My monthly cellphone bill averages less than $10 per month. I have a smartphone. I have data, texting, and voice, and I use them. Let me tell you how I achieve such a low bill.
Disclaimer: I will get a credit if you sign-up through my referral link, but so will you.
I sacrifice a little bit of convenience for a dramatically lower bill. First, I don’t have a contract. I pay based on my usage. Second, I route all of my texting and voice through the internet, and completely disable the standard text and voice services from the cell service provider. Instead, I route both through my data plan. This means I never pay for using text or voice, I pay only for data usage. Lastly, I am nearly always connected to wifi, and I keep 4G disabled normally. This prevents me from using data much at all, keeping my data usage low.
I gain some conveniences a normal cell service doesn’t provide. I can make and receive calls and text for free while overseas as long as I’m on wifi. I have a spam filter for voice and texts, so I haven’t received a telemarketing call in ages. I can respond to texts from my computer or my phone, whichever is most convenient. My voicemails are transcribed so I can read them, when the machine learning algorithm does a good job.
Ting is my cell service provider. They use the Sprint network. They do not have contracts; instead they provide a tiered pay-per-use service. They do not have any hidden fees. Their customer service has been exceptional in my experience.
Ting also provides remarkable control over your devices. The following features are provided by default for no extra charge. You can setup call-forwarding per device. You can setup alerts and/or automatically disable services when you approach a certain usage. For instance, you can get an email and autoamtically disable data on your device—until manually re-enabled—just before your usage reaches the next tier. You can even disabled services such as incoming/outgoing voice, text, or data per device. You can change how your number is displayed in outgoing calls.
My Ting device is setup to allow incoming and outgoing data, outgoing phone calls (for emergencies), and nothing else. I have an alert setup to notify me and disable data when I approach the second tier. I have never gone beyond the first tier usage, which costs $3 for up to 100MB of data in a month.
Google Voice serves my phone number. Google Voice will provide a new number for free in your choice of area code, or allow you to port your existing number for a one-time fee for $20. Google Voice will allow you to setup call forwarding to multiple other phone numbers, or none. It allows you to make VOIP calls, and send and receive texts via Google Hangouts. It comes with a spam filter for voice and texts, which works as well as Gmail’s spam filter in my experience. It includes a voicemail transcription feature, and can email you the transcribed voicemail or send it to Google Hangouts, or both.
My Google Voice setup sends texts, calls, and voicemails to Google Hangouts, which is installed on my iPhone. I never use the built-in texting or phone call features. I do not forward calls or texts to any other number.
A simple how-to
To move to Ting + Google Voice, first you need a phone capable of being used on the Sprint network. You can use an unlocked iPhone, or many Android devices. On their website, Ting has a list of devices that are compatible with their network, and the option to purchase a used or refurbished device through a third-party vendor.
Next, register for and port your existing number to Google Voice. This may take some time. Opt-in to texting and voice through Google Hangouts, instead of through the out-dated Google Voice app. You may need to put some money on the account before it will allow outgoing calls. Calls within the US are free and you can refund the balance at anytime.
Then, sign up for Ting using your device. If you follow my referral link, you may get a $25 credit. Allow them to assign you a new number. If you follow my setup, you won’t use this number.
On your Ting device, disable texts completely and disable incoming voice. Consider setting up some alerts for your data usage. Change your the outgoing number displayed by your phone to you Google Voice number.
Now install and setup Google Hangouts on your phone. Give it a test run.
Finally, leave your phone in airplane mode with wifi enabled. If you’re not near wifi and need to use data, disable airplane mode temporarily, but remember to enable it again when you are done.