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Saving on your cell phone bill by going prepaid

2015 January 23
by Kirk Kosinski

My Cheap home phone service with VoIP article garnered a lot of interest, so I thought I should write a similar post about saving money on cell phone service.  By switching to a prepaid phone plan you can very likely save money.  I won’t cover anything Earth shattering but it may be useful nonetheless.  Nowadays prepaid wireless service is a very viable option and there are many carriers to choose from.  There are so many, in fact, that competition is fierce and you may be able to find a great deal.

One of the best deals on prepaid service right now is from Cricket Wireless.  Until January 29 if you switch to Cricket from certain carriers (e.g. Boost, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Virgin Mobile), Cricket will credit your account $100 per line!  This will cover two or even three months of service, depending on the plan you choose.  This is mainly useful if your current service is not under a contract and won’t incur termination fees.  Besides the $100 you can also score $25 by using their referral program.  Note that the referral credit is per account, so if you transfer several lines into one account you will only get one $25 credit.  I did this last month and am still waiting on the $25, but I’ve already received the $100 as seen below.

Cricket Wireless Switcher Promo Credit

Cricket Wireless Switcher Promo Credit

The process is generally painless as long as you have a compatible phone, but even if you don’t you are still pretty much covered since they have a $75 rebate for several phones.  Cricket Wireless is owned by AT&T and operates on the same network so AT&T-compatible phones will work with Cricket and have similar coverage and speed.  Of course AT&T doesn’t really want to provide incentives to their existing customers to switch to a cheaper plan from Cricket, so AT&T customers don’t qualify for the promotion and there will be a minor complication if you are currently an AT&T customer (like I was).  The same applies if you have service from another carrier that also happens to not qualify for the promotion, most notably Verizon.  Luckily, this scenario only requires a minor workaround: temporarily switch to one of the qualifying carriers.

So here is the process to switch to Cricket and get both the $100 credit for switching and the $25 referral credit.

  1. Go to a referral link such as this one: https://refer.cricketwireless.com/4bz3Iwj
  2. Fill out the referral form.  To be safe, use the same email address that you intend to use later when signing up for service with Cricket.
  3. Wait for the confirmation email for the referral (should arrive within a few minutes).  Once you receive the email you have 30 days to activate your service with Cricket.  Don’t delete this email since you will need it again later.
  4. If your current service is not with a qualifying carrier, port your number to a carrier that qualifies.
    Notes – I opted for T-Mobile prepaid service.  You can buy a T-Mobile SIM from Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, or elsewhere for cheap.  You don’t need to buy any minutes when activating the T-Mobile prepaid service; you can simply ignore the part about buying minutes (unless you need to use the service, like if you are buying a new phone online from Cricket).  If you do go with T-Mobile, be sure to write down or remember the account PIN since you will need it when porting your number to Cricket.  With T-Mobile prepaid service the account number is your phone number with area code.  Wait for your number to be successfully ported before proceeding (it only takes a few minutes in my experience, but supposedly could take up to 24 hours).
  5. Port your number from a qualifying carrier to Cricket Wireless.  You can do this online, over the phone, or at a Cricket Wireless store.
    Notes – I did it in store to avoid any interruption in service.  I was kind of nervous about the store potentially being crowded, or the process being a hassle, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The store wasn’t particularly crowded, the employee who helped me was friendly and efficient, and I was done in 15-20 minutes.
  6. Start using your new service and enjoying the savings!
  7. Within 30 days, refer back to the referral email you received (step 3 above).  The email contains a link to confirm the phone number for your new service, so click it and follow the instructions.

That’s it!  Besides all the credits you can get, you will also probably save some money on the service, or at least have some other benefits.  Compared to the plan I had with AT&T, Cricket is cheaper, has unlimited minutes and texts, and offers much more data.

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