthly plan)
- Phones are nice – and easy to use, especially if you have a Google account
- You can transfer your existing number
- There are no contracts and you can quit whenever (without any early term fees)
And, the bad
- You need to purchase a phone to get started with Republic (they have several to choose from and will fit most budgets)
- I've had instances where I wasn't able to pick up an incoming call
- I've had to restart my phone several times when receiving a text with a picture (this could be an issue with my cheaper phone)
- Overall, the reception has been excellent – but (at times) it has been spotty
- No warranties offered with the phone purchase
- 2G limits on roaming data
Would I recommend them?
Yes. I think Republic is a great way to lower your cell phone bills. I love it for folks who are in bigger cities and/or typically have WiFi in range. If that is the case – you could really save by using their $5 or $10/month plans.
Even if you don't live in a big city – and you aren't concerned with the occasional “hiccup” here and there (which truthfully, hasn't been enough for me to want my iPhone back and I know that Charlie hasn't experience some of the issues I have), Republic is a good bet.
I'd love to know your honest thoughts on Republic Wireless and (if you have them) what your experience has been.
Update 1/25/15: Republic Wireless was recently rated the best prepaid cell phone provider by Consumer Reports.
Update 7/10/15: Republic Wireless now offers the ability to get paid back what you don't use every month through their Refund program.
Update 8/22/15: Since writing this article – I have switched to the $17.50 (with 0.50G data) new “Refund” plan Republic has now instituted. All users will eventually need to move to this new plan by end of July 2016. From those I've talked to, they prefer the old plans ($5, $10, $25, $40) – but I am interested to see what I'll get back every month because I really don't use that much data as I'm always around WiFi.
Update 10/21/15: After being on Republic Wireless's new “Refund” plan for 2 months now – I've managed to get back about $1.50. Not bad – but I was paying a lot less when I was on their $10/month plan (about $12.50 w/ taxes vs. $19 now). Ah well, they have to make you feel like you're getting something in return as they take more money from you!
Update 2/4/16: Consumer Reports again names Republic Wireless one of the best in the MVNO field.
Update 5/25/16: Republic Wireless now has new cell phone plans in addition to their refund plan. Plans are listed in the above graphic.
Update 1/24/17: Republic announced their Republic Anywhere beta that allows you to send and receive SMS and MMS on your computer, syncs with your phone and works even when phone is off.
Update 5/16/17: Republic Wireless is offering 6-months free service to try their service. From their press release:
Bring the phone you love to the nation’s fastest growing WiFi calling carrier and get no cost service for six months. WiFi is everywhere and “WiFi first” innovator Republic Wireless is disrupting the industry yet again with a special offer of six months of no cost service for newly activated phones on its Bring Your Own Android Phone program.
Offer ends when RW runs out of SIM cards.
We have not been paid for this review – but we may receive compensation if you sign-up for Republic via our link below at no cost to you.